• Frequently Asked Questions

    Topic Menu (Updated August 2016):

    General Student Learning Support for families
    Access to iPads/Internet Other Questions Teacher FAQs (takes to separate page)
    Why Apple (takes to separate page)  Logistics  

    What is Personalized Learning?

    Every child has unique learning needs that SPPS believes can best be met through a tailored form of instruction called Personalized Learning. There are many ways to personalize the learning experience for our students. Personalized Learning includes providing multiple ways for students to gather and share information, making lessons more relevant to a child’s race, background or experience; or integrating technology to allow new approaches to problem-solving.

    How do iPads support Personalized Learning?

    Taking advantage of all the tools that technology makes available is one way to personalize learning. Saint Paul Public Schools chose to integrate technology using the Apple iPad. After piloting the iPad at several schools, Saint Paul Public Schools found it to be an “all-in-one” multimedia tool. This digital tool engages the widest range of learners to learn more.

    What is the vision for Personalized Learning in SPPS?

    While the physical environment will vary by school, the classroom experience will be consistent in providing personalized instruction tailored to individual learning needs. Students will have options to access information and express ideas in culturally relevant and engaging contexts. Classroom environments will support flexibility, student choice and decision-making.


    Why did SPPS go with Apple, and not Android tablets?

    Some factors that contributed to the decision to use iPads were: the ease of use, durability and repair record, extensive library of applications for educational settings, current prevalence of Apple products in the school system, access to professional development and user support, and Apple's extensive experience with large-scale deployment of devices in multiple districts around the country.

    What other school districts in Minnesota have used this strategy?

    Minnetonka, Farmington, Osseo, and Virginia are all Minnesota districts with 1:1 iPad deployments district-wide.


    Do students carry the iPads around and take them home?

    Students in grades 6-12 use district-issued iPads in school and at home. Students in Pre-K through grade 5 use their iPads at school. A few schools have also arranged for their fourth and/or fifth graders to take home iPads.

    Access to iPads, Internet

    What is the cost to families? Will families be responsible for the replacement cost of a lost or broken iPad?

    The district lends iPads to students for free. In the event of lost, stolen or broken iPads, the district focuse on behavioral consequences for persistent, intentional behavioral issues.

    Students who graduate early, withdraw, are expelled, or who terminate enrollment in Saint Paul Public Schools for any reason must return the district iPad, case, power adapter, and cable in working condition to the main office of their school on or before the date of withdrawal.

    If the iPad case, charger, and/or cord are lost, students and families may be requested to provide an Apple brand replacement or pay the replacement cost, around $30.  Willful damage to iPads is addressed on a case-by-case basis.

    What accommodations will be given to students who do not have Internet access at home?

    Many features of an iPad do not require access to the internet. Students can work on projects at home and do online access at school. There are also many community sites where students can connect to the internet through free wireless access, such as public libraries. The district will also be looking into partnerships with  Internet providers who offer discounts to low-income families. 

    Will my student be able to access unsafe or inappropriate material online with the iPad?

    All devices connected to SPPS networks have access to filtered internet content.  Content filtering is an imperfect science. Unfortunately, there is no technical solution that can ensure with certainty that no inappropriate images can be displayed. Our content filtering devices are CIPA compliant and are working as designed, effectively controlling the vast majority of  the undesirable content available on the Internet. Families will need to take whatever measures they currently use at home to monitor online content when the iPads are used at home.

    Common Sense Media has numerous helpful resources for families on responsible digital use. The district will also be providing an age-appropriate Digital Citizenship course to all students that includes lessons on online safety; see the “Student and Family iPad Handbook” for more information. We strongly recommend that families use these materials to talk to their students about being responsible online in every situation.

    My student already has an iPad. Can s/he bring that to school instead?

    Students need to use a school-issued iPads so we can manage the apps licensing, settings and configurations within our network.

    Do charging iPads use a lot of electricity? What can the district do to better manage the use of electricity?

    Over the course of a school year, each iPad uses approximately $1.38/year in electricity when charged overnight. For the iPads of K-5 students that stay in the schools, this amounts to just under $26,600 a year. That amount is minimal given the context of the district’s entire electrical budget is $8 million; charging iPads would cost less than half a percent (.5%) of the total budget. The district can save that cost in electricity through energy-saving efforts such as turning off computer monitors at night and exchanging old appliances for more energy efficient models, installing more lighting systems that automatically turn off when no one is in the room, etc. In addition, the district is establishing a sustainable technology ecosystem to phase out old computers and equipment, which will create savings. 

    Student Learning

    What evidence/research do you have that districts that personalize learning with iPads have made a positive impact on student achievement?

    Research concludes there are numerous benefits to implementing a 1:1 learning environment using iPads:

    • Increased student engagement
    • More authentic learning
    • Better connections to learning styles

    In our research and communication with other schools and districts, additional educational
    benefits were identified:

    • Increased student motivation
    • Increased variety of instructional methods
    • Improved access to information
    • Equal access for all students
    • Greater flexibility for mobile learning to occur anytime, anywhere.

    Locally, early indications for Minnetonka's pilot showed measurable results with student organization, student achievement (fewer D's and F's), more student collaboration and an increase in the number of formative assessments teachers use to ensure student learning.

    See Apple’s iPads In Education Results page to see how schools across the nation are improving classrooms with technology.

    Why was the Apple App Store replaced by an SPPS App Store, Self Service, on students’ district iPads?

    Providing a customized SPPS App Store is the best way to ensure that iPads are used for educational purposes and support student learning. The customized SPPS App Store also reinforces to students the need to use technology responsibly and better understand the expectations of digital citizenship. To view the list of approved please click this link.

    I am concerned about screen time and games. How will you ensure my student is not distracted at school?

    Technology as a potential distraction is a reality for today’s youth, and for adults too. Using these tools in school gives us the opportunity to teach students responsible use and ways to manage their online time for both learning and leisure. These important self-discipline skills will be valuable when they are unsupervised in the future.

    With students now working with iPads at school, what can families do to manage children's screen time? 

    While it is true that some doctors recommend limiting screen time for entertainment purposes, there’s a huge difference between an hour spent playing games and the same amount of time spent learning vocabulary from a smartphone app or composing music online. It's a good practice to pay attention to both quality and quantity.

    In today’s 24/7 digital world, learning to balance media usage has become an essential part of growing up. Just as youth learn not to eat too much candy, they must learn how to manage their "media diets." Using iPads in school gives us the opportunity to teach students responsible use and ways to manage their online time for both learning and leisure. These important self-discipline skills will be valuable when they are unsupervised in the future.

    A good resource on this topic is Common Sense Media, has other useful information for parents looking for guidance in raising children in the digital age.

    What if a teacher doesn’t want to use iPads in their classroom?

    SPPS is moving to a 1:1 iPad environment for all students. The focus is on student use of iPads in order to personalize their learning.  The expectation is that students will have the option to access their devices in any school setting where use is appropriate.

    What if a parent doesn't want their student to have an iPad?

    Education experts now indicate that iPads (or other similar tablet technology) will become essential learning tools for students in the same way that textbooks, paper and pencils have been.  Following the SPPS acceptable use policy, families have the option to opt out of the use of technology resources.  For more information and opt out forms, please see Guidelines for Acceptable Use of Technology on the Office of Technology web site.

    We understand that some families may have religious or other objections to technology. If that is the case, accommodations will be made for those students to complete their schoolwork without an iPad.

    Some families have also expressed concerns about iPads or Wi-Fi causing health problems. We rely on leading organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide guidance on matters related to health and safety. WHO concluded that there is no reliable evidence that iPads or other similar technologies are harmful. Visit the WHO web page for more details.

    Although it has been reported that people with nickel allergies experience discomfort from iPads, we have ensured that our iPads have cases that cover all exposed metal (except for the power button), so our students can comfortably use them.

    Support for Families and Students

    How will families be supported?

    Information is provided through this website on the Resources for Families page.  Support is also provided at the time of the annual signing of the Student Technology Use Agreement by students and families and by school sites in their on-going familiy communications.

    What steps has SPPS taken to teach students and parents about online safety?

    SPPS is developing specific curriculum and parent materials about digital literacy and citizenship, including lessons on online safety.  

    What apps will the district have on student iPads? How can parents make sure students aren’t downloading inappropriate apps?

    Students do not have access to downloading apps directly from the Apple Store.  Instead, the District has created a Self Service Apps store with apps that have been reviewed for student use.  The list of the educational apps provided to students on their iPads is available through this link.  All student participate in Digital Citizenship lessons teach online safety so they can learn early on how to safely navigate the web.

    The district has a list of resources on a number of iPad-related topics. A great parent resource that is listed on this page is Common Sense Media which provides guidance to parents on a number of online safety issues.

    Is SPPS concerned that thieves may target our students because they carry iPads?

    If an iPad is stolen from a student, it will be remotely disabled and made useless. SPPS also works with the Saint Paul Police Department, the media and pawn shops to spread the word widely on this anti-theft feature.  SPPS has also developed a safety awareness campaign that will teach students to carry the iPads in their backpacks and not use them in public spaces like light rail stations and bus stops.

    Will parents/guardians have to sign some sort of agreement?

    Yes. iPad Loan Agreements are available here.

    Additional Questions

    Will students use iPads do administer standardized tests?

    At this time, students continue to use computer labs to take standardized tests.  

    Will my child still need to buy school supplies if they have an iPad?

    Yes, they will still need to buy the school supplies as provided through your school. Regardless of whether they have an iPad or not, students will still use other tools in their school day. Contact your school or visit their web site for a list of school supplies that you will need to provide for the first day of school.

    My school is writing a grant that includes iPad purchases. Do we continue?

    Grant resources are always welcome. Contact the Department of Personalized Learning for help in determining ways to support the grant’s goals through technology integration. Note that SPPS has moved to centralized purchasing and management of devices. 

    Will the district be investing in a new/different Learning Management System (LMS)?

    Learning Management Systems support students, families, and teachers in sharing course materials, assignements, and general communication.  Following a review process that included input from many sources, Saint Paul Public Schools chose Schoology as our LMS.  Secondary sites had the option to use Schoology in the spring of 2016, and all sites will have this option by fall.

    How will teachers, students and families access data about students to support learning?

    Infinite Campus currently provides student data in a suite of services with which Saint Paul students, parents and teachers are familiar, such as attendance and final grades.  In the future, Schoology will also be a source of data, including on going course assignments and day-to-day communications.