Technology Group Releases National Standards
Technology education is about to join the academic-standards movement.
The International Society for Technology in Education plans this week to release a set of national standards for what students should learn about technology by the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 12th grades.
"We're not looking at this as a separate subject to be taught," said Lajeane Thomas, the chairwoman of the accreditation and standards committee for ISTE, a Eugene, Ore.-based professional association for teachers and technology educators. "People want some kind of a guide to help them determine what needs to be taught, when it needs to be taught, so they can integrate it into the curriculum."
"It's important that we clearly identify what technological fluency is," agreed Cheryl Lemke, the executive director of the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, a nonprofit clearinghouse on education technology based in Santa Monica, Calif. "We have to know what these standards are in order to weave them into the academic standards."
The Milken Exchange, which underwrites Technology Counts, a 50-state report produced by Education Week, paid the costs of printing 50,000 brochures listing the standards, which will formally be released this week at the National Educational Computing Conference in San Diego.
Other Groups on Board
The standards go beyond the technical skills that students need to learn within certain grade ranges. They say, for example, that by the time students finish 5th grade, they should not only know how to use on-line resources, but also be able to "discuss basic issues related to responsible use of technology and information, and describe personal consequences of inappropriate use."
ISTE has cooperated with 11 other education groups, from the National Education Association to the Council for Exceptional Children, in drafting the standards.
"The main value of the document is as a framework for others to build on," said Anne Ward, the publication manager for the National School Boards Association's Institute for the Transfer of Technology to Education, who provided help on the ISTE standards.
ISTE has received a commitment from six curriculum groups, including the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, to proceed with the next stage of the technology-standards project: incorporating the standards into existing academic standards. It's hoping to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education for that work.
Glenda Lappan, the president of the NCTM, said she expects her group to consider incorporating aspects of the technology standards in writing its update of the math standards for release in 2000.
But Alan Farstrup, the executive director of the Newark, Del.-based International Reading Association, said he didn't believe his group would go so far as to add new language about technology to its existing language arts standards.
He said he expects that the reading group will "endorse [the technology standards] as a useful adjunct to our own standards."
Mr. Farstrup added that he is concerned that schools might be experiencing standards overload. "The standards-based reform movement has been very useful, but teachers are looking at thousands of standards coming at them like a giant tidal wave," he said.
Adding to the sets of national standards coming down the pike are the information-literacy standards for student learning that the American Association of School Librarians is scheduled to release this week.
The new ISTE technology standards, said Julie Walker, the library group's executive director, will "dovetail nicely with the standards we're publishing."
Vol. 17, Issue 41, Page 6