Palm Pilots a Plus

The days of time-consuming student assessments are long gone in Montgomery County, where Palm Pilots and other technological classroom aids are making their way into the hands of teachers and principals.

It's part of an initiative aimed at helping educators better record and analyze the academic progress of students at the elementary level. County officials said the program will allow parents to access timely performance data -- as recorded on hand-held devices -- on the Internet.

"I can't tell you what a lifesaver it's been for me in the classroom," Clopper Mill second-grade teacher Amy Williams told the Board of Education on Tuesday. "Everything I did on pen and paper before is now put on the Palm for me."

Since last spring, teachers at eight area elementary schools -- Broad Acres, Rolling Terrace, Pine Crest, Montgomery Knolls, Viers Mill, Maryvale, Washington Grove and Clopper Mill -- have been using the devices, which allow them to make detailed, on-the-spot notes while young students practice reading.

Administrators said they expect the devices to be in 60 schools by the end of this year and all elementary schools by the end of the next school year.

New Saturday Schools

Two additional free Saturday School programs opened this month in Montgomery County public schools.

Albert Einstein and Watkins Mill high schools joined eight other schools in hosting the George B. Thomas Sr. Learning Academy, which runs Saturday School, providing enrichment, tutoring and mentoring for students in grades 1-12.

The George B. Thomas Sr. Learning Academy was established in 1986 by the Mu Nu chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity as an outgrowth of the Saturday School Initiative created by Blacks United for Excellence in Education.

The schools are open to all students. Other Saturday School sites are Montgomery Blair, Gaithersburg, John F. Kennedy, Northwest, Paint Branch, Sherwood, Springbrook and Wheaton high schools.

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