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The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is pleased to present the findings of the second annual National Trends Report. SETDA commissioned the Metiri Group for a second consecutive year to conduct a national survey in the fall of 2004 on the second year implementation of the No Child Left Behind, Title II, Part D, Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program and on general state policy trends in educational technology. The findings in the 2005 report are based on surveys from 49 states and the District of Columbia, representing 15,478 LEAs and 99% of the federal dollars allocated across the United States in 2003-2004. Data from the first annual National Report for Round 1 serves as a baseline for trends and represented a similar population (46 states and the District of Columbia). In Round 2 the respondent states and the District of Columbia awarded 1,654 competitive grants and 12,933 formula grants together with the 5% of administrative support funds expended at the state level total $612,478,264.
Seven major findings emerged from the data analysis:
Finding 1: Strategies are in Place to Close the Achievement Gap Through Technology
State technology directors are reporting three critical uses of technology that advance NCLB goals and close the achievement gap. Those include: Access to software, web courses, virtual learning, and other technology-based learning solutions that are aligned to standards, strengthening basic skills and increasing academic achievement. The informed use of digital tools, which, in the hands of a highly-qualified teachers, are used to broaden and strengthen learning and teaching through authenticity, realworld problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and production for students; as well as support the development of highly qualified teachers through online courses, communities of practice, and virtual communication. Enhancement of data systems to ensure that educators have access to real-time information to inform sound instructional decisions and ensure that schools meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) Survey respondents indicate that NCLB grantees are making strides on all three fronts.
Finding 2: A Focus on New Types of Professional Development
State technology directors are stepping up in a leadership role, providing guidance and leadership to ensure that the NCLB II D professional development is of the highest quality. They do so by tying awards to scoring criteria based on criteria for effective professional development, highlighting high quality professional development in action, and encouraging grantees to consider how technology can provide new forms of professional development opportunities. Preliminary findings indicate that the capacity of teachers to use technology effectively to advance teaching and learning is on the rise.
Finding 3: Doing More with Less through Collaborations and Partnerships
A number of collaborations and partnerships have been established as a result of the NCLB II D program, both within state agencies and among school districts, universities, and business and industry. At the state level, survey respondents are reporting increased levels of collaboration among curriculum, instruction, and technology units within their agencies. This is due in part to the emphasis within the federal law on accomplishing learning outcomes through the effective use of technology, flexibility across programs, and the consolidated planning process. Transfers across Title programs enable grantees to focus and consolidate federal funds on their school improvement priorities. While Round 1 resulted in a net gain for NCLB II D programs, Round 2 resulted in a very small net loss of under $10,000. States noted that grantees have formed partnerships with other schools as well as community groups, businesses, and universities to leverage NCLB II D resources.
Finding 4: The Formula Grants Sustain; The Competitive Grants Innovate
The federal NCLB II D law requires that a minimum of 47.5% of each state’s NCLB II D funds be allocated annually to formula grants, with the same requirement for competitive grants. With 88% of LEAs eligible to receive formula funds, the amounts for many of the 12,933 recipients are modest. In fact, over 45% of those eligible receive less than $5,000 annually. As a result, state directors report that most recipients of formula funds use them to sustain existing programs and infrastructures – an important and valuable use of funds. By comparison, there are fewer competitive grants awarded (1,654) but their amounts are more substantive. State directors report that LEA grantees are using their competitive funds to innovate based on research and best practices. State directors indicate that this dual grant structure ensures equitable distribution of funds to schools serving large numbers of at-risk, high need students, and that it is serving to increase the effectiveness of technology use in the classroom. They also commented that the large number of grants on the formula side translates into a fairly large administrative effort on the part of LEAs.
Finding 5: Grappling with Evaluation and Research
State directors are making progress in the evaluation of NCLB II D programs. Increasing
numbers of states are requiring grantees to dedicate funds to local evaluation, providing grantees with guidance in high quality evaluation, and asking for reports of program results to be evidenced by data. This is translating into higher quality evaluations from LEAs. Such local evaluations serve two functions: they provide program evaluation data for reporting purposes, and they provide important formative data for use by LEAs in continuous improvement of their NCLB II D programs.
Each state designed its competitive grant process to build on and contribute to emerging research and best practices. Thus, the range of priorities in states’ competitive grant processes varied considerably and has increased since Round 1. All states based their application processes on the core goals and strategies in the NCLB II D federal law. But while some focused exclusively on professional development in effective technology use as a lever for increasing academic achievement and ensuring highly qualified teachers, others focused on 1-to-1 computing, digital tools for informed instructional decision-making, or specific technology-related mathematics or literacy learning solutions to both use data to inform instruction and to close the achievement gap. Many states are requiring their grantees to use research to design their NCLB II D programs. From these innovations, state directors are building a common knowledge pool of sound, technology-based learning solutions. This will be a critical resource for LEAs to tap into and leverage as they use technology to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners. As the NCLB II D programs reach maturity, results from those programs (in many cases correlational findings) will provide important insights into what works and will serve as a guide for future research studies.
Finding 7: In Many States, NCLB II D is the Only Source of Funding for Technology
NCLB II D funds are playing a significant role in the research, development, and scaling up of educational technology in states across the country. Nearly a quarter of the states report that the NCLB II D funds are the only source of funds LEAs award to schools for technology. Another 50% of states identify these funds as their “primary” source for educational technology funding.