November 13, 2007

NCLB and Tech. Literacy

Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):

Welcome to today's online chat about the technology literacy requirements in NCLB and what they mean for schools working to improve student achievement through the use of technology. We have a high volume of very good questions, so let's get the discussion started.

Comment from Patti Curtis, National Center for Technological Literacy:

My concern is the very narrow definition of "technology" in the legislation and how it is implemented in the classroom. In effect, the term Technology Literacy, is deemed to mean the use of computer and information technology or tools, while the vast array of other technologies, such as transportation, energy, medical, environmental, structural, and agricultural technologies etc., are ignored. If we want students to excel in a technologically-rich environment and become savvy citizens, they need to be exposed to a much broader set of technologies, which may lead them to pursue careers in these fields. Perhaps a full-year, more inclusive course in technology and the engineering process would be more valuable than merely expecting students to learn power point in their language arts classes.

Question from Stephanie Mahoney, teacher Bradshaw Mtn Middle:

When I first observed this at the AZTEA conference in Flagstaff, the test only assessed one method to accomplish a task where there are multiple ways to accomplish this, for instance: to save a document. I do not feel this is fair to our students.

Cathy J. Poplin:

In the performance-based questions in TechLiteracy Assessment, there are multiple “right” answers with the exception of the use of keyboard shortcuts or right clicking. For example, using your example of saving a document, you can use the Menu – File/Save or Save As, or use the icon. You can learn more about TechLiteracy Assessment at

Question from Anne Jolly, PLT Project Director:

Hi, Cathy! I really agree with this technology literacy initiative. Recently a large urban district in our state secured funding to give free laptops to all students. The glaring omission is that in order for students to be proficient then those teachers must be proficient.(In many of our schools, students are already more proficient with technology than teachers.) How do you recommend we address the issue of teachers becoming accomplished users of technology?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Thank you Anne for this thoughtful question. I agree that a technology savvy teacher is important and will contribute to student success. However, I have seen many teachers take the approach that they may not be a technology expert or have limited skills but that they will “learn with” or “learn from” their students. These teachers often recognize that it is important for students to use technology in the classroom. Programs like Gen Yes believe that students can be a teacher’s best support. One of our EETT competitive grants adopted the Gen Y model for the basis of their grant and to train their teachers. You can learn more about Gen Yes at

Question from Sharon Hain, Teacher, Red Mountain High School, Mesa Public Schools:

What is the state of Arizona doing to help school districts train teachers in the use of technology so they can in turn teach students? Training needs to be done locally; teachers don't have time to drive to central locations and use equipment they are not familiar with. $$$$ are the big issue with most school districts. Technology becomes outdated so quickly that within a few years it is obsolete. Does the state have plans to help with technology?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Most schools in Arizona receive formula funding through Enhancing Education Through Technology of NCLB. 25% of these funds must be used for professional development. The Arziona Dept of Education's Educational Technology Section provides technical assistance to help schools utilize their funding. I agree that technology training needs to be done locally. Many districts have adopted technology coaches or mentors teachers. Unfortunately, this is an expensive model and few have enough of these positions to provide the necessary support. Many disticts use their EETT funds for technology coaches and mentor teachers. Arizona has recently been awarded an Intel Teach statewide grant. The Intel Teach program provides research-based professional development for technology integration. There is funding to be used for substitute reimbursements so teachers can attend the 32-hour Intel program. You can learn more about this at Arizona's Technology will be revised beginning January 2008.

Question from E. Sullivan, middle school teacher:

Who is going to assure that all the teachers are literate in technology?

Cathy J. Poplin:

This will vary from state to state and district to district and school to school based on their policies and regulations. Technology literacy for teachers needs to begin during their undergraduate teacher preparation. Teachers also need to be provided with the necessary support and tools to effectively use technology to support their content once they are employed and teaching. Before Arizona certifies a Teacher Preparation program, the institution must provide documentation that they are providing course work to meet the NETS-T (National Educational Technology Standards)for Teachers throughout the program. You can find these at:

Question from Nancy Swan, Grad Student, SPED, University of Northern Colorado:

If technology competency is federally mandated, how can we level the playing field so all students have a chance to participate in a 21st century education. Between teacher competancy and antiquated, or no technology available to them student's participation is limited. I am finishing my practicum and have observed several schools and grade levels. It is amazing to me how well equipped some schools are and how others are struggling to get an overhead. It reminds me of all the underfunded promises put forth in NCLB. I cannot imagine how far behind we will be if it takes 5-10 years to figure out how to bring current technology to the classroom.

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is a great question and one that many state technology leaders struggle with. Even though students have antiquated or no technology available to them, we know that students are using technology and have access to some form. Data provided through surveys done by NCES, Project Tomorrow's Speak Up (NetDay) and the Pew Foundation, to name a few, tells us that kids some how find access to technology outside the school day. From cell phones to gaming systems, students across the US are using it frequently. Students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds often have a computer and Internet access at home. Students from lower economic backgrounds rely on technology access at school or public libraries. Thus, the need to make sure schools have technology to use. I believe it is how we equip our schools and provide access to our communities that will level the playing field.

Question from Sandra Goetze, Associate Professor of Literacy and Technology Education, Oklahoma State University:

Educational Technology at most universities is totally disconnected from Literacy Education. Comprehension is a huge part of reading and learning online. Why isn't there not more emphasis on "how to read and comprehend" online in both areas of literacy and technology education? I see a lot of button pushing taking place in courses as opposed to teaching reading strategies?

Cathy J. Poplin:

My suggestion is that it will take a champion within the university's Literacy Education group to start the conversation. My personal rule of thumb is that I will not complain or criticize something that I am not willing to help correct. And most change occurs when there is awareness of an issue. I agree there are different literacy skills needed for technology use but they can easily be combined with reading strategies. I am sure there is much literature written about this but this is an area that I am not as familiar with. Go, fight, win!

Question from Lisa Price, Gifted Education Specialist/Enrichment, Blue Creek Elementary:

How can we regulate whether students are these technology skills? We already test students in reading, writing, math, and science (with social studies testing on the way). I realize that the proof is in the pudding, in that if students are doing things that students can prove their abilities by using the technology, but without some kind of standardized measure, it's difficult to hold teachers accountable. How can this be done without adding yet another test to the school-year?

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is a real tough question. If we are not willing to add another test, then technology literacy assessments need to be embedded within your existing tests. In Arizona we are looking at doing this at some point but it will take a huge team effort to make this happen. A technology planning committee brainstormed many ways technology skills could be tested within our existing tests and deemed it doable. However, the tests must be put "online" and that is a huge undertaking for a state.

Question from Don Knezek, CEO, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE):

Cathy, ISTE recntly revised their National Educational Technology Standards and they are creating quite lot of excitement. Will these new standards have an impact on technology literacy for students in Arizona? If so, how will you all respond to them?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Hi Don! Absolutely! I think the new standards can be more easily embedded within content standards and make them eaiser to access. We are going to begin our refresh in January!! Stay tuned for more!

Question from Donna Duba, 4-8 grade classroom teacher, Cedar Grove Colony Elementary, Platte-Geddes School System:

What concessions are in place for students who practice a lifestyle or religion that bans or limits technologies? For example, people such as Amish or Hutterites see computers as worldy. Should these students be excused or excluded from testing?

Cathy J. Poplin:

I suggest you contact your local school administrator to find out the practices you are held to. This sounds like a constitutional issue. I know districts deal with this type of thing on a daily basis.

Comment from Jerilyn Fay Kelle, Ph.D., MPS Candidate 2007, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service:

It is said that, "The new literacy is intended to go far beyond the basics of simply operating technology, to include such skills as evaluating the quality of Web pages and using online content appropriately for school research and assignments." Yes, it's not just the operation of technology -- keyboarding and negotiating software commands -- that is important for young people to learn, it is critical thinking and good judgment that goes into "evaluation" and "application" of any kind of knowledge and skill. Unfortunately, the federal rule (NCLB) lacks the funding (called "Opportunities to Learn") that was lost when the regulations were past; so, teachers are struggling with less resources and personnel to teach more and teach to the test. This forces them to use rote memorization so that the scores will look good for their Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) reports. What's left out are all the kinds of instructional activities and content that would teach critical thinking (application, judgment and evaluation--called higher order thinking skills) not only in technology courses but in subjects like social studies--which sadly has been declining in value and usage for the last fifteen years since the beginning of the standardization movement. Thus, NCLB creates a chain of negative consequences like falling dominoes from one subject to another; unintended or not, they were preventable if the funding had passed along with the regulations so that educators had the resources they needed to teach high standards to all children—which should be done. Our leaders have not been adequately held accountable for their failures to fund their mandates while they demand accountability from and put more pressure on teachers and schools.

Question from Angela Cooper, Clairton School District, Test Coordinator:

Is the government going to fund students with computers so that every student has access throughout the entire day?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Surprisingly enough, the federal government has done quite a bit during the past 12 years. It was during the Clinton administration, 1993 –2001, when educational technology was put on the national map. For an excellent snapshot of what occurred during this time, review the Educational Technology Timeline – Highlights During the Clinton Administration at Technology Literacy Challenge Fund and Technology Innovation Challenge Grants were the main funding sources. E-Rate was also established in 1996. You will be surprised at how much progress was made during these eight years. In 2002, Enhancing Education Through Technology was implemented through the Bush Administration and in 2004 Arizona received its highest amount of technology funding ever. In addition, nearly all of the Title programs within NCLB allow purchasing techonlogy and providing professional development. You need to study the specific guidelines for each. Unfortunately, since 2004, EETT funding has declined. I strongly encourage each of you to adovcate for federal and state support for Educational Technology by using ETAN - EdTech Action Network, an online advovacy tool at While the federal government needs to support this effort, I believe that individual states and districts need to also to look for ways to adequately fund technology. It needs to be a shared effort between the federal, state and local districts. Most of Arizona's advanced technology districts have done it with local funds or through bonding or leasing.

Question from Francis Stonier, Doctoral Student, Old Dominion University:

Why does it appear some states have been assessing student technology literacy, and others have not?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Great question. Unfortunately, when a mandate is not tested, it does not receive a high priority. Even though there is a statement in NCLB about all students will be technology literate by the 8th grade, it is not a part of making AYP and is not considered “high stakes.” Initial guidance on what technology literacy meant and how to access was vague. The state only had to provide their definition of technology literacy and of technology integration for teachers. In addition, for several years, states were not required to report results of student technology literacy. However, we are required to report beginning this year. However in Arizona we wanted to take advantage of the window of opportunity provided for educational technology in NCLB by assessing 5th and 8th grade technology literacy. Districts around Arizona encouraged the Arizona Department of Education to take the lead in this area. In addition, AZ did not have data to show the effectiveness of EETT funding for the first 3 funding years. For the 2005-2006 funding cycle, AZ strengthened its evaluation process for all EETT funding. A requirement was included in the 2005-2006 EETT RFP to set aside 2% of all discretionary funding and of those who received $11,000 or more in formula funding with the intent of securing an online technology literacy assessment for 5th and 8th graders. As a result, Arizona contracted with for the TechLiteracy Assessment product and tested nearly 25,000 5th and 8th grade students in Spring of 2006

Question from Thea Jones, Supervisor, Office of Instructional Technology, Baltimore County, Maryland:

How can we work to ensure that student literacy standards become as important as other educational standards in the NCLB Act that is to be renewed in the next few years?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Great question. I strongly encourage everyone that feels passionately about the role of technology in improving student literacy and achievement to utilize ETAN, the Ed Tech Action Network. ETAN provides a forum for educators and others to engage in the political process and project a unified voice in support of a common cause – improving teaching and learning through the systemic use of technology. ETAN’s mission is to influence public policy-makers at the federal, state and local levels and to increase public investment in the competitiveness of America's classrooms and students. I strongly encourage each person's message to be personalized to reflect their school or district's status.

Question from Elizabeth Dalton, Asst. Professor, Rhode Island College:

How can we ensure that the technology standards will be accessible to all students, including students with mild, moderate, and severe disabilities? and How can we adequately prepare teachers to implement these standards?

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is a great question and one that we all would like to know the "correct" answer. However, children with mild, moderate and severe disabilities will have an individualized education plan (IEP) for him or her. The plan may or may not include technology. It is important however that all Sp Ed teachers and the team that recommends the IEP to be aware of the vast resources available to support students with disabilities. Many accommodations can simply be made within existing software already available. Again, my take is that a teacher needs to receive strong technology integration skills during their teacher preparation as an undergraduate or in a post bac program. We are less concerned about teachers' basic technology skills (most already have them) but we are seeing a lack of understanding of how to use technology to support the teaching of their core curriculum. This also includes understandiing how various technologies can support students with disabilities.

Question from Colleen Moore, META, education consultant (and former technology integration strategist):

In Texas, there is a very comprehensive rubric that defines technology literacy, for districts, schools, teachers, and students. But with no funding or accountability attached, how can raising standards spark the changes needed to see significant results?

Cathy J. Poplin:

I believe it begins at the local level - either the district or even a school. As champions surface and a need is generated, I have seen amazing things accomplished. The recent data about America losing its economic edge has sparked lots of conversations. It takes strong leadership and tenacity to see it through. It takes a strong leader who can cast the vision and get buy-in from all groups: teachers, parents and the wider community. I know in Arizona, some districts are light years ahead of others and it is a direct relationship to the leadership at the district and not so much the resources. They will follow.

Question from Diane Poe, ESL Specialist, Fauquier County Public Schools:

Unless there are some exemptions allowed, or goals expected annually, not by grade level, this will become one more source of discouragment for many ESL students. If a student arrives in middle school or high school from a country which does not use the Roman alphabet, how likely is it that keyboarding and internet research skills will be acquired? I agree with the goal of teaching technology skills, but fear the imposition of rigid standards for everyone to meet regardless of their abilities and readiness.

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is a great question! And one that Arizona struggles with every day! We have a very large ELL population and we grappple with how best to educate them in both content and technology skills. By law, Arizona is considered an English only state. No other language can be spoken in a classroom but English. This has been a huge challenge. By legislation, Arizona is changing how we educate ELL students. The focus will shift from content knowledge to immersion of English language development. Beginning this year, schools are required to place ELL students in four (4) hours of English Language Development per day based on the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards which include: Oral English and conversation, Reading, Vocabulary,Writing, and Grammar. As they learn English and the Roman alphabet and numbers, keyboarding and researching will be easier to learn. At this point, there are no sanctions for students not being techology literate.

Question from Carole Hayes, Education Policy Analyst, Board of Governors, State University System of Florida:

How will proficiency in technology be defined? How assessed?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Each state defines this differently. You can go to SETDA's Trend Reports to get a better understanding of the different defintions and how states are asssessing them. You can find it here: Some states use a definition from ISTE and others from SETDA and some created their own. Here is Arizona's: Technology literacy is the ability to responsibly use appropriate technology to communicate, solve problems, create products and access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information to improve learning in all subject areas and to acquire lifelong knowledge and skills for the 21st century. Arizona's uses's TechLiteracy assessment. This year we tested about 37,000 5th and 8th grade students.

Question from John Stallcup Co Founder APREMAT/USA:

What is the "operational" definition of Tech literacy? That is what competencies (powerpoint, word, search, excel)or abilities (clear history, defrag hardrive) make up the definition.

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is a very broad question and no one right answer. Each state determines their definition and sets their competencies. However, most follow the National Educational Technology Standards for Students, Teachers and Administrators. You can learn more at Arizona's current technology standards are 100% aligned to the older version of NETS-Student. We will be revising our standards beginning in January 2008.

Question from Barbara Randolph, Curriculum Coordinator/Doctoral Student:

Should schools be held accountable for technology standards if school district or state is unable or unwilling to fund the infrastructure needed in older schools and the continual updating of hardware and software to keep learning on the technological cutting edge?

Cathy J. Poplin:

I am not sure who you feel will do the accountability? The district? The state? The federal government? In Arizona, we have little leverage to make a district do anything regarding technology EXCEPT if they want to apply for EETT funding. Then they have to have a current technology plan on file with us and do an annual technology survey. You can find this information by going to If they receive more than $11,500 in forumula funding, they we asked that they test a percentage of their 5th and 8th grade techology literacy. It is difficult to hold someone accountable for something as costly as technology without adequate funding. The state does not provide a separate funding source for technology other than what a district receives based on their ADM and federal formula funds. However, if the state established a specific technology funding stream, I imagine accountability measure would be included. Again go to the SETDA website to learn more about how other states are doing with technology.

Question from Nicole Friend, Library-Media Specialist, Borror Middle School:

Given that school library-media specialists have a demonstrated positive effect on student achievement, and that information, technology, and media literacies are the focus of our standards, I see this profession as perfectly suited to playing a huge role in preparing students for the information landscape of the 21st century. However, we continue to get pushed aside by school districts because they see us just as book people. How can library-media specialists as a whole best overcome that stereotype to been seen as an essential technology/information resource for every school? Is there any hope for government support (such as the SKILLS Act, a proposed NCLB amendment)?

Cathy J. Poplin:

WOW, this is another tough question. I am a STRONG supporter of each school to have a highly qualified library-media specialist and have seen how effective they can be. However, over the years, districts have replaced many of these positions with para-professionals as a cost saving measure. However, many districts have kept them and they are a critical link to techology in the classroom. However, I have met some who were so resistant to technology and this may have caused some of the backlash. I am not familar with the training a library-media specialist receives but I hope it is full of technology based resources and procedures. There is always hope for federal support but it takes much advocacy and you need to have a strong voice on the hill. You need to find that. You may look at ETAN for that.

Question from Brian McFadyen, National Account Manager, Certiport Inc.:

My company, Certiport, has a program that is geared toward training and certifying in digital literacy, maps to NCLB requirements for digital literacy for students and teachers, and is being used in schools a districts nationwide because of the easy accountability it it appropriate to share that info in this forum?

Cathy J. Poplin:

When Arizona was looking at acquiring our Technology Literacy asessment solution, Certiport submitted an RFP. We currently are using's TechLiteracy Asessment. However, I do know states that use Certiport.

Question from Becky White, Children's Librarian, Allen County Public Library:

Children often do their research after school in the local public libraries. How can public libraries and schools partner to provide access to technology and training in best practices for students?

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is a wonderful notion and many states and districts are doing this. Not only can this partnership provide access to technolgy and training but a strong partnership can result in cost savings. Arizona is currently looking at how we can leverage the electronic databases that our state and county libraries already pay for "each citizen" in the county or state and our schools. We know that many districts also pay for electronic databases. Many states have successful partnerships with their public libraries. We are just a tad behind. A new resource I recently found is This is a good example of effective partnerships.

Question from Ruth, Mother, Home:

If students are to meet this requirement by the 8th grade, by what grade will the students begin to see this installed into the curriculm? How will the school districts deal with the lower-income households when home work is required to complete this task?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Arizona's technology standards begin at Kindergarten and go through high school. You can see them at To my knowledge, if a school requires the use of technology to complete homework or to be held accountable for standards, then they need to provide ample access to these students during the day, afternoon or in the evening. This is why more districts do not have a formal technology assessment program. You can also look at the revised NETS-Students. They begin in Pre-K. You will find them at and click on NETS.

Question from Kevin Conner, Instructional Technology Specialist, Allegheny IU, Homestead PA:

So often, schools have a separate technology curriculum that has limited integration with the "real curriculum." Do you think technology will continue to be regarded as an "add-on" to the curriculum, rather than an integral component, unless it is explicitly written into the content area standards?

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is one of my HOT buttons! Technology SHOULD NOT be taught in isolation. If it continues to be so, it will always be an add-on. However, I have seen a major shift in the past 3 - 4 years. Teachers are getting what I call "killing two birds with one stone." See what technology skills can support the teaching of math, science, social studies, etc and incorporate both! Students will thank you for this approach. It would be ideal for technology skills to be embedded and we are wanting to do this at the state level, however, I believe with effective PD, teachers can learn to do it easily.

Question from Anne-Marie Ross, Library Media Specialist, Plymouth Public Schools, Plymouth, MA:

who is responsible for knowing if students are proficient in technology by grade 8? When should you begin teaching students formal typing? What type of assessment will be used to determine if students in grade 8 are proficient in technology? Who is it reported to about the status of a student who is either proficient or not?

Cathy J. Poplin:

In Arizona, we introduce keyboarding at the third grade. This is due to the fine motor skills needed. However, I think with all the new digital toys on the market, we may be able to move that up to first or 2nd. They need to be able to know their alphabet.

Question from Patricia Phillips, Educational Technology Consultant, Phillips Consulting, Arizona:

It appears that the major emphasis of NCLB in regards to technology is to ensure that students are competent technology “tool users.” While these are critical skills for the modern world, it is unlikely that these skills will create learners who are capable of innovation and able to become technology “tool builders”—the very skills that will ensure economic growth and competitiveness in the 21st century. Where do standards for creating these types of technology learners exist—those who are competent in computational thinking and computer science (computer science is far more than programming!)

Cathy J. Poplin:

A: You are right that the current emphasis has been on using tools and this is reflected in the NETS-Students that were created in 1998. However, in the NETS refresh you will find a shift in emphasis. You can find these standards with indicators at The indicators will give you a deeper understanding of the standand. The grade level profiles will show specific tasks for students. The new NETS-Students are: 1. Creativity and Innovation Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. 2. Communication and Collaboration Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. 3. Research and Information Fluency Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. 4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. 5. Digital Citizenship Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior. 6. Technology Operations and Concepts Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. These are heavily based on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills beliefs. You can find out more about 21st Century Skills at Specific standards for students to be tool builders such as building and maintaining a website or building or supporting a network in Arizona are found within our Career and Technical Education programs.

Question from Vickie Welch, Teacher, Meeker MS, TPS #10, Tacoma, WA:

Technology is a huge 'buzz' word in today's educational curriculums; however, computers labs, student laps tops, etc. becomes very ineffectual when districts do not include 'maintenance' for these wonderful learning techologies in their budgets. Does the NCLB have a budget for repair and maintenance of equipment? Districts buy this wonderful equipment. . . and listen up, Taxpayers' where is the budget for maintenance and repair???

Cathy J. Poplin:

Yes! In the guidance document for EETT, it clearly states that one of the purposes of EETT is: to Assist states and localities in the acquisition, development, interconnection, implementation, improvement, and maintenance of an effective educational technology infrastructure in a manner that expand access of technology to students (particularly disadvantaged students) and teachers. Many districts utilize their EETT formula funds to support the maintenance of their technology assets. From my experience, if there is not adequate support to support a teacher technology needs, it will make or break their success. One of the Milken’s Family Foundation’s Seven Dimensions for Gauging Progress of Technology is TECHNOLOGY CAPACITY. Questions a district will need to answer include: Are there adequate technologies, networks, electronic resources and support to reach the education system's learning goals? You can find this document at Another good resource and guide for a district’s technology support is the Technology Support Index In addition, districts and schools can utilize E-Rate funding. E-Rate provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. Funding is requested under four categories of service: telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections. Although applying for E-Rate is tedious and time consuming, it should be a part of a district's ongoing technology planning!

Question from Ginny Shaffer, Reading Specialist/Technology Mentor, North Brook Elementary School:

Across the nation, how are elementary classrooms equipped? If possible, paint the scenario of the best equipped to the least equipped. How did one get so much and why does one have so little? I'm not suggesting a national initiative for equity coming from federal funds, just curious to see how we compare to the rest of the U.S.

Cathy J. Poplin:

WOW, this is a huge question and can be answered in many ways. One caveat: good professional development must accompany any hardware and software purchased for a classroom! Let me give it a stab! I am an active member of the State Educational Techology Directors Association (SETDA). I am a huge supporter of good technology planning and strong leadership. These two things go hand in hand. On the SETDA website you will find a variety of state tech plans. Many of the states then require their districts and even their schools to create a plan based on their plan. You can see what is happening around the US by going to and then click on State Member and then any state. Many states are defining what the "21st Century Classroom" will look like. In Arizona our Governor just completed a study of what the 21st Century Schools should be. Here is what the study recommended for all new schools that are built: 1. Each classroom should be constructed with hard-wire infrastructure consisting of a minimum of six Category 6 data drops. 2. Each classroom should have sufficient bandwidth connectivity to allow for simultaneous wireless Internet connections. This is in addition to the proposed six hard-wired data drops or the current base standard of one hard-wired network modem with Internet access in each classroom. 3. Classrooms for kindergarten through 3rd grade should have a ratio of one personal computing device for every three students. 4. Classrooms for grades 4 through 12 should have a ratio of one personal computing device for every student. 5. All classrooms should have computer based presentation system capabilities, at a minimum being a digital projector mounted on the ceiling, preferably with directional flexibility (the ability to project in any direction with wireless connection to the teacher’s laptop computer. The emerging technology involves wireless slates (“Airliner TM” units) with rear projection interactive white boards (“Smart BoardTM” units). 6. Presentation (group graphic) wall-boards, in tandem with an Interactive “white board” and a movable projection screen, should be included in all classrooms, in order to allow the most flexible use of the space. You can read the complete report and recommendations (PDF) . The US DOE has begun a Schools 2.0 project. You may find some valuable info at eMints has been a highly successful technology integration model started in Missouri. It is based upon a teacher having a common set of software and equipment. To learn more go to Texas Technology Immersion Project (TIP) also has a common set of tools which are: 1. A wireless mobile computing device for every student and teacher 2. Productivity software 3. Online content in the core curriculum areas 4. Online formative assessment tools 5. Ongoing professional development 6. On demand technical support Technology immersion involves providing every teacher and every student at an implementing campus with six key resources.  These resources have been identified as critical to successfully intertwining technology and teaching and learning.  The resources are provided to implementing campuses as “packages” of products and services offered by leading hardware, software, content and service providers bundled together and delivered as a unit.  Implementing schools choose from one of several immersion packages.  For more information go to

Question from John Richard Schrock, Chair, Dept. Biol. Sciences, Emporia State University:

So far, all proposed strategies for young students to evaluate the "quality" (accuracy) of websites fail; the techniques only work if you are already an expert in the field. My student teachers are required to go online and search for accurate sites in biology and the proportion of accurate sites in the first 20 pages using search engines and the common queries that a K-12 student would abysmal. In addition, the linkrot rate for good sites is very high to the point that teachers cannot plan ahead and expect the resource to be there when the lesson time arrives. Regular libraries both classified their materials (science in 500s and 600s, occult in the 100s) and censored for quality simply due to lack of resources. Anyone off the street can post material online alongside experts. What is to prevent the next generation from being "taken in" by slick websites promoting creationism and vaccinations-never-saved-a-life sites (this later posted from a prestigious university)?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Interesting. I was not aware that all proposed strategies have failed! I strongly believe that it is every teacher's responsibility to teach some form of website analysis to determine valid resources which will help prevent the next generation from being "taken in." In Arizona, all of our statewide Technology Integration Specialists are iSafe trained and offer numersous workshops for teachers. To learn more about iSafe go to Evaluating websites is a part of the iSafe curriculum. When I was a Training Coordinator, I always included Alan November's "The Grammar of the Internet" as a foundation to understanding and recognizing a good website. You can find several good resources at his website Search for grammar and you will find it. You will also find further good website evaluation information. SETDA also has a 2007 toolkit on Media Literacy which includes an indepth list of resources. You can find this at On the left hand side, click on Rationale and Resources. Here are a few of my favorite resources: Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask 10 C's for Evaluating Internet Resources QUICK: QUality Information ChecKlist

Question from Kimberly Vidoni, Educational Technology Consultant, Nevada Department of Education:

Please discuss some specific examples of how students' technology skills are being assessed.

Cathy J. Poplin:

Hi Kim, I hope all is well in the great state of Nevada. This is an excellent question and one that will benefit many folks. However, it is not a simple answer. Each state creates their own definition and their own assessment. Again, going to the SETDA website at will give you a good look at what each state is doing. Arizona uses a commerical product, TechLiteracy Assessment by North Carolina uses a state created assessment, etc. State Directors of Educational Techology struggle with this issue on a daily basis. I also suggest you do a Google search to see what individual districts are doing. When I was in a local district, they had taken the state techonology standards and had created specific assessment both mutlipe choice and project based for each grade level. But that was at the district level. And the state did not collect this information, nor does it now.

Question from David Levesque, Technology Instructor(4-8), Challenger School-GESD#40:

As we see kids who have not had the basic fundamentals in technology instruction, i.e. vocabulary, keyboarding, word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, and databases. How then are we to teach these students higher level skills when the foundation incomplete? What good is finding relevant information via the web and not be able to type your report your word processing program and insert your collected data from your spreadsheet? How do we get buy-in from our districts to set aside time, money, teachers, and other resources so we have a comprehensive technology instructional curriculum k-12 for all students, plus the appropriate remediation when we get kids from other districts, states or countries who are not up to our standards?

Cathy J. Poplin:

Hi David!!! Nice to hear from you today and to receive your email yesterday! I agree that keyboarding skills are critical. I have seen first hand how the lack of keyboarding skills can hold back adults working on projects nonetheless students. Because we know that mobility is high in our Arizona schools, we need to provide ample practice time and opportunities for keyboarding skills to be learned. How to do it at the district or school level? I believe in cheerful tenacity. Being positive and volunteering for the technology committee or starting one. Or researching cost efficient software to teach keyboarding. Once they have these skills, the rest is fairly easy. I know that some schools allow for 15 minutes a day for keyboarding practice. Provide software that goes home for those with computers at home.

Question from Jenny Oglesbee, 5th grade teacher, Henry County R-1 School District:

What are small schools with no computer teacher and only 1 computer per classroom to do to make this a reality?

Cathy J. Poplin:

NCLB provides for rural school provision. It is called REAP. The purpose is to provide financial assistance to rural districts to assist them in meeting their state's definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP). Applicants do not compete but rather are entitled to funds if they meet basic eligibility requirements. Eligibility is restricted by statute. Awards are issued annually directly to eligible LEAs on a formula basis. Awards are made to all that apply and meet the applicable requirements of the act. Our local ISTE affliate, AzTEA (Arizona TEchnology in Education Alliance) offers statewide technology conferences. The first in the series is in Northern AZ where we have lots of rural schools. You can learn more at We also have a Statewide Instructional Techology Project to provide regional based techology professional development. Arizona has few metro areas but lots of rural areas. You can find more at

Question from Dr. Marybeth Green University of Texas at San Antonio:

Many teacher preparation programs are eliminating coursework related to technology integration stating that "they already know this stuff." What is your perception of this practice?

Cathy J. Poplin:

I believe that many students in teacher prep programs are proficient at basic technology skills but are sorely lacking at the skills to effectively teach with it. That is why I believe so strongly that there needs to be ample modeling of good technology integration in each of their content methods courses. I taught Instructional Technology for Teachers for years at a private university in Phoenix and it was not until I forced students to connect their projects with one of their methods course work did it make sense to a student! Stick to your guns!

Question from Reed Markham, Associate Professor, Daytona Beach College:

How are schools dealing with accessibility issues including gaining access to appropriate technical support, purchasing upgraded technology with limited budgets?

Cathy J. Poplin:

I believe I answered a similar question. I can't emphasize enough the need for good technology planning that involves all stakeholders in a district or school - students, teachers, parents, administrators, community members. Right now, there is a wonderful opportunity for districts and schools to participate in the 2007 Speak Up techology surveys. Schools and districts can receive incredible data that can drive many important technology initiatives. Go to

Question from Estela Carrera-Infante, Parent Services Coordinator for Migrant Education at Northwest Educational Service District, Anacortes WA:

What provisions are been made for ELL students to be proficient in technology and what are schools and states doing to meet these requirements.

Cathy J. Poplin:

This is another tough question. NCLB certainly has shined a light on the needs of ELL students. I am not certain what other states are doing but in Arizona we are going to begin looking at how to incorporate ELL strategies within the the Intel Teach Essential Courses and Thinking with Technology course that we teach statewide. Our teachers are under a state mandate to receive 60 hours of ELL training by August 2009. Thus it has been hard to complete for Professional Develoment time. But we feel if we incorporate ELL strategies based on the SIOP model used in AZ, we will appeal to more teachers. This work will begin in January!

Question from james Dinsdale, pre-service teacher, Molalla River Middle School:

The wording of the NCLB declaration is so broad as to be meaningless. The nature of technology is such that any specific statement of necessary competencies will appear obsolete and ridiculous in time. Nonethless things can be done by teachers to help students push the frontier. We are teaching a math unit to seventh graders using electronic spreadsheets. Concepts such as order of operations , data tabulation and graphical representation are well-taught in this way, and we are teaching data analysis tools that will be useful for students in any curriculum, including math, science, art, social sciences and probably literature, once somebody finds the right app. Has someone else done something similar?

Cathy J. Poplin:

I certainly hope so!!! And I know for a fact that many are doing this. You are right on target! What you described are great examples of technology intergration or infusion into curriculum. Many teachers and districts figured this out and are doing exactly what you are doing. It fits with my notion of "killing two birds with one stone." Teaching core curriculum and utilizing technlogy tools to accomplish it. Sometimes a broad statement is better than a very tight, prescriptive one.

Question from Robert DeLossa, Social Studies Teacher/Administrative Apprentice, Lowell High School, Lowell, MA:

What research has been conducted to measure the impact of "technology literacy" on traditional printed-matter literacy and linear problem solving? I teach juniors and seniors in high school; as my kids have come to me more "tech savvy," their reading ability and problem solving acuity has sharply diminished. This is across the board. Do we know whether we are taking water from one pail to fill another? (Not concise, but also to be noted: Anyone who looks at the use of technology in broader society would have to be blind not to see that the majority of popular interaction with "technology" encourages consumption much more than production. I ran a publishing unit before making a midlife career transition to teaching; I am no technophobe and participated in DTP and website development before many of my colleagues. What I see in young people's perception of "technology" is not the productivity enhancers that excited us when desktop computing was realized in the 80s and 90s, but rather lifestyle enhancers. Web 2.0 reinforces that tendency. Put more graphically, for those of us of a certain age, the computer is a typewriter with benefits. For young people, it is a t.v. and phone with benefits. Increasingly, I find that my students' academic productivity _decreases_ when I add technology to the mix, because many of them automatically default to a passive "playtime" mode. Although technology is absolutely necessary in some areas--I teach in a communications program with video, graphic, and photography components--in others, e.g., teaching reading or writing, I sense that it is counterproductive to use it. At this point that is a heretical statement, given the institutional investiture into "technology" and easy pandering to kids' desire for edutainment, but it simply is bad science not to be asking these basic questions. Maryanne Wolf's recent book [_Proust and the Squid_] gives us hope that we may stop and ask what we are losing with whatever gains "technology" is giving to our children.)

Cathy J. Poplin:

WOW, this is quite a question and statement. I am not sure if I agree with all of your premises. I think many young folks see technology more than a TV and a phone. I referred earlier to research that we have that tells us how kids are using it outside of school. The sad reality is that we have not been able to capture this same use in the classrooms. The reasons are vast - lack of equipment, up to date software, etc but one new reason is our own Policies contradict with the Web 2.0 and the collaborative nature of the Internet and how these kids prefer to use it. I am reading an extremely interesting and challenging book - Wikinoimics: How Mass Collobaration Changes Everything by Don Tapsocttt and Anthony D. Williams. It has changed my views and opinions on several areas of Web 2.0. I encourage you to read it and see what you think about it as a result!

Question from Greg Pearson, Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Engineering:

"Technology literacy" can be interpreted more broadly than suggested in the preamble to this chat. The National Academies, International Technology Education Association, and National Assessment Governing Board, among other groups, have been advocating for an expanded view of technological literacy that parallels science literacy, rather than a narrow view of technology as an educational tool. Technology is much more than computers, and science and engineering, among and other factors, contribute to the "designed world" we live in. Why can't NCLB be used as a vehicle to encourage not only computer literacy, or IT literacy, but also this broader and equally relevant competency? There is ample material to support such a move. Standards published by ITEA suggest what K-12 students should know and be able to do with technology, NAGB is incorporating questions in the 2009 NAEP science assessment on "technological design," and the Academies have published several reports making the case for technological literacy.

Cathy J. Poplin:

Excellent! I appreciate you sharing this! My science person at the Arizona Department of Education already has spoke her peace about this and I heard her loud and clear. As we refresh our technology standards we are going to include much more of what you described - the technology to the specific disciplines. In think what happned in AZ is that our original technology standards were so about engineering and science that teachers did not have a clue how to utilize them. We had a standard about proper gluing of something and the drawing of a scaled schematic of the playground. When we worked with groups of teachers to see what fits best into the classroom, it became more tool focused. I would like to know more about how to access the ample materials to support this!

Question from Tonya Witherspoon, MindScapes, Executive Director:

We have accountability for our pre-service and K-12 students technology literacy. When are we going to implement accountability for our in-service teachers or college professors technology literacy? How will we really put any teeth into our 8th grade technology literacy requirements if we don't require the adults already in the teaching profession to meet 8th grade technology literacy requirements?

Cathy J. Poplin:

I hear you! This is a continuing question for all of us. Surprisingly, we are finding that most teachers have decent basic technology skillls but lack perhaps the finer skills of determining good web resources, safety issues and how to use technology in their actual teaching of core curriculum. I think some incentives need to be offered to those who are reluctant. Acquiring more technology after taking a certain number of PD hours. Or having a Technology Coach on a campus are extremely useful to the reluctant ones. I have found that by adding something about appropriate and frequent use of technology within a teacher evaluation tool helped moved some along. I have found very few teachers who did not eventually come around to understanding the value of embracing technology. However, in one place I worked, it was stated often that the only solution for some of the reluctant teachers was retirement. May or may not be true.

Kevin Bushweller (Moderator):

Thank you for joining us for this very informative online chat. And a special thanks to our guest for answering so many questions. This chat is now over. A transcript of the discussion will be posted later today on

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The Fine Print

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Please be sure to include your name when posting your question.'s Live Chat is an open forum where readers can participate in a give- and-take discussion with a variety of guests. reserves the right to condense or edit questions for clarity, but editing is kept to a minimum. Transcripts may also be reproduced in some form in our print edition. We do not correct errors in spelling, punctuation, etc. In addition, we remove statements that have the potential to be libelous or to slander someone. Please read our privacy policy and user agreement if you have questions.

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