Sewanhaka Central High School District officials announced that more than 250 students were able to use their Apple iPads during the recent New York State Algebra I and II and Geometry Regents exams. The district has been working for nearly a year on getting teachers and students familiar with the GeoGebra graphic calculator app on their tablets for the exams.
“Sewanhaka is always looking for ways to break down any barriers for our students and provide them with the best resources available for success,” District Coordinator of Instructional Technology and Student Achievement Brian Messinger said.
Messinger and district Coordinator of Mathematics Robert Pontecorvo worked together to get the tablets ready for the regents in order to adhere to the state’s rules. The iPads were locked into an “exam mode,” which restricted the iPads’ functions in order to act solely as a graphing calculator. GeoGebra’s founder Markus Hohenwarter and IOS programmer Balazs Bencze were on hand throughout the district for support during the exams on Jan. 24 and 25.
GeoGebra officials added that the point of their application was to deliver equity and opportunity to all students, a mission that resonated with District Superintendent Ralph Ferrie. As he introduced the importance of GeoGebra during a Board of Education meeting last year, Ferrie described a situation when one of the district’s schools only needed to distribute three graphing calculators to its students, meaning that nearly everyone in that school owned their own calculator. But another school in the district had to distribute more than 300 calculators for the same test. Although Ferrie wouldn’t name which schools he was referring to, he expressed his concerns over the lack of access students faced and how new technology could help them overcome this problem.
“This initiative ensured the district’s mission of equitable access to the appropriate educational tools needed to ensure student success,” Ferrie said.
The district will aim to give a larger group of students the opportunity to use their tablets during the next math Regents exam in June.