IL offers technology guidelines under NCLB pressure

With gaps in tech literacy, board of ed is setting technology standards as No Child Left Behind requirements threaten funding.

After learning from researchers that Illinois schools have some major gaps in technological literacy, the State Board of Education has decided to set standards and definitions of how to educate students, reports the Daily Herald

The board is attempting to define how technology should be used in the classroom. Thus far, it's to "communicate, collaborate and connect" information and learning. They will vote on the definition next month.

But critics and digital advocates say it's more complex then that. The main problem is that teachers aren't incorporating technology into their curriculum.

Only 13 percent of nearly 6,000 Illinois teachers surveyed last year reported using the basic technological threshold in class, a standard created nearly a decade ago. Among 641 principals asked, 7 percent said teachers drew technological standards into their lessons.

The state is feeling the pressure of the No Child Left Behind law that mandates states diagnose the digital aptitude of all eighth-graders. Indeed, Illinois received more than $11 million in federal dollars to help local school districts get more computers and technology resources in class.

The question is, do teachers know enough to teach technological fluency? One district high school decided to invest in computers that rely on a common set of software, to solve some of those issues.

"It took away the argument, 'I don't bother with using technology because it never works when I need it to work'," chief financial officer John Prince said. "Before we did anything else, we wanted to establish a baseline of what would be expected technology in every classroom and every building."

No Child Left Behind act penalizes schools that don't measure up, which is forcing schools to take a hard look at technology and how it employed in the classroom.a

"It doesn't have quite the same degree of teeth," Flynn said. "Without the — and I hate to say it — penalty components of other (No Child Left Behind) requirements, I don't know how committed educators are going to be to really pursue the intent of the legislation."