Teachers Seeking Better Content With Classroom Technology, Study Says

Teachers are getting more computers in their classrooms, but they have to wade through stacks of CD ROMs and computer diskettes that do not meet their students’ needs, according to “Technology Counts,” Edweek’s annual survey of the nation’s teachers and state education technology policies.

While government officials declare school technology a national mission and pledge to connect every classroom to the internet, they are not investing enough time and money in software, the report concludes.

Teachers reported that the available learning software material does not match state or school district standardized tests, cannot run on underpowered classroom computers, consumes too much instruction time, and can cost too much.

Overall, 71 percent of the nation’s 86,000 schools can reach the internet from at least one classroom. On average, the report said, nearly six students—there are 53.2 million nationwide—match up for every one “instructional computer,” which includes older models without extras such as sound cards and video.

Cost is a problem in effectively using computers, 80 percent of the teachers surveyed said. Also, 47 percent said their computers were too weak for the best software.

Other findings in the report:

• 30 percent of schools have a full-time technology coordinator, while 27 percent add this responsibility to a current employee’s duties.

• 42 states require that teacher preparation programs include technology, but just four require technology in teacher re-certification.

• 23 states have group-purchasing plans for schools to buy classroom software, which can cost $600 to $1,000 per title.

• Four states developed some software lessons to match the standards they have set for learning goals by grades. Eight states put such content on Web sites.

• The teachers’ survey was based on 1,407 responses from a representative sample of 15,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The third annual report tracking state policies and funding of school technology was underwritten by The Milken Family Foundation of Santa Monica, Calif.

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