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Maine Schools Dismiss iPads As ‘Toys,’ Ready MacBooks Instead

Apple 9.7-inch iPad ProApple 9.7-inch iPad Pro
Apple's 9.7-inch iPad Pro, with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. Jason Cipriani

Apple has long pushed for iPads in schools, but it appears that at least in one area of the country, it’s failing class.

The Maine Department of Education has decided that iPads should be replaced with notebooks, after conducting a statewide study that found both teachers and even students would rather not use the tablets in the classroom, according to local news outlet Sun Journal. The department says it will be offering schools a “refresh” at no additional cost to the district to replace their iPads with notebooks.

But there is one silver lining for Apple (AAPL): instead of offering a Windows-based PC, the “refresh” will deliver to schools new Apple MacBook Air laptops.

Apple-tracking site 9to5Mac earlier reported on the decision.

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After its launch in 2010, Apple soon pitched the idea that its iPad could be an appealing option for schools. And many schools around the country took the company up on the offer, bringing the tablets to students across all grade levels. The tablet was able to deliver textbooks, as well as easier communication with teachers.

In 2012, a study of kindergarten students in Auburn, Maine, of all places, found that the iPad actually improved literacy scores. In fact, the study, which included 266 students, said those with iPads performed better on every literacy test than those who did not.

That news came after Piper Jaffray analyst found that 100% of the school districts he had analyzed across the U.S. were at least testing the iPad in 2011. He added that nearly one in five school tech directors expected to have each student with a tablet in-hand by 2016.

Despite Maine’s recent decision, Apple has for the last few years been trumpeting the value of its technology in schools. In 2014, for instance, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that his company would deliver to classrooms across 29 states a wide range of Apple products. In January 2014, Apple pledged $100 million to help disadvantaged students as part of President Obama’s ConnectED program.

Maine’s decision is just the latest in a long line of blows to Apple’s iPad line, which has been in free fall over the last several quarters. While Cook has remained steadfast in his belief that the iPad has a “long runway” ahead of it, quarter after quarter, his tablet business is shrinking. A similar story is playing out in the broader tablet industry, where demand appears to be slowing.

Maine’s decision came after surveys were conducted with teachers and students across grades seven through 12. In Auburn—the same spot where, years ago, kindergartners were found to benefit from the iPad—Apple’s iPad was overwhelmingly panned, with 88.5% of teachers and 74% of students saying it should be replaced by notebooks, according to the Sun Journal. One teacher said that students often use the iPads as “toys,” adding that they have “no educational function in the classroom.” The teacher was also concerned about the iPad’s “word processing” capabilities, according to the report.

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Even students were harsh, with one saying that iPads are designed to “play games on” and ostensibly not to be used for work.

The refresh was made possible by Apple delivering better pricing on its computers, the report says. The state’s head of learning and technology initiatives, Mike Muir, said that Apple is charging $217 per year per student for the 2016-2017 school year. After that, the company will charge Maine’s education board $248 per student per year, Muir told the Sun Journal.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.