The Information Edge: Using Data to Accelerate Achievement

Education Week
May 2006

Education Week's special edition on technology in education is a treasure trove, at least for those who embrace technology and the potential for student learning that it can unleash. Besides its predictable statistics (the number of computers available per student in schools and classrooms, etc.), tech-junkies will enjoy reading about efforts to establish state-wide data systems and the challenges that these present. For example, nearly all states have created unique student and teacher identification codes that track individuals over time as they move within the state. But far fewer have linked these IDs to attendance and transcript information for students or to highly qualified status and salary rate for teachers. Among states that use data to drive policy, Florida leads the pack. The report's update on SIF (Schools Interoperability Framework)-a project to create a common set of rules, definitions, and specifications that will one day allow educational groups to share data-is also helpful. And for those with the patience to trek through the state-by-state write-ups, more goodies await. Other interesting findings include how many children per classroom have access to high-speed internet connections, and which states have established virtual schools. Whether one loves, loathes, or avoids technology, however, it's clear from this report that states are committed to collecting data and finding new and better ways of using it. No state received an F grade for its use of technology, though only two received As. Oh, and the state with the highest technology score is West Virginia, largely because of its wide implementation of virtual schools. It will be interesting to see if the Mountaineer State's embrace of computers leads to smarter kids. You can review the online report here.

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