What may not seem like a big deal to you is now the talk at Luxemburg-Casco Middle School when it comes to personal devices.
The school launched its “Away for the Day” initiative at the beginning of the school year, barring its students from accessing their smart devices during the school year. Middle School Principal Todd Chandler says they implemented the program because they wanted the attention of their students back in the classroom. “We believe – and research supports – that by eliminating personal smart devices, schools are seeing increases in academic performance, increases in face-to-face communication, a reduction in social issues, and decreases in unkind acts and bullying.”
The research does back up Chandler and his administration’s claims. When schools in England banned mobile phones, the test scores of 16-year-old students increased by 6.4%. Moreover, research has shown that students who are regularly interrupted by text messages average 10.6% lower test scores. Approximately 89 percent of Luxemburg-Casco’s middle school students carry a personal cell phone, but 78 percent of the students’ parents agreed that there should be limitations to how much and when those devices can be used. Chandler says the learning curve has been steeper for eighth graders who were able to have their personal devices at the same school last year.
Students get five strikes before the tougher decisions need to be made. Previous transgressions are usually greeted with the devices taken away and a mandatory check-in of the device when they come to school after the fourth offense. Students can still have their phones for use before and after school, but Chandler admits that it has declined significantly since the first week of school.