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No more textbooks for all Sunnyside HS students

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

No more textbooks for all Sunnyside HS students

By Valerie Cavazos. CREATED Jul 30, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) --  Sunnyside students are headed back to school next week. And for the first time, juniors and seniors are getting what other grades have had for years -- their own laptops.

At Desert View High School -- all students -- 2300 of them -- are being handed their own laptops --- and backpacks to carry them -- at registration. This year -- all teachers are no longer using textbooks so it's a necessary move -- and an added challenge.

"There's a learning curve for teachers. How to manage that. The classroom looks a little different. How do you manage digital content," said Pam Betten, who oversees the Digital Advantage Program.

"It's going to be a challenge to see how this is going to work this year.. Doing our projects and research and stuff," said senior Arianna Escobar.

Senior Marco Martinez said, "Everything is digital to be honest."

The big question is -- half way through the 10 year program -- are more students graduating?
Since 2010, 4 year graduation rates flatlined at Sunnyside High school -- at 81 percent. And at Desert View, there's been a steady increase -- 75 to 80 percent -- raising some eyebrows in the community, who approved the multimillion dollar bond.

KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos asked acting superintendent Eugenia Favela, "How you explain to them that they shouldn't look at these numbers -- they were flatlined -- what do you say to them?"

She answered, "I say look at the numbers with a grain of salt. The district is still building and fine-tuning the program.  Let's have families see what children can do now that they were not able to do before. Because a student falters -- we won't give up on them."  Success -- in part -- she said -- is coming from the rising numbers of drop-outs who are returning to school to graduate.

The district also has more certified repair technicians -- who stay on the campuses -- to quickly fix broken laptops.