The Connecticut Department of Education is establishing new standards for computer knowledge and use. To meet the new guidelines, teachers, students, and administrators must look upon computers as frequently-used tools in nearly every aspect of the school day instead of just an adjunct to the curriculum, said department spokesman Tom Murphy.

Since a 1998 law took effect, new teachers have had to demonstrate computer skills by either passing a test or showing evidence their college education included a course in technology. The new standards are aimed, in part, at the mid-career teachers who do not have the computer expertise the state department would like to see, said Murphy.

“There is a certain reluctance on the part of mid-career professionals to embrace new approaches,” he said. “They don’t want to look foolish in front of their students and other teachers. Great teachers can become even better with the use of technology.”

The new standards for what teachers and administrators should know, which are currently being prepared, should not be viewed as a test or requirement but a vehicle for self-evaluation, said Murphy. The teacher and administrator standards will be posted on the department’s web site (http://www.state.ct.us/sde) when completed. The student standards, completed in June and approved by the state Board of Education, also will be available online.

Among the standards for students are:

  • Preschoolers through fourth grade should be able to perform simple keyword searches and should use interactive books, software, and CD-ROM encyclopedias.
  • Fifth- thorugh eighth-graders should learn to solve routine computer hardware problems and have a basic understanding of hardware, software, and connectivity.
  • Students in middle school should be able to use software to create newsletters, budgets, and brochures.
  • High school students should be able to determine which type of software or hardware device to use in various situations in the workplace and at home.