Critics of educational technology often point to a lack of empirical evidence demonstrating its effectiveness as reason for their concerns. But thanks to a grant from the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Minnesota's Independent School Districts 191 and 196 have plenty of first-hand evidence to support technology's power to transform education.

In the fall of 1997, the districts gave laptop computers to 150 fourth graders from low-income families. They also organized computer and network training sessions for every member of the students' families.

"The results of the


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