Despite a history of little or no state funding for technology education, New Hampshire forged ahead in 2004 with plans to form a network of regional centers where teachers can go for technology-related professional development.
According to Cathy Higgins, the educational technology consultant for the state education department, the Granite State now has six such centers in operation—up from four the previous year. Federal aid and money from local districts pay for the centers.
But the state has discarded plans to raise the number to 10. Instead, the centers have been equipped with videoconferencing facilities that extend their reach to more teachers. Higgins says some districts also used funds from the federal No Child Left Behind Act to create technology-based mentoring and induction programs for new teachers that are housed in the centers.
The state is in its final year of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant that has provided training in leadership and the use of educational technology for nearly half of New Hampshire’s school administrators. Higgins says the state is exploring ways to move the program, known as School Administrators Leadership Training, or SALT, to the regional professional-development centers when the money runs out.
The state school board finished tinkering last year with new school-approval standards aimed at strengthening K-12 students’ technology literacy, using technology to better teach core academic subjects, and recognizing and improving distance-learning programs. Similar to accreditation standards, the standards await state lawmakers’ approval.
Keeping educational technology efforts going in New Hampshire has been tough, though, with a two-person state educational technology office. Higgins says two staff positions were lost last year because of state budget cuts and dwindling grant resources.
The state also hasn’t expanded a privately financed laptop-computer initiative begun by Gov. Craig Benson, a Republican who lost his re-election bid in November 2004. Modeled after Maine’s larger, state-funded effort, the $1.2 million program provided laptops for 700 7th graders in six schools in 2004.