Major study questions value of school software

The use of certain educational software programs to help teach reading and math did not lead to higher test scores after a year of implementation, according to a major federal report released April 5.

The $10 million study, issued by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), was distributed to members of Congress–and its findings could affect future funding for school technology. That worries some advocates of educational technology, who question how the study was conducted.

The study set out to examine the effectiveness of 15 classroom software programs in four categories: early reading (first grade); reading comprehension (fourth grade); pre-algebra (sixth grade); and algebra (ninth grade).

Researchers studied the impact of the school software products in question on about 10,000 students in 439 classrooms across 132 schools. They found achievement scores were not statistically higher in classrooms using these reading and math programs than in classrooms without the products.

Ed-tech experts say the results aren’t surprising, given how the software was implemented in the participating schools.

Nearly all the teachers received training on the products during the summer or early fall and believed they were well prepared to use the technology in their classrooms. But their confidence waned as the school year went on, the study indicates: "Generally, teachers reported a lower degree of confidence in what they had learned after they began using products in the classroom."

This suggests participating teachers didn’t receive the kind of technology coaching or peer support throughout the school year that other research demonstrates is a key element of success.

"Brief training at the beginning of the year is not sufficient. Ongoing and sustainable professional development that provides support and mentoring or coaching for teachers ensures that technology tools and resources are used in ways that lead to increased student achievement," said Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

What’s more, student use of the software accounted for only about 10 or 11 percent of the total instructional time for the entire school year in each of the four experiment groups–well below what the products were designed for. So it’s no wonder, ed-tech advocates say, that researchers didn’t see any tangible results.

To implement the study, volunteer teachers in each of the participating schools were randomly assigned either to use the products (the "treatment group") or not (the "control group"). While the study worked to ensure that teachers received appropriate training and that technology infrastructures were adequate, "vendors, rather than the study team, were responsible for providing technical assistance and for working with schools and teachers to encourage them to use products more or use them differently," the report said. "Teachers could decide to stop using products if they believed products were ineffective or difficult to use, or could use products in ways that vendors may not have intended. Because of this feature of the study, the results relate to conditions of use that schools and districts would face if they were purchasing products on their own."

What is absent in this description of the research is any recognition that leadership also is a key component of school technology success. In designing a study that aimed to recreate "conditions of use that schools and districts would face if they were purchasing products on their own," the study merely confirms what ed-tech experts already know: that inserting technology into the classroom without the proper leadership and support won’t do any good.

"It is important to remember that educational software, like textbooks, is only one tool in the learning process. Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers, leadership, and parental involvement," said Keith Krueger, chief executive officer of the Consortium for School Networking, in a statement.

"This study failed to address several key pieces that other research and educators strongly agree are critical to the success of any efforts to transform teaching and learning," Wolf added. "Strong leadership is needed to encourage the correct use of technology, provide support throughout, and systemically integrate the use of technology for instruction. Integrating technology is much, much more than putting a piece of software into a classroom … As the study purports, it addressed a very narrow piece of educational technology; but more importantly, the study did not include critical components known to be essential for the successful integration of technology–or any other reform effort in transforming education."

Wolf pointed to North Carolina’s effort to provide technology infrastructure and peer coaches in its schools, which appears to be paying off.

The NC IMPACT program, which was studied through a federal evaluation grant from ED, provided teachers and students with the hardware, software, connectivity, personnel, and professional development to create a 21st-century teaching and learning environment that ultimately affects student achievement. Students in IMPACT model schools, while originally behind their peers in math and reading end-of-grade test scores, caught up to and surpassed these comparison students during the first year of the grant and maintained that lead at the end of the second year of the grant, Wolf said. (See "Shared leadership makes an IMPACT in North Carolina":
And that’s just one example of an educational technology project that has resulted in greater student achievement, other federally funded research suggests.

In Utah, Missouri, and Maine, students in classrooms that participated in the eMINTS program–which provides teachers with educational technology, curriculum, and more than 200 hours of professional development–had tests scores that were 10 to 20 percentage points higher than students in the control classrooms, Wolf said. And in Iowa, after providing teachers with sustainable professional development and technology-based curriculum interventions, student scores increased by 14 percentage points in eighth grade math, 16 points in fourth grade math, and 13 points in fourth grade reading, when compared with control groups.

In an interview with eSchool News;, the study’s designers defended their methods.

"This was a very well-done study, there are no flaws in it, it had the full engagement of the software developers, and a great deal of attention was given to training and support of the teachers," said Phoebe Cottingham, commissioner of education evaluation and regional assistance for the Institute of Education Sciences, ED’s principal research arm. "I think we’re mystified about why we didn’t see some of the expected effects on test scores."

The report was based on schools and teachers who had not used any of the software products in question before. ED has extended the study for a second year to determine whether the software is more effective when teachers have had more experience using it. The department hopes to release the second year’s results next spring.
"We’ll be very interested in what the analysis produces a year from now," Cottingham said.

The lead researcher for the study was Mark Dynarski of Mathematica Policy Research Inc., an independent, for-profit research organization based in Princeton, N.J.

Cottingham and Dynarski both said it’s difficult to compare this study’s findings to other studies that found technology has increased test scores, because those other studies involved different control groups, methods, and other factors that might have had a different impact on the results.

"I think it’s a signal of how important it is that people really use the most rigorous designs as soon as possible, because they can be fooled into thinking things are happening [that aren’t]," Cottingham said of the research.

Cottingham did say one thing that ed-tech advocates would agree with: Observers shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on the results of this study alone–something they hope members of Congress will consider, too.

"I think it’s premature to draw any kind of conclusion [about technology’s impact on student achievement]," Cottingham said. "This is the biggest, most rigorous study that’s been done–but we don’t feel we’re done yet, and the rest of the world shouldn’t consider that we’re done."


"Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort"

U.S. Department of Education

Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

State Educational Technology Directors Association

Consortium for School Networking


Tech’s ‘greatest potential’: Personalizing instruction

Calling technology’s "greatest potential" for education its ability to personalize instruction, Katie Lovett, chair of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), kicked off the group’s 12th annual K-12 School Networking Conference in San Francisco March 28.

The conference brought together school district chief information officers and other educational technology leaders from around the world to discuss key ed-tech challenges and solutions. One of these challenges, Lovett noted in setting the stage for the meeting’s opening general session, is the need to break out of the mold of the one-size-fits-all approach to instruction.

Lovett, who is the CIO of Georgia’s Fulton County Schools, introduced Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Dede moderated an opening general session that explored two creative yet very different approaches to personalizing instruction with the help of technology.

One of these approaches is, a United Kingdom-based international virtual learning community. offers an alternative to traditional education for students who, for a variety of reasons, can’t cope with school.

"We’re the absolute antithesis of what school is," said Jean Johnson, project director.

Johnson explained that Notschool allows students to take ownership of the curriculum and shape their own education. They can choose their areas of study, and because instruction is asynchronous and online, they can choose when they’ll participate. "Teenagers don’t want to learn at 8 o’clock in the morning," she said–but, given a choice over the direction of their education, they do want to learn.

Operating within the confines of the traditional school system, Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools–the nation’s 12th largest school district–is working to create an Individual Learning Plan for each of its 163,000 students.

"It’s time to craft our vision for the future, instead of dwelling on the past," Superintendent Jack D. Dale told conference attendees.

After Johnson and Dale described their respective projects, Dede moderated a discussion about the challenges each faces. He concluded the session by noting that, while it’s clear technology allows educators to personalize instruction "in ways we never could before," school leaders often must confront significant political and cultural hurdles to make this happen.

(Editor’s note: For highlights of this opening general session, see the nine-minute video clip titled “Personalized Learning”)

Re-engaging students

A key idea to emerge from this opening general session, which was repeated throughout the conference, was the need for schools to re-engage today’s youth.

"Why are kids on MySpace?" Johnson asked conference attendees. "They’re there because they want to be there." But, too often, the same can’t be said about school. Today’s students are growing up immersed in a world of video games, cell phones, and instant messaging–but when they get to school, they’re often forced to leave these technologies at the door.

In an international symposium held March 27, the day before the conference officially began, CoSN brought together education leaders from several nations to discuss how computer games and simulations–interactive media that today’s students embrace and understand–can be used as serious learning tools.

The symposium included an address from Lord David Puttnam, an Academy Award-winning British filmmaker and education official. Puttnam, whose films include The Mission;, The Killing Fields;, and Chariots of Fire;, is the only non-American to lead a major Hollywood studio, having run Columbia Pictures in the 1980s. After retiring from the film industry, he went to work for the United Kingdom’s Department for Education and Skills, where he has sought to spread the message that today’s schools must change if they are to reach a new generation of learners.

In an interview with eSchool News;, Puttnam said educators can learn a lot from the entertainment industry. The primary lesson? "Know your audience," he said.

(Editor’s note: For highlights of the interview with Lord Puttnam, see the five-minute video clip titled "Know your audience);

The exploration of computer gaming as a serious approach to instruction continued on the conference’s first day, with a session examining a project in Japan, called the Instructional Activities Game (AIG), that uses games in teacher education. Another session looked at existing research on the effectiveness of using games to teach core curricular content.

An international flair

This year’s CoSN conference had a decidedly international feel to it, highlighted by a closing general session on March 30 examining what might be the world’s largest effort to transform instruction through the use of technology on a national scale in Great Britain.

In a session titled "Personalization and the U.K.’s Whole-School Reform Effort," Doug Brown, head of learning technologies for that nation’s Department for Education and Skills, described the scope of these efforts and the vision behind them.

The U.K. has pumped a tremendous amount of funding into educational technology over the last 10 years, Brown said. It now spends the equivalent of $1.5 billion a year on school technology alone for its 9 million students–and this figure is growing at a rate of about 5 percent, per year. The country also has made a push to install interactive whiteboards in its schools, and though the decision to participate is left to each institution, the devices are now in more than 50 percent of the nation’s classrooms.

By 2008, the U.K.’s goal is to have all schools using learning platforms, all students using personalized learning spaces, and "universal access" to technology, wherever and whenever students need it, Brown said. That could include laptops, personal digital assistants, Sony PlayStation Portables, tablet computers, or whatever technologies school leaders choose.

As with the projects featured during the conference’s opening general session, the goal of these initiatives is to personalize instruction, Brown explained, adding: "One size fits all isn’t going to work."

Sir Michael Barber, a consultant on global public-sector practice and former head of the British Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, was the original architect of Great Britain’s school-reform movement, which provides the context for that nation’s ed-tech initiatives.

Barber addressed the conference in a pre-recorded video, saying, "Change will only happen if it is placed in the context of whole-school reform." It also will happen only if education leaders combine pressure with support, he noted.

Toward that end, high-quality leadership is key. Brown acknowledged that education officials made a mistake when their initial push to train teachers in the use of technology to improve learning didn’t include training for school principals; that has since been rectified, he said.

How are these reform efforts working? There is some evidence that achievement gaps have been narrowed, Brown said, and literacy rates in the elementary schools are on the rise–but there is still much more work to be done.

‘A new kind of conversation’

Continuing this international theme, other conference sessions highlighted such initiatives as Australia’s national education portal, EDNA; the use of open electronic learning content in Japan; and an international research project to investigate new ways of measuring the value of school technology.

For the last six years, CoSN has held an International Symposium in conjunction with its annual conference, in which the organization has brought together key education and policy leaders from the United States and abroad to examine global responses to educational technology. But with this year’s conference, CoSN has made an effort to integrate more international speakers and voices into the general program itself, said Keith Krueger, the group’s executive director.

This year’s conference featured more than 50 international participants from more than a dozen countries, Krueger said; that’s double the number from past years. Besides the U.K., Japan, and Australia, these included Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, France, and Denmark.

Krueger said CoSN wanted to give more international education leaders the chance to showcase their own ed-tech challenges and solutions, "so we can start a new kind of conversation and not just stop at the ocean’s shores."

Overall attendance at this year’s show was up 10 percent over last year, he said, establishing a new conference high of more than 1,000 participants. This was the first year that Washington, D.C.-based CoSN has held its annual conference in San Francisco, and Krueger said the group plans to alternate between San Francisco and the D.C. area in future years.

News from the exhibit hall

Over in the exhibit hall, dozens of educational technology companies showcased their products and services for the education market. Here are some of the highlights.

3Com Corp. announced its "Spring Price Break" for schools, in which educational institutions can save money on 3Com’s switches and routers, IP telephony, security, and wireless solutions from now until June 1.

Atomic Learning highlighted the most recent additions to its stable of online technology tutorials, including new tutorials on Microsoft’s latest product offerings: Office 2007 and Windows Vista. The company says it now offers more than 25,000 tutorials on more than 100 computer applications that students and teachers use every day. These are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any internet-connected computer, with new tutorials reportedly added every 45 days.

Brother International Corp. displayed its printing and imaging solutions for schools, which give educators the ability to reduce paper usage through double-sided printing, easily convert paper documents to PDF format or archive them by scanning to FTP, protect confidential student information with secure fax and print features, print hall passes with a date and time stamp, and create such products as visitor ID badges and bar code labels for books.

Elluminate Inc. a provider of live eLearning and web collaboration solutions for schools and businesses, introduced vRoom, a free, three-seat "virtual office" for both academic and corporate users. vRoom is optimized for low bandwidth connectivity, works on multiple platforms, and is always available, Elluminate said. It features two-way audio, an interactive whiteboard space, direct messaging, application sharing, file transfer, live video capabilities, and multiple language translation. "The collaborative opportunities available in Elluminate’s vRoom are tremendous," said J. Ricky Cox, a professor at Murray State College. "I use vRoom and my tablet PC to conduct virtual office-hour sessions in my chemistry courses. Audio capabilities in vRoom allow me to discuss problem-solving strategies with my students, while I use the tablet pen to work problems and draw structures on the whiteboard. I also use vRoom with research colleagues across the country to plan experiments and converse about scholarly manuscripts we are writing."

ePALS Classroom Exchange featured its new SchoolBlog solution, which enables students to blog freely in a protected environment. With ePALS SchoolBlog, teachers and students can safely incorporate classroom and school web sites and blogs into their educational endeavors, the company said.

Parat Solutions introduced its Paradidact Mobile IT Transport System, which allows educators to transport, store, recharge, administer, and synchronize up to 32 notebook computers cost-effectively and efficiently. The system allows users to conveniently administer updates or synchronize lesson plans from any remote location via "Wake-on-LAN" technology, according to the company.

Stoneware Inc. featured its webNetwork solution, which allows schools to create a single, secure access point for all of their applications, services, and content. Stoneware says its webNetwork 5e combines the security of a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Virtual Private Network with the services of a web portal.

Following a successful pilot during the 2004-06 school years, Maynard, Mass.-based Virtual High School now offers two, 2-year online International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme courses: economics and information technology in a global society. VHS says it is the first and only online course provider to offer IB courses online.


Complete CoSN Conference coverage from eSchool News

Consortium for School Networking

Fairfax County Public Schools

U.K.’s "Personalised Learning" web site


Microsoft sues student software resellers

Aiming to stop the diversion of software from education, software giant Microsoft Corp. has filed five new lawsuits against U.S. companies and individuals, claiming they purchased deeply discounted Windows and Office software intended for use by students and sold it to retail customers at retail prices.

The company filed the suits April 2 in federal courts in California, Nevada, and Florida, alleging the parties infringed on Microsoft’s copyright by importing and distributing versions of Windows and Office that were not meant to be sold through the retail channel.

"The defendants in these lawsuits and others are charged with profiting from selling clearly marked educational software to unsuspecting retail customers who were not licensed to use it–potentially depriving students and schools of the opportunity to benefit from the latest technologies," Bonnie MacNaughton, senior attorney at Microsoft, said in a statement.

Named in the lawsuits are EEE Business Inc., doing business as; Eric Chan and Ruhui Li, both doing business as LCTech; and Intrax Group Inc. of California. Also named were Global Online Distribution LLC of Las Vegas and Big Boy Distribution of Florida.

"We’re not selling counterfeit or stolen software," said Mike Mak, owner of Intrax, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif. "We bought software from legitimate sources in the U.S."

Mak said his company sold the discounted "Student Media" software, but stopped after Intrax learned about the lawsuit April 3.

"When we sell it, we disclose exactly what it is to our customers. We tell them it is academic software, that it may require a separate license," Mak said. He said that as far as he’s concerned, that’s not illegal.

He added that it’s impossible for his business to sell boxed retail versions of Microsoft software and still make a profit. Instead, he said, "you try to seek out alternatives that are legal," including Student Media programs.

Dale Harelik, managing director of Global Online Distribution, said his company has never sold the discounted students-only software. He said the company received a cease-and-desist letter from Microsoft in January, and that he spoke by phone with the software maker’s lawyers, who assured him Global Online Distribution was not a target of an ongoing investigation.

"We’re not the bad guys," Harelik said. "We agreed with Microsoft. We complied with Microsoft."

Lillian Shan, a manager at EEE Business, said the company had not seen the legal filings, and did not want to comment without having reviewed them. Big Boy Distribution did not return a call for comment.

Microsoft has pinpointed a handful of companies, including one in Jordan and one in Latvia, as sources for the discounted Student Media software sold illegally on U.S. web sites, MacNaughton said in an interview April 2.

These education-only copies of Office and Windows, which universities around the world buy from academic resellers and offer to students at a fraction of the retail price, are a prime target for fraud, MacNaughton said.

"We knew we had to try to do something to maintain the integrity of our academic programs," she said.

MacNaughton said Jordan-based Educational Solutions had a contract to sell 150,000 copies of Windows and Office to Jordan’s education ministry. It received the software from Microsoft but never paid for it, she said. Instead, according to MacNaughton, it resold the disks to software retailers in the U.S., making between $3 million and $4 million in profit.

MacNaughton said a company in Latvia pursued a similar strategy, but she declined to give the company’s name.

Microsoft also said that, which Microsoft claimed was one of the largest sellers of the discounted student software, agreed to settle a lawsuit out of court for more than $1 million in cash and property. said it no longer sells Microsoft products, but would not comment on the settlement.


Microsoft Corp.

Global Online Distribution LLC

Big Boy Distribution


Bloomberg says he’ll veto ban on metal bats in NYC high schools

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday he’ll veto a bill passed last month to outlaw metal bats from high school baseball in the nation’s largest school system, which some believe would make the game safer.

"I don’t know whether aluminum bats are more dangerous or less dangerous,"
said Bloomberg. "But I don’t think it’s the city’s business to regulate that."

It appeared, however, that the City Council would have enough votes to override a veto. The bill passed last month by 40 to 6, so it likely has the support for the necessary two-thirds majority, and the council is expected to take it up this month.

Similar measures have been proposed by youth leagues and lawmakers in other states, including New Jersey, where a batted ball struck a 12-year-old boy in the chest, sending him into cardiac arrest.

Sponsors of New York City’s bill say that non-wood bats make faster and harder hits, and that this can be dangerous for young players in the path of the balls. Some say they can be injured because they have less time to react.

Opponents of the City Council’s measure, including Little League Baseball and sporting goods makers, say there is no scientific evidence proving metal bats pose more of a risk. They say the anti-metal movement relies on emotional anecdotes over concrete data, and some have indicated they will take the matter to court.

The question has been debated for about as long as metal bats have been in use since the 1970s. In 2005, an American Legion Baseball study found no substantial scientific proof to support the argument that wooden bats are safer than metal bats.

Bloomberg said the decision about which type of bats to use should be left to those in charge of youth leagues, and not lawmakers.

"There are risks in everything," he said. "We want to reduce the risks as much as possible, we don’t want to destroy tradition of the game, but that’s up for the people running the sports."

He said professional players have called him and argued both sides of the case.

While the measure was being considered by the council, former New York Mets relief pitcher John Franco testified in support of the ban, while Yankees starting pitcher Mike Mussina came out against it.


Teacher convicted of bomb threats

A sixth-grade teacher was convicted Monday of making false bomb threats that targeted five students attending the middle school where she taught.

Michelle J. Dohm, 41, of Maryland, had pleaded not guilty but agreed to a written statement of facts, on which Frederick County Circuit Judge Julie Stevenson Solt based her verdict. In return, prosecutors dropped seven felony threat counts and four misdemeanor stalking counts.

Dohm, a married mother, made the threats from September 2005 to April 2006. The threats were in notes found in the boys’ lockers, a Thurmont Middle School bathroom and envelopes mailed to two of the victims’ homes.

Some of the notes began, "Tick Tock Tick Tock. Is it a bomb or is it a clock?"

Solt ordered a pre-sentencing investigation that will include a psychiatric examination. Sentencing is set for June.

The five felonies carry a combined maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. A prosecutor said he will seek 18 months in jail for her.

State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith declined to comment until after sentencing.

Defense attorney Thomas C. Morrow said Dohm continues to maintain her innocence.

"She just wanted to avoid the pain and anguish of a two-week trial on her family and the community," he said.


NetOp School Helps Teachers Keep Student Computer Users on Task and Learning

Chicago ?April 10, 2007 — When a middle school student in Steve West´s computer lab at Asheville Middle School in Asheville, N.C. found a way to get out on the Internet during class, the veteran teacher called the young woman up to his desk. She was appalled to see that he had a recording of every site she had visited on the Internet. After that, he never had a problem with that student wandering off task again.

The NetOp School software West uses in his classroom allows him to view and record each student´s monitor from his own screen. If a student wanders off task, the teacher knows immediately and can send a private text message to the student to bring them back on track. The software also allows teachers to share any screen with the rest of the class, freeze a student´s mouse, or turn controls over to a student for a demonstration.

Ease of use makes NetOp School perfect for classroom use, according to West.

"I have been using this software in my classroom lab for two years and managing it in 10 additional classroom labs in three buildings," he said. "If all software was this easy, tech people would be out of work."

The latest version of NetOp School, version 5.0, has an improved test center, allowing teachers to customize tests so that they match the curriculum being taught. It also allows for offline preparation so that teachers can work on curriculum at home without installing NetOp on their home computer.

NetOp School was developed by Danish IT company, Danware A/S, and is sold in the United States by the company´s subsidiary NetOp Tech Inc.

"NetOp School is extremely popular software with schools and teachers," said Jason Vargovchik, country manager for NetOp Tech Inc. "The teaching features, reliability and ease of use are very attractive for educators."

Danware develops and markets additional software products based on NetOp technology, which provides for fast, secure and stable transfer of images, audio and data between two or more computers. NetOp Remote Control products enable remote control of one or more computers. NetOp Netfilter is an Internet filtering solution used to distinguish safe from unsafe content. NetOp Desktop Firewall is a distributed firewall for monitoring computer processes and communication. All are plug-and-play products offering extensive functionality, flexibility and user-friendliness.

About NetOp Tech Inc.

NetOp Tech, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of Danware, a Danish software company. Danware´s core business is to develop and market, through a certified channel of NetOp Partners, software products based on the NetOp core technology–a technology enabling swift, secure and seamless transfer of screens, sound and data between two or more products. For more information, visit the NetOp Tech Inc. Web site at

About Danware A/S

Based in Birkerod, Denmark, Danware A/S develops and markets NetOp software products sold in more than 80 countries worldwide. In 2006, Danware reported sales of about $16.4 million. Danware´s shares are listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange and are a component of the Small Cap+ index. For more information, visit the Danware Web site at


Free Copies of Spike Lee HBO Documentary "When the Levees Broke" and Curriculum Available to Educators

NEW YORK–April 10, 2007–Spike Lee and HBO´s epic documentary, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," is the centerpiece of a new curriculum package that will be available this fall for high school, college and community educators. The documentary, for which Lee and Sam Pollard recently won the 2006 George Polk Award for Documentary Television, will be accompanied by a multi-disciplinary curriculum guide, "Teaching The Levees: A Curriculum for Democratic Dialogue and Civic Engagement to Accompany the HBO Documentary Film Event," published and distributed by Teachers College Press.

Available free to educators, thanks to a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the curriculum package, which includes a complete version of the documentary in a two-disk DVD set and a complementary curriculum guide, can be requested at while supplies last.

Lee´s documentary, which debuted on HBO in August 2006, chronicles the experiences of people from diverse backgrounds and socio-economic conditions who endured the harrowing ordeal of living in New Orleans during and after the levees were breached. Through eyewitness accounts and expert commentary, the four-part documentary tells the saga of one of the greatest natural disasters experienced by any region of the country and the failure at all levels of government to respond adequately to the tragedy.

The curriculum was developed by faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University.

"Our schools, colleges and communities often avoid discussions of the complex societal issues of race and class that are raised in Spike Lee´s landmark documentary," said Margaret Smith Crocco, "Teaching The Levees" project leader and professor of social studies and education at Teachers College. "Now, through this groundbreaking documentary and the supporting curriculum guide, educators can stimulate dialogue about these tough issues and help students answer such questions as: ?What kind of a country are we? What kind of a country do we want to be?´"

The curriculum includes individual chapters on history, media literacy, civics, economics and geography. In addition, the guide provides resources, such as a detailed timeline of the unfolding of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, as well as a map of the New Orleans levee system. Each lesson includes thought-provoking discussion questions connected to the stories in the documentary that will help students explore "why" and "how" this tragedy happened, and examine their reactions to the devastating chain of events.

The lessons are aimed at three audiences: high school social studies students, college students in history-related courses, and adult learners in civic, religious and community groups. The documentary, "When the Levees Broke," was rated TV-14 when it was aired by HBO; the curriculum is intended for 11th and 12th grade high school students, college students and adults.

The content of the curriculum can be used in ways that are consistent with national high school social studies standards and can be easily integrated into existing curricula. In addition, resources to support the use of the curriculum–including media content, supplementary educational materials, venues for community sharing and online professional development materials–are available to educators, students and community leaders from the "Teaching The Levees" Web site ( ). The "Teaching The Levees" package will be available for use during the 2007-2008 school year.

"Teaching The Levees" is a collaboration of Teachers College, Columbia University, the Rockefeller Foundation and HBO Documentary Films.

About Teachers College

Teachers College is dedicated to promoting equity in education and overcoming the gap in educational access and achievement between the most and least advantaged groups in this country. Through scholarly programs of teaching, research, and service, the College draws upon the expertise of a diverse community of faculty in education, psychology and health, as well as students and staff from across the country and around the world. For more information about the College, please visit .

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation was established in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., to "promote the well-being" of humanity by addressing the root causes of serious problems. With assets of more than $3.5 billion, it is one of the nation´s largest private foundations. The Foundation works internationally to expand opportunities for poor and vulnerable people and to help ensure that the benefits of globalization are shared more widely. For more information about the Rockefeller Foundation, contact Associate Communications Director Michael N. Cowan at 212-852-8412 or .

About Home Box Office, Inc.

Home Box Office, Inc. is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., providing two 24-hour premium television services, HBO and Cinemax. Together, both networks reach approximately 40 million subscribers in the United States via cable and satellite delivery. Home Box Office´s international joint ventures bring HBO branded services to more than 50 countries around the globe.


Gateway´s New End-to-End 1:1 Computing Solution to Engage Students and Empower Educators

IRVINE, Calif., April 10, 2007–Gateway, Inc. today announced a new 1:1 computing solution for the education market designed to improve academic performance while at the same time promoting student engagement and attendance. In addition to the numerous benefits this technology-based initiative holds for students, the Gateway solution also empowers teachers and includes valuable training and technology integration into the classroom.

Gateway´s 1:1 Computing Solution provides a comprehensive portfolio of products and services offering consulting, needs assessment, professional development, classroom management software, standard-based curriculum software, implementation, and ongoing support. Each solution is designed and scaled to the needs of the education customers and supported by the U.S.-based customer support.

"Education customers across the country have told us, that in addition to technology, they want complete solutions that include services, software and after sales support, in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of classroom learning," said John Costello, Gateway vice president of marketing. "Based on our many years of experience in the education segment and discussions with education customers both large and small, we have developed a program that is not only comprehensive, but scalable. We have partnered with some of the best education-focused hardware, software and service companies to provide a complete, end-to-end 1:1 computing solution for education customers."

The Gateway 1:1 Computing Solution offers programs to help schools, districts, colleges and universities meet the challenges of student engagement, faculty empowerment and learning enhancement. The solution was developed to scale to the needs of the customer, taking into consideration each institution´s specific objectives as well as its position in the technology adoption lifecycle. Gateway provides programs for every stage of this process.

"We have seen the benefits that 1:1 computing programs offer students, and want to help expand this initiative to schools nationwide by making the integration process as simple as possible," said Costello. "Gateway is proud to offer a program that positively influences students´ attendance, behavior and achievement in a 1:1 learning environment."

Gateway´s comprehensive 1:1 computing solution offers the following professional services, software, hardware and support services:

*Consulting–Gateway offers strategic consulting and integrated services that assist education institutions in effectively achieving their technology training and information management goals. Gateway works with partners to develop a customized plan that includes the specific instructional technology and related support services for successful implementation and execution.

*Financing–Based on many years of experience and a vast network of partners, Gateway helps to evaluate the best funding solutions and financial structure for each institution to increase purchasing power, reduce out-of-pocket expenses and simplify the acquisition process. This service includes aid with state and federal grants, local bond initiatives and identifying leasing options.

*Professional Development–Gateway´s professional development experts will work with each school or district to implement a training program that ensures a smooth technology integration process. On-site and online courses help students, instructors, administrators and IT professionals get more out of the IT investment. There is a one-day introduction course or a two-week integration boot-camp designed to help increase user acceptance and improve technology skill levels. Educators can choose from over 5,000 online courses or instructor-led training from LearnWithGateway* education services, including Technology Integration for Teaching and Learning in Education, a 48-hour program that shows teachers how to become technology-integration specialists as they lead their students in standards-based, student-centered learning.

*Classroom Management–Gateway helps teachers to effectively manage the classroom and integrate technology into the curriculum by working with service partners to provide software that monitors students, synchronizes classroom delivery and fights plagiarism. Educators can choose from:

*an integrated software solution that fosters engagement through collaborative note-taking, computer monitoring and after class activities;

*an Internet-enabled software that connects teachers with their students and facilitates distance learning;

*a real-time communication, collaboration and knowledge transfer software that lets instructors create, manage and deliver effective learning programs both in the classroom and over the Web.

*Standards-Based Curriculum–Technology-rich curriculum is instrumental in streamlining communication between instructors and students. Gateway works with industry-leading service partners to deliver eBooks, educational videos and Web-based courses designed to enhance students´ classroom performance and their learning experience. Successful digital curriculum implementations, downloadable digital book formats and distributed learning applications allow students to collaborate and access learning content anytime, anywhere. In addition, student achievement and educator effectiveness is boosted because the curriculum software is based on the principles of cognitive development and designed to be both student-centric and standards-based. Additionally, digital curriculum allows students and parents to check grades, assignments and teacher feedback, helping K-12 schools and districts meet No Child Left Behind accountability requirements. It also helps colleges and universities realize campus computing and distance learning potential, while tracking students from enrollment to graduation.

*Hardware–Educators can better instruct a 1:1 classroom with standardized hardware, including Gateway convertible notebooks, desktop PCs, displays, server and storage products, as well as projection devices, printing solutions and other classroom technology from leading manufacturers. Standardization gives teachers a single set of components and applications to work with in the classroom and reduces connectivity and compatibility problems for IT staff.

*Implementation–Gateway acts as a single point of accountability throughout the comprehensive 1:1 computing installation and implementation process. Gateway´s Custom Integrated Solutions include a range of services that encompass everything from custom imaging and asset tagging to installation of third-party components. These services can save an IT department time and labor, reduce deployment time and simplify technology management.

*Ongoing Support–Gateway offers a suite of flexible and effective support and maintenance solutions that will maximize a 1:1 learning environment, including extended limited warranty options, priority support, a battery replacement service plan, accidental damage protection and anti-theft protection. Also included is GatewayShield, a standard, comprehensive security solution that helps deliver Internet, hardware and data protection for Gateway notebooks, desktops and displays. Gateway will remain in contact with each educational institution throughout the 1:1 computing solution process to help ensure program continuity and success.

For more information on the Gateway 1:1 Computing Solution, visit

Gateway Professional

From award-winning servers to innovative notebooks and professional services, Gateway has served organizations for 21 years. It recently earned number one customer satisfaction ratings from Technology Business Research for both corporate notebooks and desktops, by delivering the innovative products and outstanding service customers want. Gateway´s mission is to exceed customers´ expectations for quality, innovation and service with 100-percent U.S.-based telephone technical support for its professional customers, a configure-to-order assembly facility in Nashville, Tenn. and a Best Practices Tech Support Center in S.D. The company offers programs designed specifically for the needs of customers in education, government and businesses as well as reseller partners. Gateway customers include many of the world´s leading organizations, such as the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, the University of Arizona, state of California, state of New York, Los Angeles Unified School District and others. For more information on Gateway Professional solutions, visit

About Gateway

Since its founding in 1985, Irvine, Calif.-based Gateway (NYSE: GTW) has been a technology pioneer, offering award-winning PCs, servers and related products to consumers, businesses, government agencies and schools. Gateway is the third largest PC company in the U.S. and among the top ten worldwide. See for more information.


The Princeton Review Offers Free College Entrance

New York, NY April 9, 2007 — Not all college entrance exams are created equal. For over 50 years, high schools students have been influenced by tradition and geography when deciding whether they should take the SAT or the ACT. But there are important differences and students often do better on one test or the other.

Most colleges now accept both the SAT and the ACT as part of their admissions criteria, which leaves students with a new quandary. Which college entrance exam will be more helpful in getting into the college of their choice?

On April 28, The Princeton Review will offer free practice college entrance tests. Princeton Review´s National Testing Day gives students a stress-free, fear-free, and monetary FREE practice SAT, ACT, or Princeton Review Assessment (PRA).

The Princeton Review Assessment (PRA) gives a sample of both SAT and ACT questions on one test. Created by the nation´s leading test preparation company, it helps test takers discover which test best showcases their test-taking strengths.

Savvy students often take both to see which they score better on. With the recent changes to the SAT, more students are choosing to take the ACT. It´s less expensive, shorter and lets the test taker decide whether or not to write an essay. It also does not penalize for guessing.

The best way to prepare for both the SAT and the ACT is to take a practice exam. The Princeton Review offers free proctored exams under realistic testing conditions where students can experience what it´s like to sit for these tests. Students receive a detailed score analysis to help them understand how to focus their time and energy when preparing.

The Princeton Review will administer full-length practice SAT, ACT or PRA in locations nationwide. For more information and test sites, go to or call 800-2Review.

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review (Nasdaq: REVU) is a pioneer in the world of education. Founded in 1981 and headquartered in New York City, the Company offers private tutoring and classroom and online test preparation to help students improve their scores in college and graduate school admissions tests. The Company´s free website,, helps over half of university-bound students research, apply to, prepare for, and learn how to pay for their higher education, and helps hundreds of colleges and universities streamline their admissions and recruiting activities. In addition, The Princeton Review works with school districts around the U.S. to measurably strengthen students´ academic skills by connecting ongoing assessment with professional development and instruction and by providing districts with college and career resources for both students and guidance counselors. The Company also authors more than 200 print and software titles on test preparation, college and graduate school selection and admissions, and related topics.


State-of-the-art Technology Helps Feed More Students

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., (April 09, 2007)–The USDA´s Food and Nutrition Service recognizes that vending machines may play an expanding role in the operation of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program. Personnel policies, labor costs, pressure on lunch room space, class schedules and limited time all contribute to the need to explore more efficient and effective methods of delivering important nutritional benefits to students and maintaining schools´ revenue streams.

To address the issue, Star Food has developed a USDA compliant reimbursable meal solution with a POS interface to match most POS existing systems. Food service professionals can improve and expand their meal plans in addition to feeding a larger segment of the student population by integrating the Star Food reimbursable meal vending machine in strategic areas on campus. It´s LAN or wireless capabilities further allows placement in additional campus locations where students congregate.

"On a national average only about 38% of the population of a high school can be served within the short time allotted for lunch, so schools are missing many of their students," explains Joe Gilbert, Vice President/General Manager of Star Food. "Students can typically wait in line for up to 20 minutes to be served lunch, leaving them with a very short amount of time to eat," according to Gilbert. Star Food reimbursable meal machine is a solution to the problem."
The Star Food program not only allows student´s healthier time-efficient choices for lunch, but breakfast and after school snacks too. This also provides schools an innovative reimbursable meal revenue generating solution.

For more information about how Star Food can assist with school requirements to feed more students, contact Star Food at 877-857-FOOD or visit the Web site at