Access to digital textbooks improves student outcomes


Increased access to digital textbooks is empowering students and increasing academic performance

Archbishop Stepinac High School, White Plains, New York

ArcTJN-0905-TEXTBOOKS740x740hbishop Stepinac High School administrators strive to ensure they provide the best academic resources to their all-male student body. High School President Father Thomas Collins believed that digital and computer technologies were the future of education and that his students needed to acquire technical skills to be successful in the workforce. In 2008-09, school administrators and technology personnel began building the infrastructure to support computer labs, enhancing networks to accommodate high levels of student usage, and developing security measures.

While laying the foundation for this technology, school administrators began implementing digital curricula that teachers would value and that would adhere to the school’s high academic standards. Seeing increased interest in digital textbooks by teachers and parents, Vice Principal Frank Portanova sought to streamline the process of accessing e-textbooks. He believed universal access to all e-textbooks would provide state-of-the-art resources to help every student excel. Partnering with Pearson, a Digital Library was created with more than 40 textbooks that students could access throughout their high school academic tenure.

Launched during the 2013-14 school year, all teachers and students accessed the digital library through different devices, including tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Whichever device—laptop or tablet—students purchase to access the library, they can interact with it in any classroom throughout the school. “Now we have all of our textbooks online. Since all of the students paid for the Digital Library, they just log in to one place and access their books, whether it is the honors/advanced placement library or the college prep library,” said Portanova.

It’s wonderful that students have their books available to them wherever they are.

Cynthia Kilkelly, College Counselor

Students were trained how to navigate the library, how to use the highlighting and sticky note features, and especially how to download chapters or lessons. “The searching feature is especially significant since it allows students to search through the entire digital library – not solely their class e-text. They can then use their other texts as primary or secondary research sources,” said Matt Hogan, History Department chairperson.

Teachers were also trained to use both the teacher and student versions of the e-texts. “The e-text provides math teachers detailed diagrams and drawings; students do not need to wait for the in-class lesson to access them. They can now more easily interact with the mathematical concepts prior to class,” said JoAnne Korson, Math Department chairperson.

As a result of the increased resources available to students and ease of accessing the content from multiple locations, students have become more accountable for their learning. Students can learn anywhere. “If they are absent they are able to do the lesson at home. They can log into the system, see where the teacher is for that particular day, go into the digital library, watch the videos pertaining to the day’s topic, and then come to class prepared for the next lesson,” said Portanova.

Because of the increase in accountability and access, the number of students on academic probation has decreased. Portanova continues, “I compared the number of failures, and the number of kids who had failures per marking period last year versus this year. Last year it was about 12% of the population and this year it was down to 6.1%.”

Archbishop Stepinac High School has been featured in the media for their innovative and engaging approach to education. The and articles are linked here.

The use of highlight or bookmark allows students to easily mark where formulas/definitions are located. Students do not have to rewrite them into a notebook.

JoAnne Korson, Math Department Chairperson

Digital library improves learning outcomes

One year after implementing an all-digital curriculum, Archbishop Stepinac High School cut its academic probation rate in half.