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Caperton Launches $22-Million Computer Effort for Grades K-1

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West Virginia has launched the first phase of a sweeping, computer-based literacy program that is expected to encompass every elementary school in the state over the next decade.

Gov. Gaston Caperton announced in June that the state will immediately make available $10 million to school districts on a per-pupil basis to purchase computer-based literacy programs developed by the International Business Machines Corporation and the Jostens Learning Corporation. The money will come from proceeds from the state lottery.

The first phase of the program, which is designed to improve students' reading, writing, mathematics, and computer-literacy skills, is expected to take two years to complete at a cost of $22 million.

It will concentrate on improving literacy in grades K-1 and will focus heavily on the "Writing to Read" program marketed by ibm, a spokesman for the Governor said.

Participation in the program by the state's 55 school districts is voluntary. Schools will be free to choose which software to adopt, although the hardware approved for the program consists exclusively of ibm machines.

The program was developed over the course of a year by representatives of the state's teachers' unions, school administrators, legislators, business leaders, and the state education department.

The Governor said the program will receive $7 million a year for the next decade using proceeds from the lottery.--pw

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