Study: Missouri’s ed-tech program is raising student achievement

An analysis of student test scores in Missouri offers solid evidence to suggest that using technology to facilitate an inquiry-based approach to learning can boost student achievement.

Students who participated in Missouri’s educational technology program scored “consistently higher in every subject area” on the state’s standardized test compared with students not involved in the program, according to an analysis of last year’s test results.

The study, called “Analysis of 2001 MAP Results for eMINTS Students,” compared the results of the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) for more than 6,000 third- and fourth-graders.

The eMINTS program—which stands for Enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies—was found to have “a positive impact on student achievement.”

eMINTS combines multimedia and computer technology, an inquiry-based approach to teaching, and extensive professional development.

Each eMINTS classroom is equipped with a teacher’s desktop computer and laptop, a scanner, a color printer, a digital camera, an interactive white board, a high-lumen digital projector, and one computer for every two students. Student computers are loaded only with basic productivity software, such as Microsoft Office, and all computers have high-speed internet connections.

eMINTS teachers undergo 200 hours of professional development along with in-class coaching and mentoring over a two-year period. Teachers learn to integrate technology and emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving skills in their instruction.

Teachers are required to use technology within their district’s curriculum in ways that make learning significant, rather than just reading and reciting, said Monica Beglau, instructional program director for eMINTS.

“For example, instead of giving a lecture on gravity, a teacher [might have] students design an M&M dispenser to be used on a space shuttle,” she said. Together, the class would research gravity and how astronauts eat in space, using web sites displayed on an interactive whiteboard. Students would listen to audio clips, look at pictures, and watch movies. Then, they would begin developing their own dispensers.

eMINTS started in 1999 as a pilot project and was so successful that state officials expanded the program. Now, approximately 450 classrooms and 10,000 students participate statewide.

For the purposes of this study, researchers analyzed test scores from 85 eMINTS classrooms and 203 non-eMINTS classrooms within the same schools.

The 85 eMINTS classrooms began participating in the fall of 1999 and were fully equipped and operational for two years before the students were tested in the spring of 2001.

“Their classrooms had the full compliment of equipment, and the teachers had completed over 200 hours of professional development and [had begun] changing their teaching,” said Beglau, meaning teachers were using technology to facilitate an inquiry-based approach to classroom instruction.

Inquiry-based teaching and true technology integration—instructional strategies acquired only after two years of rigorous professional development—are the fundamentals of the eMINTS program, Beglau said.

“We find the two are inextricably linked,” she said. “When you put the two together, there’s a synergy created that really boosts students’ learning.”

An analysis of the test scores seems to support this statement.

Results show that a higher percentage of students in eMINTS classrooms scored in the “Proficient” or “Advanced” categories—the top two achievement levels out of five possible levels of performance—when compared with other students who took the MAP tests, the study found:

  • In third-grade communication arts, 36 percent of eMINTS students scored in the “Proficient” or “Advanced” categories, compared with 34.4 percent of non-eMINTS students in the same schools and 32.8 percent of students statewide.

  • In third-grade science, 53.7 percent of eMINTS students scored in the “Proficient” or “Advanced” categories, compared with 50.7 percent of non-eMINTS students in the same schools and 45.2 percent of students statewide.

  • In fourth-grade mathematics, 47.1 percent of eMINTS students scored in the “Proficient” or “Advanced” categories, compared with 39.7 percent of non-eMINTS students in the same schools and 36.7 percent of students statewide. “This difference is statistically significant, meaning that the differences in these scores are greater than could be expected to occur by chance alone,” Beglau said.

  • In fourth-grade social studies, 52 percent of eMINTS students scored in the “Proficient” or “Advanced” categories, compared with 41.6 percent of non-eMINTS students in the same schools and 37.7 percent of students statewide. “This difference is also statistically significant and is the largest for all areas tested,” Beglau said.

Researchers also analyzed individual test scores and found that students in special statuses—such as special-education students, Title I students, and students eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program—showed substantial increases in their MAP scores when enrolled in eMINTS classrooms.

“We have students in our test groups from every category—rural, poor, urban, rich,” Beglau said. “With eMINTS’ technology-based program and inquiry-based instruction, they can all achieve at the same level.”

Alan Warhaftig, former coordinator of Learning in the Real World, a now-defunct group that cast a critical eye on school technology investments, said he was concerned about the conclusions drawn by the study.

“Experienced teachers understand that there are a number of valid pedagogies and that different approaches are suited to different teachers,” Warhaftig said. “How much would the eMINTS teachers (and their students’ results) have improved had they received 200 hours of a different flavor of professional development?”

He continued, “If we’re going to find out what works and define a proper role for technology in education, the research about programs such as eMINTS is going to have to be more carefully designed to control for factors other than technology.”

Links:

eMINTS program
http://emints.more.net

Analysis of 2001 MAP Results for eMINTS Students
http://emints.more.net/evaluation/reports/map2001-emints.pdf

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Companies peddle software aligned with Bush Administration goals at FETC

Only slightly more than half the usual number of attendees were on hand at the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando March 6-8, according to conference organizers. Even so, the 7,000-some teachers and administrators who reportedly did take part this year seemed generally enthusiastic, in spite of pervasive talk of budget cuts and travel woes. And the attendees, by and large, seemed diligent about attending sessions and visiting with vendors.

On the still-busy show floor this year, evidence was abundant that the FETC exhibitors—if not yet all the educators—have wasted no time embracing the education rhetoric articulated by the Bush Administration. Everywhere the emphasis seemed to be on accountability and assessment, and few products or services could be found that did not claim to be “research-based,” as now will be required to qualify for funding under federal programs and state block grants.

Some major players were lining up at FETC to offer interested attendees soup-to-nuts, end-to-end solutions for managing learning resources, aligning lesson plans and instructional assets with state standards, and assessing education progress at any and all levels. Here’s a sampling of the news from exhibitors:

4GL School Solutions, which makes special education management software, plans to release five free white papers at the end of March that explain the legal and cost implications associated with managing special education. “We’ve provdided these reports as an easy way for school decision makers to gather essential background information to effectively lead their school systems,” said Clark Easter, chairman and CEO of 4GL School Solutions. The titles are “Acquiring Your Special Education Management System,” “Eliminating Compliance Violations,” “Funding Your Special Education Management System,” “Maximizing Medicaid Recovery,” and “Controlling Special Education Costs.” http://www.4glschools.com

America Online has updated its free online service for schools, which features age-appropriate content, communication tools, and built-in safety features. The newly improved AOL@School Version 2.0 includes a study kit for students; a faster, more relevant search tool; and easier navigation. Schools can get the latest edition at the AOL@School web site or by calling (888) 339-0767. In addition, AOL@School will now offer customized versions of popular content and tools from Apex Learning, GoalView, and Tom Snyder Productions. Through AOL@School, students can access Apex Learning’s Advanced Placement test preparation curriculum, AP Exam Review; students can learn critical thinking skills with Decisions Decisions Online from Tom Snyder Productions; and educators can track student achievement with GoalView’s web-based system. http://www.aolatschool.com

APTE Inc., maker of the Internet Coach web learning software, debuted a new digital photo kit at the conference. The Deluxe Edition Digital Photo Activity Kit enables students to use their own digital photos with a variety of writing exercises to create unique newsletters, book reports, picture frames, stickers, and more. The kit includes a teacher’s activity book, a digital camera, and two CD-ROMs. There are 50 templates in the program’s seven activity centers that make it easy to integrate photos, clip art, and web images into children’s creations. Each kit includes a Writing Center section to create documents; a Movie Maker to create movies from students’ photos; a Travel Center to create passports, maps, and travel journals; a Special Events section to create greeting cards and posters; a Craft Corner to create picture frames and stickers; and the Picture Games section, to incorporate photos into one of five games. http://www.internetcoach.com

The Cartoon Network has started a national character education program, called “Animate Your World: Shaping Character,” to help educators create caring, principled, and responsible adults. This interactive, CD-ROM-based program uses animation technology to teach positive character traits such as self-respect, respect for others, and community responsibility. After reviewing a topic with the teacher, students watch a cartoon sequence and then design their own ending to the cartoon. Schools in Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Seattle are now piloting the program, and it will be available nationally in the fall. http://www.animateyourworld.com

Classroom Connect announced the release of four new, one-day Connected Workshops designed to prepare teachers to apply the Compaq iPaq Pocket PC’s capabilities to the classroom and office. Developed by Classroom Connect learning specialists, the workshops are intended to help teachers make technology an integral part of the learning environment. Also at FETC, Classroom Connect announced that its fall 2002 Quest expedition, to be called Columbus Quest, will retrace the steps of Christopher Columbus as he sailed off to discover the New World. http://www.classroom.com

Compaq Computer Corp. announced that it has secured more than $250 million in new contracts with education customers. The Ohio SchoolNet Commission is spending $37 million over the next two years for Compaq computers. Clark County Schools in Las Vegas will spend $2 million with Compaq to upgrade their server technology, and five New Jersey school districts are spending more than $12 million on IT infrastructure upgrades, including more than 10,000 desktops, 1,000 laptops, and 155 servers, Compaq said. http://www.compaq.com

In a $25 million deal, Dell Computer Corp. said it will supply Oklahoma City Public Schools with wireless notebooks and desktop computers over the next three years. As part of the agreement, the Oklahoma schools will get 20,000 Dell computer systems, including 10,000 wireless notebooks and wireless carts. Dell also will certify the district’s technicians on the new systems so they can troubleshoot any problems quickly. The company said it will deliver and install the computers, saving district officials from having to do this themselves. http://www.dell.com

GCC Printers, a direct seller of laser printers, is offering volume pricing discounts to schools on its machines, including the Elite 21 Series, Elite 20 XL Series, and Elite 12 N Series. For more information, call a company representative at (800) 422-7777 or visit the company’s web site. http://www.gccprinters.com

Intel Corp. announced that Michigan teachers now can participate in the company’s Teach to the Future program, thanks to a collaboration between Intel, Michigan Virtual University, and the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning. The Teach to the Future program is a worldwide initiative that aims to address the barriers teachers face using technology effectively in the classroom. In the program, teachers train other teachers to infuse technology into daily lesson plans and incorporate the internet, web page design, and productivity software to improve the learning process. http://www.intel.com/education

LeapFrog SchoolHouse announced the release of the LeapTrack Assessment and Instruction System. The program enables teachers to use LeapFrog’s award-winning LeapPad platform to assess student progress and provide individualized, standards-based instruction. Its goal is to help teachers monitor student progress relative to state standards, customize instruction for each learner, and prepare students to master skills tested on high-stakes tests. It allows teachers to quickly assess their students’ skills in reading, language arts, math, science, and social studies; generate reports for parents and administrators; and produce an individualized learning path for each student, in each curriculum area. http://www.leapfrogschoolhouse.com

Learning Page introduced a new subscription-based web service called Reading A-Z. Reading A-Z provides educators with 150 downloadable, guided reading books, along with lesson plans and worksheets, alphabet books, read-aloud books, and other tools to increase reading skills in students. The 150 developmentally appropriate books are intended for children ages four to 11 and address a wide range of reading abilities by covering many levels of graduated reading difficulty. Each book is accompanied by a multiple-page lesson plan and worksheets. Students who can read with 95-percent accuracy and respond well to comprehension questions are able to progress to the next level. http://www.readinga-z.com

LearningSoft, a developer of interactive online assessments, adaptive learning technologies, and standards-based curriculum exercises, launched its Indigo Learning System. The company said its new subscription service will “allow schools to test students’ skills, specifically tied to state and national standards, and then assign curriculum content to students who need help in certain areas.” The Indigo Learning System can be accessed through any internet-connected PC; a parallel system, called Indigo@Hand, can be accessed through the Cybiko handheld platform. http://www.learningsoft.com

McGraw-Hill Education’s Digital Learning Group has teamed up with Mindsurf to develop digital curricula for Mindsurf’s Discourse instructional platform, which is used in classrooms or labs where every student has a computer. The curricula will be based on McGraw-Hill Education’s electronic textbooks. The companies plan to offer Glencoe Alegbra 1 this fall.
http://www.mcgraw-hill.com http://www.mindsurfnetworks.com

NetSchools Corp. announced that it will release a new version of its online accountability system for student achievement, NetSchools Orion version 4.0, this summer. Schools and districts that purchase the system before June 30 will receive the Textbook Companion module free of charge, the company said. Orion 4.0 will feature a new modular structure that will allow schools to add capabilities such as online lesson planning, assignments, textbook correlation, reporting, and communication as their needs dictate. It will allow schools to meet state and local standards by aligning instructional materials, lesson plans, tests, assignments, and 40,000 pre-screened web sites. http://www.netschools.com

PLUS Vision of America unveiled a new, lightweight U2-X2000 mobile projector. The 5.6-pound projector includes a CompactFlash card insert and presentation download software, eliminating the need for presenters to carry a PC. It also features a chalkboard function that lets the presenter use a mouse to draw images directly on the screen, as well as digital and manual zoom, manual focus, and a remote control. The U2-X2000 is based on Texas Instruments’ Digital Light Processing technology and has a suggested retail price of $6,495. PLUS Vision is the new entity resulting from the January merger of PLUS Corp. of America and Lightware Inc. http://www.plus-america.com

In light of President Bush’s call for all Americans to serve their country for at least two years, Sagemont Virtual School—the online arm of Florida’s Sagemont School—has created a groundbreaking online course in volunteerism for secondary schools, “Volunteer School/Community Service.” Sagemont selected Jones Knowledge to license the course to other United States schools through the company’s Knowledge Store. The course will be managed and delivered on the Jones e-Education platform. Course modules cover why people volunteer and identify global issues that would benefit from volunteer participation. Students play the role of vice president of a nonprofit service organization and must plan, implement, and analyze the success of their projects. To pass the course, they must complete 75 hours of community service.
http://www.sagemont.com http://www.jonesknowledge.com

Sergeant Laboratories introduced its new Aristotle security system. The Wisconsin-based company developed Aristotle to be a desktop usage monitor that tracks student computing at the desktop level and automatically notifies instructors in the case of unusual or dangerous activity. In one case, Aristotle reportedly detected a depressed student composing a suicide letter and automatically informed the school’s administration via eMail. Aristotle also conducts web site searching and filtering of inappropriate content. http://www.sgtlabs.com

Soliloquy Learning, a new K-12 company, introduced its reading fluency product, the Soliloquy Reading Assistant, to FETC attendees. The Soliloquy Reading Assistant advances reading fluency and comprehension of young readers using speech-recognition software to provide immediate feedback to students as they practice oral reading. Aimed at grades two to five, the software allows students to choose fiction or nonfiction passages from magazines such as Cricket, Spider, Click, and Ladybug. They can choose to listen to a model of fluent reading or begin reading independently. If they get stuck on a word, they can click to hear the correct pronunciation. Words that needed prompted are color-coded for extra attention. Students can also hear their reading played back or take vocabulary or comprehension quizzes. http://www.soliloquylearning.com

ThinkBox Inc. has updated Kindle Park, its online playground filled with “research-based educational content” for children aged three to six. Kindle Park also provides early childhood educators with lesson planning and management tools, including a curriculum guide and planning calendars. The latest version features 350 activities, 150 books, 750 off-screen activities, songs, and more. http://www.kindlepark.com

Vital Knowledge Software announced a new version of its Teachers’ Tech Tutor. This self-paced solution was designed to help the computer novice teacher meet technology proficiency standards. Tech Tutor combines the features of a multimedia-rich, interactive CD-ROM with the immediacy of the internet to support teachers through all stages of the learning process. The CD-ROM includes useful information in a teacher’s context, interactive exercises, video testimonials, a glossary, tests, classroom applications, and links to internet resources on the Tech Tutor web site. Vital Knowledge also announced the P.E.T. Learning Styles Solution at FETC. P.E.T. is a web-based learning styles assessment and data management application designed to help teachers and students understand more about themselves and the way they learn. Teachers can use the assessment to tailor their instruction for the specific needs of their students, to help students perform at a higher level. http://www.vitalknowledge.com

Wireless Generation previewed mClass, the company’s new reading assessment application for the Palm operating system. This software, which will be available in late April, enables teachers and administrators to access, diagnose, track, and report the reading progress of kindergarten to third-grade students. http://www.wgen.net

World Book Online now features Surf the Ages, a more fanciful approach to factual content that depicts historical information as it might have appeared had the web existed from the beginning of recorded time. Surf the Ages draws upon more than 9,550 illustrations, 21,600 encyclopedia articles, 248,000 dictionary definitions, and 1,430 maps from World Book Online to help users paint detailed portraits of the past and of the people who shaped history. Surf the Ages is divided into three ages representing 5,500 years of written history. World Book also announced the World Book Research Libraries, an online database of primary-source materials encompassing eight distinct libraries. The Research Libraries contain more than 4,700 complete books and 174,000 documents. http://www.worldbookonline.com

Xybernaut Corp. debuted XyberKids, an assistive technology solution ideal for students with disabilities, including autism and cerebral palsy. XyberKids consists of a wearable computing platform, software, and peripherals built into a sturdy backpack with padded, adjustable straps that students can wear in the classroom. “[We] have already achieved tremendous results by utilizing the XyberKids wearable computers during a six-month test deployment,” said Jeanne Gides, director of special services with Coventry, Ohio, Local School District, one of the first schools to beta-test XyberKids. “We feel strongly that this is empowering our students to … participate in less restrictive environments and gain functional independence more quickly.” http://www.xybernaut.com

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School district use of defibrillators on the rise

As the technology in portable defibrillators has improved, school districts in many states are using the devices to treat sudden cardiac arrest on their campuses.

Pennsylvania is the first state in the country to provide each of its school districts with portable defibrillators, according to the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit National Center for Early Defibrillation.

Nearly 400 Pennsylvania school districts have applied for the free devices under a one-time, $2.5 million program approved by the state legislature in May, according to the state education department. Districts also can purchase additional defibrillators at a discounted price of $1,445-they typically cost between $2,500 and $3,500-under a bulk contract secured by the state.

Similar legislation is being considered in Illinois and New Jersey. New York state lawmakers last month sent Gov. George Pataki a bill that would require schools with 1,000 or more students to have defibrillators available, but that measure does not provide any funding.

Defibrillation once was viewed as a sophisticated emergency-room procedure used to shock stopped hearts back into their normal rhythms. Now, it increasingly is seen as a front-line defense outside the hospital against sudden heart stoppages.

More than 250,000 people die each year of sudden cardiac arrest, which is usually caused by a quivering, chaotic disturbance in the heart called ventricular fibrillation. Defibrillation is the best known treatment for this condition.

About the size of a laptop computer, the portable defibrillator recognizes an abnormal heart rhythm and delivers an electric current to a patient’s chest wall that passes through the heart. Before improved technology, the user had to have enough medical background to be able to interpret whether a person needed a shock to the heart.

Now, defibrillators have an internal computer chip that will not allow the devices to shock unless they detect an abnormal heart rhythm requiring defibrillation. This means people other than doctors or paramedics can use the devices.

Mary Franco, head nurse for the Carlisle Area School District in central Pennsylvania, considers it lucky that no one has suffered fatal heart trouble either in the classroom or on the playing field during her 13 years with the district.

With the recent acquisition of two free heart-starting defibrillators from the state education department, she feels better knowing the district will be prepared if there is an emergency. Many in the community remember the death of high school basketball player Jay Hodge, who collapsed during a game in 1980, she said.

“I’m very happy to have a device that can obviously save lives,” said Franco. “I think almost every school district in this region has had a sudden death happen. With a defibrillator, you save critical minutes.”

Rep. Kelly Lewis, R-Monroe, pushed for Pennsylvania’s program after 15-year-old Gregory Moyer, a Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg sophomore, collapsed and died during halftime in a basketball game in December 2000. He would like the legislature to find money this year for a similar program that would provide defibrillators to “first responder” units of police and fire departments.

“This may be a way to enhance public safety across the state,” Lewis said.

While school officials say they appreciate any assistance from the state to defray the cost, they are unsure how many additional machines they can afford to ensure they have an adequate supply.

Pittsburgh’s school board later this month will consider applying to the state for the free defibrillators. Officials have not yet determined how many other machines are needed, or how the district could pay for them, health services coordinator Jeannine French said.

“It would be wonderful if we could have more. We have about 90 schools, and we can’t put defibrillators in some schools and not in others,” she said.

Dr. Vince N. Mosesso Jr., medical director of the National Center for Early Defibrillation, said he has fielded numerous calls from districts seeking advice on deploying the devices.

“There’s a lot of worry that if something happens in a building that doesn’t have one, could they be liable? If you have two, you should make them available at major events, like sporting events, where you would get the most bang for the buck,” Mosesso said.

In the meantime, Gregory Moyer’s parents are continuing their own efforts to encourage the wider use of defibrillators in schools and other public places. A defibrillator fund they established in his memory has raised $150,000.

“I think there’s no question that it has helped,” said his father, John Moyer. “This has given us a cause and helped us cope with how are we going to make it through the next day, or the next week, or the next month.”

At least 46 states have expanded Good Samaritan laws to allow the use of defibrillators by the public, freeing most users and manufacturers from liability, according to an Associated Press report.

But there is some concern. The notion of sending a jolt of energy to a person’s heart may still frighten people. And even the most sophisticated defilbrillators are not without hazards. The victim must be away from water and any kind of metal-including grates and metal jewelry-or the rescuer risks getting shocked.

Links:

National Center for Early Defibrillation
http://www.early-defib.org

Pennsylvania Department of Education
http://www.pde.state.pa.us

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org

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Online Study Program Prepares Students for AP Exams

Since March 1, 2002, students have been preparing for Advanced Placement (AP) exams using Apex Learning’s 2002 AP Exam Review. Exam Review is an online study program that helps students prepare for AP exams. By passing an AP exam, a student can potentially earn college credit. After administering an online diagnostic, AP Exam Review creates a personalized study plan for each student, using award-winning interactive learning activities and practice questions from actual exams.

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ED: Schools will submit data electronically by 2007

By 2007, schools across the country will use electronic data management systems for their decision making and will submit data electronically to the federal government, according to a five-year strategic plan crafted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to fulfill the goals of the new education law.

The plan, released March 7, is a broad overview of how ED will implement the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act over the next five years. In addition, ED will issue a more specific one-year plan each year.

Achievement and accountability are the main thrusts of the new education law. Schools now must test students’ math and language skills each year in grades three through eight. Schools also must prove how the dollars they spend are improving student achievement.

To help schools manage and use this new information, ED plans to offer technical assistance to schools to help them develop robust school accountability systems.

John Bailey, ED’s director of education technology, said the department will do this by letting educators know what characteristics these accountability systems should have and what products are available that meet these criteria.

The accountability systems should enable educators to analyze school data by combining different indicators such as students’ test scores, ethnic background, and access to educational technology, Bailey said.

“There are a number of products available … that can help school districts do this,” he said.

Bailey said that in Pennsylvania, where he served as the state’s ed-tech director before joining ED, the state’s accountability system helped him identify schools that had never received a competitive technology grant. After looking into the problem, state officials discovered that these schools needed extra help writing grants.

The state’s software-based accountability system “helped us target our time, resources, and focus on schools that needed it the most,” he said.

Bailey added that “the irony is that business has been doing this for the past five years or so.” Company chief executives use data on a daily basis to manage their business operations, he said, and their data use has been so effective that recessions are getting shorter and shorter, because CEOs can identify them and respond faster. Bailey wants to see the same thing happen in education.

“If we can start identifying student achievement gaps early on in a child’s development, that is going to make a tremendous difference by the time that child makes it to high school,” he said.

Typically, by the time schools get their standardized test score results back, it’s too late to help underachievers. “In the same way these accountability systems have changed business, I really think they have the power to do the same thing in education,” Bailey said.

A federal data management system

ED also plans to build an accountability system at the federal level to improve its use and collection of data from states and local school districts.

The No Child Left Behind Act allocates $10 million so ED can build a performance-based data management system, said Michael Petrilli, special assistant in the department’s Office of the Deputy Assistant.

With this system, department officials hope to reduce the burden that data collection places on school administrators. “We drive people crazy at the state and local level,” Petrilli said.

ED often asks states and school districts to provide the same information repeatedly, he said. Now, its goal is to ask for information only once and consolidate this information into a single database, from which it can be retrieved as necessary.

In addition, ED wants to clean up the data it is collecting, Petrilli said. To do this, the department will reduce the types of data it collects to a more manageable number, and it will make sure everyone is using the same terms and definitions for the data.

“It’s more of an organization and cultural change than a technology project,” Petrilli said. “We’ve got all of these overlapping definitions and terms.”

However, using common language is especially important for transferring the data electronically, another goal ED stated in its five-year strategic plan.

“Whatever data we ask for, and whatever format we ask for it in, we want to make sure it is already compatible with what states and local folks are already doing,” Petrilli said.

Bailey said ED most likely will look toward existing data transfer systems, such as the Schools Interoperability Framework or the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) Project, both of which use extensible markup language (XML) to transfer student data between different software applications.

ED hopes that submitting data electronically will save schools from a great deal of paperwork. “We are trying to reduce the burden on state and local partners,” Petrilli said.

The department will measure the number of hours it takes educators to collect, process, and submit various data as “burden hours,” he said. In 2001, educators across the country spent 40.5 million burden hours fulfilling ED’s data requests.

“By 2007, we are aiming to get that down to about 20 million burden hours,” he said.

What Works Clearinghouse

ED also plans to build an easy-to-use online database of educational research and best practices, called the What Works Clearninghouse. Department officials hope this service will make it easier for educators to understand and apply thorough research and proven best practices to their teaching.

ERIC—the Educational Resources Information Center—currently publishes all education research that exists, but it’s hard for educators to distinguish between good and bad content, Petrilli said. The What Works Clearinghouse will attempt to make research more accessible to educators in the field, he said.

In addition to these projects, technology will play a key role in implementing other parts of the No Child Left Behind Act, Bailey said, including helping early readers, providing professional development alternatives, and recruiting and retaining new teachers.

“The strategic plan outlines very different goals. And it’s up to us to think about how technology can help us achieve those different goals,” Bailey said.

Links:

ED’s Strategic Plan 2002-2007
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/stratplan2002-07/index.html

Schools Interoperability Framework
http://www.sifinfo.org

Instructional Management Systems Project
http://www.imsproject.org

Educational Resources Information Center
http://www.eric.ed.gov

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New math software from Riverdeep-The Learning Co.

Destination Math 5.0, the latest release in the Destination series of mathematics software from Riverdeep-The Learning Co., includes all previous courses plus new courses for K-3 learners, making it a complete math solution for grades K-12.

The Destination Math series is built around a carefully sequenced, comprehensive curriculum featuring guided tutorials, hands-on interactivity, and step-by-step problem solving strategies. Lessons are correlated to state and national standards, as well as to major textbooks. The new K-3 coursework introduces early learners to math concepts in real-life context.

“The latest version of Destination Math exemplifies our push to provide the most comprehensive K-12 learning tools possible to children, teachers, and parents,” said Gail Pierson, president of Riverdeep’s product development and operations. Destination Math also incorporates Riverdeep’s Learning Management System, which offers standards-based testing, instant reports, prescriptive assignments, and other evaluation tools.

The Destination Math series is available online or via CD-ROM.

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Host virtual meetings online with Polycom’s WebOffice

Polycom’s new WebOffice software allows users to hold meetings over the internet or an intranet while integrating video, voice, and data. In real time, participants can use WebOffice to speak to one other while viewing the same documents or video on their personal computers.

Schools can use WebOffice to improve communication between school buildings and allow staff members to attend meetings remotely to accommodate their busy schedules.

Participants can make notes or marks on the shared document—such as a PowerPoint presentation or word processing file—so everyone is can see the changes at the same time. Each annotation appears in a different color to identify who made it.

In addition to sharing documents, WebOffice users can share applications or desktops in a secure, interactive environment. This remote desktop control feature is especially useful for help desk personnel, so they can not only talk staff members through a problem, they can show them through it.

Users can set up a virtual office by creating a unique web address, similar to their eMail address. Anyone can meet in this virtual office by entering the web address into their browser. To operate WebOffice, users only need a computer, an internet connection, and a web browser (preferably Microsoft Internet Explorer.)

As a cost-saving measure, schools can implement and host Web Office themselves without having to rely on another service provider. WebOffice is firewall-friendly and easy to install.

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Intel’s Digital Movie Creator is ideal for young students

The Intel Play Digital Movie Creator, an easy-to-use digital video camera designed specifically for children, is a great way to introduce students to storytelling at a young age.

The device enables children to film their own movies by capturing up to four minutes of video and audio or hundreds of snapshots at one time. Once all the footage has been shot, children can use a computer to enhance the film with titles, transitions, special effects, and sounds. Students can watch their movies on the computer and send them to their teacher or parents via the internet.

The suggested price for the Digital Movie Creator is $99. This price includes a camera with a built-in microphone, camera base with a connected USB cable, movie-making software on CD-ROM containing stock footage from National Geographic and NASA, and an activity guide.

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New School Edition from Britannica Online

Reference publisher Encyclopedia Britannica has launched Britannica Online School Edition, a web-based reference product suitable for all K-12 researchers. The School Edition enables students to search through three sets of encyclopedias, each geared toward different age groups: elementary, middle, and high school.

The product features access to more than 115,000 articles, 24,000 biographies, and a student dictionary and thesaurus. But unlike anything found in books, the online encyclopedia also gives students access to historical multimedia videos and sounds. Students can search through more than 2,600 videos of famous speeches and world events. The site also includes access to world atlases and detailed maps of 196 countries, as well as worksheets, lesson plans, and special features on topics such as Black History or Shakespeare.

Britannica Online School Edition is available to schools through an annual subscription fee; for pricing, contact the company directly.

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TI’s Voyage 200: Not just a graphing calculator

Voyage 200, the newest educational device from Texas Instruments, is designed to help students understand math, but it’s much more than just a graphing calculator. This handheld computer features a wide range of multicurricular software programs, while offering three times more Flash memory than the T1-92 Plus. Its iconic desktop lets students navigate between software programs for creating spreadsheets or study cards, taking notes, analyzing statistics, calculating finances, and scheduling.

“Educators are telling us that they want more functionality to allow handheld products to be used in courses beyond math and science. At the same time, existing users don’t want to have to learn a new interface, so we’re enhancing the familiar,” said Tom Ferrio, vice president of Texas Instruments’ Educational and Productivity Solutions.

In addition, the Voyage 200 features an array of advanced mathematical applications for students to tackle, including the Computer Algebra System for manipulating mathematical expressions and functions and Geometer’s Sketchpad for constructing, analyzing, and transforming mathematical models and geometric diagrams.

The Voyage 200 comes with an ergonomic case, a QWERTY key pad for taking notes, and connects to a computer via a USB cable so users can download additional software and data files. The Voyage 200 has a suggested price of $200.

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