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States look for tech edge in NCLB.

No Child Left Behind calls for technological literacy among students by ninth grade, but educators say school districts should look beyond the federal mandate's section devoted to technology to understand what a tech-savvy school system should look like.

"In almost every program [in NCLB], technology is critical to the effectiveness of the program," says Melinda George, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

To wit, the three-year-old group has recently released the second of its annual "toolkits" of tips and strategies to help states implement NCLB through technology. The strategies are culled from brainstorming sessions of state education technology experts at SETDA's annual National Leadership Institute conference, where federal Department of Education members took an active part in the sessions.

Susan Patrick, director of the DOE's Office of Educational Technology, says this participation should help quell assertions that NCLB is an unfunded mandate. Before NCLB, she says, state education technology funding was $450 million annually. "In the last three years it's been $700 million per year--so the technology funding has increased."

In one example, Patrick says the government doled out 10 grants totaling $15 million to help states learn how to conduct scientifically based research and study the potency of their technology programs. Iowa educators, for instance, will use their share to assess their statewide education communications network.

George and other state educators say the newest toolkit takes a more detailed look at building partnerships and leveraging resources due to financial constraints. "Every state is concerned about the scarcity of dollars," says Arthur Skerker, educational technology/learning resources consultant with the Connecticut DOE. "The toolkit provides a rational way to look at what we have and how we can add value."

Skerker says the toolkit helped frame discussions between various states' school superintendents on a recent visit to Maine to learn about laptop deployment "We're all concerned about performance-based data management," he says. "We want to make sure that we can begin to visit data that shows us that how we're using technology is entirely appropriate."

Allan Richter
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Title Annotation:Inside the law: analyzing, debating and explaining no child left behind; No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
Author:Richter, Allan
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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