Educational technology advocacy groups are applauding the release of another House proposal to renew the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that would direct funds toward training teachers in the use of technology and would help schools with low-income students buy computers and software, among other measures.
House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., and ranking minority member Buck McKeon, R-Calif., have issued a “discussion draft” for reauthorizing Titles II through XI of NCLB, which focus on areas such as teacher training, school safety, educational improvement, and literacy. This latest draft follows on the heels of a similar proposal for reauthorizing Title I in late August. (See “Lawmakers step up NCLB renewal process“.)
Under Title II, which is called “Teaching Excellence for All Children,” the draft legislation includes a section (Part F) called “Achievement Through Technology and Innovation,” which largely mirrors the language of a bill by the same name (the “ATTAIN Act”) introduced in May.
The measure seeks to improve the current law’s Title II, Part D, “Enhancing Education Through Technology” (EETT) block-grant program, which is the largest single source of federal funding for school technology, by improving support for disadvantaged schools and ensuring that teachers are equipped to use technology effectively. It focuses a larger percentage of funds on professional development, prioritizes funding for schools in need of improvement, and requires states to assess whether students have achieved technological literacy by the eighth grade. (For more on the ATTAIN Act, see “New bill would revamp ed-tech funding“.)
In discussing the ATTAIN Act when it was introduced last spring, ed-tech advocacy groups said they believed it would target funding for school technology more effectively–which also might lead to broader public support for ed tech.
So it’s no surprise these same groups are hailing Miller’s and McKeon’s inclusion of the ATTAIN Act in the House draft proposal to reauthorize Title II as welcome news.
“The inclusion of the ATTAIN Act as Title II, Part F, demonstrates Congress’s understanding that systemically using technology is integral to improving student achievement and transforming our schools for the 21st century,” said Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of the State Educational Technology Director’s Association. “The key components of the ATTAIN Act build upon programs currently implemented in many states that are improving student achievement by emphasizing the importance of providing ongoing and sustainable professional development, utilizing technology to individualize instruction, and providing students with rigorous and relevant curriculum and courses.”
Part F of the Title II draft also reauthorizes the Ready-to-Learn Television program, which devotes funding to the creation of educational content and programming for young children. But it amends the current law to encourage the development of digital content and to evaluate the impact of these programs on teaching, learning, and school readiness.
In addition, Part F requires that states work with school districts to ensure they have access to the most up-to-date computers and software; supports research to determine the effectiveness of technology programs at the state and national levels; and continues requirements for schools to create internet-safety policies to keep students from accessing inappropriate material online.
Other parts of the Title II draft call for performance pay for teachers and administrators, as well as grants to support teacher residency and mentoring programs in high-need districts. Part D of the Title II proposal combines the Math NOW and Math Skills program currently spelled out in the COMPETES Act into a single grant program, Math Success for All, and provides grants to local educational agencies to provide help to low-income students in K-12 schools who are struggling with math and whose achievement is significantly below grade level.
Other sections in the draft would reauthorize programs such as 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Reading First–though, in response to conflict-of-interest concerns raised about how Reading First grants were administered, the proposal amends the peer-review process to make review committees subject to greater transparency. (See “Audit: Reading First beset by favoritism” .)
The House education committee says it welcomes feedback on its discussion draft. Readers should send their comments on the committee’s proposals for Titles II through XI remaining titles by Sept. 14 to ESEA.Comments@mail.house.gov.