When the class bell rings at Success High School, students are expected to have their cell phones out of reach for the next 70 minutes. Going cell phone-free to limit distractions and maintain academic integrity has been a staff point of discussion for three years.

This past summer, students completed 50 percent more courses than the summer before when Success summer school Principal Jerrod Gertsema decided to pilot a cell phone-free classroom. The results motivated campus administration to maintain the cell phone-free classrooms for the regular school year.

“There was some initial push-back from students,” said Gertsema. “Once they realized the teachers were united on this issue, putting their cell phone away became a regular part of the day.”

Students have access to their cell phones before and after school, during passing periods and at lunch. The District’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy allows students the opportunity to bring a personal electronic device to school for instructional use. It’s at the discretion of each campus to determine usage guidelines.

This year’s cell phone-free students have already completed 22 percent more courses than last year’s cohorts who had access to their cell phones during class time.

“Teachers are reporting a less hectic classroom environment with richer conversations,” said Success High School Principal Thomasine Stewart. “Being able to self-monitor, demonstrate self-disciple and not be dependent on your phone is an employable skill.”

At the conclusion of the school year, Success administration will consider further data related to student behaviors that have been linked to excessive cell phone use, such as behavior referrals, and reports of student anxiety and depression.