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W.Va. Department of Education Forms National Technology Team As Part of 21st Century Skills Initiative

March 09, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ The West Virginia Department of Education is blazing the 21st century trail with the establishment of a National Technology Team.  

The National Technology Team will give West Virginia educators advice and counsel as they develop a new statewide assessment that can measure how students use technology, their critical thinking and problem-solving skills and other higher level thinking skills, said Jorea Marple, assistant state superintendent over curriculum and instruction.  

“When we look to see what other states are doing, nobody else is doing this,” Marple said. “Clearly, we are taking the lead.”  

National Technology Team members include representatives Center for Applied Special Technology; Purdue University; National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student testing at University of California, Los Angeles; Education Development Center for Children and Technology; International Society for Technology in Education, among others. Edvantia, a not-for-profit education research and development corporation based in West Virginia, helped organize the technology team.  

“West Virginia has faced the brutal reality that we are actually seeing a slippage in our nation’s position in terms of leadership and innovation and workforce readiness,” said Don Knezek, CEO of International Society for Technology in Education and a technology team member. “West Virginia is stepping out there and getting serious about preparing students for their future and not our past.”  

The current generation of 18- to 38-year-olds will likely work an average of 10 jobs in their lifetime, compared to one or two jobs that their parents and grandparents held. As educators nationwide consider ways to address the need for 21st century learning, many are looking to West Virginia as a model.  

Earlier this year, TechLearning.com called West Virginia “a pioneer in spearheading a state-level push for the integration of 21st century skills.” The publication also applauded West Virginia Superintendent Steve Paine, Gov. Joe Manchin and state lawmakers for recognizing the need to teach children a broad range of skills to compete not only with other states but worldwide.  

Last year, Education Week recognized West Virginia for having the best educational technology system in the nation with a grade of A in its Technology Counts 2006: The Information Edge, Using Data to Accelerate Achievement ranked West Virginia as the top state for computer access, data use and technology capacity in schools statewide.  

In 2005, West Virginia became the second state in the nation behind North Carolina to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The group is made up of 26 members, including Adobe Systems Inc., Apple, Cisco Systems, Dell Inc. and Microsoft.  

"Teaching students can no longer be about how many facts can be memorized,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine said. “Students must be able to comprehend, problem solve and communicate solutions if they are expected to compete globally. To do that, we must have systemic change not only in what we teach but how we teach. Whether we like it or not, the jobs will go somewhere else if our children don’t have these skills.”

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