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Mon, Oct. 21

Mayer schools adopt new state computer literacy requirements

The technology age has come to Mayer schools.

The Mayer Unified School District will implement a series of new state computer literacy requirements in February.

These new regulations mandate that students be fully literate in all basic computer skills by the 6th grade. Kindergarten students will begin with the simple steps to start up a computer and learn how to use the mouse; while basic word processing and data base skills will be part of 3rd and 4th grade class instruction.

Mayer Elementary School principal Dr. Don Cook said kids must be well prepared in order to survive in today's technological society.

"We want to make sure the students of Mayer elementary have every opportunity to excel beyond high school," he said.

Marge Watson, title I coordinator for MUSD, said the regulations did not surprise the district; in fact, officials have been planning for the changes.

"The state has been working on the standards for about a year," she said.

Watson said the state expects students to be proficient in all the basics of the computer itself and in the use of many of the industry's standard software programs.

"We are a computer age community now and these are the basics the students need before they can get a job," she said.

Watson said this early training will enable students to write their reports and research papers on the computer by the time they are in junior high school, as well as giving students the skills necessary to prepare them for college.

MUSD Superintendent Jim Nelson said he believes schools must expand student access to technology education. Nelson said the students must have this type of early training to be able to compete in the business world someday.

"We are preparing them for the 21st century," he said. "What we want to do is teach not only the technical skills of computers, but also the nomenclature," he said.

Watson said the new standards are high, but not unrealistic or unattainable.

By the 4th grade, students must be able to type 25 words per minute. When students reach the 7th grade they must be able to use email and know how to access the Internet for doing research.

Cook said the standards are formidable, but not insurmountable.

"We are going to make every effort to achieve the standards the state has set forth," he said.

All this technology education will take place in the new computer lab MUSD recently built at Mayer Elementary School. The district expects the computer lab to come on line in the next two weeks. Cook said he has received many calls regarding the new standards and the new lab.

"Every one is excited about the facility the Mayer governing board has been able provide," he said.

Mary Heath, grant writer for MUSD among her other responsibilities, secured several federal grants to pay for the lab's construction, the computer equipment, and even the software. The grants reduced the financial impact on the district's budget to almost nothing.

MUSD will officially unveil the computer lab at a public open house before the regular governing board meeting on Thursday, February 8 at 6 p.m.

With the computer lab arriving so late in the school year, Watson said the rest of this school year will be spent on teachers getting the kids up to speed on the equipment and the school will begin the program with the current classes playing a little catch-up.

"This year, our primary focus will be keyboarding, in all grades" she said.

(You can reach Andrew Draper at adraper@prescottaz.com)

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