Start planning now for this highly competitive technology grant

If you’ve been following the news about President Clinton’s proposed budget for 2001 (or you attended the eSchool News Grants & Funding for School Technology conference Sept. 14-15 in Philadelphia), then you already know that one of the most well-known (and most competitive) federal grant programs will be making a comeback if the budget passes as proposed—the Technology Innovation Challenge Grants program.

The grants would fall under the Next Generation Technology Innovation program with proposed funding of $170 million and actually would combine the Star Schools program and the Technology Innovation Challenge Grants. Why bring this up now? To support my constant recommendation to grant seekers that you practice “proactive grant-seeking” at every opportunity by planning in advance for this potential competition.

If you already submitted a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant proposal that didn’t get funded, get the proposal and your reviewers’ comments out and get ready to start working as soon as you find out if—and when—the competition will be held next year. I can guarantee you that if you wait until the request for proposals (RFP) is released sometime next year before you begin working on a proposal, you will be hard-pressed to submit a competitive one. Why? For several reasons, based on prior Technology Innovation Challenge Grant competitions and the administration’s current trends in federal technology funding.

The Technology Innovation Challenge Grants were multi-year grants worth millions of dollars. Although no minimum requirement for matching funds was stipulated in past RFPs, conversations with prior grantees give you some idea of the level of matching funds. For example, a grantee that I know from New England told me they secured a matching gift (in the form of cash or in-kind contributions) from every business that was located in their community. It literally took a team of staff members six months to make the visits required to secure these matching funds—but all of their diligence and hard work obviously paid off, as they received a $10 million grant!

Some Technology Innovation Challenge Grant winners have shown as high as a six-to-one ratio of matching funds. Keep in mind that matching funds do not have to be all cash, but it will take some time to secure this level of contribution if you plan to have a competitive proposal.

The Technology Innovation Challenge Grants also required applicants to form a collaborative partnership and stipulated in the RFP what the suggested membership of such a partnership should be—a mix of public and private schools, higher education institutions, libraries, museums, businesses, and software developers. Although we still don’t know whether this will be a requirement once again, you can probably count on it, given the current emphasis on collaboration in the grant-seeking world. It will take both time and effort to form this kind of broad-based partnership, so the earlier you can start, the better.

With the current emphasis on evaluation at the federal level, I would also surmise that this will be an integral part of the next competition. Presently, the administration is looking for proof that the integration of technology into the classroom is having a significant impact on student achievement and learning. In many RFPs, you now see references to “research-based solutions” to problems; the implication is that you will be using this type of model to try to solve the problems you are experiencing.

In July 1999, the United States Department of Education (ED) held a two-day conference entitled “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Educational Technology.” According to an article that appeared last year in eSchool News, Linda Roberts, the special advisor to President Clinton on educational technology, said that much of the evidence of success up to this point has been anecdotal as opposed to empirical.

At the conference, two recent studies were highlighted that emphasize the kind of evaluations ED is looking for—one in Idaho and one in West Virginia (see sidebar, page 17). If you are planning to apply for one of these grants, I would pay very close attention to these two studies and to the outcomes of the conference!

So, if you think you want to apply for this grant, my advice is to stay on top of the passage of the 2001 budget, find out if the program will be funded, and start taking a serious look at its past competitions now.

“Evaluating the Effectiveness of Educational Technology” conference


Grant Deadlines



Bright Ideas Grants

EnergyUnited’s Bright Ideas grant program, now in its seventh year, supports innovative educational projects not covered by traditional school funding with grants of up to $2,000. Purchases of computers or other digital equipment are eligible for grants, if they are tied directly to specific projects. In recent years, EnergyUnited has funded the purchase of a computer projector and the purchase of a digital camera for a student newspaper. Educators in any K-12 public school within EnergyUnited’s North Carolina service area are eligible.

Deadline: Nov. 6

Contact: Dusty Rhodes, public relations manager for EnergyUnited, (800) 522-3793.


Barrick Goldstrike Mines Elementary Earth Science Teaching Awards

Only elementary school science teachers are eligible for this National Science Teachers Association award. The winner must demonstrate exemplary environmental or geological earth science teaching practices in one or more of the following areas: innovative design and use of hands-on earth science materials; creative design and implementation of earth science lesson plans/curriculum; or fostering student, school, and school-community instructional programs in elementary earth science. Applicants should emphasize how their teaching helps meet national science education standards. The winner will receive a desktop or laptop computer system (worth up to $3,500), $2,500 for the purchase of earth science materials and/or equipment for his or her school, an all-expenses-paid trip to NSTA’s annual conference, and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Nevada Mining Association’s Minerals Education Workshop for teachers. Note: Numerous other NSTA awards and scholarships are available; to see the entire range, visit the organization’s web site.

Deadline: Nov. 15


RadioShack National Teacher Awards

RadioShack is honoring outstanding mathematics, science, and technology high school teachers with cash awards and Compaq computers. Criteria for judging winners include infusing innovative teaching methods (such as technology) and inspiring students to higher achievement. Applicants should explain how they will use the funds and computer to add to their pedagogical skills. The company will make 100 awards in the “experienced” category—three years or more of teaching—consisting of $3,000 cash and a Compaq computer. This year, for the first time, 10 additional winners will be recognized in the “beginning” category—at least one year of experience but less than four years—with cash awards of $1,000 and a Compaq computer.

Deadline: Nov. 17

Verizon Foundation Grants

The newly formed Verizon Foundation (the charitable arm of Verizon Corp., which was created by the merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic) has started reviewing proposals for projects in numerous areas, including several with direct K-12 applications: literacy, digital divide, math/science education, and helping people with disabilities obtain job-relevant skills. Applications can be submitted immediately and will be considered as they arrive. Note that the foundation accepts only electronic proposals submitted through its web site.

Deadline: Nov. 30



FamilyPC Teachers’

Technology Grants

This grant program by FamilyPC magazine supports teachers in K-12 public or private schools in the United States who have a unique idea for integrating technology into their curriculum. Each applicant—there were five winners last year—can apply for up to $2,500. Projects that can be replicated in other schools are preferred. Project proposals may still be in the “idea” stage, as long as your application explains how the grant will enable you to initiate your project. Grants may be used for computer-related equipment, ancillary products that help accomplish the goals of the project, or salaries for personnel involved in the project. One winner last year was a project in which middle school students filmed each other performing physical activities and used computers to analyze movement, caloric use, and related issues.

Deadline: Dec. 1 ture/2000grants/index.html


Projecting Education Grants

These grants from Proxima Corp. are intended to measure and document the effectiveness of multimedia projection use in the classroom. The program will reward outstanding educators from four categories—K-8, 9-12, community college, and university—with $1,000 in cash, plus a Proxima multimedia projector. For consideration, entrants must submit a proposal to Proxima that details a measurable plan to use a multimedia projector in the classroom to increase learning or behavioral results. The four category winners will be announced Dec. 15.

Deadline: Dec. 1


Coca-Cola Foundation Grants

The Coca-Cola Foundation has three focuses for its philanthropic giving, one of which is support of innovative classroom teaching and learning in K-12 schools. In total, the foundation gave nearly $11.5 million in 1999 and $12.5 million in 1998. The foundation looks especially favorably upon programs that are small and well-targeted—e.g., helping elementary and secondary students with a particular issue, such as civil rights or the environment. Funds also can be applied toward tuition for training that will result in new instructional techniques in the classroom. Public and private school educators serving children of all ages may apply for these grants. Although the monetary size of grants varies considerably, a quick review of successful applicants from the past two years indicates that $5,000 to $25,000 is typical.

Deadline: Quarterly, with next deadline Dec. 1 foundation/index.html

NCTM Scholarships

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics will award two grants of up to $2,000 each to math teachers who are seeking to improve their professional competence. Proposals can include requests for funds to take professional development courses or to work on projects to improve a mathematics curriculum. Equipment purchases are acceptable only if they directly support the proposed plan. There are two grant programs—one for teachers in grades K-6 (in honor of Ernest Duncan) and one for teachers in grades 7-12 (in honor of Mary Doliciani). Be sure you apply for the proper one. In each case, the grant is open to all public and private school math teachers with three or more years of experience in teaching a particular grade level. A similar program, titled the Leonard Pappas Incentive Grant, will make two $2,000 awards to support the development of math enrichment materials or lessons detailing an innovative teaching unit; computer programs and videotapes are specifically cited in the grant announcement as eligible. For any of these grants, applicants must submit two-page typed proposals describing the project, its cost, and how it will lead to personal and professional growth that will enhance student learning.

Deadline: Dec. 5

Magnet School Assistance Program

This Department of Education program has a very specific purpose that substantially limits eligibility of applicants. It is open only to local educational agencies and consortia of such agencies to support magnet schools that are part of approved desegregation plans. These grants will support programs that enhance the ability of magnet schools to attract and retain minority students, and magnet schools using technology as a draw have been successful applicants in the past. Grant recipients will receive substantial awards—$200,000 to $3 million per year for up to three years—from this program that is budgeted for FY 2001 at $92 million. As many as 60 awards will be made.

Deadline: Dec. 22 q300/073100b.txt


Growth Initiatives for Teachers

This program was administered by the GTE Foundation until GTE and Bell Atlantic merged to become Verizon earlier this year. It’s now administered by the Verizon Foundation, though little else has changed. The program encourages innovative math and science teaching by providing 140 outstanding secondary school educators with funds for professional development activities and hands-on classroom projects. Teams of full-time science and math teachers in grades seven through 12 (grade six, if from a middle or junior high school) in public and private U.S. schools may apply. Each team must consist of one science teacher and one math teacher from the same school. Applicants must propose a school enrichment project that integrates math and science into classroom activities and uses technology in an innovative way. Each winning team shares a $15,000 grant—$8,000 to implement the project and $3,500 for professional development activities for each team member.

Deadline: Jan. 14

Contact: (800) 315-5010 or

Toyota TAPESTRY Grants

The 2001 Toyota TAPESTRY program, sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, will award 50 grants of up to $10,000 each to K-12 science teachers. Interested teachers should propose innovative science projects that can be implemented in their school or district during a one-year period. Winning projects must demonstrate creativity, involve risk-taking, possess a visionary quality, and model a novel way of presenting science. Successful grant-winning projects, such as a mobile observatory to study light pollution and an interactive paleontology lab, often include the use of technology.

Deadline: Jan. 18

(800) 807-9852


Grant Awards

$56 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The latest education gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports programs that are developing innovative curricula for small K-12 schools, particularly schools that will use technology to a significant degree. The grants, which total $56 million, include the first Gates Foundation grants outside the state of Washington as part of the foundation’s plan to support model programs across the country.

The Gates Foundation seeks programs that emphasize small classes and the use of technology, because the foundation’s leaders believe that a small, personalized learning environment is the key to helping every student succeed. To qualify for consideration, the proposed and existing programs had to enroll fewer than 400 students, include the use of technology, create learning opportunities such as internships for every student, and connect each student with an adult mentor.

Several of the grants were directed at programs in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, one of which is being created by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Another Massachusetts organization, the Center for Collaborative Education, was awarded $4.9 million to create the New England Center for Small Schools, which will open as many as 20 new small schools in the next five years. It also will provide evaluation and assessment support to help small schools strengthen student achievement and accountability.

The Gates Foundation continued to direct funds to the state of Washington, too. The University of Washington will receive $6.5 million, most of which ($5.8 million) will be used to fund the initial work of the Institute for K-12 Leadership, which was created earlier this year. The Institute will spend the next four years working to create model school programs in San Francisco; Compton, Calif., near Los Angeles; Kansas City, Mo.; East St. Louis, Ill.; Detroit; Cincinnati; Cleveland; and Boston. The remainder of the University of Washington funds will establish the Small Schools Program at the university’s Center on Reinventing Public Education.

(206) 709-3100

$3.6 million from the Lucent Technologies Foundation

The Lucent Technologies Foundation awarded $3.6 million to 11 partnerships between universities and public schools focused on improving K-12 education. The Lucent Technologies Foundation—the charitable arm of Lucent Technologies—will contribute about $50 million around the world this year toward youth development projects, including education.

The academic partnerships will receive either one- or three-year grants ranging from $90,000 to $450,000. Several have strong technology focuses, including:

• Connecticut College and New London Public Schools, for “Teach and Learn Partnership for Math and Science Excellence.” This project received $91,000 to support a program that is designed to “blur the boundaries between K-12 and higher education in math and science,” according to its developers. It builds on a current collaboration to expand a series of seminars for middle school teachers conducted by Connecticut College faculty in math, technology, and science. The program also enables middle school students to come to the college monthly to work with faculty on experiments in state-of-the-art laboratory space.

• Princeton University, Columbia University, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Rutgers University at Camden, and New York University, for “The New York-New Jersey Partners in Science Program.” This program has been funded with $106,000 this year and $395,000 cumulatively during the next three years to enable high school chemistry teachers to bring inquiry-based methodologies into their classrooms using cutting-edge technology. The program will help teachers develop new teaching strategies, foster long-term scholarly collaborations, and guide students toward careers in science. This funding expands a program established in 1988 in Arizona and later expanded in 1997 by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

In choosing grant recipients (66 proposals were submitted this year), the Lucent Foundation considers how programs address the following objectives: reform of urban schools; reform of professional development programs for teachers and teacher recognition programs; enhancement of curriculum in the areas of science and math to improve K-12 teaching and to increase excitement among students; and preparation of young people for an increasingly diverse world.

For information about future Lucent Technologies Foundation grants, contact the Philanthropic Initiative Inc. at (617) 338-2590.


Arkansas announces program training students to build computers

Arkansas announces program training students to build computers

Arkansas officials announced a public-private partnership Sept. 11 to create a program to teach its public school students how to build, upgrade, and maintain computers for their schools.

A pilot project involving at least six schools, particularly at rural and poor schools, is to begin in January, run by the state Department of Workforce Education, said Director Steve Franks.

The program will be part of the nationally recognized ExplorNet Technology Learning Project and its computer recycling project.

The project, based in North Carolina, provides computer hardware and training for school instructors to teach students to refurbish older computers provided by private businesses.

“Technology is developing at a dizzying pace, and educators are constantly being challenged to master these changes,” Rep. Shane Broadway, D-Bryant, said. “ExplorNet will help provide our teachers with valuable training and our students with job skills so they can take advantage of the growing number of technology-based jobs.”

The curriculum is based on the computer industry’s standard for computer service technicians, and students who complete the course and attain “A-plus certification” are qualified for jobs as service technicians.

The computers remain at the schools and are maintained by students.

Franks said the pilot will instruct 80-100 students in Arkansas. The agency hopes the program eventually will expand to 35-40 schools involving hundreds of students, he said.


Riley calls for more research, funding for school technology

As Congress continued to deliberate next year’s spending, Education Secretary Richard Riley repeated the Clinton administration’s call for an increase in federal funding to prepare teachers to use technology.

Although most teachers and students now have access to computers, Riley said, teachers still are not fully prepared to use them.

“We are asking Congress to double the funding—to $150 million—to help prepare [tomorrow’s] teachers to use technology,” he said. “Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t fully agreed to this increase. But it isn’t too late. In the next few weeks, they have another opportunity to fully fund this initiative.”

Riley’s comments came at the U.S. Department of Education’s annual Conference on Educational Technology, held Sept. 11 and 12 in Arlington, Va. During the conference, officials showcased promising practices and called for more research into what works and what doesn’t.

Riley, Federal Communications Commission Chairman William Kennard, and keynote speaker Eric Benhamou, president and chief executive of 3Com Corp., released a study that shows how instrumental the eRate has been in helping connect most public schools—especially those in high-poverty areas—to the internet.

“eRate and the Digital Divide,” written by the Urban Institute, shows that the eRate has provided more than $3 billion for America’s public schools, three out of four public schools and districts applied for the program in its first two years, and per-pupil funding for high-poverty schools was more than twice the national average and nearly 10 times that of the wealthiest schools.

Despite the fact that the program targets the poorest schools, however, the most impoverished schools submitted the fewest applications. Larger districts and schools were more likely to apply than smaller ones, the study found.

Riley also announced the results of a second study, called “Teachers’ Tools for the 21st Century: A Report on Teachers’ Use of Technology,” which found that although most teachers have access to computers, only half use them for classroom instruction.

Based on information gathered from surveys conducted in 1999, this National Center for Education Statistics report found that teachers use computers mostly for word processing or creating spreadsheets, followed by internet research and practice drills.

Teachers were more likely to use a computer if it was located in their classroom, while students were most likely to use computers outside the classroom. Although 84 percent of teachers said they had at least one computer in their classroom, only 10 percent reported having more than five computers in their room.

According to the report, the two biggest barriers to using computers and the internet for instruction are lack of release time for teachers to learn how to integrate computers into the curriculum (82 percent) and lack of time in the schedule for students to use computers in class (80 percent).

Promising practices

Despite these challenges, pockets of innovation exist in schools around the country, Riley said. At the conference, students and educators from select schools demonstrated how they have learned to use technology to enhance classroom instruction.

Students from a Virginia-based organization called Kidz Online broadcast the entire two-day conference over the internet while nearly 600 participants listened and dined.

High school students from South Burlington, Vt., showed off digital graphics and animation they created in a course designed by English teacher Tim Comolli. In the course, students learn to use industry-standard graphic software like Adobe Photoshop.

Conference attendees gave two students from Mott Hall School in New York City a standing ovation after their speech about how technology has transformed the learning experience since every student and teacher at the school received a laptop computer.

“I became the [technology] expert in the family,” said 13-year-old Anthony Reyes in an interview. “My mom uses it. My whole family uses it. It’s cool.”

Besides helping him to be more organized and creative, Reyes said, his laptop brings information and resources right to his fingertips.

Mott Hall School commissioned a study of its laptop program by Metis Associates Inc. to see how it affects student achievement.

“Our research has proven significant improvement in writing, critical thinking, and research skills,” said Principal Mirian Acost-Sing.

At the conference, Microsoft Corp. also released a study of its Anytime Anywhere Learning program, in which all students in a school own laptops that use Microsoft software. After three years of the program, research done by Rockman et al suggests that students become better writers, collaborate more on group projects, and are more involved in their schoolwork.

The study also suggests that teachers who use laptops show greater confidence in using technology tools. But critics of the study point out that it was commissioned and funded by Microsoft and that it lacks hard figures to quantify its results.

Better evaluation needed

Though conference speakers and attendees shared anecdotal evidence of technology’s impact on learning, officials called for more extensive research on the topic. The need for more studies was underscored by a Sept. 12 press conference in nearby Washington, D.C., in which participants called for a moratorium on technology spending in younger grades until there is further proof of technology’s impact (see story, page 1).

Several speakers discussed tools they are developing to help measure the success of their technology programs.

Elliot Soloway, a professor of education at the University of Michigan, described a tool he and some colleagues are developing, called the Online Snapshot Survey, which allows schools to gather input from teachers and administrators by conducting an online survey so officials can make more informed decisions about technology.

“If you do a survey, you can get a sense of distribution in your district and where you should buy,” Soloway said. He said that once the web site is running, educators could choose from approximately 80 existing surveys or could make up their own.

Jim Nazworthy, of the High Plains Regional Technology in Education Consortium, discussed Profiler, a tool that surveys teachers to assess their professional development needs. It’s essentially a knowledge audit, he said. By taking the survey, teachers can assess their technology abilities, and Profiler helps them find someone at their school who can help them learn the skills they don’t know.

The Secretary’s Conference on Education Technology

The eRate and the Digital Divide

Teachers’ Tools for the 21st Century: A Report on Teachers’ Use of Technology

The Online Snapshot Survey



Portal plan could net millions of dollars for NYC schools

At presstime, the nation’s largest school district was expected to OK plans to create a money-making internet portal—complete with educational content and eCommerce capabilities—so it can raise funds to buy more technology for its schools.

“If we sit around and try to get government money, it’s not going to happen fast enough,” said Ninfa Segarra, chair of the New York City Board of Education’s technology committee.

The board wants to provide students with the top technological tools of the new economy—and it wants every student in the city to have equal access to them.

“Kids need to be exposed to technology,” Segarra said. “We have one million kids in New York City and that’s part of the problem.”

According to a feasibility study of the plan conducted by Andersen Consulting, “the creation of such a portal by the board is indeed doable and would generate cumulative revenue ranging from $120 million to $11.5 billion.”

The study also said the board’s portal would rank among the top 100 portals in terms of users—and it has the potential to become one of the top 10 portals in the world.

Since the city’s schools were lacking an equitable technology plan, the board formed the Teaching and Learning Cyberspace Task Force to come up with one. The task force developed a number of recommendations, one of which was for the board to collaborate with a company to create a revenue-generating portal complete with internet service.

Andersen Consulting, a member of the task force, agreed to do a feasibility study of the idea at no cost to the district.

Funding and content “Great ideas aren’t practical to do if you can’t afford to finance them,” Segarra said. “The idea is that the costs [of the portal] are absorbed by the instrument itself.”

Already, the board has sent out a request for proposals to see if anyone in the private sector would be interested in funding the creation of the portal at an estimated $900 million.

Interested parties must be willing to put down the money up front and profit from the site down the road, Segarra said. It’s a good financial opportunity for a company to develop a portal system that works and expand it to other school districts across the country, she said.

“We’re not talking about investing our dollars to up-front this,” Segarra said. “Andersen Consulting thinks there are companies out there that are willing to do this.”

The portal would offer academic content, communication services (such as eMail), and many eCommerce opportunities. It would have a search engine, mailing lists, a bulletin board, and other information services.

It would be a one-stop shop for accessing the board’s web pages, Segarra said. Educators would be able to buy educational materials through the site.

Different web pages would be tailored to various groups of people, such as students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Some areas would have restricted access, so users would need a log-in and password.

Overall, the portal would target students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members.

“It provides us [with] a tool or place where all this educational content exists for everyone,” Segarra said. More important, it would involve parents. “What’s an easier way for them at 3 o’clock in the morning to be able to check their [child’s] homework?” she asked.

The Anderson Consulting study recommends that the board split the portal into two zones—an educational zone and a partner zone.

The education zone would focus on content and applications that facilitate learning. It would be a parent-controlled, commercial-free area for students and educators.

“In order for a child to enter that zone, they’ll have to have parental permission,” Segarra said. The company that partners with the board “will know up front the educational zone is purely advertisement-free.”

The partner zone would provide adults and family members with ad-sponsored internet access and services targeted to their needs.

The next step The Andersen Consulting study cautions that the decisions the board makes about how the portal is governed, what technology it installs and maintains, and what revenue streams it chooses would affect the portal’s viability and financial value significantly.

Once the board gives the go-ahead, “we have a lot of homework to do,” Segarra said.

The board’s technology committee will have to develop a business plan and secure support from a company. It also needs to figure out how the portal would work in accordance with the board’s policy and the state’s laws.

“We can’t do anything until the chancellor and the members of the board are comfortable with the principles of this proposal,” Segarra said. The portal would require advertising and, although advertising is not a new idea in New York City (the sides of school buses now display advertisements), it’s still controversial, Segarra said.

The site would have to make money, but district officials are responsible for protecting students’ confidentiality, Segarra said. They also must consider what types of companies they’re willing to collaborate with; for example, they already know they won’t be accepting support from cigarette makers.

In addition, they would have to determine how they’ll regulate the naming of the portal, especially if a corporation or individual contributes money. Also, the committee would have to decide if the school district should operate the portal or if it should contract the operation to an outside entity, like the district does with its custodial work.

“We’re in the business of educating youngsters,” Segarra said, and that’s what the board has to remember above all else. “Whatever risks may lie [ahead], the benefits outweigh the risks.” From the proceeds of the portal, every staff member would get eMail and internet access, which is a huge task, considering the city has 78,000 teachers. Every teacher and student in grades four and up would get a portable, wireless networked laptop. These would be free or significantly discounted.

“While we are doing this very extensive review, we are not stopping movement [forward],” Segarra said. The board is buying internet appliances now, since the Andersen Consulting report recommended them as a feasible and economical way of dispersing computers throughout all schools, especially for younger grades.

Will the board OK this proposal? So far, Segarra said, “no one has raised serious objections.”

New York City Board of Education

Teaching and Learning in Cyberspace Taskforce

Andersen Consulting


Three studies: Technology can make a difference

“Fool’s Gold” argues that money spent on technology in K-6 education could better be spent on other, more pressing concerns, such as eliminating the threat of lead poisoning in some urban school districts or paying for educational field trips.

According to Stanford University’s Larry Cuban, a supporter of the Alliance for Childhood report, “There is no clear, commanding body of evidence that students’ sustained use of multimedia machines, the internet, word processing, spreadsheets, and other popular applications has any impact on academic achievement.”

But many technology advocates think there is little long-term evidence showing the effectiveness of technology on learning simply because educational technology is still coming of age in schools. They point to anecdotal, hard-to-quantify evidence that suggests technology can make a difference for students who are more motivated to learn or students collaborating with others across vast distances.

Although quantifiable evidence is hard to come by, a small but growing body of research is beginning to emerge. Besides the study of technology use in Illinois schools (see story, page 10), here are other recent studies that suggest that, used correctly, technology can improve educational outcomes:

1. “West Virginia Story: Achievement Gains from a Statewide Comprehensive Instructional Tech- nology Program” by Dr. Dale Mann, Columbia University; Dr. Charol Shakeshaft, Hofstra University; Jonathan Becker, J.D., Columbia University; and Dr. Robert Kottkamp, Hofstra University (1999).

In this landmark study, researchers examined the educational outcomes of the West Virginia Basic Skills/Computer Education (BS/CE) program, which began in 1990-’91.

At a cost of about $7 million per year, West Virginia provided every elementary school with enough equipment so that each classroom serving the grade targeted that year would have three to four computers, a printer, and a school-wide networked file server.

The program started with the kindergarten class of 1990-’91 and, as that class moved up in grade level, so did the successive waves of new computer installations.

The study revealed that as students were exposed to more elements of the BS/CE program, they scored higher on the Stanford-9 state exam. Researchers attributed an 11-percent rise in test scores to the state’s technology program.

The study also revealed that while participation in BS/CE helped all students perform better, it helped the neediest students the most. According to the report, “Those children without computers at home made the biggest gains in (1) total basic skills, (2) total language, (3) language expression, (4) total reading, (5) reading comprehension, and (6) vocabulary.”

2. “Idaho Technology Initiative: An Accountability Report to the Idaho Legislature,” prepared by the state Division of Vocational Education and the State Department of Education, Bureau of Technology Services (1999). Produced by the Idaho Council for Technology in Learning, this January 1999 report was charged with justifying the expenditure of one-time and ongoing funds to purchase and integrate technology into the state’s K-12 public schools. It drew from a sampling of 35,885 students.

The principal question of the report asked, “Have students improved their academic performance as a result of the integration of technology in Idaho’s K-12 schools?”

To answer this question, researchers targeted two groups of students, those who were in eighth grade at the time of the study and were preparing to take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and those who were in 11th grade and were preparing for the Test of Academic Proficiency.

Based on findings from the sample group, the researchers concluded, “The benefits of technology in teaching and learning are clear: an increase in academic achievement in reading, mathematics, language, and core studies; improved technology literacy; increased communication; well-trained, innovative teaching; positive relationships with the community; more efficient operation of schools; and technically qualified students ready to enter today’s workforce.”

3. “Does it Compute? The Relationship Between Educational Technology and Student Achievement in Mathematics” by Harold Wenglinsky (1998). With support from Education Week and the now-defunct Milken Exchange on Education Technology, Educational Testing Service researcher Harold Wenglinsky provided the first nationwide study of computers in the classroom.

Using data on the performance of fourth- and eighth-graders on the math section of the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and correlating them to other NAEP data on student use of computers at home and in school, Wenglinsky concluded that computers can have a positive impact on student achievement when used selectively by trained teachers.

Learning is enhanced, he found, when computers are used to encourage the development of higher-thinking skills. Simulations and applications, such as spreadsheets, are effective in eighth grade, and math learning games enhance achievement in fourth. Other uses, such as for rote drill-and-practice exercises, may actually have a negative impact.

“When computers are used to perform certain tasks, namely applying higher-order concepts, and when teachers are proficient enough in computer use to direct students toward productive uses … computers do seem to be associated with significant gains in math achievement,” Wenglinsky said.


Partners Index

Aims Multimedia, of Chatsworth, Calif., provides quality curriculum-based multimedia to schools, school libraries, and universities. Visit the Aims Multimedia web site:

(800) 367-2467

AlphaSmart Inc., headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., develops and markets affordable and effective technology solutions for the education market. Visit AlphaSmart’s web site:

(888) 274-0680

America Online, based in Dulles, Va., offers schools a safe and easy internet content program at no cost.

Visit the AOL@school web site:

(888) 648-4023 of Berwin, Pa., is an education destination delivering all the components required to support the learning community. Visit’s web site:

(800) 860-9228

Century Consultants Ltd., of Lakewood, N.J., has been helping school districts manage information in innovative ways since 1977. Visit the Century Consultants web site:

(800) 852-2566

Compaq Computer Corp., headquartered in Houston, is a world leader of the PC industry. Visit Compaq’s web site:

(800) 888-3224

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), headquartered in Washington, D.C., presents their sixth annual “K-12 Networking Conference” for leaders defining the future of the internet and telecommunications to improve school networking. Visit the conference web site:

(202) 624-1775

Edmark Corp., of Redmond, Wash., has been a pioneer in developing innovative and effective educational materials for children for more than 30 years. Visit the Edmark web site:

(800) 691-2986

ePALS Classroom Exchange, of Easton, Conn., is the world’s largest online classroom community, connecting more than 2.5 million students and teachers through nearly 34,000 profiles. Visit the ePALS web site:

(613) 562-9847 of San Francisco, is a cost-free, easy-to-use online purchasing system for education and government professionals. Visit the web site:

(877) 4-EPYLON, of Horsham, Pa., is a leading provider of comprehensive online procurement solutions for K-12 schools. Visit the web site:

(877) 960-7246

eSchool News, of Bethesda, Md., is the leading K-12 decision-maker’s technology and internet newspaper. For information on subscription services, please visit the eSchool News web site:

(800) 394-0115, ext. 199

eSchool News Online, of Bethesda, Md., provides breaking headlines, a school technology career center, discussion groups, a free news archive, free content for web sites, and a weekly eMail newsletter. Visit the eSchool News Online web site:

(800) 913-0115, ext. 115

Gateway Inc., of San Diego, is a Fortune 250 company focusing on building lifelong relationships with businesses and consumers through complete technology personalization. Visit the Gateway web site:


The Grants and Funding for School Technology Conference provides attendees with everything they need to know to identify and secure essential funding for their school technology programs. Sponsored by eSchool News, the event takes place in New Orleans February 8-9. Visit the Grants and Funding for School Technology web site:

(800) 913-0115, ext. 199

GVOX, of Philadelphia, is a leading music education portal with patented technology and partnerships with leaders in the music industry. Visit the GVOX web site:

(215) 922-0880

Jackson Software, of Glencoe, Ill., is the creator of GradeQuick, a grading, attendance, and seating chart software system. Visit the Jackson Software

web site:

(800) 850-1777

Keystone National, of Bloomsburg, Pa., is an accredited high school that provides students with the means to earn high school credits or a diploma from home. Visit the Keystone National web site:

(800) 255-4937

Knowledge Adventure, of Torrence and Glendale, Calif., is a leader in developing, publishing, and distributing multimedia educational software. Visit the Knowledge Adventure web site:

(800) 545-7677

Kyocera Mita America, based in Fairfield, N.J., is responsible for sales, support, service, and training for Kyocera Mita copiers and computer-connected peripherals throughout the United States and Canada. Visit the Kyocera Mita America web site:

(973) 808-8444

Learning 2000, of Lawrenceburg, Tenn.,

provides interactive educational multimedia.

Visit the Learning 2000 web site:

(888) 968-5327, of Corona, Calif., provides a high-speed network for K-12 districts complete with internet service, filtering, caching, content, and thin clients. Visit the Meshworx web site:

(877) 723-3787

NCS Pearson, of Eden Prairie, Minn., is a leading provider of software and web-based technologies for the collection, management, and interpretation of data. Visit the NCS Pearson web site:

(800) 431-1421

PCS is an online school for children ages 6 and up that teaches subjects ranging from art to engineering through hands-on activities and guided, online support. Visit the PCS web site:

PowerSchool Inc., of Folsom, Calif., is a leading provider of web-based student information systems to K-12 schools. Visit the PowerSchool web site:


(888) 470-0808

Riverdeep Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., designs, develops, publishes, markets, and supports interactive learning solutions for K-12 education. Visit the Riverdeep web site:

(800) 564-2587

Schoolpop Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., is a leading provider of online fundraising solutions for K-12 schools nationwide, enabling anyone to raise funds for education effortlessly while they shop. Visit the Schoolpop web site:

(877) 724-5767

Sirsi Corp., of Huntsville, Ala., designs library management systems for all sizes and types of libraries, including academic, public, school, and government. Visit the Sirsi Corp. web site:

(800) 91-SIRSI

SmartStuff Software, of Portland, Ore., is a leading developer of cross-platform system utilities and productivity tools for education, government, and business. Visit SmartStuff’s web site:

(800) 671-3999

SMART Technologies Inc., of Calgary, is a market leader in developing products for shared spaces, including the SMART Board, an electronic interactive whiteboard. Visit the SMART Technologies web site:

(888) 42-SMART

Teacher Universe, of Emeryville, Calif., creates technology-rich solutions for improving the quality of life and work for teachers worldwide. Visit the Teacher Universe

web site:

(877) 24-TEACH

Timecruiser Computing Corp., of Fairfield, N.J, provides a web community for schools with online tools and resources. Visit Timecruiser’s SchoolCruiser web site:

(973) 244-7856

Turner Learning Inc., of Atlanta, is an educational division of Turner Broadcasting dedicated to enhancing education by making commercial-free cable programming and curriculum materials available to schools. Visit the Turner Learning web site:

(800) 344-6219

wwwrrr Inc., of Minneapolis, is a premiere internet destination for families and schools. Visit the wwwrrr web site:

(877) 999-7771


Six Sites that Aid Schools in Data Collection

One value of technology is its ability to enable school officials to collect and analyze data more effectively, frequently, and easily in order to make more informed choices. Rarely, however, is this functionality used well in schools.

Several online resources are available, however, to help administrators more effectively use the data they are gathering about teacher performance, as well as design new data-collection projects that provide answers to additional questions.

Here are six online resources that break down the two key tasks of data collection—planning a survey and analyzing the data that is collected—into basic component steps:

1. Tech Builder (

2. Profiler: Online Collaboration Tool (

3. School Staff Education Technology Needs Assessment (

4. Milken Educational Technology

Discrepancy Analysis Tool


5. Learning with Technology Profile Tool

6. Technology in Education Snapshot Survey (


New study: Technology boosts student performance

For advocates of classroom technology, a new study linking technology with student achievement provides welcome news: The use of educational technology in Illinois public schools has had “a small but significant impact” on student performance, according to a statistical analysis. The Illinois State Board of Education commissioned Westat, a research firm based in Rockville, Md., to find out how the state’s classrooms use technology and what effect computers and the internet have had on student performance. The state has spent nearly $240 million on technology grants to schools since 1995, but it does not keep records on the number of computers or internet connections in a school or district, according to a state Department of Education spokesman.

After completing a two-and-a-half-year study, Westat concluded that Illinois’ investment in learning technologies appears to be paying off. “We are beginning to see a relationship between technology in the classroom and student achievement,” said Gary Silverstein, principal investigator for the study. “In schools where [technology] usage was the highest, students’ scores on certain subjects tended to be higher.” Westat researchers surveyed 440 elementary, middle, and high school principals twice to measure the scope and implementation of educational technology. They also surveyed 718 teachers from the same schools to find out about their use of technology in the classroom. In addition, the researchers visited 15 schools that were making effective use of technology and five schools that weren’t. They also conducted telephone interviews with 28 teachers and 28 technology coordinators, and they analyzed the state’s standardized test scores. The researchers’ questions focused on technology access, use, competency, student learning, productivity, best practices, and factors that influence these items.

To determine the impact of technology on student achievement, Westat statistically analyzed these variables: poverty, access to educational technology, professional development, extent of technology use, and scores from the state’s 1998-99 standardized tests.

The statistical analysis shows that in cases where teachers’ use of technology to facilitate or enhance classroom instruction was high, standardized test scores also were high. Technology’s impact was strongest in the higher grades, but not in every subject area. It had the greatest influence on 11th-grade science and 10th-grade reading test scores. Westat also found technology use was positively influenced by the amount of access and teacher training a school had.

The study “certainly suggests the state’s investment was a good one,” Silverstein said. “There certainly was a pay-off.” Poverty a greater factor However, poorer districts continue to lag behind wealthier ones. In fact, the percentage of poor students in a school affects its test scores by at least twice as much as technology, the study found.

Although “there were no instances where the use of technology had a negative impact” on students’ scores, poverty still has the strongest impact on student achievement, Silverstein said. “The findings indicate there is a significant difference in terms of access, usage, and professional development in various areas of the state,” Silverstein said. “High-poverty areas were making less use of computers and had less access to computers.”

Westat recommended that the state place special emphasis on providing technology access and teacher training in high-poverty areas, because a combination of barriers is preventing poor schools from taking full advantage of educational technology.

Teachers also need more technology professional development, the study suggested. “Just putting a computer in a classroom doesn’t seem to be enough,” Silverstein noted. Schools should take a more proactive approach and require or encourage teachers to take technology training, the study recommended. In districts that mandated or gave incentives for professional development, technology use was higher. “If you have a school policy promoting professional development, you have increased usage—which, in turn, increases student achievement,” Silverstein said.

Illinois State Board of Education