A State-By-State Look at Top Ed-Tech Initiatives

What initiative are you most proud of in your state?

tech-initiativeSometimes, an ed-tech initiative grabs national headlines. Other times, a technology initiative quietly spreads throughout a school building or district as it connects teachers with mentors, helps administrators become more efficient, or boosts student achievement and engagement.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of one ed-tech initiative in each state and the District of Columbia, to offer a look at some of the great technology advocacy and work being done around the nation.

The initiatives included here are not necessarily the most-discussed or the biggest in a given state. Sometimes they’re small, and sometimes they’re well-known. Some relate to the use of digital content, some support broadband expansion, and in others, states have formed groups to better support administrators and teachers as they work tirelessly to advocate for ed-tech’s crucial role in today’s classrooms.

But each initiative, resource, or program, no matter the size of its scope, is a promising ed-tech practice that serves to demonstrate just how powerful ed-tech is.

We chose only one initiative per state, and we welcome your additional input. Is your state, district, or school launching or running a great ed-tech initiative? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below.

Quick navigation:
States A-I
States K-N
States O-W

[Listed alphabetically, by state]

Alabama: First introduced in 2002, the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) expands teachers’ access to professional development, in-school support, and important technology. The two-year AMSTI program focuses on boosting student achievement through teacher strategies involving hands-on, inquiry-based instruction. Technology to deliver this instruction plays an important role. A study that took place in five separate parts of the state, Evaluation of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, evaluated 82 schools, 780 teachers, and 30,000 students to determine the program’s effects on student achievement.
Overall, AMSTI teachers and students have access to more than $68 million worth of equipment and materials. This includes high-tech devices such as DNA replicators, SPARK Science Learning Systems, and more, at the high school level.

(Next page: More state successes)

Teachers and administrators in AMSTI schools undergo 120 hours of subject- and grade-specific training during summer institutes, and 11 universities offer AMSTI sites on their campuses.  After 1 year of teacher training, achievement in an AMSTI school for mathematics was the equivalent of 28 days of additional student progress over students receiving conventional math instruction in control schools. The initiative’s cumulative effect after 2 years of teacher training was the equivalent of 50 days of additional student progress.

Alaska: Alaska’s Learning Network initiative (AKLN) aims to improve student achievement through online learning and professional development opportunities. In Alaska, many schools are in rural areas, and students from kindergarten through twelfth grade are often in one room together. In addition to distance learning courses for students, this learning network initiative gives teachers access to professional development resources. This network includes a coalition of all of Alaska’s 54 school districts, managed by the AKLN Advisory Board, which is managed by superintendents.

Arizona: IDEAL, Arizona’s eLearning initiative, offers all state educators a single access point to educational resources and information, professional development, standards-based curriculum resources, collaborative tools, and school improvement resources. The platform also offers resources to extend student learning at home.

Arkansas: The EAST Initiative, which focuses on environmental and spatial technology, is an educational model featuring student-directed community service projects accomplished with teamwork and technology. Students work to identify problems and then use real-world, professional technologies to solve those problems in the classroom. The initiative focuses on critical thinking, collaboration, and college- and career-readiness.

California: The Los Angeles Unified School District awarded a $30 million contract to Apple to provide every student in the district with an iPad. Critics raised questions about additional support costs, while others wondered if the tablets were the best choice for the district.

Colorado: RISE (Relevant Information to Strengthen Education) is Colorado’s initiative to provide an education information system that meets the student performance and education delivery expectations. Administrators say this instructional improvement system will offer secure and real-time information about students, educators, and schools.

Connecticut: The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc.‘s (CCAT) Education and Workforce Development Initiative aims to advance STEM literacy, boost interest in STEM fields, and to create STEM workers who are more competitive on a global scale. This initiative includes K-12 STEM programming that supports students and educators.

Delaware: The Instructional Technology Users Group began as an initiative in 2000 and has since grown to 350 members. Members of the online group post comments and questions, share thoughts, and responses are usually immediate, demonstrating how valuable online communities and networks are for teachers and administrators. Discussions include software, hardware, teaching strategies, grants, and more.

District of Columbia: McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. exposes low-income and minority students to STEM education and STEM careers when they otherwise might not have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the subject matter so thoroughly.

Florida: Each of Miami-Dade’s 350,000 public school students will have access to a mobile learning device by 2015, according to a groundbreaking plan approved by the Miami-Dade School Board, which governs the nation’s fourth largest school system. The $63 million initiative, among the largest in the country, aims to provide devices such as laptops or tablets for students from kindergarten through 12th grade who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.

Georgia: The Georgia STEM initiative seeks to empower students to become innovators and technologically-proficient problem solvers. It also aims to take learning outside of the classroom walls by extending and enhancing learning experiences through technology.

Hawaii: The Mid-Pacific Institute’s One-To-One Education Initiative offers a one-to-one, all-school technology program designed to foster creativity, global awareness, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Idaho: Idaho’s State Department of Education has partnered with Lili Library, a portal linking Idaho residents to free online tools, to offer thousands of Common Core-aligned digital resources that are searchable within several of the Lili Library databases.

Illinois: In July, Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $3.5 million capital investment to help build the John C. Dunham STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy at Aurora University. Quinn first visited Aurora University in 2011 to sign Senate Bill 621, which supported the creation of a math and science partnership school operated by Aurora’s four school districts and Aurora University on campus. When fully operational, the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School on the Aurora University campus will serve approximately 200 students in third through eighth grades from four area public school districts (Aurora East, Aurora West, Indian Prairie and Oswego). The school’s curriculum will be aligned to new educational standards and is being developed cooperatively by the four participating districts, the university, the corporate sector, and governmental and nonprofit partners.

Indiana: The 21st Century Learning Lab initiative is a communication channel for educational technology, and centers on monthly topics complemented by commentary on school success and policy initiatives. Each month we will spotlight a different educational technology topic. Each month offers at least one webinar and one podcast, and conversations continue through the Learning Connection, which was developed by the Indiana Department of Education as part of a federal grant for developing statewide data systems.

Iowa: The Connect Every Iowan Initiative aims to, as its name suggests, position Iowa as the best-connected Midwest state. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said: “Broadband is also almost certainly the way education of the future is going to be delivered and we want to make sure that Iowa is on the cutting edge of this very important technology and that we don’t have anyone left out.” Branstad has charged the existing STEM Advisory Council’s Broadband Committee with the creation of a broadband expansion plan, and said he wants to see the plan in place and reaping successful results by January 1, 2015.
Kansas: The Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science (KAMS), established by legislative action in 2006 by SB 139, is a high school program for the state’s top high school students. KAMS is a residential learning experience that provides exceptional high school juniors and seniors a combination of college-level instruction by Ph.D. faculty; a high school diploma and 68 hours of college credit; hands-on research supervised by Ph.D. scientists; leadership development and civic engagement opportunities; co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities to develop the whole student; a safe campus and residential environment; and trained support staff.

Kentucky: Encyclomedia is an internet-based comprehensive learning service offered free to Kentucky public schools through a partnership between Kentucky Education Television and the Kentucky Department of Education.  It offers teachers and students more than 4,000 videos, 40,000 video clips, and thousands of digital images, all searchable by key word, content area, grade level, and Kentucky academic standards.

Louisiana: Louisiana Course Choice links Louisiana students with access to thousands of high-quality academic and career-oriented courses. Approved course providers offer core academic, Advanced Placement, and CTE  (career and technical education) courses, as well as test preparation courses and college credit opportunities.

Maine: Maine’s revolutionary Learning Technology Initiative paved the way in terms of one-to-one programs, emphasis on personal learning, and statewide professional development.

Maryland: The MDK12Library.org initiative establishes a purchasing consortium of all 24 local school systems for the statewide, cost-effective purchasing of digital content. It also aims to provide equitable electronic database access for all students and teachers, and it promotes effective use of digital content in teaching and learning.

Massachusetts: With successful initiatives such as a lease-to-own laptop program and partnerships with local colleges to offer graduate credit for professional development, the Hampshire Regional School District is forging ahead in its goal of making technology an integral part of all operations.

Michigan: Last fall, Oxford Community Schools launched a virtual exchange program that allows American and Chinese students to take online classes taught by teachers on the other side of the globe. The classes are hosted by Oxford Virtual Academy, a school without walls within the district that already supports more than 500 full-time students and more than 250 part-time students. Oxford’s launch of the program began with three virtual English classes for the students in China: TOEFL preparation, ACT preparation, and English composition.

Minnesota: getSTEM is a web portal designed to connect Minnesota educators with science and technology businesses, in order to better prepare students for post-secondary education programs and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. getSTEM is a partnership between the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), along with sponsoring businesses.

Mississippi: This statewide initiative aims to expand broadband access across the state, especially to rural areas and those where students are in need of reliable, high-speed connections.

Missouri: While now a national initiative with multiple partnerships, eMints began in Missouri. It changes how teachers teach and students learn, and eMINTS National Center programs were developed in collaboration with the University of Missouri, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

Montana: The Montana Digital Academy offers educational opportunities to Montana students and schools. Students can make up core classes, enroll in rigorous courses that might not be offered in their brick-and-mortar schools, and can take elective courses as well. 

MTDA puts no limits on learning. The school year is uninterrupted, running through fall, winter, spring, and summer. Students in our summer school classes can access courses at home or while traveling on vacation.

Nebraska: The NeBook Project is a partnership of schools, state, and nonprofit agencies to create digital books, assess their quality, and share them through a new virtual library that will also host content from multiple resources, including PBS and the National Archives.

Nevada: Connect Nevada is a subsidiary of Connected Nation and operates as a nonprofit in the state of Nevada. The public-private initiative has been established to work with each of the state’s broadband providers to create detailed maps of broadband coverage, conduct surveys to assess the current state of broadband adoption across Nevada, and to help communities plan for technology expansion. Connect Nevada Edified operates through Edified–Connected Nation’s new education initiative that seeks to increase the deployment of the latest mobile technology, robust wireless connectivity, education apps, and twenty-first century teaching practice in America’s K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Edified builds partnerships with technology companies, education research organizations, broadband providers, and distinguished educators who desire to work collaboratively to promote technology solutions that have great potential to revolutionize learning and education outcomes.

New Hampshire: OPEN NH is growing and cost-effective statewide online professional development system geared to school or district needs. The initiative selects and trains facilitators, designs online courses specifically tied to the needs of NH schools and educators, and researches effective online professional development.

New Jersey: TeachTechNJ is dedicated to recruiting individuals to teach technology education in New Jersey. The state is predicted to face a shortfall of at least 900 ed-tech teachers by 2015. The initiative is geared toward high school students and parents, college students, career changers, and current educators.

New Mexico: New Mexico is making strides in digital content and eTextbooks. HB 310, passed in 2011, requires publishers to provide instructional materials in an electronic format for eReaders beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.

New York: New York City’s Innovation Zone (iZone) initiative is a community of schools focused on personalizing learning. By meeting the needs, motivations and strengths of each child, students will be better prepared for success in K-12, college and career. Across the iZone, schools achieve personalization in a variety of ways based on which ideas, technology and tools work best for their school community.

North Carolina: The Mooresville Graded School District has captured headlines for months in the wake of Superintendent Mark Edwards being named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators. Under Edwards’ leadership, all students in grades 4-12 are provided with a laptop for 24/7 use. Technology is supported with comprehensive professional development for teachers, and the number of district students who move on to college has increased from 74 percent to 88 percent.

North Dakota: The Northeast North Dakota STEM Network, a statewide initiative aiming to produce students who are better prepared to enter a global workforce with critical skills, is focusing on ways that educators, from K-12 all the way up through post-graduate teaching positions, can master teaching these important fields and concepts, including communication and collaboration, critical thinking, and teamwork.

Ohio: ilearnOhio is a comprehensive eLearning platform funded by the Ohio General Assembly to ensure that Ohio students have access to high-quality online courses. This statewide platform includes a searchable repository of standards-aligned educational content (courses and digital resources), an eCommerce marketplace, and a learning management system to facilitate the delivery of course content from multiple providers to various end users.

Oklahoma: Students at the six Oklahoma schools participating in the national National Math and Science Initiative program showed a 55 percent increase on advanced placement exam scores in math, science and English after the first year of the program. NMSI is a nonprofit that aims to transform math and science education in the United States

Oregon: The Portland Metro STEM Partnership is a regional collaboration of public and private organizations with a shared goal of transforming science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for K-12 students. In particular, it focuses on schools and programs that serve traditionally underrepresented populations so that all students have pathways to achieving college and career readiness in STEM.

Pennsylvania: The Quakertown Community School District’s technology initiatives include a one-to-one laptop initiative that will expand from grades 9-12 to 6-12 over the next few years, and a future iPad initiative for kindergarten students district-wide. Superintendent Lisa Andrejko’s blended learning initiative has been cited by Michael B. Horn, co-author of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns,” in a Forbes.com blog post and at iNACOL’s Virtual School Symposium (VSS). QCSD also operates an in-district cyber learning program, called QCSD Cyber.

Rhode Island: Pleasant View Elementary School in Providence was chosen as the first Rhode Island Technology Model School Grant winner, and received a $470,000 grant that will enable it to purchase tablets, interactive whiteboards, train teachers, open computer labs, and more.

South Carolina: South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science brings together advocates from business/industry, education, government and community organizations to serve as an active proponent for economic and workforce development through STEM. SCCMS partners with S²TEM Centers SC, a nonprofit K-12 STEM education group, and other organizations pursuing goals consistent with its vision for STEM education.

South Dakota: Students in grades 3-12 in the Sioux Falls district are receiving their own Google Chromebooks for this school year. Administrators say they expect the program to expand to lower grades next year.

Tennessee: A report from Connected Tennessee, a local broadband consortium that advocates for eLearning, shows that online learning helps students become comfortable with technology early on, which helps them better prepare for college and careers. Data from the report shows that 55 percent of parents said their children use home internet for schoolwork, 60 percent said their children use the internet in school, and 39 percent of rural Tennessee internet users said they took classes online or researched schoolwork online.

Texas: The Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) Initiative offers a fundamental approach to empower teachers, inspire students, and advance the studies in these four fields. The public-private initiative of academies, professional development centers and networks is designed to improve instruction and academic performance in science and mathematics-related subjects at secondary schools. It aims to increase the number of students pursuing STEM studies outside of K-12 schools.

Utah: The state is among those leading the way in access to K-12 open educational resources (OERs). In January 2012 the Office of Education announced that it would support development of “open textbooks” in key areas, including language arts, science, and math. The Office of Education also said it would encourage districts and schools throughout the state to consider adopting them beginning in fall 2012.

Vermont: Vermont’s Vita-Learn aims to promote and support the many ways in which information technology can transform the state’s education through professional development, training, and networking opportunities.

Virginia: The Games, Animation, Modeling and Simulation (GAMeS) Lab at Radford University designs interactive mobile games and study the impact of these products on student engagement and learning. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the Virginia Department of Education, the GAMeS Lab designs and implements Standards of Learning (SOLs) aligned games for participating schools in rural, southwestern Virginia. In addition, the GAMeS Lab collaborates with participating teachers to determine how best to integrate these games within the existing curricula.

Washington: The Special Education Technology Center (SETC) serves public school districts and personnel, any student up through age 21 who receives formal special education services and who might require assistive technology to access education, and family of special needs students. Resources include collaborative technology planning, technology devices such as augmentative communication devices and software, and staff development. SETC is funded by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Special Education Division and administered by Central Washington University (CWU), Ellensburg, Washington.

West Virginia: The state is on its way to filling districts with more digital content. SB 631, passed in 2010, replaced the terms “textbooks,” “instructional materials,” and “learning technologies” with “instructional resources” and revised the definition to include digital content. In 2011 the Department of Education implemented a two-year hiatus on the purchase of social studies textbooks and reallocated the funds to educational technology infrastructure upgrades as part of a transition to the use of digital content.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Technology Initiative provides funding for school districts willing to commit to both integrating interactive whiteboards into their classrooms and the professional development necessary to successfully implement their use. Grant recipients will be expected to provide an annual report and share best practices with their peers across the state.

Wyoming: The Wyoming Education Gateway (WedGate) is part of a statewide intranet that links schools with K-12 educational resources and tools. The resources are geared toward Wyoming’s educational resources, and educators can use the portal’s online communities to monitor their own teaching progress.

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