A new report examines how districts can make the most of education technology funds, and an accompanying guide identifies effective school technology tools. Together, these resources are intended to help school leaders personalize instruction and give teachers the tools they need to succeed with low-income (Title I) student populations.
The report, "Leveraging Title I and Title IID: Maximizing the Impact of Technology in Education," and the guide, "A Resource Guide Identifying Technology Tools for Schools," were released Sept. 24 by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and the National Association for State Title I Directors (NASTID).
The two resources, which appear online together, describe products, models, strategies, and research outlining successful technology integration efforts in Title I schools.
A corresponding web site will feature best practices profiling the impact technology has had on Title I populations in schools. For instance, acccording to the report, Kansas’s Technology Rich Classrooms program saw a 10.4 percent increase in third grade state reading scores. In Arkansas, the Technology Integration in the Elementary Classroom project saw third graders’ literacy proficiency increase from 67 percent to 84 percent, and among fourth graders from 47 percent to 69 percent.
Rich Long, NASTID’s executive director, said the report and guide are the first step in what the groups hope will be a series of papers and collaborative efforts to illustrate the impact that education technology can have on closing the achievement gap and strengthening critical skills among Title I schools.
SETDA Executive Director Mary Ann Wolf said technology plays a critical role in helping to address the needs of the nation’s underprivileged schools, and she hopes these resources help districts across the country form the partnerships necessary to begin effective ed-tech implementations.
The report gives general background information on technology’s power in the classroom, including research and data-backed examples of increases in student achievement among Title I students.
Classroom technology use is not limited to computers, the report notes–in fact, innovative technology use incorporates cell phones, MP3 players, and other mobile devices, as long as they are used to reinforce learning and not for the sake of the technology itself.
Sixty-seven percent of Title I students have access to a cell phone outside of the classroom, 79 percent have a music or video device, and 46 percent have access to a computer, according to Project Tomorrow’s 2008 Speak Up survey data.
Title I funding helps schools with high concentrations of students living at or below poverty level and who are at risk of failing to meet state achievement standards. Title IID directs technology funds to schools and gives schools the opportunity to partner with other schools and districts.
"Coordinated planning efforts between Title IA and Title IID programs can result in an unprecedented opportunity for educators to implement innovative strategies in Title I schools that improve education for at-risk students and close the achievement gaps," the report says.
"We need to think radically differently about how to do this, and we won’t have a lot of money to do it. In these low-performing schools, teachers have large ranges of student ability and performance levels. The only way we are going to be able to overcome these barriers and allow the teachers to be effective and [give] students access to the resources they need is through technology," said a statement from Jim Shelton, deputy secretary of innovation and partnerships for the U.S. Department of Education, which was included in the report.
Tips for maximizing federal technology funds to sustain investments include:
• Using an attached guide to identify "21st Century Learning Environment" components.
• Choosing a subsection of schools, grades, or subject areas for specific focus.
• Providing relevant, consistent, and job-embedded technology integration training to teachers and administrators. This might be an opportunity for Title I coordinators to partner with their Title IID office or technology department.
• Offering schools and teachers comprehensive technical support.
The report also gives a brief summary of technologies, such as document cameras and mobile devices, and how they might be integrated into classroom instruction easily.
The resource guide acts as an appendix, giving definitions of key technology components and examples. It also gives technology decision-makers a checklist of considerations when implementing technology in schools.
It summarizes school technology structures and the different forms of computing a school might have, such as a mobile computing lab or a one-to-one laptop program. Also included are examples of hardware, courseware, content and creativity tools, and online and collaboration tools.
The guide also covers implementation considerations such as technology planning, IT support, digital citizenship, data systems, professional development, and student assessments.