No child technologically left behind?

No child technologically left behind?

Summary: While many states have focused on NCLB's core requirements, a few states are leading the way in tech proficiency.

TOPICS: Legal, IT Employment

It's not just in math, science and language that no child should be left behind, notes eSchool News. The law also has technical literacy as a goal, although not a requirement. "Unlike the law's mandates in the core curriculum areas, there are no testing requirements or accountability measures when it comes to ensuring technology literacy. Instead, states merely must certify that they are working to meet the law's tech-literacy goals."

That squishiness means that technical literacy rates vary widely from state to state. 

The extent to which states are working to meet these goals is "definitely all over the board," said Melinda George, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). "The way the law is written is that it's a goal, not a requirement, although states are required to certify that they are working toward that goal."

George said a big issue for states is whether to handle the tech literacy requirement at the state or district level. Most states are asking districts to define technology literacy for themselves and then confirm that their students are acquiring it, she said. But a growing number of states are implementing statewide assessments to measure students' tech proficiency.

"The last time we asked our members about tech literacy was the spring of 2004, and at that time most states were asking their districts to document or provide proof that they were making progress [on technology literacy]," George said. "States [also] are continuing to explore statewide tech assessments, as is the case with Arizona and Hawaii."

One state that is creating a serious tech learning program is Arizona.

[Through a contract with,] the state will administer pilot tests to at least 25,000 fifth- and eighth-graders by the end of June, targeting districts and charter schools that receive federal ed-tech grants.

"Our students are facing a much different workplace than the one we entered," said Cathy Poplin, educational technology director for the state. "Technology has transformed business and increased the complexity of the workplace. Competition for skilled jobs today has increased greatly, and we need to help our students to become tech literate. Technology used properly in the classroom can engage and motivate student learning in a variety of ways."

Hawaii's another. The island state has signed a contract with Certiport to implement a statewide Computer Literacy Certification System for all eighth graders.


David Saedi, chief executive officer of Certiport, said the company's technology assessment program is being used to some degree in all 50 states. He added that tech literacy awareness is on most states' radar.

"About seven states are leading this whole charge, and the rest of the states are all focusing on some aspects like professional development with teachers," said Saedi. . . . "States like North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Utah are leading [the trend]," he said. "[Each move is] prompted by NCLB, obviously, because virtually every state has struggled with how to measure progress."


Topics: Legal, IT Employment

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  • How about thinking as a workplace skill?

    Fortunes are being spent on this in networking, software, and
    hardware, but it really is just a vocational skill, not a curriculum
    element. 5th graders need to be learning how to think. Its
    possible to use a computer to do that, but its not necessary.
    Most of the time, computer-based instruction is done poorly
    and the computer is a distraction - it becomes the focus of the
    activity. In any case, 5th graders don't need to be doing
    activities specifically geared toward "workplace skills". The most
    important workplace skill is the ability to think clearly - that
    should be the focus of education at this level.
    Steven Rogers
    • Applause! applause!

      Well said, Steven. I have seen this (poor CBI) in action with highschool kids too, and what I remember of my B.Ed training 18 years ago backs that up. Unless there is a compelling reason to involve computers in a class (e.g. it's a computer literacy class, or it's widely agreed that a particular CBI package is the [b]best[/b] way to teach a particular concept), [i]leave the things alone![/i] And don't get me started on early introduction of calculators... ;-)
  • What is "Technological Literacy"?

    Perhaps before we accept that all children should be technologically literate, we should determine what technological literacy is. I propose that to accept and act upon the well-worn notions that the workplace has been "transformed by technology" and that we must "prepare our children for the jobs of the 21st century" is to do our children - and our society - a disservice. To understand technology from this perspective is to demote the science that goes with technology to a vocation. To teach our K-12 children with an eye toward vocation is to sell them short in the worst possible way.

    History is rife with examples of failed attempts at vocational education. In the case of technology, to train children to use office applications, repair computers, or work with networks using the latest Cisco IOS is to provide them with skills that become obsolete soon after class is over. To argue that children learn "concepts" in these classes that can be carried forward and applied as new technology evolves is wishful thinking at best and deceitful at worst.

    And who are these educrats who pronounce from on high that the "modern workplace" demands this skill or that talent? Looking beneath the surface, one is likely to find that from school technology administrators down to the classroom technology teacher these positions are held by people who have had little or no exposure to any workplace at all other than a school classroom or a school administrative office. One of the latest trends in education is the formation of school/business partnerships in which businesses get to outline their personnel needs in exchange for schools' designing curricula around those needs and for large infusions of cash for computers. Here is where we do ourselves the greatest disservice.

    While there will always be a certain number of public school graduates who are, for whatever reason and in many cases rightly so, well suited to move directly into the workforce, ALL students deserve the opportunity to use the public school system to plant their respective intellectual gardens. To carve out large portions of our childrens' time to dedicate to learning a vocation is to deprive them of that much time to spend on academic and life-expanding pursuits. To spend the huge amounts of money necessary to build and maintain a computing infrastructure is to deprive funding for (and cause the extinction of) Arts and athletics, and to minimize funding for other acadmic areas in our schools.

    One last item - since our "modern business environment" has been called into the arguement. There is that niggling little tangible called ROI that is near and dear to any business person who has to make a go of his or her enterprise. I submit that other than anecdotal evidence and a precious few cases in which measurable improvement has been fleeting, Education - as an institution - cannot point to one bit of ROI for all the billions of taxpayer dollars that are poured into "education technology every year. I can, though, name a few entities that have experienced significant ROI from Education's frolic in technoland: Apple, Dell, IBM, Intel, university research barrons, consultants, and on and on. And on.