Cybertimes, July 14, 1999
Schools should conduct a careful study of their technology programs to determine what’s working and what isn’t. That was the message contained in a two-day conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in July and titled “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Educational Technology.”
The conference, held July 12 and 13 in Washington, D.C., brought together about 350 federal, state, and local education officials to discuss ways that school districts can measure how well their technology plans are being used to improve educational outcomes in order to protect their investments.
Figures from ED’s National Center for Education Statistics show that internet access in public schools has more than doubled in the past five years, from 35 percent of schools in 1994 to 89 percent in 1998. And according to market research firm Quality Education Data, annual K-12 technology expenditures in public schools have more than tripled this decadefrom $2.1 billion in 1991 to $6.9 billion this year.
But the increase in spending has led to calls for more accountability, especially from critics in Congress who want to ensure that the money is being spent wisely.
In Idaho, a statewide evaluation of technology initiatives, which have pumped about $200 million in public and private foundation grants into technology for the state’s public schools, has produced positive results. The studies showed improved scores on standardized tests given to Idaho eighth and eleventh graders who have been introduced to technology in the classroom, and ED suggested more studies like this are needed.