Classroom Audio Enhancement Systems Expand

Classroom Audio Enhancement Systems Expand
Posted on 12/14/2023

Students learn better when they can clearly hear their teachers. Assistive technology is helping to level the playing field for students with hearing impairments, who are multilingual learners, or who struggle to stay focused in class.

Audio amplification systems from the educational technology company, Audio Enhancement, are continuing to be installed in classrooms across the district in order to help all students better hear their teacher and instructional videos.

The most recent purchase of amplification systems was approved by the Tahoma School Board on Nov. 14, 2023. The board approved the purchase of 80 amplification systems as part of a larger project that began in 2021. This phase of the project will cost $157,000, which is $23,000 under the budgeted amount.

The project is being funded by the current voter-approved Technology Capital Projects Levy, which is up for renewal on the February 2024 special election ballot. If the 2024 Technology Levy is approved by voters, the Technology Dept. plans to propose the purchase of additional amplification systems until every classroom is equipped with this technology.

“Expanding the Audio Enhancement system to more classrooms means that more students can understand their teacher and stay focused in class,” said Gretchen Schlag, Tahoma’s Director of Elementary Teaching & Learning. “We’re excited for the opportunity to provide this level of access to instruction in more Tahoma classrooms.”

Data shows that audio amplification in the classroom benefits both students with and without hearing difficulties. A research study by Gertel, McCarty & Schoff found that students in amplified classrooms scored 10% higher on a standardized achievement test than students in unamplified classrooms. Additional research shows statistically significant improvement in ratings of student attention, communication and classroom behavior in amplified classrooms.

For students who use Assistive Listening Devices, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, the classroom audio systems can connect directly with the student’s ALD using an FM signal, giving those students a front-row experience wherever they are sitting. And for students who are learning English, an amplified teacher voice allows for improvement in word discrimination, language processing and comprehension.

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