Many in the education technology field are concerned that we have not yet begun to realize the potential that technology holds for transforming education. The potential benefits include enabling learning to higher standards, individualizing instruction, and fostering continuous teacher professional development.
To assist in the realization of technology’s potential and to strategically address the effective use of technology in improving student achievement,
the U.S. Department of Education is developing a long-range national strategy and guide. The secretary of education has been charged by the NCLB Act with the development of the nation’s third National Education Technology Plan, which is one piece of this national initiative.
Other portions of the NCLB Act include the U.S. Department of Education’s grants to individual states
, allowing states to distribute funds to individual school districts on a multiyear basis pursuant to a formal plan of action.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Education is funding a three-year National Study on the Effectiveness of Educational Technology Interventions. The study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. and SRI International, will determine (1) if the educational technology is effective in improving academic achievement, and (2) which conditions and practices are related to the effects of educational technology. Ultimately, this study should help the education community target its technology funds toward the most valuable resources and practices available.
The principal goal of the Educational Technology State Grants Program is to improve student academic achievement through the use of technology in elementary and secondary schools. It is also designed to assist every student in becoming technologically literate by the end of eighth grade and to encourage the effective integration of technology resources and systems with teacher training and professional
development to establish research-based instructional models. The program targets funds primarily to school districts that serve concentrations of poor students.
The program supports improved student academic achievement through the use of technology in schools by supporting high-quality professional development; increased access to technology and the Internet; the integration of technology into curricula; and the use of technology for promoting parental involvement and managing data for informed decision- making. Districts are required to spend 25 percent of the funds they receive on professional development, though a state may exempt a district that demonstrates it already provides high-quality professional development in the integration of technology. In addition, the program will support national activities for disseminating information regarding best practices and providing technical assistance to states and districts and a rigorous, long-term study of the conditions and practices under which educational technology improves teaching and learning.