National Education Technology Plan 2004
Virginia is one of the leading states in developing a model and implementing a statewide initiative for integrating data systems with statewide online assessments – a partnership between the Virginia legislature, the Virginia Department of Education and the Governor's Office. The state created Virginia's Web-based Standards of Learning Initiative with the goal that all Virginia school divisions would use Web-based systems to improve the Standards of Learning instructional, remedial and testing capabilities of high, middle and elementary schools by 2009. Online delivery of results will be provided to state and local administrators for evaluation and planning. To date, Virginia has delivered 400,000 assessments online. Specific objectives of the initiative are to:
- Provide student access to computers at a ratio of one computer for every five students.
- Create Internet-ready local area network capability in every school.
- Assure adequate high-speed, high-bandwidth capability for instructional, remedial and testing needs.
- Establish a statewide Web-based Standards of Learning test delivery system.
- Deliver ongoing training to teachers and administrators.
Two years ago in New Mexico, the then state education technology director was interested in using handheld devices for assessment. He approached the directors of the Reading First program and the assessment program and convinced them to enter into a reading initiative that allowed teachers across the state to assess their students' reading progress, to answer to the accountability required by the Reading First program and to provide a low-cost, highly motivating system for doing all of this. The results were many – technology was infused throughout New Mexico's schools, Reading First funding was shared with the Office of education technology and data were available in a timely manner, allowing teachers to hone in on the skills that need reinforcement.
Louisiana's On-Line Professional Development is designed to provide professional development for teachers, administrators, and school personnel in K-12 school districts. The program includes graduate-level online courses, community of learners networks, and workshops for specific educational needs. Through a variety of experiences, it provides learning opportunities and resources to support all teachers in their efforts to improve student learning and achievement.
The impetus for the program was the need to provide professional development for educators that better suited their learning styles and their schedules. Initial efforts involved individuals from across different divisions of the state department of education (including professional development, curriculum, teacher standards, instructional technology and school nutrition) and outside experts.
The Idaho Student Information Management System or ISIMS Project creates a statewide, student information management system designed to provide new resources for parents, teachers, students and all stakeholders of education in Idaho. The ISIMS project is a partnership of the Governor and Legislature, State Board of Education, State Department of Education, J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation and all school districts in Idaho.
In the 2003 legislative session, the Idaho legislature passed legislation requiring all school districts in Idaho to use the ISIMS system to the full extent of its availability. The J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation dedicated $35 million to the development and implementation of the ISIMS system. The plan expands a $3.5 million pilot program now in place in 13 districts that allows the districts to collect, maintain and share student information among their schools. The project will build a centralized, uniform system that includes a host of web-based resources and tools for education stakeholders.
The West Virginia Virtual School (WVVS) was created by state senate legislation that became effective on July 1, 2000. It was created to offer high quality educational courses to students through Internet technology, regardless of school location or size. The West Virginia legislature passed the bill based on the following findings about virtual learning:
- West Virginia schools have improved and expanded Internet access, which enables schools to offer courses through the Internet, and other new and developing technologies.
- Current technology is available to provide students with more resources for learning, and new and developing technologies offer even more promise for expanded opportunities.
- A number of other states and other jurisdictions have developed Internet-based instruction which is available currently and which is being used by schools in the state.
- To better educate the students of West Virginia, more course and class offerings can be made available through technology, especially to students who are geographically disadvantaged.
In the planning stages, educators from all 55 counties participated in a “Going the Distance-1999”week-long conference to identify and study the issues associated with Virtual Schools. The educators were charged to take online classes during the summer. This planning group then re-assembled and discussion centered on best practices to inform planning of the project. The legislation was drafted using the input from this process.
The state's Environmental and Spatial Technology Initiative (EAST) includes strong relationships between business, government and education. These relationships provide awareness and access to resources normally not available to educators. The EAST philosophy includes:
- Educational experiences that are relevant, challenging, purposeful, and student centered.
- An educational environment that includes state of the art, real-world tools and reflects a work-like setting.
- Educators that serve as resource guides, managers, and learner facilitators.
- Learning that is self-directed as much as possible and oriented towards real-world projects that engage students in independent as well as interdependent roles.
- High expectations for all students.
The EAST model has been recognized nationally as an innovative, relevant, and successful approach to education.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has a regional technology program (eSPARC) that focuses on increasing in-home access to computers and the Internet, particularly for high-need families, in an effort to bridge the digital divide. Pennsylvania received a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to study the impact of computers on student achievement. The study will examine the benefits of home access for student learning and parental involvement. The evaluation will explore a wide range of research questions that focus on whether and how in-home computer and Internet access impact students and parents, allowing for the promotion of “what works”. In addition, PDE will produce and disseminate resultant research methodologies and tools that will assist in measuring the impact of technology initiatives across program areas, strengthening local, state and national evaluative capabilities.