Virginia’s efforts in online testing might help the state as it tries to finance technology in light of President Bush’s proposed fiscal 2006 budget, which calls for eliminating educational technology state grants.
For the 2004-05 school year, the state is contributing nearly $60 million in state educational technology funds to equip schools with the necessary technology to administer its online end-of-course Standards of Learning, or SOL, tests. Virginia high schools already have that technology in place, so the state is readying its elementary and middle schools with the appropriate technology. State funding for that purpose is expected to continue through 2009.
But Lan W. Neugent, the state’s assistant superintendent for technology, says he is dismayed by the president’s proposed cuts, because the state has relied on those federal dollars in the past to provide essential teacher training in the use of technology.
The state also started a program in the 2004-05 school year that will provide some support for teachers in the use of classroom technology. The state also set aside $3.8 million for the 2004-05 school year to help all schools hire an information-technology specialist for every 1,000 students. An additional $18 million will ensure that a technology-resource teacher, who will model classroom technology use and help teachers integrate technology into their curricula, is provided for every 1,000 students.
Virginia is also working with Pearson Educational Measurement, an Iowa City, Iowa-based company that provides various assessment services and products, to build its educational-information-management system. As part of the system, each student is assigned a testing identifier. To date, about a million students, out of some 1.3 million in the state, have received their identifiers, and state officials were hoping all students would have their identifiers by the end of April 2005.
The system will help the state organize student test data to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.