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Program provides student laptops

Students will have access to laptops through a new program. -- Illustration

Technology bridges the education gap and now students from all across Alabama can benefit with their own personal computers, thanks to the A Plus Tutors for Scholars program.

A Plus Tutors, a state-approved program providing supplemental education services through tutoring and computer sessions, has partnered with “Tutor Hawaii,” a nonprofit organization, to deliver more than 200 free laptops to 40 elementary and high schools in Dallas, Jackson, Jefferson, Bulloch and Chilton counties beginning today and continuing through next week.

Under the “No Child Left Behind Act,” signed in 2001 to ensure students reach their academic goals, schools which didn’t pass their annual yearly progress scores on the math and reading portions of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, are eligible to receive free netbooks.

Ponya Parks, Alabama coordinator, said the computers are beneficial learning tools.

“So many children don’t have access to computers so we we’re like, ‘let’s do this,’” Parks said. “With wireless internet, these computers can be used anywhere.”

Parks said the Netbooks will be purchased from Best Buy stores and will be used in the classroom during tutoring sessions to help students reach 80 percent of their academic goals.

After students successfully complete 25 to 30 hours of AHSGE tutoring they can keep the issued laptops.

Debra Robinson, resource teacher and credit recovery specialist for Selma High School, believes the laptops will help students successfully pass the graduation exam.

“It’s very important and significant because kids today are so used to technology and they need something different,” Robinson said. “Not only are students gaining hands-on knowledge but this is something tangible they can move forward with. Plus, who wouldn’t want a free computer?”

Robinson said nearly 40 students have signed up for the program. She said students will be happy when the laptops arrive.

“Every year, criteria for the AHSGE goes up and the test gets harder,” Robinson said. “These computers will help us meet our goals.”

Don Jefferson, Selma City Schools Superintendent, who helped to launch the idea of iPads in local elementary schools in early February, said he appreciates the state’s donations.

“Something like this is always positive,” Jefferson said. “Our students can be prepared to compete in the 21st century and beyond using electronic technology. This is just another way to add to the educational experience.”