Education report finds technology a boon for schools

Education report finds technology a boon for schools

The Education Department said the use of technology in schools is beginning to show results, driven by tech-savvy students. Schools have lagged other sectors of the economy in taking advantage of technology, said Education secretary Rod Paige.

'We are already seeing some remarkable results, and I believe this trend bodes well for the future of our country,' he said today at the release of the National Education Technology Plan, Toward A New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and Today's Students Are Revolutionizing Expectation.

Teachers are using technology to expose students to a variety of perspectives and enhance students' learning experience through multimedia, simulations and interactive software. Principals and administrators can track student achievement and better tailor instruction to individual needs.

Additionally, 15 states provide some form of virtual schooling to supplement regular classes or provide for special needs, and about 25 percent of all public schools offer some form of e-learning or virtual school instruction.

States and school districts are beginning to collect and share student performance data more effectively, the report said. For example, Virginia has a statewide initiative to integrate data systems with statewide online assessments'a partnership among the Virginia legislature, the Virginia Department of Education and the Governor's office. The state created Virginia's Web-based Standards of Learning Initiative so that all Virginia school divisions could use Web-based systems to improve the instructional, remedial and testing capabilities of all public 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.

In San Diego's suburbs, the Poway Unified School District rolled out the Total Information Management System, which enabled teachers to log in to view a class list and drill down to a student profile. The data warehouse pulls relevant data from the student information system and delivers up-to-date information to the teacher. Teachers can filter by period, course or any of the No Child Left Behind filters such as ethnicity, gender or language to compare achievement and identify strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can use the data to personalize lesson plans, which was not possible in the past.

According to the report, states and school districts can further improve education by:

  • Ensuring that teachers know how to use data to personalize instruction

  • Developing quality measures and accreditation standards for e-learning

  • Moving to digital content and away from textbooks to enhance learning opportunities and cut costs

  • Integrating data systems that administrators and educators use

  • Ensuring systems interoperability, such as under the School Interoperability Framework.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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