Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) needed to update its student computers to run the latest learning assessment software and improve test scores. The district decided to deploy 4,500 HP notebook computers running the Windows 7 operating
system instead of Apple iPads. By selecting notebooks that cost less and are quick to deploy and easy to administer, SUSD can provide students with the best technology to support their education.
In 2012, Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) began evaluating how it could address a technology gap among its kindergarten to fifth-grade classrooms. While the district aimed to equip each classroom with seven computers, there were discrepancies
among the district’s 42 elementary schools due to a variety of factors ranging from teachers’ technical acumen to each school’s electrical infrastructure.
“We needed to standardize our computing platform to make sure that every child had the same access to the latest technology,” says Robert Torres, Chief Technology Officer at Stockton Unified School District. “Our computers were between two and seven years
old and ran versions of the Windows operating system that went back, in some cases, as far as Windows 2000.”
With a limited number of working desktop computers in the classroom, few of these computers could run the district’s instructional software, ST Math from the Mind Research Institute. Teachers experienced performance and mobility constraints issues with the
most recent version of the district’s assessment software, Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) from the Northwest Evaluation Association. SUSD also worried about being able to meet the computing standards necessary to comply with the Common Core State Standards
Initiative. “We wanted to deploy a computing platform that we could support and would meet the needs of teachers and students well into the future,” says Torres. “We decided on a target of seven new computers per classroom, amounting to 4,500 new devices for
all kindergarten to fifth-grade classrooms.”
||With a Windows-based computing platform, we can help our youngest students start their education journey with the best tools at their disposal.
| Robert Torres
Chief Technology Officer, Stockton Unified School District
SUSD had stringent criteria for this project. The computers had to be cost-effective and they had to be delivered with a standard image and a three-year warranty. IT staff wanted to use the district’s existing IT investments, including Microsoft System Center
2012, to simplify and centralize management of the computers. Also, the district sought computers that had a battery life long enough to last through a full day of instruction.
For its kindergarten to fifth-grade classrooms, Stockton Unified School District compared two computing platforms: HP 3115m notebooks running the Windows 7 Professional operating system and iPad tablet computers running the Apple iOS operating system.
SUSD chose to deploy 4,500 HP notebooks instead of Apple iPads.
“With Apple, we were not going to get the one standard image, the three-year warranty, or the ability to manage the devices en masse with our System Center management solution,” says Torres. “we would need one MacBook per school, putting the burden on school
personnel to update the iPads. This did not meet our expectations for an enterprise-level managed device. We also found that the iPad couldn’t run our MAP assessment software and, finally, the HP notebooks running the Windows 7 operating system was the most
SUSD wanted to introduce the new computers early in the 2012/2013 school year, so the district approached Microsoft for help to build a single standard image. “Microsoft stepped in quickly and put us in contact with SAIT [a member of the Microsoft Partner
Network],” says Torres. “They flew a consultant out from Atlanta and we worked on developing the image on a couple of demo notebooks from HP. “
Within seven days, SUSD had approved a gold image and shipped it to HP and its imaging partner, RTI, to deploy on the 4,500 notebooks. “We got a turnkey solution for our teachers,” says Torres. “They simply turn on the notebook and it automatically establishes
wireless network connectivity before joining our Active Directory domain. The notebooks run our ST Math application and our MAP assessment software flawlessly.” Active Directory Domain Services is the directory service that is an integral feature of the Windows
Server operating system.
SUSD finished deploying most of the notebooks before the end of 2012 and completed the deployment by early January 2013. “We have plans to migrate to Windows 8 when the time is right; we have an Enterprise Agreement that makes it easy to stay the course
using Microsoft technologies and the PC platform,” says Torres.
Stockton Unified School District chose a Windows-based computing platform for its kindergarten to fifth-grade students so that they could start their educational journey with the best tools at their disposal. Superintendent Steve Lowder had made the
purchase of ST Math a priority to help raise children’s math proficiency levels. By choosing HP notebooks running Windows 7, Stockton acquired the best technology to run ST Math and make Lowder’s goal a reality.
“With a Windows-based computing platform, we can help our youngest students start their education journey with the best tools at their disposal,” says Torres.
While ST Math has only been in use at SUSD for a few months, according to El Dorado Elementary School Principal Kristin Buckenham, it is already helping the district’s students and early assessment data is promising. In one second-grade class, 28 of 30 students
scored at proficient levels on a recent fractions assessment, when previously the teacher would have expected only a 50 percent proficiency rate. SUSD believes the computers will be useful for the students when teachers administer district assessments.
According to Torres, electrical issues at some schools are no longer a factor in students’ access to technology. The new computers are delivering their promise of a nine-hour battery life and are recharged on classroom carts that were included in the agreement
“Compared to docking 4,500 iPads to MacBook laptops, our Windows-based notebooks are a breeze to administer using the Microsoft management technologies that we already own,” concludes Torres. “We’ll be using System Center to deploy additional instructional
software, manage updates, and help ensure the computers are secure. This is a platform designed to carry us well into the future.”
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