A statewide education intranet has helped Delaware’s school districts and its individual schools stay connected, and has bolstered the state’s efforts to collect data.
Delaware provides schools with Internet access and the wiring to connect to the Web and the statewide intranet, an online network available only to schools. The intranet gives schools and districts the ability to file financial data through the state system. By September of this year, 18 of the 19 districts in the state will be online with the state pupil accounting system, allowing officials to track students more easily, says Wayne Hartschuh, the executive director of the Delaware Center for Educational Technology, a state agency under the state education department.
The state intranet also allows schools to run their own intranet sites to store school-specific data.
Beyond the state intranet, Hartschuh’s office has purchased the rights for every teacher in the state to take part in an online, 50-question Level of Technology Implementation, or LoTi, survey. The survey helps determine how teachers use technology in the classroom; the findings then help in targeting professional development to the needs of individual instructors.
So far, 16 districts in the state have had teachers take the survey. In addition, the technology agency has provided LoTi mentor training, hosting a three-day “summit” to train trainers and send them back to their districts.
Most funding for technology in Delaware comes from the federal level, and that funding has been cut in recent years. In fiscal year 2004, the state received $3.3 million for technology from Washington, but in fiscal year 2005 that amount dropped to $2.4 million. In his proposed federal budget for 2006, President Bush has suggested cutting the federal technology funding source altogether.
Delaware does provide an annual $1 million technology block grant spread across districts for maintenance and support of existing technology, and districts are allowed by state law to generate up to $3.5 million for technology from their local tax bases, Hartschuh says.