New Chromebook Policy Impacts Grades 4-10

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SHS senior Colin Morley uses a Chromebook in class.

Kelly Horan and Ciara Callanan

As education becomes more technology-driven, students and families have purchased devices–specifically laptops and iPads–for school use. In fact, the modern classroom is a technological space where students need devices to participate. In Scituate, each classroom has traditionally included a supply of Chromebooks for students who don’t have their own device. This year, however, SPS has implemented a new policy that changes the way students operate in the classroom: Students in grades 4 through 10 are now required to use school-issued Chromebooks. 

The new policy for underclassmen is available on the SPS website: “All students in grades 9 and 10 will be issued a device and charger that is to be used as the student’s primary device at school.” As property of SPS, these Chromebooks are loaned out to students in the specified grades for strictly educational use. Every student, starting in grade four, will receive a new Chromebook every three years, as they switch to a new school. 

In addition, there are 30 Chromebooks in the SHS library that are available on a first-come-first-served basis for upperclassmen. These devices are also available to 9th and 10th graders if they forgot their own. 

SHS Principal Dr. Lisa Maguire explained the district-wide decision gives students equal access to learning materials and protects them from distracting or harmful material.

Acknowledging this policy shift may be challenging for students who have purchased their own personal devices, Maguire said, “We are currently in an adjustment period.” Maguire is hopeful the policy “ultimately will be successful.” The common software provided in the 1:1 policy allows the technology department to deploy new updates commensurate with what teachers need for their classes.

Jacqui Frongello, the Technology Integration Specialist at Scituate High School and Gates Middle School, has seen this new policy on a greater scale, as she works with students from varying grades. Frongello highlighted the purpose of this policy, explaining “the importance of enforcing the policy is to extend the school’s responsibility of ensuring safety and productivity when it comes to school work.” Frongello said, “The reason the district decided to go in this direction is for the security and equity of all students. It gives all students an equal playing field.”

According to Frongello, high school students’ complaints haven’t been a problem; however, there have been some issues at the middle school level with damaged devices or students forgetting to keep their devices charged. Frongello finds herself meeting with about two to three middle school students per day regarding their broken or damaged Chromebooks. At the high school, issues surround forgetting chargers. After only a few months of this policy, teachers have found only a small percentage of students disregard the policy. 

Teachers have been given the responsibility of enforcing this policy, and as a result, they have faced a realm of perspectives. English teacher Meredith Pumphrey has seen firsthand the response from students after the new policy.  She said, “Originally it sounded great, but I was concerned about what would happen when students forgot their Chromebooks.”  Her past hesitations and questions toward the policy were replaced after she realized that “everyone now has a device consistently, which is different.” This new policy has ultimately brought a successful change to her classroom. 

Students have endured differing experiences regarding the new policy. Sophomore Kadenn LaVangie expressed that the policy is “beneficial for students who need a device, but shouldn’t be forced on everyone.” She has found it to be better for her to bring the device she purchased from home rather than using the school Chromebooks. She understands that the policy is necessary for some students; however, not all students benefit from this policy.

Chromebooks tend to have slower response rates with less advanced applications. They are much slower and more temperamental than most students’ Apple MacBooks. LaVangie struggles to understand why she should be encouraged to use a lower-quality computer when she has access to a better version that is her own. After completing only a month of school with the new policy, she doesn’t find it necessary and disregards it during her classes. 

Freshman Penny Murray shares a similar impression regarding the policy; however, she is under stricter enforcement. Being new to the high school, freshmen know their teachers are committed to introducing this initiative and continuing it during future years. Murray was given a school-supplied Chromebook, and she uses it during instruction periods. She does have a personal device that she is more comfortable with and would much rather use. Similar to LaVangie, Murray believes it is “unnecessary to apply the policy to everyone.” She is a part of a group of students who “spent money originally on a personal device before a school-issued device was issued to every student.” She would like to be given the ability to use her previously purchased device and not be restricted to the limits of the Chromebook. 

This new Chromebook policy came as a shock to many and caused many questions to rise from students, families, and faculty. Many adjustments have taken place in order for the policy to succeed, and SPS faculty has tried to make this change as comfortable as possible for students and families. The policy was ultimately put in place to make the learning space better for everyone, and as years progress, we will see how this new policy is benefiting the SHS academic community.