Discipline through Data
Using personal digital assistants (PDAs) to keep kids in line may not be your primary reason for buying mobile technology. But at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C., PDAs are turning out to be more effective than hall monitors.
Equipped with Defywire software that links mobile devices to the main system of record, the McKinley PDAs enable administrators to search student schedules and determine whether an individual hanging out in the hallway actually belongs in algebra class and whether he or she has been involved in any fights or other disruptions that day. All devices have access to the same information, which empowers school officials by providing a context for any disciplinary or scheduling dispute anywhere in the wi-fi-equipped building, says Principal Daniel Gohl.
When a student disruption occurs, an administrator can pull up pertinent information on the spot without having to leave the scene of the encounter, he says. The system also can be programmed to issue alerts after a designated number of incidents with the same student, and reports can be generated anytime, sorted by student, time, or type of problem.
The mobile data system has enabled adults to engage students much more knowledgeably. And students, aware that administrators know what is going on, are more likely to start conversations with an explanation rather than remaining silent. Initial student response to the behavior initiative have been encouraging, with strong reenrollment rates, he says. McKinley also is recording fewer truancy and incident reports than other nearby schools.
Pamela Derringer is a contributing writer for Scholastic Adminstr@tor magazine.