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States Seen Lagging on Innovation, Technology

A report released yesterday gave most states Cs and Ds when it comes to educational innovation and technology, according to this story by my colleague Michele McNeil.

States are not reinventing education in ways that are necessary to tackle challenges of raising achievement and preparing students for the rigors of the workplace, the report concludes.

"The key to improving results will be to help schools not only to avoid mistakes, but to position themselves better to adopt imaginative solutions," states the overview of the report, "Leaders and Laggards". "In brief, for reform to take hold our states and schools must practice purposeful innovation."

For the most part, however, they are not doing so, according to the report, commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for American Progress.

The findings are based on state data, as well as existing and original research, according to the piece. Some of the research was conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which is affiliated with Education Week.

The report gives letter grades to states based on "seven indicators of innovation: school management, finance, hiring and evaluation of teachers, removal of ineffective teachers, data, "pipeline to postsecondary" (or high school quality), and technology."

The report states:

Our school system...is archaic and broken, a relic of a time when high school graduates could expect to live prosperous lives, when steel and auto factories formed the backbone of the American economy, and when laptop computers and the Internet were the preserve of science fiction writers. And while the challenges are many--inflexible regulations, excessive bureaucracy, a dearth of fresh thinking--the bottom line is that most education institutions simply lack the tools, incentives, and opportunities to reinvent themselves in profoundly more effective ways.

When it comes to technology, the report laments that state data systems provide only limited information on what's working in the nation's classrooms. More professional development is needed as well, according to the report, to help teachers take full advantage of the tech tools that are available. Indeed, the report set out to gauge states' return-on-investment in technology by looking at how it is used to "reduce costs, improve outcomes, or rethink education delivery," but found little data to do so.

Educators often give little thought to how technology might modernize education delivery and thus improve teaching and learning. Schools, for example, frequently purchase computers without clear learning goals--and eventually let them languish at the back of classrooms. Education leaders also have not taken advantage of technology to improve the management of education and make schooling cheaper and more efficient.

Here's an interactive map showing the technology results by state. There are similar maps for the other indicators as well.

In the end, states' ratings in the technology category were based on data that was available, such as access to technology, use of computer-based assessments, online learning programs, and teachers' proficiency with technology.

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