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Toward A New Golden Age In American Education--How the Internet, the Law and Today's Students Are Revolutionizing Expectations
National Education Technology Plan 2004

A National Education Technology Plan: The Future Is Now
"Our children can't wait. The future is now. We need to be preparing them for a future that few of us can even visualize."

– Dr. Mark Edwards
Former Superintendent
Henrico County, VA Public Schools


Seven Major Action Steps and Recommendations
  1. Strengthen Leadership

    For public education to benefit from the rapidly evolving development of information and communication technology, leaders at every level – school, district and state – must not only supervise, but provide informed, creative and ultimately transformative leadership for systemic change.

    Recommendations for states, districts and individual schools include:

    • Invest in leadership development programs to develop a new generation of tech-savvy leaders at every level.
    • Retool administrator education programs to provide training in technology decision making and organizational change.
    • Develop partnerships between schools, higher education and the community.
    • Encourage creative technology partnerships with the business community.
    • Empower students' participation in the planning process.
  2. Consider Innovative Budgeting

    Needed technology often can be funded successfully through innovative restructuring and reallocation of existing budgets to realize efficiencies and cost savings. The new focus begins with the educational objective and evaluates funding requests – for technology or other programs – in terms of how they support student learning. Today, every program in No Child Left Behind is an opportunity for technology funding – but the focus is on how the funding will help attain specific educational goals.

    Funding and budgetary recommendations for states, schools and districts include:

    • Determine the total costs for technology as a percentage of total spending.
    • Consider a systemic restructuring of budgets to realize efficiencies, cost savings and reallocation. This can include reallocations in expenditures on textbooks, instructional supplies, space and computer labs.
    • Consider leasing with 3-5 year refresh cycles.
    • Create a technology innovation fund to carry funds over yearly budget cycles.
  3. Improve Teacher Training

    Teachers have more resources available through technology than ever before, but some have not received sufficient training in the effective use of technology to enhance learning. Teachers need access to research, examples and innovations as well as staff development to learn best practices. The U.S. Department of Education is currently funding research studies to evaluate the effective use of technology for teaching and learning. The National Science Foundation also provides major support for educational research.

    Recommendations for states, districts and individual schools include:

    • Improve the preparation of new teachers in the use of technology.
    • Ensure that every teacher has the opportunity to take online learning courses.
    • Improve the quality and consistency of teacher education through measurement, accountability and increased technology resources.
    • Ensure that every teacher knows how to use data to personalize instruction. This is marked by the ability to interpret data to understand student progress and challenges, drive daily decisions and design instructional interventions to customize instruction for every student's unique needs.
  4. Support E-Learning and Virtual Schools

    In the past five years there has been significant growth in organized online instruction (e-learning) and "virtual" schools, making it possible for students at all levels to receive high quality supplemental or full courses of instruction personalized to their needs. Traditional schools are turning to these services to expand opportunities and choices for students and professional development for teachers.

    Recommendations for states, districts and schools include:

    • Provide every student access to e-learning.
    • Enable every teacher to participate in e-learning training.
    • Encourage the use of e-learning options to meet No Child Left Behind requirements for highly qualified teachers, supplemental services and parental choice.
    • Explore creative ways to fund e-learning opportunities.
    • Develop quality measures and accreditation standards for e-learning that mirror those required for course credit.
  5. Encourage Broadband Access

    Most public schools, colleges and universities now have access to high-speed, high-capacity broadband communications. However, broadband access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year could help teachers and students to realize the full potential of this technology and broadband technology needs to be properly maintained.

    Recommendations to states, districts and schools include:

    • Thoroughly evaluate existing technology infrastructure and access to broadband to determine current capacities and explore ways to ensure its reliability.
    • Encourage that broadband is available all the way to the end-user for data management, online and technology-based assessments, e-learning, and accessing high-quality digital content.
    • Encourage the availability of adequate technical support to manage and maintain computer networks, maximize educational uptime and plan for future needs.
  6. Move Toward Digital Content

    A perennial problem for schools, teachers and students is that textbooks are increasingly expensive, quickly outdated and physically cumbersome. A move away from reliance on textbooks to the use of multimedia or online information (digital content) offers many advantages, including cost savings, increased efficiency, improved accessibility, and enhancing learning opportunities in a format that engages today's web-savvy students.

    Recommendations to states and districts include:

    • Ensure that teachers and students are adequately trained in the use of online content.
    • Encourage ubiquitous access to computers and connectivity for each student.
    • Consider the costs and benefits of online content, aligned with rigorous state academic standards, as part of a systemic approach to creating resources for students to customize learning to their individual needs.
  7. Integrate Data Systems

    Integrated, interoperable data systems are the key to better allocation of resources, greater management efficiency, and online and technology-based assessments of student performance that empower educators to transform teaching and personalize instruction.

    Recommendations to states, districts and schools include:

    • Establish a plan to integrate data systems so that administrators and educators have the information they need to increase efficiency and improve student learning.
    • Use data from both administrative and instructional systems to understand relationships between decisions, allocation of resources and student achievement.
    • Ensure interoperability. For example, consider School Interoperability Framework (SIF) Compliance Certification as a requirement in all RFPs and purchasing decisions.
    • Use assessment results to inform and differentiate instruction for every child.

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Last Modified: 07/23/2012