North Carolina’s educational technology fund decreased by about a third for fiscal 2005, to $5 million, a cut precipitated by a $1.3 billion overall state budget deficit.
Despite the budget constraints, state education officials are moving forward with plans for a student-database project, model school grants for educational technology, and after-school computer-literacy programs.
State leaders are also considering recommendations from the Business and Technology Alliance—an advisory committee of education officials, lawmakers, and business representatives—that North Carolina establish online-learning standards and an educational technology funding plan for kindergarten through graduate education, as well as a virtual high school to allow students greater access to academic courses online. A committee studying the feasibility of an online school began meeting in March 2005.
The state has begun rolling out its Web-based student-information-management system, North Carolina Window of Information on Student Education, or NC WISE, with about 40 schools getting connected each week. All schools in the state’s 118 districts, plus 98 charter schools, are expected to be using the system by 2007.
The database, which is projected to cost more than $200 million over 10 years, allows teachers and administrators to enter and track data for individual students and classrooms. Students can also have their transcripts sent to college admissions offices through the system.
In addition, the NC WISE system includes a database of online reference materials—called NC WISEOWL—to allow teachers and students access to a reference library, encyclopedias, periodicals, and curriculum resources.