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January 7, 2005 Extra Credit
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January 7, 2005

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A New Golden Age in American Education: U.S. Department Of Education Releases National Education Technology Plan

American education is being bolstered by the increasing use of educational technology, greater accountability, and growing new partnerships between tech-savvy students and teachers, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Education.

Toward a New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and Today’s Students are Revolutionizing Expectation, focuses on signs of progress in core subjects, benefits from reforms stimulated by the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act, and the success of innovative new approaches to learning through advances in educational technology. It also profiles today's students and includes a sampling of the views and recommendations of more than 200,000 students in all 50 states, which is consistent with the president’s management agenda for government to be more customer-oriented.

The report includes Paige's vision and recommendations for a National Education Technology Plan, based on input received from educators and technology experts across the country.

According to the report, the technology that has so dramatically changed the world outside our schools is now changing the learning and teaching environment within them. This change is driven by an increasingly competitive global economy and the students themselves, who are “born and comfortable in the age of the Internet.”

In many states, the explosive growth of online instruction and virtual schools is already complementing traditional instruction with high quality courses tailored to the needs of individual students, the report said. At least 15 states provide some form of virtual schooling to supplement regular classes or provide for special needs, and about 25 percent of all K-12 public schools now offer some form of e-learning or virtual school instruction.

The report includes numerous details of successful initiatives and partnerships developed at the state level by school districts and by individual schools. It concludes with a series of recommendations for enhancing the use and benefits of new technologies, and places them within the context of long-term, systemic transformation, covering such issues as leadership, management, teacher training and funding.

“As these encouraging trends develop and expand over the next decade, facilitated and supported by our ongoing investment in educational technology...” the report said, “...we may be well on our way to a new golden age in American education.”

The full text of the National Education Technology Plan is available at: www.ed.gov/technology/plan.

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