The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is pleased to release its fourth annual National Trends Report on the use of federal funds to support educational technology. This report documents findings from Round 4 (FY 05) of the No Child Left Behind, Title II Part D, Enhancing Education Through Technology (NCLB II D) program.
The findings in the Round 4 report are based on surveys from 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing 16,073 LEAs and the federal NCLB II D dollars allocated across the United States in FY05. Data from the first three annual National Trends Reports for Rounds 1, 2, and 3 serve as baselines. In Round 4 the respondent states and the District of Columbia awarded 1,469 competitive grants and 14,107 formula grants that together with the 5% of administrative support funds expended at the state level totaled $462,201,231. For the first three years, Congress funded the NCLB II D program at approximately $600 million for the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. That number has been decreased in Round 4 to approximately $462 million.
The fourth year of NCLB II D was characterized by a 28% reduction in funds, more stringent guidelines for competitive grants, and the emergence of evaluative data on a host of programs that states report to be effectively advancing the NCLB II D goals.
NCLB funds in Round 4 were reported to be more focused on evidence-based practices by means of RFP priorities set by the states and more carefully evaluated or researched programs, again through policies and practices set by the states. NCLB brought with it increased accountability and focus.
It is ironic that just as states are beginning to report significant findings from the NCLB II D investment, Congress made substantial reductions in NCLB II D funds for Round 4 (FY05). See table below. Despite the reductions, the findings for Round 4 suggest that, not only are the states implementing the NCLB II D program as prescribed by law, but that such programs, when implemented with fidelity, do advance the NCLB goals.
After Four Years of NCLB II D
The six findings strongly indicate that technology funding from the NCLB II D program directly supports NCLB goals in four distinct ways:
- Closing the achievement gap by providing access to software, online resources, and virtual learning aligned to academic standards for instruction and learning.
- Closing the digital divide by providing increased levels of access and robust connectivity for students in low socioeconomic status (SES) schools.
- Supporting the development of highly qualified teachers by providing online courses, communities of practice, and virtual communication that ensure flexibility and access.
- Enhancing data systems to ensure that educators can utilize real-time data to inform sound instructional decisions and ensure that states meet AYP.
The results have been somewhat limited by the reduction in federal funding in Round 4 (FY05) for NCLB II D.
Findings in Round 4 (FY05)
The NCLB II D grants are unique in the history of educational technology in the United States in that they establish the expectation that the use of technology will result in increased academic achievement – as well as advance student’s technological literacy. To that end, the federal legislation established a number of goals and purposes, plus recommended activities for LEA programs. Appendix A provides a complete listing of those goals, purposes, and activities as outlined in federal law.
The previous SETDA National Trends Reports for Rounds 1, 2, and 3 have documented various aspects of the implementation of the program nationally, including: the state’s alignment to the purposes and activities, the issue of limited impact of the formula grants due to minimal size of the majority of the grants (over 40% under $5,000), and the challenges inherent in evaluating the quality of the LEA grants. The NCLB II D program provides minimal funding at the state level for evaluation and insufficient funds for rigorous research studies on impact. As a result, while most states do have descriptive studies that document the implementation of NCLB II D programs in LEAs, only a few have secured the outside funding necessary to document causal impact. The descriptive evaluations clearly show that LEAs have implemented the type of programs outlined in the NCLB II D legislation. The findings for Round 4 suggest that, not only are the states implementing the NCLB II D program as prescribed by law, but that such programs, when implemented with fidelity, do advance the NCLB goals.
States are increasingly sophisticated in their use of a range of effective professional development models designed to advance the NCLB II D program goals.
The type of evidence documenting the impact of NCLB ll D programs in advancing the stated goals and purposes varies widely across states. Most states are conducting descriptive evaluations, and despite the lack of NCLB II D funds for this purpose, some states are conducting research studies to document the impact of NCLB II D on student learning.
States are setting priorities for the NCLB II D competitive grants that are evidence-based and tightly aligned to the NCLB goals.
States report more targeted priorities for competitive programs resulting in substantive NCLB II D programs in the academics, especially in the priority areas of literacy and mathematics. This impact is limited somewhat by federal decreases to funding in FY05.
NCLB II D formula grants are used for technology and infrastructure improvements at significantly higher rates than in the NCLB II D competitive grants.
While nationally the NCLB II D program continues to be a primary source of dedicated funding for educational technology, states share that responsibility through both dedicated and optional state funding sources for LEA educational technology.