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CDW-G Streamlines Technology Solution for Fast-Growing Charter School Company
National Heritage Academies Successfully Integrates Technology with Back-to-Basics Curriculum at 51 Schools in Five States
Vernon Hills, IL - October 27, 2004 - The educational values are traditional, but the methodology has a 21st century flavor. At Metro Academy, just outside of Detroit, students use carts of wireless laptops to write drafts, edit their classmates' work, and prepare final copy. "When students can edit themselves by clicking on a mouse instead of rewriting an entire paper, they write more, and they write richer sentences," said school principal Andrew Cook.
The technology-infused writing program has dramatically boosted scores on Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAPS) standardized tests. Two years ago, only 28 percent of Metro's fourth graders passed the state's test in English Language Arts. This year, Metro's 56 percent score surpassed the Michigan average of 48 percent.
Metro is one of 51 charter schools in five states operated by National Heritage Academies (NHA). The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based charter school management company serves nearly 27,000 students in grades K-8. Founded in 1995, NHA focuses on education that challenges students and frequently tests their progress. A highly structured curriculum provides students with a thorough understanding in the core subjects of language arts, science, math and history.
"We're not interested in developing technology-centric students," explained Aric Dershem, NHA vice president of technology. "We're interested in using technology to develop students who are literate in all subject areas."
NHA is using economies of scale and smart technology to accomplish its core goals: partnering with parents, delivering a rigorous academic program, emphasizing character development, and achieving measurable results. Cited by INC Magazine as one of America's fastest-growing companies for the past four years, NHA aims to build a national organization of more than 200 charter schools.
NHA relies on CDW-G for value-added computer products and services. "We need more than just a technology provider - we need a knowledgeable problem-solver," said Dershem of his company's vendor choice.
About a year ago, NHA required a cost-effective way to track inventory at its various schools and manage software and equipment updates from a central location. CDW-G came up with a technical solution for configuring all new equipment.
Prior to delivery, CDW-G bundles each new computer with a power strip, headphones and an Ethernet cable. It also provides asset tagging and bios modification.
"With this new configuration system, our individual schools don't need a technician to set up new hardware," says Dershem. "People simply open the boxes from CDW-G, plug the computers in, and the systems are up and running."
NHA schools typically have two wireless carts, each with 25 laptops. Each classroom also has an LCD projector and at least one desktop machine.
"In the CDW-G 2004 Teachers Talk Tech™ survey, we found that eight out of 10 teachers believe that access to classroom-based computers improves student performance," said Chris Rother, vice president of education at CDW-G. "NHA's integration of wireless technology and mobile computing with back-to-basics teaching is an exemplary, standards-based model."
According to independent research conducted by the American Enterprise Institute and the University of Texas at Austin, NHA students have posted gains that exceed the national norms in all grades and subjects.
All NHA schools teach science and social studies without a textbook. National Heritage History Interactive, for example, is a Flash-based core curriculum aligned with E.D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Sequence. Teachers introduce the lesson and then project the day's interactive activity on a screen using an LCD projector.
"The content is rigorous and the multimedia presentation is engaging," said Cook. "And I'm sure students appreciate that we're lightening their backpack load."
NHA encourages parents to take an active roll in their child's education. Here again, technology is a critical link. Parents use AtSchool, a proprietary and secure web-based system, to view their children's academic performance, attendance records and homework assignments. Parents also can request email delivery of pertinent information.
A wholly owned subsidiary of CDW Corporation (NASDAQ: CDWC), CDW-G addresses the unique needs of government and education markets with brand-name technology products and services. CDW-G is a leading source of technology products and services from top-name brands such as APC, Apple, Cisco, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Sony, Symantec, Toshiba and ViewSonic. For more information about CDW-G product offerings, procurement options, service and solutions, call 1.800.863.4239, or visit the CDW-G Web site at CDWG.com.
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