A new emphasis in the state education department on integrating Georgia’s academic curriculum with technology has led to several projects designed to improve teaching and student achievement.
“Technology should be part of every lesson every day,” says Mike Hall, the deputy state superintendent for instructional technology.
As part of the emphasis, 12 schools will be chosen as 21st Century Model Schools, which integrate more technology into the curriculum than typical schools. Four elementary, four middle, and four high schools will be given a host of wireless technologies, and teachers will be trained to blend technology into their teaching. The project will focus on improving student performance in literacy at the elementary school level, in mathematics in the middle grades, and in science in high school.
One of the education department’s goals is also to have 50 schools with wireless Internet connections across the state in the 2005-06 school year. The state will use federal funds to offer competitive grants of $52,000 per school.
Teachers from any school in the state involved in a state-sponsored technology initiative will also have access to a new professional-development course called “Teaching in the 21st Century,” which shows teachers how to use technology to raise student achievement.
In addition, Gov. Sonny Perdue has proposed establishing a state-sponsored online high school, which would be an expansion of an “e-learning” project that has been in progress for four years. The online school would help the governor meet his goal of having at least two Advanced Placement courses offered in every high school in the state. The governor, a Republican, is requesting $500,000 to get the program started during 2005 summer school, and $1.7 million to run the program during the 2005-06 school year.
The state’s educational technology budget, however, has not fully recovered from recent across-the-board cuts. The state is spending about $8 million on educational technology for the 2004-05 school year, about $1.5 million less than the previous year.