CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia has long been recognized as an educational leader when it comes to technology in the classroom. Yet, a report presented to the West Virginia Board of Education on Thursday shows that access to computers and other technology varies across the state.
“When we look at equity to access, all is not equal,” state Assistant Superintendent Jorea Marple said. “If you look at our surroundings, technology affects every single one of our lives. If we are making these technological changes as a society, we must make similar changes in the schoolhouse, too.”
The “21st Century Tools for 21st Century Schools” report concludes that $39 million is needed to upgrade hardware and software, increase bandwidth, expand professional development for educators and offer technical support to schools.
Board Vice President Priscilla Haden urged her colleagues on the board to consider making the $39 million shortfall a priority when they compile their legislative agenda later this year.
One of the goals is to have one computer for every three students at the high school level. Yet of the 137 facilities in West Virginia, only 32 high schools meet that ratio. Schools across the state also need more bandwidth. West Virginia schools already are using 87 percent of the available bandwidth, exceeding the recommended limit of 85 percent.
The technology upgrade falls right in line with the Department of Education’s 21st Century Learning initiative, which adds rigor, relevance and 21st century skills to the curriculum.
“Graduating students who can compete in the digital age is imperative,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “Students today face a world of jobs that require higher levels of reading, communication, math and problem solving than ever before. West Virginia is committed to closing the gap between the knowledge and skills students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need for the 21st century work place.”
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