Special Report
Education

Multiple Stimulus Aid Streams Flow to Ed Tech

By Michelle R. Davis — February 05, 2010 6 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

State education officials and local school districts are working to use technology money from the federal economic-stimulus package to develop initiatives that do everything from consolidate data systems to create high-quality digital content for school laptops.

But much of the $650 million in stimulus funding for Enhancing Education Through Technology—the federal government’s main educational technology program—has yet to trickle down to districts. Some schools instead are looking to other pots of money in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the 2009 stimulus law, to shore up their technology investments more quickly.

A handful of programs that received money through the recovery act allow districts to get creative about how to pay for technology, said Douglas A. Levin, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, based in Glen Burnie, Md.

“With a really clear vision of what it is we want to achieve,” he said, “there are some really innovative ideas we can make good on.”

Schools and the Stimulus:
A Midterm Report
Overview
Dueling Objectives Mark Stimulus at Halfway Point
The Impact So Far
Multiple Stimulus Aid Streams Flow to Ed Tech
Private Sector Competes for Share of Stimulus Pie
Spec. Ed., Title I Aid Casts Long Stimulus Shadow
Stimulus Reflects Push for Teacher Effectiveness
Schools Stuck at Bottom Target of $3 Billion Push
Aid Lets Hard-Hit State Keep Programs Aloft
Fiscal Stability Allows for Long View on Stimulus
The Road Ahead
As Education’s Funding Cliff Nears, Anxieties Rise
Race to Top Sets Stage for ESEA Reauthorization
Web Extras
Live Webinar: Is the Stimulus Metting Its K-12 Goals?
Live Chat: Schools and the Stimulus: A Midterm Report
Interactive Map: Follow the Stimulus Money
Videos on the Stimulus

The most direct shot of federal money for educational technology came in the form of the $650 million for the existing Enhancing Education Through Technology initiative, or EETT. Under that program, money typically flows to states through a formula based on numbers of students who qualify for the Title I program for disadvantaged students.

States typically have been permitted to divide about half the money among districts through the Title I formula and half through competitive grants—using at least 25 percent of the money for professional development. In recent years, the federal government has allowed states to award all the money through competitive grants if they so chose.

When the U.S. Department of Education issued stimulus-program guidance in July, federal officials encouraged states to use all of the money in competitive grants to districts; and 21 states have chosen to do so, said Mr. Levin.

Many states are still going through the grant process and have not allocated the funds, even though the money must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2011. According to a Jan. 15 report from the Education Department, only about $25.4 million of the money has actually been spent.

But many states are well on their way to determining which districts will receive the money.

Maine, for instance, is giving out half its EETT stimulus dollars by formula and the other half to two projects awarded through competitive grants. The first project plays to the state’s extensive one-to-one laptop-computer initiative for students, said Jeff Mao, the Maine Department of Education’s director of learning-technology policy.

Maine is seeking districts to lead investigations into open education resources, or free digital content, in nine areas, such as mathematics, science, and social studies. Grantees will lead collaborative searches for and evaluations of free digital textbooks or curricula that can be used with the laptop initiative, Mr. Mao said. Participants will use a social-networking space to create communities to evaluate and cull those resources, he said.

The state is also seeking districts to create teacher professional development with new technologies and to track whether it significantly affects student achievement, he said.

“Hopefully, we can actually develop some good artifacts that are reusable,” Mr. Mao said. “We want to generate things … that can live well beyond the dollars and are not reliant on those funds.”

Regional Efforts

Michigan, which also split its stimulus money for technology between formula and competitive grants, is aiming to use its competitive funding to encourage regional data initiatives by districts, said Bruce Umpstead, the director of the state’s office of educational technology.

Jump-Starting Technology

Several pots of federal economic-stimulus money are open to states and districts for educational technology.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:
$650 million for Enhancing Education Through Technology program (As of Jan. 15, the department reported that states had spent only $25.4 million of that money.)

$250 million for statewide longitudinal-data systems

• Some money for technology available under the $13 billion in Title I stimulus aid

• Some money for technology available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which is receiving $11.3 billion in stimulus funding

DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE AND AGRICULTURE:
$7.2 billion for programs to expand telecommunications, including broadband access, to rural areas

Source: Education Week

“It was a coup to get this money dedicated toward data because a lot of people don’t understand the importance of data-driven decisionmaking,” Mr. Umpstead said.

Maryland, too, is using part formula- and part competitive-grant funding.

“The competitive partnerships we’ve run have a more significant impact, rather than giving out bits of money to each little system,” said Jayne E. Moore, the director of instructional technology and school libraries at the Maryland Department of Education.

Ms. Moore said the state has three priority areas for competitive grants: open education resources; college and career readiness; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, education.

Since much of the EETT money has yet to reach districts, some are looking for a technology boost from extra stimulus funding for programs such as Title I, which received $13 billion in total stimulus aid, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which received $11.3 billion.

“There was a big push for cross-program collaboration,” said Jenelle V. Leonard, the director of school support and technology programs in the federal Education Department’s office of elementary and secondary education. “We were asking states to think outside of the box.”

Ron Saunders, the superintendent of the 12,400-student Barrow County district in Winder, Ga., said his district tapped Title I stimulus money to buy 260 new computers and 56 interactive whiteboards for its schools, all designated as Title I schools.

“If we hadn’t had the stimulus money, … we would have been hurting,” Mr. Saunders said. “It gave us the opportunity to go in and make some purchases for technology we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

In the 18,000-student North Kansas City, Mo., district, officials are tapping both Title I and IDEA stimulus funding for a variety of needs, including whiteboards for early-childhood classrooms and adaptive technology for special education students, said Janet Herdman, the district’s executive director of information and technology services.

“We would not have been able to do it without the stimulus money,” she said.

Districts and states are looking at other areas of the stimulus package as well. One example: $250 million for the development of state systems for data-management and -warehousing systems under the existing federal program for statewide longitudinal-data systems. The money has not been allocated yet, but states’ applications are being evaluated, said Aimee Guidera, the executive director of the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign.

“They’re pounding the same thing over and over again: You have to use data to inform other reforms,” Ms. Guidera said of Education Department officials. “It’s not just data for data’s sake.”

Other pockets of stimulus money are also available for technology spending if districts get creative through programs within the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture that are intended to expand telecommunications, including broadband access, to rural areas.

Coverage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is supported in part by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, at www.hewlett.org, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, at www.mott.org.

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. f we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Gunman in Parkland School Massacre to Plead Guilty
The gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at a Florida high school will plead guilty to their murders, his attorneys said.
4 min read
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is sworn in before pleading guilty, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on all four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, Cruz's lawyers said Friday that he plans to plead guilty to the 2018 massacre at a Parkland high school.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)