Technology plans, virtual school discussions advance in Conroe ISD

Conroe ISD has seen increased technology use during the pandemic. (Ally Bolender/Community Impact Newspaper)
Conroe ISD has seen increased technology use during the pandemic. (Ally Bolender/Community Impact Newspaper)

Conroe ISD has seen increased technology use during the pandemic. (Ally Bolender/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Technology use in Conroe ISD schools has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to play a vital role as the district examines costs that could be incurred as a result of online testing and virtual schooling, CISD school officials said.

Hedith Upshaw, CISD assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said technology is used to connect virtual students to the classroom, facilitate the learning process and administer assessments.

“We really use technology more as a tool or as a vehicle to show [the students’] product of learning,” Upshaw said.

STAAR goes online

House Bill 3261, enacted in June, requires state assessments to be administered online by the 2022–23 school year. The transition will require the spring 2023 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness to be administered through an online platform.


The district is phasing out older Chromebook computers and purchasing new Chromebook computers because online testing platforms and learning management systems require newer operating systems. The district is using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds for these purchases.

CISD has set aside roughly $3 million of ESSER III funding, the third phase of funds released in 2021, for technology support. The district will also continue providing hot spots to students who need internet access at home.

“The majority of the money is really going to ... making sure that our equipment is up to date and what’s needed in our building,” Upshaw said.

Virtual school plans

Discussions regarding a virtual school in Conroe ISD will return in early 2022.

“If we do move forward with [virtual school], it’s going to look very similar to the option that we had rolling out last year ... which was grades three through nine, if we do move forward,” Upshaw said.

In the 2020-21 school year, CISD initially had plans to create a virtual school but put the project on hold after virtual schooling measures were not approved in the state legislative session. The virtual school remains on the 2022-23 school year budget.“

Parents were pleased with the option to be able to have their kids connected,” Upshaw said.
By Ally Bolender

Reporter, The Woodlands

Ally joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Texas State University. Ally covers education, local government, transportation, business, and real estate development in The Woodlands. Prior to CI, Ally served as news content manager of KTSW FM-89.9 in San Marcos, Texas.