In a PowerPoint presentation at the Beeville Independent School District’s board of trustees meeting on Dec. 17, Bernal cited 2008 statistics that showed 59 percent of the population three years or older use the Internet regularly.
Almost 76 percent of all BISD students use their computers to complete school assignments.
The percentage of high school students using a computer to help complete assignments jumps to 92.4.
“These figures are from five years ago,” Bernal said. “Think how they must have changed in five years in this technology geared society.”
Her premise: Many classes taught at the high school are not taking advantage of the computer literacy of the students.
“What I’m hoping to do,” she told the board, “is to expand the class offerings to match the needs of our students. I tell every student that my goal is for them to get out of school with a diploma.”
Bernal says youngsters 15 1/2 years or older are “at-risk” students because of changes in the student population. “Some of our students are parents; some are living alone.”
The way their classes are taught, Bernal says, needs to reflect such a dramatic demographic change.
Bernal is asking the board to have four classrooms converted to labs where courses are taught by computer. While acknowledging that some courses do not lend themselves to computer instruction, many do.
BISD Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas explained the economic advantages of computer-assisted interaction. “Take French for instance,” Thomas said. “We don’t have to pay an instructor a full salary for 20 students.”
Picking up on the administrative perspective, Bernal noted that the advantages of a computer are numerous.
“They don’t require a salary; they are never late for work; and they thrive on repetition.”
Bernal is asking the board to create four teaching positions, funded through attrition, where computer-instructed courses would be conducted in four computer labs.
“What I am suggesting is to create a two-track system, where the same course will be taught on computer or taught by an instructor—whichever the student wishes,” she says.
“We need to start looking at diversification of teacher,” Bernal says. “The kids want to learn, but they want to learn in different ways.”
She noted that once high school students reach a certain age, they are more prone to dropping out of school. “Offering different ways for them to take a course also would help morale,” Bernal says. “We need to expand the opportunities that we put before our students.”
Her ultimate goal with increased computer-instructed courses is, she told the board, “to eliminate summer school.”
“Out of more than 300 students we had on the list last year to attend summer school, we have about 120 who showed up.”
The summer school curriculum, she noted, is taught by computer.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.