As schools fill up with once-scarce computer equipment, administrators are faced with a new challenge: how to find teachers who actually know how to teach using all those brand-new computers.

In a Jan. 10 press conference in Washington, D.C., at the National Conference on Teacher Quality, members of the CEO Forum on Education and Technology, along with U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley, announced a new component of the group’s plan to address this problem by jump-starting teacher technology education.

The CEO Forum’s newest version of its School Technology and Readiness (STaR) Chart, entitled “Teacher Preparation,” is designed to provide teacher colleges and universities with a self-rating tool that would help these programs produce teachers who are skilled at using technology in their classrooms.

The group has also challenged teacher colleges to make the data they gather public within six months.

In his remarks to the press, Secretary Riley noted, “Unfortunately, as a recent study by the Department’s NCES [National Center for Education Statistics] found, only about 20 percent of new teachers feel ‘very well prepared’ to integrate education technology into [their] classroom instruction.”

John Hendricks, CEO Forum chair and founder and chief executive of Discovery Communications, added, “Some two million new teachers will be entering the work force in the course of the next decade. These teachers will be the principal gatekeepers to the future of our children. They simply must have the technological skills to teach our children how to seize new opportunities.”

The NCES study also found that fewer than half of the nations’ teacher-preparation programs require their students to take classes on technology-based instruction. And only three states—Idaho, North Carolina, and Virginia—require their teachers to be proficient in technology integration. By using the teacher-preparation STaR Chart, colleges of education can assess their technology training programs to ensure that all new teachers have adequate skills by 2001, the group said.

The chart will measure big-picture issues, such as teacher colleges’ strategic plans and funding, as well as everyday issues like the age of computers and the amount of time instructors and candidates must wait for technical support. Equipment that is five years old, for instance, with a several-day wait for service, would rate as Early Tech, the lowest score on the three-level chart.

Third year of the agenda

Founded in 1996, the CEO Forum on Education and Technology is a unique partnership between business and education leaders who share an interest in integrating technology into America’s schools.

The group’s four-year agenda was kicked off with the publication of the “School Technology and Readiness Report,” in which the first version of the STaR Chart was published. Also in its first year, the CEO Forum issued the first STaR Assessment, a benchmark measure of national progress in educational technology.

In the program’s second year, the CEO Forum released another School Technology and Readiness Report, entitled “Professional Development: A Link to Better Learning,” which included an updated STaR chart for assessing professional development and an update of the STaR Assessment.

The most recent update on teacher preparedness marks the beginning of the third year of the program’s formal agenda.

“The physical result of our work has been the STaR Chart,” Hendricks explained. “We have issued two others, focused on the connectivity and professional development in our schools. Later this year, we will issue a fourth on how to develop digital learning environments.”

The charts themselves will be offered to schools, colleges, and departments of education to provide a visual display of key factors for the integration of technology in all aspects of preparing teacher candidates.

This year’s chart outlines three levels of technology use: Early, Developing, and Advanced Technology. Each category also has a Target Tech indicator that sets a goal for the overall implementation. The creators of the charts assume that institutions will fall within various levels across the matrix.

Education leaders hope this year’s STaR Charts will provide colleges of education with the definitive yardstick they need to measure their technology training of new teachers.

“Technology can be the blackboard of the future for America’s teachers. But if we do not give our teachers proper training, it is like denying them the chalk that they use on those blackboards,” said Riley.

CEO Forum on Education and Technology
http://www.ceoforum.org

U.S. Department of Education
http://www.ed.gov