As they settle into the new school year, teachers and students across Nevada will have the full support of the state as they expand their use of digital learning tools.
During Nevada’s 2017 legislative session, which concluded earlier this summer, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval opted to renew and expand Nevada Ready 21, the state-funded one-to-one program that launched in 2016, after an independent evaluation found the program had spawned wide success among participating students.
“We have started the work of building a K-12 system that will carry Nevada’s students into the future,” Sandoval said in a statement. “I was proud to sponsor the Nevada Ready 21 program so that they can have the newest technology to help them be prepared for 21st century jobs. We must remain committed to our students so they can develop the skills and proficiency they need to fully participate in the New Nevada economy.”
Nevada Ready 21 aims to provide students with a holistic digital learning program, through a partnership with edtech hardware company CTL.
As part of the partnership, each student is equipped with a Chromebook as well as a bundle of supporting software, tools and resources, said Elisa Cafferata, who was part of the government relations team that worked on legislation for Nevada Ready 21 in the 2017 session.
“What happens a lot of time in one-to-one programs is kids are given a computer, then something goes wrong and the devices end up stacked up in the back of the room, untouched,” Cafferata told EdScoop.
That’s not how Nevada is approaching its one-to-one program, which is modeled after the Maine Learning Technology Initiative — the first and largest statewide one-to-one initiative.
“This is not just a computer program. It’s an entire package,” she said, highlighting that the Chromebooks are supplemented with curriculum resources, professional development, IT support and coaches who help integrate technology in the classroom.
The outside evaluation of the pilot program found that students participating in Nevada Ready 21 had become “self-directed learners, utilizing the tools and resources at hand to solve real problems.” Almost two-thirds of students — who had 24-hour access to their Chromebook, both at school and at home — interacted online with classmates at least once a month and over half of students had begun using technology to find solutions to problems or questions.
During its previous legislative session, in 2015, the state budgeted $20 million to create Nevada Ready 21 as a statewide one-to-one program. As part of the pilot, over 19,000 middle school students made up the first cohort, reaching about 18 percent of the state’s nearly 108,000 public school students in grades 6-8, according to enrollment data from Nevada’s Department of Education.
The program, now codified under SB 467, targets middle school students, in particular, because “they are old enough and responsible enough to take the device home,” but are also young enough for the one-to-one program to play a significant role in their educations, said Ashley Clift-Jennings, who, like Cafferata, worked on the bill this legislative session.
Although current funding only expands the program to a second cohort of middle schoolers, rather than launching Nevada Ready 21 statewide, Clift-Jennings said the signing of the bill helps solidify the program.
“Based on the success of the program, it’s moving out of pilot and into an established program now,” she said in an interview. “It’s creating a more formalized grant program and [the legislature] made sure there were more options for school districts to apply for the technology.”
As one of the most urban states in the country — most students in Nevada live near Reno or Las Vegas — students in the remaining rural districts and counties often get left out, Clift-Jennings said. But not this time.
“They were really on equal footing with urban districts,” she said. “The rural districts really were in the same game and having the same advantages and opportunities for their students.”
Students in the first cohort will continue their one-to-one program. Funding for the second cohort — renewed at another $20 million — will become available in January.