Early Learning | News

Technology To Help Bridge Gap for North Carolina Preschoolers

Preschoolers in North Carolina's largest school district will now be able to use touchscreen computers in the classroom.

The Wake County Public School System in Cary installed 24 whiteboards and 39 touchscreen computers--made by Winston-Salem, NC-based educational technology company Hatch--in its Title I pre-K classrooms, which are for four-year-olds who need academic support.

The district, made up of more than 146,000 students, recently made the technology purchase to help close the gap in early learning. About 65 percent of the students in Wake County's Title I pre-K program have limited English proficiency, but both the whiteboards and computers are equipped with Hatch's activities that are designed to help increase literacy and build language skills necessary for kindergarten.

"Our goal is to constantly seek tools to improve the academic performance of our students and to help those students who need additional academic support, or at risk of falling behind, to accelerate their proficiency levels," said Beckie McGee, a senior administrator for Wake County Public School Systems' Title I program, in a prepared statement.

The whiteboards feature Hatch's TeachSmart Learning System, which has more than 1,100 research-based activities for early learners. The system allows teachers to search for activities by keyword and then break them out based on themes, outcome, skill level and group size, according to Hatch's Web site.

The district's new touchscreen computers are equipped with the iStartSmart Computer Learning System, which allows preschoolers to log in by touching an icon featuring their picture and name. The system has more than 500 activities designed to help students advance in 18 skill areas.

Teachers can also track student's progress in certain subjects and identify where they may be falling behind. Students' individual log-ins can also help teachers track their individual education program (IEP) goals and progress toward state standards, said teacher Kim Jackson in a prepared statement.

About the Author

Jessica DiNapoli is a finance and technology reporter based in Westhampton Beach, NY. She can be reached at [email protected].