CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia’s school technology policies and implementation strategies are among the best in the nation according to Technology Counts 2008: STEM, The Push to Improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The state received an overall score of 95.3 on the report, which ranks West Virginia at the top of the class for its use of technology.
Technology Counts 2008 examined the K-12 community’s response to the United States’ perceived failings in preparing young people to thrive in a high-tech global economy. Grading was based on 14 individual indicators spanning three core areas of state policy and practice: access to instructional technology, use of technology, and capacity to effectively use educational technology.
West Virginia received an “A” for access to technology. This category included the number of students in a classroom with a computer and the number of students per high-speed Internet connection. The state received an “A-” for the use of technology. This category rated each state’s use of virtual school courses and computer-based assessments. The state also received an “A” for the capacity to use technology. This category highlighted a state’s use of technology in teacher and administrator standards, license requirements and recertification requirements.
“While this report reinforces that we are on the right track, I am cautiously optimistic about our ranking in Technology Counts 2008,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “I applaud the policy and planning leadership of the West Virginia Board of Education, Governor Manchin, Senate Education Committee Chairman Bob Plymale and House Education Committee Chairwoman Mary Poling.”
In an effort to prepare all students to be competitive in the global marketplace, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has joined the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and launched the 21st Century Learning Initiative. As part of this initiative, West Virginia has adopted six elements of 21st century learning that focus not only on the basics like math, science and reading, but also on 21st century learning skills, including a foundation built with technology tools. In addition, the state has partnered with technology companies such as Intel, Oracle, SASinSchools and Verizon.
Despite the high marks on Technology Counts 2008, there is still a technology equity gap within our schools. West Virginia continues to face technology concerns such as bandwidth issues. Rural students do not have the same access to the Internet resulting in the lack of much-needed virtual school courses. All teachers do not have the technology tools they need in the classroom such as computers, LCD projectors and whiteboards. Teachers also need high-quality professional development so they can integrate technology into their daily lessons.
“At a time when less fortunate nations are investing in their educational systems, it is more important than ever that West Virginia makes educational technology a top priority,” Paine said. “Access to technology can be the great equalizer. It can connect our citizens to the world if they choose to live in a safe and beautiful state like West Virginia while thriving in the workplace.”
Technology Counts is published by Education Week, a weekly education magazine distributed nationwide. For more information on Technology Counts 2008, contact Liza Cordeiro, West Virginia Department of Education’s Communications Office, at (304) 558-2699.