STEP Technology Initiative
In February 2014 the Lauderdale County School System launched the STEP initiative. STEP stands for Student Technology Engagement Plan, and it is designed to bring the academic power of the internet to our students' fingertips. The STEP program began with all eighth-grade students in the system, but it has grown so that all students in grades seven through twelve now have full-time use of a school-supplied Dell Chromebook. Students receive the device at the beginning of school and are allowed to take it home with them throughout the school year. At the end of the year, each device is turned back in and stored over the summer. To aid in the management process, the system also employs the Hapara Teacher Dashboard, which allows the teacher to easily share important files and assignments with students. More importantly, however, is Hapara's monitoring capability. Using Hapara, a teacher can see each student's actual Chromebook screen, ensuring that every student is engaged and where he or she should be. The system uses a simple insurance program to deal with device breakage. Students pay a yearly technology fee of $50 for unlimited use of the device during the school year. While elementary students do not yet have access to their own device, each school's libraries have iPads and Chromebooks that can be used for either whole- or small-group instruction.