Local News

Cumberland County Students Get Early Start On Computers

Posted August 21, 2002

— These days, many kids learn know how to click a computer mouse and play video games before they can ride a bike. More schools are trying to build on those skills, and Cumberland County is giving students an earlier start on computers.

Sixth-graders at

Mac Williams Middle School

are expected to stretch their minds and their fingers.

"We're going to learn how to type faster, not only learning the home keys, but all the keys on the keyboard," sixth-grader Blake Collins said.

In the past, most Cumberland County students had to wait for seventh grade to learn how to type. In eighth grade, the students moved on to spreadsheets and databases.

"In the eighth grade, there is a computer test that you have to pass to go into high school," sixth-grader Bennett Strickland said.

"We were not experiencing the success that we want to see. We were doing well, but we want to do better," principal Ernie Freeman said.

Two years ago, Mac Williams Middle School served as a pilot program, giving sixth-graders an early start with two semesters of keyboard training. When eighth-grader Camille McCraw takes the skills test this year, she will be part of that pilot group -- a measuring stick for how well the early experience is preparing students for high school, college and jobs.

"I can type a lot faster and like doing your math homework and spreadsheets, you can calculate that a lot faster than you can like with your hand," she said.

"You can do more jobs when you know what to do on the computer," sixth-grader Alex Williams said.

The pilot program begun at Mac Williams Middle School is now systemwide. Some middle school teachers say elementary students' hands are usually too small to learn proper typing techniques.


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