Technology in the Classroom Paying Off
Previously, people used to think of technology in the classroom as a nice benefit. Computers and technological resources could be useful for some special projects, but they could not help improve student achievement and were ultimately costly. But with state and local education budgets under pressure and questions about student achievement front and center, administrators, parents, and teachers are now looking to advanced and increasingly less-expensive technology as a way to help address some of the current issues in education. One school district in particular, the Mooresville Graded School District, in Mooresville, NC stands out as an example of how technology can help improve student achievement in times of tightening budgets
According to the New York Times, “[Mooresville’s] graduation rate was 91 percent in 2011, up from 80 percent in 2008. On state tests in reading, math and science, an average of 88 percent of students across grades and subjects met proficiency standards, compared with 73 percent three years ago. Attendance is up, dropouts are down. Mooresville ranks 100th out of 115 districts in North Carolina in terms of dollars spent per student — $7,415.89 a year — but it is now third in test scores and second in graduation rates.”
How has Mooresville achieved these feats? The answer is technology, but not in the traditional sense of just adding computerized lessons to the curriculum. Instead, it is technology to enhance the fundamentals of education. Here, technology helps teachers enhance their instruction and reach new students. It also helps administrators find cost savings, spot issues, and develop new ideas for efficiency. Technology also allows for better connections between parents and their schools. As Karen Cator, a former Apple executive who is currently a director of educational technology for the United States Department of Education, says “[W]hat we see in Mooresville is the whole package: using the budget, innovating, using data, involvement with the community and leadership. There are lessons to be learned.”
It is case studies like this that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has, for years, had model policies to promote the use of broadband throughout the country, to connect public schools to the Internet, and to keep regulations light to ensure that schools are able to adopt technology. As Mooresville demonstrates, technology is not only a nice benefit, it can be an effective tool to improving the U.S. education system.