Local School District, Verizon Tech Team Up

Student using a laptop | Image by CBS Texas

While Irving ISD focuses on technology-centered classes to prepare students to succeed in a digital world, many students do not have access to technology at home.

The school district has partnered with Verizon to grant students the tech and tools they need to thrive.

Lady Bird Johnson Middle School is part of the Verizon Innovative Learning program, providing students with classes where they can design and code their own video games and develop other digital skills.

“I had several students that made it clear they don’t have any computer or internet access, but they’re so passionate and dedicated about learning technology,” said Patrick Yates, Verizon Innovative Learning Lab teacher, per CBS News Texas. “It’s a blessing they have the opportunity to actually attend a classroom like this to get real-world experience and also to be able to collaborate with other students.”

Students are reportedly enjoying the tech-based classes.

“It is challenging, but problem-solving is my favorite part in technology, so yeah, I like it,” seventh-grade student Asma Zahid told the news outlet.

“I’ve always used technology, but I’ve learned how to really use it to my advantage here,” said Demahje Henry, who is in eighth grade, per CBS.

More than a dozen schools in Irving and 83 in Texas are enrolled in the Verizon Innovative Learning program.

Not only does the program equip students with devices, but it also offers professional development and coaching for teachers to better assist them in educating students in a tech-filled society.

Since 2017, students at Irving’s middle schools who have participated in the program have seen an overall increase in their standardized test scores in science, math, reading, writing, and social studies, as reported by Verizon.

The program is exclusive to middle and high schools. It comes with a choice between iPads or Chromebooks for students, monthly data plans, funding to support a full-time school IT technician, and ongoing support and learning opportunities for students and faculty alike.

To qualify for the program, schools must have a free and reduced lunch participation rate of 63% or more or participate in the Community Eligibility Provision program, which enables schools and districts in low-income areas to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to enrolled students.

As of March 4, 2024, the Verizon program has already reached seven million students around the nation.

Irving ISD is the first district in the country to have 100% of its middle schools participating in the program.

For the 2021-2022 school year, according to the Texas Education Agency, only 33% of Irving ISD students scored at grade level or above on the STAAR exam. However, the school maintained a 95% four-year graduation rate — well above the state’s average of 90%.

By comparison, only 41% of Dallas ISD students scored at grade level or above for the same school year on the STAAR exam, and nearly 20% of its students failed to obtain a diploma within four years.

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