West Virginia Technology Program Cited For Increasing Student Achievement
Posted: March 23, 1999
(Charleston, WV) -- West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education program has made a major impact on student achievement, as detailed in a study released today by researchers from Columbia University. Commissioned by the Milken Family Foundation of Los Angeles, an independent research team studied the effectiveness of the state's 10-year learning technology program that has placed computers in every kindergarten through sixth grade classroom.
"The objective of West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education program was to use the computer as a tool for improving the basic skills and to provide comprehensive teacher training on utilizing computers in the classroom," indicated State Superintendent Dr. Henry Marockie. "The results of this study clearly show that the investment of time, training and resources has reaped tremendous benefits in terms of student achievement."
The West Virginia program was cited for its effective use of technology that led directly to significant gains in math, reading and language arts skills. The study noted that educational gains through technology were cost-effective and increased socio-economic and gender equity.
"The turnkey solution, which coupled intensive professional development with the installation of standardized hardware and software truly made this program succeed," said Marockie. "Teachers embraced the technology because they were able to acquire the background, knowledge and expertise to make it happen." Marockie also credits the Office of Technology in the state Department of Education for the program success. "The staff members worked tirelessly to ensure swift and efficient implementation of computers and provided valuable training and support," Marockie noted.
West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education program was implemented in 1990 and is considered the nation's most comprehensive statewide approach to computer education. Since implementation, student scores have risen steadily on both the state standardized testing instrument and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In fact, in 1996 West Virginia was one of only two states cited in three categories of improvement in NAEP math achievement.
Two providers–IBM for the hardware which was standardized throughout the state–and IBM and Jostens Learning for the software–allowed teachers the choice to select packages that best fit their local needs and philosophy. "The partnerships forged with IBM and Jostens allowed West Virginia to create a dynamic standardized program that allowed choices and targeted specific basic skills needs across the state," Marockie noted.
"Financial support received from the West Virginia Legislature is an indication of the shared dedication to bringing technology into schools in an equitable way," Marockie emphasized. "The vision of former Gov. Gaston Caperton to implement the Basic Skills/Computer Education program...the leadership of Gov. Cecil Underwood to continue technology utilization into the secondary level...the steadfast commitment of the State Board of Education for higher standards and academic achievement...and the manner in which teachers and staff enthusiastically embraced the technology...have all contributed to West Virginia's national profile as a leader in technology."
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