EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS AUTHORIZED UNDER THE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,

YOUTH AND FAMILIES

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND

THE WORKFORCE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

 

HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, MAY 11, 1999

 

Serial No. 106-34

 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce


TABLE OF CONTENTS *

OPENING STATEMEN OF CHAIRMAN MICHAEL CASTLE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC *

OPENING STATEMENT OF RANKING MEMBER DALE KILDEE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC *

STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, HARRISBURG, PA *

STATEMENT OF DR. HENRY MAROCKIE, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, WEST VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CHARLESTON, WV *

STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR DALE MANN, PROGRAM IN EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF ORGANIZATION AND LEADERSHIP, TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, NY *

STATEMENT OF DR. ROBERT MCNERGNEY, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP FOUNDATIONS AND POLICY, CURRY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, CHARLOTTSVILLE, VA *

STATEMENT OF MS. TERRI AUSTIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ORGANIZATIONAL DEPARTMENT, ANDERSON COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, ANDERSON, IN *

STATEMENT OF MR. BRUCE DROSTE, DIRECTOR, THE VIRTUAL HIGH SCHOOL, THE CONCORD CONSORTIUM, CONCORD, MA *

APPENDIX A - WRITTEN OPENING STATEMEN OF CHAIRMAN MICHAEL CASTLE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC *

APPENDIX B - WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, HARRISBURG, PA *

APPENDIX C - WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF DR. HENRY MAROCKIE, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, WEST VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CHARLESTON, WV *

 

 

 

HEARING ON EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS

AUTHORIZED UNDER THE ELEMENTARY AND

SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT (ESEA)

 

________________________________________

 

TUESDAY, MAY 11, 1999

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES,

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE,

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:38 p.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Michael Castle [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Castle, Goodling, Petri, McIntosh, Tancredo, Kildee, Owens, Payne, Scott, McCarthy, Sanchez, and Wu.

Staff Present: Robert Borden, Professional Staff Member; Mary Clagett, Professional Staff Member; Cindy Herrle, Professional Staff Member; Michael Reynard, Media Assistant; Kevin Talley, Staff Director; Shane Wright, Legislative Assistant; Dan Lara, Press Secretary; Alex Nock, Legislative Association, Education; June Harris, Education Coordinator; Roxana Folescu, Staff Assistant, Education, and Marshall Grigsby, Legislative Associate, Education.

 

OPENING STATEMEN OF CHAIRMAN MICHAEL CASTLE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC

 

Chairman Castle. [presiding] Good afternoon. I apologize for starting a little bit late, but as Mr. Kildee has said, by government standards, we're starting pretty much on time. Some of you are familiar with that out there.

I am Mike Castle, and I am the cchairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families. That is the Subcommittee that is meeting now. This is a hearing on education technology programs.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to our second hearing on this issue that is important to all of us, which, of course, is the education of our children, and how technology can be used to expand educational opportunities and improve student achievement for all students.

The first hearing that we held on this issue was conducted in my home State of Delaware. Mr. Kildee was kind enough to be there. At that hearing, we received testimony from Governor Tom Carper, Delaware Secretary of Education, Iris Metts, and nine other State and local leaders in our State's efforts to integrate technology into the classroom. The witnesses in Delaware told us of innovative programs and strategies that will lead Delaware schools into the next millennium. We learned a great deal from that hearing, and I look forward to learning a great deal from today's panel of witnesses.

We hope to come away from this morning's hearing with, not only an understanding of how different States and school systems are using technology to improve education, but also with recommendations of how we, at the national level, can better assist States and local communities to use technology to improve public schools.

Let me reiterate that for a moment, if I can. As you know, we are going to be reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the sections that primarily pertain to technology, but encompass almost all of the world of technology in schools. So, whatever recommendations you have, at any point, if you're reading your testimony and you're talking about your own program, and you have a brilliant idea about what we can do better here, please stop and give us that idea, because we're interested in whatever we can do to help deliver the services better, which is what you are doing at the State and local level.

In recent years, funding for education technology programs has dramatically increased at the national level. In fact, Federal funding for education technology programs authorized under title III of ESEA alone has increased, listen to this, from $52.6 million in Fiscal Year 1995 to $698 million in Fiscal Year 1999.

However, as part of that growing support, so many programs have sprung up that we are faced with a situation where there is inadequate coordination among the programs at the Federal level. Again, we're interested in comments on that.

This forces school administrators to waste hours of time and money, and in some cases, to hire consultants to fill out applications for federal education technology dollars. The United States General Accounting Office, which we often know as GAO, has reported that there are over 27 Federal programs administered by 5 different Federal agencies, which provide funding for education technology for K through 12 schools, and to libraries.

Federal assistance ranges from grants to States and local school districts for education technology authorized under ESEA, to tax incentives for corporate donations of computer technology for elementary and secondary education, to establishment of the E-rate.

The primary education technology programs that are under the jurisdiction of our Committee, however, are those authorized in title III of ESEA, including the National Challenge Grants for Technology in Education, and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund. However, if we are to be successful in providing the kind of assistance to States and local school districts that will be necessary for the continued successful integration of technology into the classroom, we must look beyond just the programs authorized under the technology title of ESEA.

We must find a way to consolidate, or at the very least, allow States and local school districts to integrate the different funding streams that are available for technology in ways that allow for a truly coordinated and cohesive education technology effort.

Support for education technology must lead to increased academic performance, not just the presence of new computers in the classroom, or access to the internet. Recent studies have found that education technology can have a positive impact on student achievement, but only when used by well-trained teachers. In fact, studies on the use of technology in the classroom stress the need for improved teacher training, the integration of technology into the education process, including curriculum development that effectively integrates technology, adequate access to technology, and careful planning.

While we are still in the process of determining what exactly we will do with regard to education technology as part of our consideration of ESEA this year, you can expect that technology will be a major focus of any reform. It is essential that any reforms in Federal education legislation get funding into the hands of local educators in the most efficient manner, so that they can determine the priorities and needs of their students.

The question is, what is the best way to support successful technology efforts at the State and local level? I invite you to work with us in development of the legislation to reauthorize ESEA, and particularly, on that portion of the legislation dealing with education technology. I look forward to your testimony. I know that it will be most helpful to us in our effort.

I will now turn to Mr. Kildee for his opening statement.

 

WRITTEN OPENING STATEMEN OF CHAIRMAN MICHAEL CASTLE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC SEE APPENDIX A

 

OPENING STATEMENT OF RANKING MEMBER DALE KILDEE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, DC

 

Mr. Kildee. Good afternoon. I am pleased to join Chairman Castle in welcoming our witnesses to the second of our Subcommittee hearings on education technology and our efforts to reauthorize title III educational technology programs.

I've been involved in these programs for 23 years, and you can imagine that things were quite different back then. Technology as we know it was really in its infancy back then. Technology in our classrooms, and our attempts to increase its access to disadvantaged children, is an essential component in raising the educational achievement of our nation's students. I taught for 10 years in an inner-city school where the technology improvements there really do make a difference.

No better example of technology's impact on student achievement is evidenced by the recently issued long-term study of the West Virginia Basic Skills/Computer Education Program, which we will hear about today. This study showed that technology was an important factor in helping students make significant gains in basic educational skills, and achieve to high standards. More importantly, the study found that West Virginia's technology program made its biggest impact on the neediest children, and rural children, and those children without computers at home.

These disadvantaged children showed the largest gains in student achievement, and this study found that the educational technology resources provided in schools was a major factor in accomplishing this feat. In our efforts to evaluate current Federal technology initiatives, we should not lose sight of the fact that simply placing technology in our classrooms is not enough. Teachers must have the knowledge and skills to integrate technology into everyday instruction and teaching.

I can go back to a really good example of why placing technology in the classroom with no support or training is a problem. I was teaching when Sputnik went up and that resulted in us getting a lot of equipment. Unfortunately the teachers were not prepared to use the equipment. That's one thing that we have to constantly examine.

Professional development in this area is critical to technology having a positive impact on student achievement, as is evidenced by the West Virginia study. As Governor Castle and I look at reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, including title III programs, and others that have a technology focus, I am interested in finding ways to better target technology to disadvantaged children, and coordinate existing ESEA programs to make them even more effective. In addition, on the top of our list should be strengthening of the professional development focus of these programs.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing, and look forward to the testimony of the witnesses.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Mr, Kildee. We appreciate your statement and look forward to hearing your questioning of the witnesses, as well.

 

Chairman Castle. Let me thank the other members of the Subcommittee for being here. You should know that we don't vote until 6:00, and we didn't start until today, so when you have any members of any Subcommittee here, it is always a bonus as far as I'm concerned. So, we appreciate their efforts to be here on time for this.

Let me just basically explain to youthe ground rules. There is a green, a yellow, and a red light. The green is on for four minutes, the yellow for one, and the red for five minutes. Now, at five minutes, I'm not going to hit the gavel particularly hard, but if you can start thinking about winding down at that point, it would be helpful.

Somebody here has a tape, is that right? Mr. Droste has a tape that is about eight minutes long, and what we've decided to do is to play the tape probably after we go through the opening statements and some of the questions. That is for two reasons. One is because of time. I think it is about eight minutes long.

Secondly, we're having a hearing on technology, and we're not sure we have the technology to play that tape quite yet. We're trying to work it out right now. I may not be the right person to hold this hearing. My wife went away and I decided to watch Godfather II, which she had never wanted to see, which I had a tape of, and we had a new VCR, and I got it all set up on a Friday night, and I hit the button, and I never could turn it on. I still have yet to watch that movie. So, maybe I'm not quite the right person, but hopefully we can straighten out policy even if we can't run machinery around here.

 

Mr. Kildee. When will we have our first long distance testimony in Washington, DC?

[Laughter.]

 

Chairman Castle. That's right. We'll try to do a little better when we do the distance testimony. I have to testify that way in Delaware next week.

We're pleased you're all here, let me just say that in general. You are, indeed, experts. You can help us a great deal in what we're doing. We're going to have questions for you. Each member is entitled to ask questions for five minutes, and if they want more, we'll try to give them a little more. The questions may be different than the things that you're going to talk about. As I said, we're very interested, always, in what is the Federal role in all of this, and what we should be doing.

This is a distinguished group, and the first person who will speak -- I'll go through all of the introductions first, and then I'll turn to you for your five minutes -- will be Secretary Eugene Hickok, who is sitting to my left. He is the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; he will testify about the use of technology in Pennsylvania's public school system. In particular, the Secretary will explain how Pennsylvania's Link-to-Learn program has become a central part of the Commonwealth's school reform efforts. Secretary Hickok and Governor Tom Ridge have lead ambitious education reform efforts in Pennsylvania that tie the integration of technology into the classroom with high academic standards for all students.

Next will be Dr. Henry Marockie, Superintendent of Schools for the State of West Virginia, who will describe how West Virginia has encouraged the effective use of technology in its schools. In particular, he will describe how the use of technology in West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education program has led to significant student achievement gains in math, reading, and language arts. Through Dr. Marockie's leadership, West Virginia has become a leader among States in improving its schools and making significant gains in student achievement.

Professor Dale Mann, from the Teachers College at Columbia University, will testify about the results of studies that he has conducted in West Virginia, Colorado, and New York, on how the use of education technology has positively impacted student achievement.

Professor Robert F. McNergney, from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, will testify about the importance of preparing teachers in the area of education technology in both pre-service and in-service teacher education programs. Dr. McNergney will also describe what Virginia is doing to prepare its teachers in the area of education technology.

I'm going to turn to Congressman McIntosh for the next introduction.

 

Mr. McIntosh. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding this hearing on the critical issue of technology use in the school room. It gives me great pleasure today to introduce to the Committee Terri Austin, who is the Executive Director for Organizational Development and Quality Improvement, for the Anderson Community School Corporation, which is in my district in Anderson, Indiana.

In this capacity, Terri serves as the project director for Anderson Community Technology Now, or ACT Now Project, which is an exciting, bold, and innovative program chartering a successful course for children in Indiana into the 21st century.

Frankly, I have to tell you that when I first got to know about the ACT Now project, I realized this is exactly what the future of our education system should be. It is a productive partnership between local and State education leaders, our higher education institutions, and the business community, with the goal of raising the academic achievement of over 3,000 under-challenged and at-risk students in Anderson.

I first heard about it when the chamber came, very excited, to me, and said, "We are in the process of raising $2.5 million for a challenge grant to get computers to our middle school students in Anderson in the most underprivileged neighborhoods."

The program has been a success in that it provides improved teaching practices, increases the community and parental involvement, and the focus on technology, specifically computers, is developed. This is a very precious resource for the school system. Everyone has been a winner in the program. The school's can give a better education; the student's get a better education; our community and State gain from better trained workers in the future; and I'm looking forward to hearing what Terri has to say.

I also want to mention that her superintendent, Ms. Jane Kendrick, of the Anderson Community Schools, was very much responsible for this. Her vision, and seeing how this matching grant program could work for Anderson, was one that I welcomed greatly when talking to her about it. So, I look forward to hearing her testimony, and, once again, I would urge the Committee Members to pay attention very closely today to what we can do on technology.

I'm pleased that the Chairman, in his remarks, indicated this would be a very important part of our reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, next year. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Congressman McIntosh. We appreciate that kind introduction.

Our final witness will be Mr. Bruce Droste, who is the Director of the Virtual High School, headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts. He will describe the Virtual High School project, and how the Concord consortium has utilized funding under title III of ESEA to carry out this program. We welcome all of you here today, and now we'll turn to Secretary Hickok.

 

STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, HARRISBURG, PA

 

Secretary Hickok. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today to discuss the exciting and innovative things that are happening in Pennsylvania and all across this country with regard to educational technology.

We in Pennsylvania feel that technology is a major tool that is changing how we deliver education for all of our citizens. Governor Ridge has made technology a very high priority for Pennsylvania. The budget that he signed just last week continues a historic commitment to education technology by earmarking an additional $34 million in a budget on top of a three-year initiative of over $132 million called Link-to-Learn, a technology program that, quite literally, has brought technology into all of our classrooms, all of our libraries, all of our community centers, and connecting all of those to the rest of the world.

We argue, pretty consistently, that technology is a tool, and the goal for educational technology, is, quite simply, to improve academic performance. That has always been our goal in Link-to-Learn; that has always been our goal under educational technology. And, we now know, and I'm sure others on this panel will agree, that technology can, indeed, if smartly used, improve academic achievement.

I point to just one school district in Pennsylvania, Penn-Delco, just outside of Philadelphia. At one point in time, they had a persistent problem with fourth grade math students who were not performing at acceptable levels, and they had tried every strategy, every teaching technique, every curriculum device they could find. Nothing seemed to be working. So, they decided to look at technology. Established a clear goal. Developed technology plans designed to empower their teachers and offer customized learning for each individual fourth grader through technology. Using State and Federal title III funding, they purchased computers, installed a network to connect them to the internet, acquired an integrated learning system aligned with both State and national academic standards, trained their teachers, and the results were nothing short of stunning.

Students spending about 15 minutes per day using the technology demonstrated remarkable improvements. Teachers found that they were able to deliver more customized instruction for each individual student, and at a time when we're talking about class size as a major issue, this is something to think about, how technology can help customize learning even in a large classroom.

Teachers were excited. Students were excited. Parents were excited. The most telling thing is the phenomenal rise in student standardized test scores, more than 30 percent in one year. Teachers in this district are now able to spend time doing what they do best, teaching, ameliorating the need for lower class sizes.

Now, as has already been said by members of the committee, we would agree that the single most important factor in effective use of technology is teacher preparation and professional development. We know that teachers are eager to use these new tools, but we also know they need professional development help on how to use them. Professional development is a very important part of what Pennsylvania does. Every one of our grants requires a professional development component.

On our website, which gets approximately one million hits a month, we have over 3,000 pages of lesson plans, guides, tutorials, case studies. We're working with Indiana University of Pennsylvania on a professional development plan with technology and preparation for in-service for vocational-technical instructors.

We believe that it is critical that professional development be a major component in everything we do in educational technology. We also think, as we look at what we did with The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, that you develop ways to make sure that, as you said, Mr. Chairman, you coordinate our efforts. It is one thing to develop funding and deliver material at the school district. But, it needs to be systemic, state-wide, coordinated, so that there is a way to make sure that at the end of the day, you, indeed, have a system that is emerging, and not just pockets of success.

We have a plan in Pennsylvania. Schools first must identify an education goal, and then outline a plan to use technology to meet that goal. Again, the point here is education, not just technology. We don't want to have a wish list. We want to have complete successes.

Second, schools are required to share the technology with the community and use it after school and during the summer months, leveraging the investments in schools with community investments and community assets.

Finally, all schools must provide professional development to train teachers in how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom.

In many ways, we look at all of what we do, including title III, as technology venture capital funds. Ways to take public funds and attract community support and private support so that you institutionalize at the community level a sense of the importance of technology in education, as it benefits the community, as well as the schools.

To do that, we want to make sure that schools have flexibility. One of the great assets about public education in this country is that every community has its own unique characteristics. One of the things that we want to do with technology is make sure that it reflects the concerns of the individual communities, while we also are consistent in the ways those communities connect across the Commonwealth.

A great example of that was a vocational-technical school in Pennsylvania, Sun VoTech. Governor Ridge was recently just given a computer in his office that was constructed completely by students at the vocational-technical school, and, indeed, they're doing that as a small, but growing, enterprise, not just in their region, but across the State. It is a tremendous investment in both education, workforce development, and economic development within the State.

As a result, 1,000 students have been trained and will build 3,000 computers at a cost of roughly $600 per computer; a 44 percent savings. That is leveraging an investment. You're getting a computer, but you're also getting talented, trained individuals, and those individuals then go immediately into high paying jobs in the private sector.

We've also harnessed the flexibility of title III to develop a new program called Digital Grassroots. Looking at what some other States and other nations are doing, we provide mini-grants for students to design and develop websites featuring unique aspects of their community. There again, this has a multi-tiered effect. It gets the students engaged in learning how to do technology, skills that will be used far into the next century. It also provides workforce development skills for them. It also is a way for students to connect with the world in which they live. It takes them beyond the classroom, while they don't even have to leave the classroom.

So, I think that illustrates the kind of dynamic potential we have here. Technology has been our primary tool to perform an aggressive agenda on academic standards, on professional development, on teacher preparation, on alternative certification. Virtually everything we do. I shouldn't stop without commenting on the fact that it is becoming a more vital part of how higher education connects to basic and secondary education. Trying to create that seamless web from K through graduate school as we emerge with a new approach to education in the 21st century.

I would encourage, as you consider the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, that you adopt the principle of empowering the States. Our children are best served if you enable the States, working with parents, and teachers, and school boards, and concerned citizens, at the grassroots level, to direct Federal resources where they are needed most. We agree that one size fits all is an inadequate approach to all of education, and we would encourage, as you go down this road, to consider ways to free up the energy at the local level with the kind of outstanding support that you've given to educational technology. Thank you.

[The statement of Secretary Hickok follows:]

 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, HARRISBURG, PA SEE APPENDIX B

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Secretary Hickok. The technology gods are not smiling on us today.

[Laughter.]

We're having trouble getting any kind of a green light on this. My handy little Timex still works. I'll time the five minutes, and then we'll give you a little rap signal or something like that. We'll just skip that machine, I think. After all, it involves three whole lights; it is a little complex for us here in Congress. Dr. Marockie, we look forward to your testimony, sir.

 

STATEMENT OF DR. HENRY MAROCKIE, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, WEST VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CHARLESTON, WV

 

Dr. Marockie. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in the hearing today. Congressman Kildee, we're delighted to hear of your experiences in the classroom way back when.

Our project started in 1989, when we were advised that technology would never work in the classrooms because teachers were too fearful and would never use computers. That statement was made by a major vendor in this country in 1989. So, it tells you how far public education has come in those short years.

We've had great support from two Governors in West Virginia, Governor Caperton and now Governor Underwood, in support of the technology initiative. It started out as a program, very limited in focus, designed specifically for three areas of the instructional program; reading, language arts, and mathematics. We did not want a broad scope. We wanted it as a tool for teachers to be able to use it as a tool to teach those three things, and we were very concerned, as the Congressman pointed out, about the disadvantaged youngsters that were falling behind in everything, not just technology, because we had none.

We're very delighted to report today that that is the grouping of youngsters that was helped the most in all of this program. We are now affecting some 160,000 students in the State of West Virginia with this program, because we can delightfully say that in kindergarten through the sixth grade, every classroom in the State of West Virginia has four computers with a trained teacher using technology as a tool in order to improve the basic skills. My good colleague on my left, Dr. Mann, who has done the great study, will reiterate more of that in the meantime.

We use a turnkey approach, which meant that all of the hardware, all of the software, and all of the training, were a part of the package for the professional development of teachers before they received the box in their room. One of the things that we had learned earlier in the game was that many people receiving computers in their classroom, not only as we heard before, were untrained to use them, and we wanted to avoid that. With the turnkey solution, we were able to do that.

We've had tremendous increases in student performance in our own standardized test scores, but more importantly than that, our youngsters are competing on the national level with then NAEP exam. On a report recently given to NAGB before the NAEP scores, in three different categories of States, only two States in the country met all three achievement levels of mathematics; one was North Carolina, and we're proud to say the other was West Virginia. We attribute much of that to the improvement of the basic skills, because the youngsters at the bottom of the level were improving, and, subsequently, the rest of it is improving, the youngsters at the upper level.

The second part of the program in West Virginia is also very intriguing, and that is the partnership with IBM on an IBM reinventing grant. We've selected the best mathematics lesson plans in the State. We had a group of experts from the teaching classrooms come into us, jury the lesson plans, and find out which were the best lesson plans, utilizing the best and single teacher in West Virginia who has met the standards for the National Professional Development Board, the Standards Board. She's the lead teacher in websiting those lesson plans all across the State of West Virginia in mathematics, with tremendous response, so much so that those responses are now going to language arts, social studies, and science.

We also had a study done by the Children for Technology of New York City. Analyzing that study finding increasing student motivation, participation and achievement with the greatest impact from the traditionally poor students who have not had access to that kind of instruction.

We truly are, in West Virginia decreasing the digital divide between poor and disadvantaged children, and the affluent students who have had the access to these things in the past. Without a doubt, Federal funding for technology has enabled West Virginia to make tremendous strides in providing learning technology in classrooms all across the State.

Your Federal title III programs which support State and educational technology are well targeted to the pivotal components of education reform. Our plans for technology and professional development are integrated with State and local plans for the reform package. We have the Federal priority of technologies. All Federal programs are integrated with State programs, and we also use the initiatives of the Federal legislation, title VI for innovative strategies, the Eisenhower math and science programs, Goals 2000 money, title I monies, and especially now, the comprehensive school reform monies, which you have now allowed us to use with the respect to programs.

The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, which has been mentioned here earlier, in our first go-around with that. Seventy-five percent of the districts in the State of West Virginia applied for the money. We now anticipate 95 percent to anticipate grant renewal. We are affecting 30,000 students in the State of West Virginia with that particular project.

More than 50 percent of the funding through the Technology Literacy grants was used for local education agencies to further implement the successful basic skills component. I think it is a great demonstration on a partnership between IBM and Jostens, the State of West Virginia, and also utilizing Federal and State funds for the benefit of that particular project. I strongly urge you to continue the technology funding under title III, part A of ESEA, and I strongly encourage you to make the States major players in the part of the distribution because of the fact that in a place like the State of West Virginia, or in any State, I'm convinced that much of the expertise and resources can be available to those places in a single position, as compared to each individual entity doing it out there on their own where they're lacking for those expertise and resources.

We've done some studies in West Virginia where we have allowed the largest system in the State to go through the bidding process for the purchase of computers. We have found that we are able to save significant amounts of monies on purchasing those equipments by using the State system.

Lastly, let me conclude by saying that, while I don't think it may be a part of this program, I happen to have the privilege of serving on the USAC Board, Schools and Libraries Division, whereby last year, in the first cycle, we've been able to distribute $1.6 billion of funding to schools and libraries across the States in this country. What's happening with those monies is that libraries are being connected to schools. It is making a major impact, and I would strongly encourage you to keep the State role effective with that in the next distribution.

I thank you for the opportunity to participate. In closing, I just want to keep the thing before you, which is to keep the State role because it has a major part to play in the distribution of the grants, and the receipt of those grants in the States. I thank you very much,

[The statement of Dr. Marockie follows:]

 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF DR. HENRY MAROCKIE, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, WEST VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, CHARLESTON, WV SEE APPENDIX C

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Dr. Marockie. We appreciate your testimony. Now we'll turn to Professor Mann.

 

STATEMENT OF PROFESSOR DALE MANN, PROGRAM IN EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF ORGANIZATION AND LEADERSHIP, TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, NY

 

Professor Mann. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In the last three years, I've had an opportunity to conduct three studies of the effect of instructional technology on student achievement on the notorious variable of test scores. The first of the studies relates the amount of technology to the amount of gain in student test scores. The second of the studies is that one that Dr. Marockie has just referenced, the work in West Virginia, which is a look at a multi-year and comprehensive program, focused on basic skills acquisition. The third of the studies that I'd like to speak to very briefly has to do with using technology to connect schools, homes, and schools.

With respect to the first study, it is based in a part of New York State that was more impacted by the closing of military bases than any other jurisdiction in America, the area around Verona, New York. Fifty-five school districts had spent money that they were worried about having spent, and they wanted to know what difference technology investment had made. Based on an analysis of 6,000 students, teachers, and administrators, we were able to determine that as those districts spent more money on instructional technology, they also had an opportunity to get more gains in the achievement of their children.

The interesting thing to me is that the gains were the most clear where I would least have expected them, the Regents test scores. The Regent scores are those that have to do with the performance of secondary school kids. In both Regents english and in Regents math, there were gains of approximately 8 percent, not only in the number of young people taking those tests, but also in the number of young people passing those tests.

So, the first of the analysis relates the simple matter of betting on technology, and what a difference it makes for children. The second of the studies was the one that Commissioner Marockie had spoken to already, it is West Virginia, which I regard as one of the most interesting and potentially illuminating studies available among the American States.

In West Virginia, we looked at the gains of children who had had the benefit of this program over six years. It was a follow through strategy that began when they were in kindergarten, and then, essentially, saturated the children's classrooms as they moved up the grades. If you look at the fifth-grade children, 10 percent of the increases in their performance are clearly associated with instructional technology. If you look at what schools can do, as much as a third of the school available growth comes from instructional technology.

With respect to a particular interest of many Members of the Committee, the effect of instructional technology on equity issues, I am delighted to report that in West Virginia we have evidence to indicate that that program helped those children most who had no computers at home. So, the children who lacked the opportunity to work with computers in their homes were most improved by the access to computers at schools, and, in a second and related finding, which also astonishes me, children who were African-American learned the same things, at the same rates, and had the same stability as did other children. In a world in which, for 30 years, we have been expecting to find differences across the races in school achievement, I am delighted to say that it appears to be that we know how to put these things together to help all children learn.

The West Virginia example is, I believe, particularly illuminating because, not only did it help all children learn, it moved the State. West Virginia began by being 33rd of the ranked American States on school achievement, and it is currently 17th. It has out performed all other comparable States.

The third of the three studies that I want to speak to very briefly is one which uses technology to connect tools and homes. Mr. Castle, I know that in Delaware, you've had an opportunity to look at the Lightspan Partnership, which replaces the child's backpack. If your children are anything like my children, their backpack's are filled with worksheets from four years ago which have nothing to do with the homework tonight. In the instance of the Lightspan Partnership, there is a CD-ROM which is launched in the classroom, which then goes home, and it is enough fun that both the parents and the children work on the homework together.

In this instance in Adams 50, Colorado, a district which is a mixed-income district, we had three schools using this kind of technology to connect schools and homes, and three schools without it. Every school that used this technology surpassed the achievement of every other school. Fourteen points gained in math, 8 points in reading, and children in the lowest quartile, the children who historically have been hardest to reach, were benefited the most.

When I look across these studies at the kinds of generalizations that seem possible, it seems to me that there is CDS technology. That means concentrated technology, distributed technology, and sustained technology. With respect to concentration there is a critical mass at work here. If we sprinkle too few computers before too many children, it won't make a difference. West Virginia begins to show us, as does Pennsylvania, what a critical mass is like.

The second thing is distributed technology. I believe that it is particularly important to get the technology, not only before the teachers, but into the hands of the children, and into the hands of the children across the school day, which suggests to me that the most powerful places that the technology should be, are in classrooms.

The final of the three things that I think are noteworthy here is sustaining support. With the Chair's permission, I'd like to make a personal aside. Thirty-four years ago, when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first being considered, I was a very junior person in the then Office of Education, and had the opportunity to work on this legislation, and from the back of rooms like this. In West Virginia, the legislature there sustained its support of this over seven years, and that kind of continuity is what makes a difference.

This Committee's attention, and this Committee's willingness to add instructional technology to that which it supports, is making a real difference for the children. Thank you, sir.

[The statement of Professor Mann follows:]

 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF PROFESSOR DALE MANN, PROGRAM IN EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF ORGANIZATION AND LEADERSHIP, TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, NY SEE APPENDIX D

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Professor Mann, we appreciate that. Now, Dr. McNergney.

 

STATEMENT OF DR. ROBERT MCNERGNEY, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP FOUNDATIONS AND POLICY, CURRY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, CHARLOTTSVILLE, VA

 

Dr. McNergney. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say that technology reminds me of baseball. I'm sure that many of you know of Casey Stengel's rich record. He managed the New York Yankees for 12 or 13 years, and he ended his career managing the Mets. I think it was about 1965. Mr. Owens probably knows that a lot of fine careers were ended with the Mets, but Stengel was a very keen observer of talent, and had a rye wit, and a reporter asked him one afternoon about a couple of 20-year old ball players that he had, and wanted to get Casey's assessment of these ball players. Stengel replied, "that fellow over there, Ed Kranepool, in 10 years that guy has a chance to be a real star. That other guy, in 10 years he's got a chance to be 30."

In a sense, what I'm going to argue is that we don't want to let today's teachers and children grow up just having a chance to get older, imagining what it is like to be proficient with technology. We've got to support them now. Time is a key variable here, and I think there are three factors that would be useful to consider; talent, opportunity, and support. I'll speak to each one of those briefly.

Talent: We know that people from all sorts of neighborhoods and communities have the talent to learn about and with technology. Literature on the use of technology is burgeoning, and there is a very, very fine review of the research literature done by Andrew Dillon and Ralph Gabbard from Indiana University. In brief, they conclude the following: that the benefits of emerging technologies are limited to the kind of learning that depends on repeated manipulation and searching of information; moreover, these benefits differ according to learner's abilities, and to their preferred learning styles.

Clearly, the research is only beginning to provide solid leads for practice. I have not read Dale Mann's results of the West Virginia study, but we're beginning to see some leads from the research, but that takes a long time. I think that we also know that technology does have positive effects on learning. We can say that with confidence. But, the other thing that I think we should be careful of is to note that technology is not a panacea.

Increasingly, however, talent is becoming the ability to integrate teaching and learning with technology, and you've mentioned that here today. The phrase, computer literacy, is being replaced or supplanted by the phrase, computer fluency. The computer science and telecommunications board makes evident this challenge, "Literacy is too modest a goal in the presence of rapid change, because it lacks the necessary staying power." I believe that is what you were talking about, Dale.

"People fluent with information technology are able to express themselves creatively, to reformulate knowledge, and to synthesize new information. Fluency with information technology entails a process of lifelong learning in which people use technology to learn professionally, as well as personally."

Number two, opportunity: There are about 1,300 colleges of education that prepare teachers, pre-service teachers. There are 200,000 pre-service teachers enter the market every year. The turnover rate of teachers in the first five years is rather phenomenal, and there are about another one million teachers out there just poised to retire. When you combine those facts with the fact that there are between 2.2 and 2.4 million teachers, depending on how you count them, out there in the workforce now as in-service teachers needing professional development, the challenge of supporting teachers to work with technology intelligently is daunting; there is no question about it.

As chairman of the AACTE, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Technology Committee, I've had a chance to work with and meet a lot of people around the country who are trying to help teachers do a better job, both pre-service and in-service, using technology with their students.

I can say, just as an informal observation, that there are very few programs, institutions, or people, who really have the capacity to help teachers use technology to the fullest. There are simply too many demands on their time, and there are not enough opportunities to be able to help teachers and other educators in-service learn how to use technology.

I think that the Education Department's new initiative called Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technologies, seems like a really worthwhile move. It is a little early to say because, of course, it hasn't been funded yet, but it is an attempt to try to create consortia, to try to bring people together. This job is much too big to allow colleges or universities or school districts to go it alone, even if they had the support, they couldn't do it. We need to bring people together from across American society to bear on these problems of using technology.

Point number three, and my final point; support: Standards for technical competence, both for teachers and students, abound. We've got them in Virginia. School districts from Fairfax to Danville are really responding with great vigor, and doing so admirably to try to meet these standards. But, standards aren't going to do the trick. People need support if they're going to be successful. They need to have a chance to work with other people who have some skills and abilities, and, of course, they need access to machines, and to the internet, and to support, generally.

At the University of Virginia, our pre-service teachers use technology in every semester of their five-year teacher education program, from foundations, to methods, to fetal experiences. They've got a chance to do lots of different kinds of things, but they have a lot of support there to be able to do it. They're good people, and they work very hard, but they've got a lot of support there.

We also try to prepare in-service teachers and principals working together with us to teach online. We teach online together, and we study cases or problems of teaching and learning, much as they do in business school, or law school, or medical school. Trying to bring to bear some of the pedagogy from other professional fields to help people become successful in the use of technology.

Teachers take advantage of these opportunities because they have a chance to do that, and they have the support, and, we believe it is doing some good things, but we have a long way to go to at the University of Virginia.

When the reporter asked Casey Stengel about managing, Stengel replied, "managers are people who get paid for other home runs that other people hit." In fact, I think that good leaders today, both in government, and in education, really can support other people to be winners and to be stars with technology, but it is going to take your support, and our support, to help teachers do that. I encourage you to please provide more support for professional development for teachers so that they can have an opportunity to model for young people the way that young people should use technology in their own lives. Thank you very much,

[The statement of Dr. McNergney follows:]

 

 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF DR. ROBERT MCNERGNEY, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP FOUNDATIONS AND POLICY, CURRY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA, CHARLOTTSVILLE, VA SEE APPENDIX E

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Dr. McNergney. We appreciate your testimony. Ms. Austin, we've finally worked our way down to you, or up to you is, perhaps, a better way of putting it.

 

STATEMENT OF MS. TERRI AUSTIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ORGANIZATIONAL DEPARTMENT, ANDERSON COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, ANDERSON, IN

 

Ms. Austin. Thank you, Chairman Castle. For the past three-and-a-half years, I've had the opportunity to serve as project director for the Anderson Community Technology Now, which was one of the original 19 Federal Technology Innovation Challenge Grants projects that were awarded when the program was first launched.

Before I begin to address how technology has been utilized to advance school reform in Anderson, and specifically, in our Challenge Grant Project, I would like to just give you a real quick glimpse of our district as a whole, because I think context is important.

Anderson is a K-12 public school system in central Indiana. We are the 12th largest urban district in the State. We have a student population of 10,693 students, and employ approximately 777 certified teaching staff members and administrators. We have 15 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 2 high schools, a vocational-technical school, and 2 alternative school programs.

The percentage of students who are eligible for the National Free and Reduced Lunch Program range from 11 percent in some schools, to 92 percent in others. Our student mobility rates also range from 24 percent to 73 percent, and that is the moves in and out of kids in a single year.

In October, we were awarded one of the original 19 Technology Innovation and Challenge Grants from the Department of Education. Our original consortium included three state universities, four non-profit agencies or institutions, our own Indiana Department of Education, two for-profit businesses, and our local workforce development agencies.

The project combined $2.5 million in project partner funds, $1.3 million from our own school corporation, and $3.1 million that we were awarded through the Federal funds. The ACT Now Project combines some of the most innovative technology models and resources available at the local and State level into a single project, and that is coupled with the aggressive, systemic reform efforts of our own district. I think that is what is important to remember. We've been recognized at state and national levels, publication, conferences, as a demonstration of how the resources and synergy of collaboration and partnerships can be leveraged to impact an entire community.

The partnership contributions and the Federal funds have supported a comprehensive array of initiatives, and they're all designed to improve the quality of the learning experiences that we give to students. In addition to the purchase and installation of computers, the project has also included extensive professional development and technology training for teachers. I see those as two different things, sometimes. We included curriculum development; summer technology camps for students and their families; family technology training sessions that have been led by teachers, parents, and students alike; distance learning opportunities for middle school students; and implementation of the buddy system project which lends computers to students in grades four through eight who don't have a computer at home already.

We've also started a community technology center at our local public library, because we knew we needed to educate an entire community, not just the students about the powers of technology for learning.

A portion of the Federal funds that we were awarded have helped to support the activities of the Buddy System Project. Through Buddy we were able to extend the time used for learning beyond the normal six hour day, into the homes of the students and their families. We've provided, at this point, up to 800 take-home computers for students in grades 4 through 8 in 5 of our poorest elementary schools, and all 3 of our middle schools. Now there is no child in Anderson community schools who was not touched by this project, at least for 3 years during their educational career, and that gets to the consistency and longevity issue.

I think it is important to note that the 800 computers that are issued through Buddy are impacting over 3,000 kids K-12, because it is a family computer, and it is also impacting the parents and the guardians of the children themselves.

One of the things that we have found through district surveys and data that we've gathered, is that although the price of computers is more competitive than ever before, for a large segment of our population they are still out of reach. I think we need to take that into account, and I hope you will as you think about the reauthorization of ESEA, title III.

We're using Buddy to close the gap between those students and families that can afford to be a part of the information highway, and those who cannot. Security and care of the home units has not been a problem. Parents must attend mandatory training sessions to be eligible for participation in the Buddy system project, and the computers are issued on a leasing basis of $20 per semester. We found that creating some financial obligation created a stronger sense of ownership and buy-in to the project. Schools can take payments. Families can pay $5 a month, however it fits for their own family budget.

We've also, just recently for the past two summers, extended the home computers through the summer months, because that is often a down time for student learning, and families lease them through the summer for the same price as well. We know, and the families know, that if they move from the school district, or from one of the participating schools, that the computers must be returned, and that has not been a problem. They sign a liability agreement ensuring that the computers will be well cared for, and the completion of school assignments must be given first priority.

Finally, all families are also provided free internet access through our own local school corporation's dial-up server.

The evaluation data, based on reports from parents, students, and teachers, indicate that the children's engagement in learning has increased beyond the normal school day. Television watching is down. Time spent completing homework assignments and just gathering data and information for school projects is up, and the kids are working very hard, as are the parents, to increase their own technology, skills, and knowledge.

Some families have used their home technology to go back to school and advance their own educational levels. We have approximately 62 percent of our population in Anderson has a high school diploma or below. Our next evaluation focus will be on student achievement as measured through standardized tests and performance based measures. We're in the process of gathering that data. It will be in part of our performance report this year.

Our own local school corporation funds went to support the extension of our wide area network into classrooms, and the installation of five computers for student use in individual classrooms, as well. So, there is a strong connection between what goes on a school, and the purpose for the technology at home, which is a switch for us, because, primarily, we relied on a lab based approach for technology prior to the implementation of ACT Now.

The problem is, if you use labs, and sometimes you actually need both in schools, but it is like keeping the pencils down the hall, and everyone can use them for 25 minutes a week if you're lucky enough to get on the schedule. Teachers are also provided with a computer and a printer that they can choose to either keep at school or take home as a part of the project activities. We have found that that has given us a tremendous return on our staff development dollars and impact, because the teachers use the technology at home to practice what they've learned, to design better lessons for students. We've logged over 8,000 hours of professional development and technology training by the teachers and staff in this project.

The teachers have focused on using the Indiana content standards as the basis for their technology integration efforts. The classroom cluster has helped us to promote a new model of technology in schools, one that is more student focused, and more easily integrated into their daily curriculum. We've also found that, to increase family involvement in the learning process, and improve communication between teachers and principals, every student in this project has been given a email account, as well as all of our district staff. What has been very powerful is when the teachers report that they've gotten e-mails from their students. They get e-mails from family members. Family members are beginning to set up their own little networks and support groups with one another.

Another valuable partnership within this project is the local public library, and our joint development of the community technology center. CTC is located in the main branch of the Anderson public library in downtown Anderson. It was launched in April 1996, and is supported by Federal contributions, school corporation resources, and the library's own revenue. Although it started with only 10 computer stations with internet access, we quickly found, by the fall of 1996, that we had outgrown our capacity, and after school you would find students who didn't have access to technology using the computers to finish their own assignments. The library offers free technology training sessions to the public, and we've got a lot of data that shows how successful that has actually been.

Today, the community technology center offers 32 computers, 20 through Federal funds, and 12 through library revenues and other grants, along with an assortment of software and over 300 CD-ROMs for public use.

In 1998, at least 19,527 used the computers in the community technology center. We estimate that this figure may be 10 to 15 percent higher because sometimes people don't sign in. During a typical month there are between 1,600 and 2,200 users of this center. In the first year, the library offered 105 free training sessions. Last year, it doubled to 219. Other than using the technology, this has also proved beneficial to the library because they have found that their circulation rate has increased; 42 percent over 1997. Over 680,000 from the public library circulation resources were out in the public, which was at 25 percent in 1997.

I could share so many more stories from the local perspective of our project. I've received countless letters, cards, and e-mails from students, teachers, and families about this project, and the difference that it has meant to them. I've observed how teaching and learning are changing through the effective use of technology in the right project schools, and even on a personal level. I have a 12 year old and a 13 year old who are both students at Northside Middle School, which, as you know, along with the our other 2 middle schools, is in this project, and it is amazing to me to see how hard the teachers continue to work, and to see the quality of the work that teachers are designing for kids to do. We're asking kids to do challenging, engaging work, and they're coming through.

But, there are two things that I hope you will remember as you concentrate on the reauthorization. First, that our project in Anderson is really part of a larger systemic reform effort. We have been working very hard for the past six years to improve the quality of learning experiences for students, but also to improve the system as a whole.

We believe that we won't significantly raise student achievement unless we significantly improve the quality of work that teachers design for kids to do. Our work has been focused around 10 standards that we believe are necessary if the district is to have the capacity to support and sustain, over the long haul, the reform efforts of individual schools and classrooms. The 10 standards are actually depicted, and I don't know if you have this color handout in your packet or not, but they're actually based upon the work of Dr. Phil Schlechty, and you may be familiar with him and his work. In Dr. Schlechty's book, Inventing Better Schools, an Action Plan for Education Reform, our own superintendent was Dr. Schlechty's senior consultant before we hired her away,

I think that the ACT Now project came at a time when significant reform had already taken place. So, to use an Indiana analogy of the crop, the field was ready. If we had launched this project prior to systemic reform taking place, chances are, because it is so highly innovative, it may not have lasted, or made much of a difference.

Secondly, that the project uses a comprehensive approach to involve students, parents, teachers, and the community in all of its activities. Although the technology is a central and important tool to help us reach our goals, it is not the end in itself. We have demonstrated that technology can help teachers design more challenging, engaging work for kids, enable teachers and families to communicate more easily and frequently with one another, increase the time available for learning through home telecommunications, increase parent family involvement in the learning process, and increase a community's role in the reinvention of public education.

I hope that my remarks have given you some meaningful examples, and I appreciate it. I've probably taken more time than I was supposed to.

[The statement of Ms. Austin follows:]

 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MS. TERRI AUSTIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ORGANIZATIONAL DEPARTMENT, ANDERSON COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION, ANDERSON, IN SEE APPENDIX F

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you. We appreciate it, Ms. Austin. And we'll turn to Mr. Droste.

 

STATEMENT OF MR. BRUCE DROSTE, DIRECTOR, THE VIRTUAL HIGH SCHOOL, THE CONCORD CONSORTIUM, CONCORD, MA

 

Mr. Droste. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Well, actually I think the biggest challenge of the Challenge Grant program today is being told that I can only talk for five minutes. So, I'm delighted with this failure in technology here, because we've all been running over a little bit.

 

Chairman Castle. It's very interesting to see the length of time the talks go on when you don't have the light and when you do have the light.

 

Mr. Droste. I'd like to open with just a couple quotations. When I was asked to come here, I decided to ask the people in the Virtual High School Program speak to you, to their elected officials who they sent to Washington.

"I want everyone to know that this year has been the best professional development year for me in 27 years of teaching. I not only feel part of a new wave of education, but I feel that I have re-fallen in love with my subject, biology." That is from a teacher in Ridley High School in Folsom, Pennsylvania.

"The biggest impact on our schools is being able to offer dozens of classes to our students that wouldn't be possible otherwise. We are a small, rural school, and staff time is limited to required courses. We have little opportunity to teach elective courses in our subject areas. This gives our students the chance to take classes that might be offered in bigger schools, or even junior colleges, and higher level colleges that they wouldn't have access to due to distance, time," et cetera. That is from a teacher in Center, Colorado, in the St. Louis valley.

"Virtual High School is of special interest to us because it gives our deaf students the opportunity to participate in classes with hearing students and teachers on a fairly equal basis without the need for interpreters." That is from a deaf school here in Washington, D.C.

Simply, the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant Program in responsible for some of the most important leaps towards the effective and responsible use of technology in American education today. As a grantee, the Virtual High School is having a positive impact on thousands of high school students across America.

Like other Technology Innovation Challenge Grants, VHS is using the best of educational technologies to give students and teachers access to resources, curriculum, and training of the highest quality, and to prepare educators and learners to be skilled and competent participants in an increasingly technological world.

The Virtual High School students and teachers represent a spectrum of different ages, ethnicities, background, learning abilities, and educational experiences. Teachers who have access to the VHS professional development course find they are bringing new technology skills, new teaching strategies, and a revitalized enthusiasm back into their local classrooms.

I had actually written that before we began getting the quotations back from teachers out in the field, which came streaming in over the weekend. Essentially, the Virtual High School is a cooperative of schools across the U.S., 125 right now, that offer net courses, taught by teachers, for students in the cooperative. Each school participating offers up a teacher, my team trains the teachers, and that team is paid for by a Technology Innovation Grant. In exchange for having that teacher teach a course to all of the students out there in the participating schools, that school can enroll 20 students in the courses being offered by those schools out there. So, for a little school like Center, Colorado, or Forks, Washington, they can add 100 to 110 courses to their catalog that weren't there one year ago.

Quality is maintained by requiring each virtual teacher to successfully complete a graduate level, rigorous, professional development course on the design and development of network-based courses. These courses are delivered over the web. We have never met these teachers, we've never talked to these teachers, and they've never met or talked to their students. Yet, in feedback that we get from teachers and students, the students say they know their virtual teachers better than any teacher in their building, and the teachers say they know their students better than any students they have ever taught. There is an intimacy in this distance that we never had imagined.

With over 100 courses in the catalog, it is difficult to grasp the range of the offering, so I'll just give you a sample of four, very quickly. There is Advanced Placement Statistics. We had students in schools across the country take that course, and when they went to take their tests, they scored fives. This is not about just electives. This is about bringing education to students. Every single one of these students took the course because it was not offered in their school.

Again, at Center, Colorado, they lost their science teacher. They were not going to find someone who wanted to move to that town anytime soon. The students there were able to meet their science requirement by taking courses in the Virtual High School over the web, being taught by certified, qualified science teachers in other schools around the country.

It is having a huge impact on bush schools in Alaska. Bioethics symposium, business in the 21st century, and connecting mathematics and science to technology, we're finding a very high demand from the students for courses that will help them get ready for their careers in the next millennium.

In this last year, the project has focused on the quality of course design and delivery, and we put together a National Standards Board to establish quality standards for net courses. Essentially, when California went in to look at our courses, and when the Georgia Department of Education went in to look at our courses, they were able to look through every course in the Virtual High School, and approve them at a State level because of the rigor, and because of the quality of these courses.

We need to be focused on quality education over the web when we put together a project like that, and that teacher's say it is the best training they've ever received, and the student's say it is the best course they've been able to take that they weren't offered before. In terms of achievement, they're getting from nothing to something. In short, we offer high-quality, content-rich courses to students in small and remote schools, and I've learned in this project that a small and remote school could be in downtown New York City.

It is asynchronous. It is not video conferencing. It is a rolling conversation. It can't be at the same moment, same time, because we're across 13 time zones. We have American schools in Jordan participating, and students there participating in classes with students in Alaska. What this has done is leveled the playing field. Those students who characteristically sat in the back of the class and did not put their hand up, find that they do not have to risk answering a question and be jeered at by their peers. It is very safe.

We're reaching schools that value what we're doing. I mentioned Center, Colorado. We have schools in Forks, Washington, Tia Maria, New Mexico, and the upper peninsula of Michigan that I was talking to Mr. Kildee about before we began this session. It is bringing them opportunities, and bringing those students access to education never before imagined.

It scales well. Ohio, Georgia, and Massachusetts have elected to try to have every single high school in their states participate in the Virtual High School. I was last week in Michigan talking with people about the very same initiative.

This project and the Challenge Grant Program should continue to receive funding. This is just one, and there is going to be a tape that describes 12 others that I was responsible for having a film made about. The Challenge Grant program is pushing the envelope of education, and the teachers out there who are participating because it is a competition, because it is a privilege, and not because it is some right that they have, are self-selecting, and self-electing to grab hold and run everybody forward.

Technology is here to stay, and I like to say that those people who are participating in the Challenge Grant Program, and those people at the Department of Education responsible for putting it together, realize that the train will leave the station, and we have two choices. We can stay on the platform and wave goodbye, or we can get on.

Now, if I may, Id like to add some little anecdotes. We have a school in Monroe County, Alabama, that was going to be closed down. It will be allowed to stay open because they are meeting the regulatory standards for a school to have courses, due to the Virtual High School. That school was the core of that community, but it was not meeting State requirements, and it now is because they can reach out and gain the support and collaborative efforts of teachers around the country. It is very powerful in terms of keeping little, local-based schools open, and the teachers love getting to know teachers elsewhere. One of the comments I got back was, "where else can I go to school and take a course about To Kill a Mockingbird, being taught by a teacher in the high school from which Harper Lee graduated?"

The Virtual High School is a safe environment, both physically and emotionally. Littleton High School is in our project, and there was a lot of communication back and forth over the last two weeks, and the students were talking about how in this environment, they feel safe to take risks intellectually. We have a physically handicapped student in California who is excelling for the first time in her educational career, and when asked why, she said, "It is easy.; nobody here stares at me."

If I may close with one more quotation from a teacher in New Jersey, and, finally, one from a student. "What I find more remarkable about my student's experience is that they don't feel that they are involved in a distance learning course at all. They feel they are members of a Virtual High School. The difference is most important. They become part of a national community of learners and explorers. They are excited about their education. They share their virtual education with fellow students, and are able to add unique perspectives to regular classroom discussions. They are truly becoming self-disciplined, nationally-oriented students. They have moved far beyond the boundaries of our local high school. Often, the VHS courses are more self-directed, production-oriented, less memory-based educational experiences. They will take these lessons to college and to life. Any program that adds over 100 courses to a high school's curriculum, enhances the student's technological skills, and links them to students and teachers throughout the United States, would have to be considered a great achievement." That from Collingswood High School, Collingswood, New Jersey.

Finally, "My main attraction to the Virtual High School course was its ability to provide me with a class not offered by my school. As I began the course, however, I realized that I was learning much more than just Eastern-Western thought, or music appreciation. I gained an immense knowledge of computers and communication via the internet."

Thank you very much. I hope you'll be able to look more at the testimony here. Is that tape going to work?

[The statement of Mr. Droste follows:]

 

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MR. BRUCE DROSTE, DIRECTOR, THE VIRTUAL HIGH SCHOOL, THE CONCORD CONSORTIUM, CONCORD, MA SEE APPENDIX G

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Droste. With respect to the tape, we have to hold on the tape.

 

Mr. Droste. Okay.

 

Chairman Castle. This hearing has gone on quite long, and Members have other assignments, so we need to get to the questioning. At the end, we'll try to do the tape. But, if we don't have time for it, we're going to get it out to the Member's offices so they can view it individually.

I will start with the questions, and I will make every effort to keep this under five minutes. Let me just start with Secretary Hickok and Dr. Marockie. Let me just tell you what happened when Mr. Kildee and I were in Delaware two or three weeks ago.

We had a teacher who testified about technology, and the use of computers in the classroom. She was enamored of it. She had actually won a scholarship and had gone off to some school in Delaware for extra studies, and felt that she was pretty knowledgeable, although admitted that she did not start with exactly a computer-based knowledge.

We probed a little bit and asked her a few questions, and she finally said that there were probably about three teachers in her school who were really knowledgeable about the use of computers, which gets into the entire preparation. Yet, you two both, to the credit of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, are talking about remarkable improvement in test scores, and various other things, happening with the use of technology.

My question to you is, is this universal? Have you found a way to make sure that all of your teachers are prepared so that you're able to reflect that in the test scores of the students, or do you run into this problem of the teacher preparation as well? I was impressed by the fact that you seem to be doing as well as you are based on the some of the limitations that I've heard about otherwise.

 

Secretary Hickok. Well, at least in Pennsylvania, as I stated in my testimony, we think that technology-related instruction is critical for all of the faculty in all of our schools, and individuals who want to become teachers in our schools. So, if you look at a profile of our teaching course in Pennsylvania, the fact is, that while we have a greater saturation in our public school of technology, it is only now become a standard way of doing business for most of our teachers. That is because the younger teachers coming into the schools come with an interest, a talent on technology, and are working with kids from day one who are very much engaged in technology.

Our older teaching force, and we have an older teaching force by and large, is having to be introduced to it as professionals, and it is a little bit tougher for them. But, there are two forces at work there too. You've got the State, through professional development in a variety of different ways. We have governor's schools for teachers that emphasize technology, as well as governor's schools for students. We have CD-ROMs that go out; thirty thousand going out all across Pennsylvania to teachers. We have the web page, et cetera. So, you've got the State trying to use its best efforts and resources to engage teachers, plus you've got their colleagues who are already engaged, and, finally, you've got the students, who, for the first time in the history of this country, the younger generation is way ahead.

 

Chairman Castle. Let me cut you off. Not to cut you off, because we do want to hear you, but I do want to ask others a couple of questions. You make it sound like Utopia. Are you suggesting that all teachers have that sort of preparation? I assume you're not. I'm interested in the downside as well as the upside.

 

Secretary Hickok. I think the downside is that for far too many of our teachers, technology is still thought of as an exercise that you might make available to some of your classes and some of your students. That's why Dr. Mann's comment about making sure it is in the classroom is very important. It shouldn't just be in a lab.

 

Chairman Castle. Right. Dr. Marockie?

 

Dr. Marockie. Chairman, your point is well taken. Let me go back to 1990, as I indicated. We were advised not to proceed with our basic skills program, because teachers were too fearful and would never use computers in a classroom. That was by a major company in this country at that time. The way we solved our problem was by adopting a philosophy that no teacher would receive the computer in the classroom before the training, and then we adopted the philosophy about the turnkey solution, where we put together the hardware and the software, brought the teachers to the training, and solidified the situation that they were comfortable with the technologies. We were convinced, as I think we're still finding across some places, that there are teachers who don't want to use technology. We're also satisfied in West Virginia that we solved that problem in the K-6 program. As I indicated, every classroom in West Virginia now has four computers, and a teacher using it to integrate the classroom.

We've now moved the program to the secondary schools with exactly the same philosophy. No teacher receives a computer before the turnkey solution is provided, and only then do they receive the computer in the classroom. Now, you're bound to get some resistance, but, by and large, teachers are very receptive to the new mode of how we're going to use this in the classroom.

May I also add one addendum, because someone mentioned learning styles. I believe teachers have figured out that technology is a way to get to different learning styles. They have pointed out to me, and to others, often, where the youngster who will raise the hand all the time in the traditional classroom of teacher lecture will not be the most successful person on the technology, and vice versa. The youngster who can't perform in that auditory environment will be very successful on the technology, and that is what I think teachers are excited about. It really does get to the different learning styles of children. We've been preaching that for a long time in education, Mr. Chairman, but we've never been able to reach that. I think this is one of the things that helps--

 

Chairman Castle. Let me just ask one more question, and then press on. I'm going to go to the next two gentleman, because they are with great Universities. There was something about teacher preparation and training. Do what you see in your Universities reflect what you are hearing here, in that teachers are now getting more training in the use of technology, in the use of computers? Those teachers being turned out now are better prepared. Should we, in the Federal Government, in terms of the designation of funds as we look at the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and technology, be paying more attention to this, or is it happening naturally so this is not an area that we have to be that concerned about?

 

Dr. McNergney. My quick response is, no, it is not happening. There is not nearly enough support. There is not enough opportunity there. I think it is extremely difficult to wedge technology training into programs that are already packed. There are a lot of expectations out there, and we look back a year or two with something before technology, there was something that preceded that. There is very little opportunity for people to be able to use technology. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of energy on the part of the faculty, and a lot of cooperation, by the way, and I might point out that we are not notoriously cooperative with one another in all places, so it takes a lot of effort to be able to make that happen.

I think the response to your concern is a two part response. One is simple opportunity. If we can create opportunities for people to take advantage of technology, I believe they will, and I think we're seeing that, and that's nothing new. I think we can look back to the 1980's, and studies done on learning mathematics and learning reading. When children had opportunities to learn to do mathematics, opportunities to learn to read, they did learn. In fact, I think the same thing is true here. The more opportunities we give people to work with teachers who are knowledgeable, the better chance young people will have to perform.

The second part of the response is that it is actuarial. These problems are going to solve themselves if we create more opportunities for young people. As we fade from the scene, my students are much brighter, much more adept than I am. They drag me along behind them, and I think that is going to solve many of these concerns.

 

Chairman Castle. Professor Mann?

 

Professor Mann. I'd like to not speak for Teachers College of Columbia University, but for myself in this instance. I'd like to associate myself with Mr. Droste's remarks. I think that what we're looking at is the process in which learning is going to the learner, rather than the historic commerce in which all of the students always had to come to the master's of knowledge and ask those masters the access to understanding. Increasingly, learning is going to go directly to the learner, and that is very different. It also means that we need to think about all of the teachers in a child's life, and all of the settings and places where a child learns. Teacher training is one thing, helping parents be better and more proficient at their job as America's smallest school, and the child's first teacher, is another.

Finally, I think it depends on what the technology is, whether or not you need to invest in training. There are technologies which are pretty transparent. For example, I do my banking through an ATM. I didn't go to a faculty meeting to learn to use an ATM -- thank God I didn't go to a faculty meeting to learn got use an ATM, or I'd still be in the faculty meeting.

[Laughter.]

But, as our technologies become more adept and more transparent, and more easy to use, I think we're going to find the same kinds of things that we found with respect to word processing, it naturally moves to the place where the work is done.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you. Mr. Kildee?

 

Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for having worked with staff on both sides of aisle to assemble such a great panel of witnesses. This has been a very good hearing. Several years ago in the area of technology, Congress launched out somewhat hesitantly, and sometimes with more hope than knowledge. But, I do think we did some things right, and are still in the process of assembling a top-notch program. The major title III programs are the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant, Technology Literacy Challenge Grant, the Star Schools, which Senator Kennedy championed, and Ready to Learn Television. How could these programs be better coordinated to make them more effective?

 

Dr. Marockie. Yes, I'd be happy to start. One of the successes that I think we can attribute to the West Virginia program is its standardization. There is the same equipment in all of the classrooms, and there is only two pieces of software. So, once the training is done, you don't have to go back. You know, teachers change buildings a lot. Students change buildings a lot. We never have to go back and re-train those people, because they've already been trained.

The issues that you brought up must, if they're not coordinated in some form of a standardized process, they're going to be fragmented throughout the State of West Virginia. I can assure you that in the State of West Virginia. as I indicated earlier to Chairman Castle, we tried it. We allowed the largest system in West Virginia, who thought they had purchasing power, to put an RFP out for computers under our basic skills program. It was $300 or $400 more per machine than we were able to purchase the same machines at the State level. So, the economies of scales kicks in to every one of those programs that you talked about, and the more coordinated effort you get at the State's role, the more efficient they're going to be, the better they're going to meet the needs of the individual districts out there, and the more coordination you're going to have for standardized programs. Staff development, innovations, all of those can be standardized better.

 

Mr. Kildee. Is there some way when we reauthorize this program that we could encourage more coordination?

 

Dr. Marockie. Well, you're doing part of it now. I think Mr. Droste indicated under technology literacy grants, the way you have that one structured is that it goes to the States, and then it goes out for competitive grants, and they come in. That can establish, as my colleague Hickok indicated, that can establish mission and allow the internal ingredients to plug into the State mission on a coordinated State-wide basis.

But, if there is not something guiding the mission of the expenditure of funds, I'm convinced they will be fragmented, just the way they get fragmented at the local district level if there is not some district mission, then they will be fragmented out in schools.

 

Professor Mann. May I, sir? One of the things that might guide the mission is data about outcomes and data about evaluation. I understand the process that Congress has gone through, that you've been reluctant to look at evaluation data in the early days, and when it may have been premature. But, there is abundant evidence now about outcomes, and it is increasingly possible to govern your decisions and inform your decision by outcomes, and the Congress has used set-asides for documentation and for assessment in other programs, you may wish to consider a version of the same thing here.

 

Mr. Kildee. In title III, with the possible exception maybe of Star Schools, we indicate that the schools should provide services in an equitable manner to all schools, including the non-public schools. How is that being done in Pennsylvania and West Virginia?

 

Secretary Hickok. It's being done in virtually every aspect of what we do, both with State and Federal title III funds. What we do is, we have intermediate units in Pennsylvania. So, the intermediate units are the vehicles we use to make sure that public schools, public libraries, colleges, universities, and non-public schools, are part of the same network, going through the intermediate units for the non-public schools.

We're not real big fans, to go back to your previous questions, of a lot of centralized authority in public education in Pennsylvania. But, I will echo the comment made just a second ago. This is all about connections, and the only way that this is going to work is to make sure that you have a very smartly designed system in place. That, we think, is probably the role for the State, and how that varies within the individual school districts, and within the individual schools, might be different, but, in the end you need that state-wide connection to make sure the technology provides the kinds of resources it can provide. So, we think, state direction, and Federal policy that sets the broad goals and gives the States their room to maneuver under that, is the way to go.

 

Dr. Marockie. Let me give you two great examples for that. The basic skills program, which is funded by the State at a tune of about $7 million a year, that was our phase-in. The title III monies that you allocated was used by the county districts to enhance that program more and expand it faster.

A second part of that is the electronic discount program. The electronic discounts were used for the telecommunication hook-up, the internet hook-ups, and so forth. The title III programs were used for the program content of that. So, you have a great match between the two. The message that can be put into the language is not necessarily a competitive nature, but a matching comparison between the title III, as well as the State initiative, to build a bond for the State mission.

As my good colleague, Dr. Mann, said, the mission can be based upon what results we're attempting to achieve at the State level, which is obviously, I think in every State now, increased student achievement based on the State's standards. We no longer can take ourselves back 10 years ago where State's said, ``Look, we don't know what we want to achieve anymore.'' Every State now has State standards. Every State knows that if they want to increase student achievement, to match those State standards.

 

Mr. Kildee. But you are providing services to all students in an equitable manner as required by law?

 

Secretary Hickok. Right.

 

Dr. Marockie. And, in fact, in the West Virginia study, as Professor Mann indicated, there were two things very comparable; and the NAEP scores in West Virginia indicate the same thing. The highest achieving Afro-American students in the fourth grade on the NAEP test are in West Virginia. That shows the equity of the distribution. That was because we used the technology in an equitable distribution. The second thing it proved was gender neutrality. The literature on technology that you read about is that males do better than females in technology. Not in West Virginia; they are the same. Both achieved a great deal because of the equitable distribution of the technology and the access.

 

Secretary Hickok. I want to make sure that I don't go into your point, Mr. Chairman, and paint this picture of peace and harmony all over the place. Let me be honest with you to say that we, in some circumstances, had to really sit down with some public school folks and say, "Look, you're supposed to be working to create a Pennsylvania education network that goes beyond your school district, and that means you have to talk to other people and share resources and leverage resources. This doesn't work if all we do is give you money and you create your own little fiefdom here. Your job is to make sure you are talking to other school districts and non-public schools," et cetera.

That has gradually happened, but I think the natural inclination in many places is when you get new monies, you want to use them the way you want to use them. You can't let that happen if technology is going to work. You have to make sure that there is a broad plan out there.

 

Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

Mr. Droste. Can I follow onto that just with one point for clarification purposes? First of all, of the 2,000 students enrolled in the Virtual High School this fall, we have a gender balance of 50-50, right across the board, which surprised us.

It is the Technology Literacy Fund which goes to the States. The Technology Challenge Grant Program, which is the other project, is a competition that is on a national basis, and that is the one of which Ms. Austin's program is one, and of which the Virtual High School is one. I sometimes wonder whether I would have a collaboration of State Boards of Education across the country, we are now in 30 States, if I had gone to the State of Massachusetts and said, "would you support an initiative that has us developing courses with schools in other States?"

I think there is a place for both; and I think that one of the real powers of the Technology Challenge Grant, is that it has brought across State lines collaboration, so that I can reach over to Dennis Harper's project in Olympia, Washington, Generation Y, which teaches kids to become technology experts in schools, and bring that to Massachusetts, and he can give it to the other States across the country. I can reach out to the projects in Texas and say, "I want to take the best of what you've done and bring it back to my State." I'm able to bring it back to my State because, at a State level, the Literacy Fund is ensuring that the schools in my State, across my State, are getting the support necessary to have the technology there to receive all this new information. So, there are two very distinct programs, and I think they are both extremely valuable.

 

Ms. Austin. I would just add one more thing. I think that, as you think about crafting the policy, to echo Bruce's sentiment, in education, we're notorious for under-spending and under-emphasizing research and development, when you compare what the private sector does, and business, on a daily basis. That was the role of the Technology Innovation Challenge Grants. They were a research and development effort through competitive grants to promote the best and brightest models of how we're using technology to improve student learning. I think we've got to find a way to do both. Because, you as policymakers, we as the people at the local level, need to be sure that we keep pushing the envelope, and as the technology changes, we're positioning ourselves to take advantage of it.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you. Mr. Tancredo.

 

Mr. Tancredo. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The obstacles that you have discussed that are placed in the way of quicker, faster, development of technology in the schools are certainly the area that I want to delve into here, because it seems to me that there is that observable concern on the part of many teachers and administrators that are, as was mentioned earlier, that it is hard for them to get a hold of this new technology. They don't understand it; it is the fear of the new, simple as that may be.

But, it always appears to me that there is also another institutional roadblock to accepting new technology, and it goes to something Professor Mann said, I think. I am really interested to know, for instance, Mr. Droste, how this impacts on what you try to do? The fact is, we have an old industrial model system. That is the way it was built, that is the way we determined we needed it. That is what we needed to bring all of these children into an educational environment that needed to be taught. We build a big brick and mortar facility; we bring all the kids there in yellow buses in the morning; we bring the adults there in cars, and they meet each other for 6 hours a day, 184 days a year, and we call that education. Of course, it is not. It is a process. Sometimes it happens in that process, but not necessarily because of it.

But, we're stuck in that model, and the only thing that is going to get us out of that model, it has always seemed to me, is technology, and the use of it in this system. I have great hope that it is what will break the logjam. But, I also fear that the people who would be naturally opposed to the change in that structure that I just described, let's say the NEA, for instance, or the AFT, or others who are locked into the way we do business now, would not want to contribute -- as you mentioned Ms. Austin -- to the research and development activities, because, after all, it is the fear that the blacksmith had of the automobile, in a way, because they would be displaced.

So, I am really interested to know, especially from you Mr. Droste, in the Virtual High School, have you dealt with this kind of dilemma? How have you dealt with it, and, more importantly I suppose, is there anything we can do in the reauthorization of ESEA to help push the envelope?

 

Mr. Droste. Well, in part, you're doing it by supporting the Technology Challenge Grant. I would say the smart blacksmith learned how to change a tire very quickly.

 

Mr. Tancredo. Yes, of course.

 

Mr. Droste. That is what I see happening in schools across America. We have the first teachers in the Virtual High School project being trained, and they are looked upon by their peers as aardvarks. Then, when they see the recognition the teachers are gaining, the happiness the teachers have, the revitalization that is going on, and the achievement of the students in those classes, what we're finding is, in our second year, we were going to expand by 30 teachers. That is what I thought, that was my model. We expanded by four schools.

The reasons was, in 26 schools, we had the superintendents approach us and say, "Now we have a line of people wanting to do what they're doing." They see a comfortable way to re-tool and to move ahead. Now, one of the things that I very fliply say a lot is that if we can teach old dogs new tricks, let me at the new dogs.

So, this pre-service program that is coming along is very powerful, and that is what I was talking about at Michigan State University. A model where they would make a requirement for the teachers. We have an opportunity; we have a workforce that is going to turn over very quickly in the next 10 years, and we could have an opportunity to have a requirement of a graduate certificate to become a teacher be that those teachers understand technology, how to use it, and maybe even how to teach an online course. That is what I was speaking to at Michigan State University, which is a huge teacher training institution,

Now, for two years, I have had the support, endorsement, of the NEA. They had me down to what I thought was a convention. It turned out it was a meeting of their 12 high mucky-mucks who were saying, "where is this going to go?" And I said, "well, it is not going to go away." So, they have begun to embrace it. They have a person sitting on that standards board that I mentioned earlier. They have a person who comes to any of the meetings that we suggest. We have regional conferences, and we invite them with open arms. They understand that this is the way it is going to go, and that this is their opportunity, if I may be so blatant, to get back into the field of education.

I remember arguing vociferously, as a young whipper-snapper in high school, with a teacher of mine who insisted that we still needed to learn how to use the slideruler. I had a calculator. It was a great big klunky $160 Hewlett Packard calculator, and I said, "No, no, this does all that, and it does it faster, and I don't have to remember all of those lines, and I don't have to wear glasses." He said the slideruler will never go away, and that thing is too expensive. Now, I think we can buy a calculator that will do much more than a slideruler, much quicker, for 10 cents, today.

I think part of it is evolutionary, it is generational, and that with the support for the R&D efforts to see what works -- I have to tell you right now that not every grant works. Not everyone is a success, but as long as the Congress is willing to support going out there and saying, "we want to try out things and see what works."

We didn't think Virtual High School would go beyond being an R&D effort. It is now beyond it. We're scaling way beyond what the grant was supposed to be.

 

Secretary Hickok. Just to add one more thought, I think what we're undergoing is really a culture shift; that is, redefining the popular understanding of what education is all about. One of the challenges we have is to get people to realize that, for the first time ever through technology, you can really create a system of education which is focused almost completely on students. One of the problems we have in most places is the pre-occupation with the system.

 

Mr. Tancredo. Right.

 

Secretary Hickok. And, that is important. But, the fact is, in the end, the system is only there to serve the students. And, technology, and the Virtual High School demonstrates this, you can get away from that now. You can actually focus on every individual's access and potential to succeed. Then the system really does become what it should be, just a vehicle to achieve that kind of success. This technology really--

 

Mr. Tancredo. Music to my ears. It really is our best hope, honestly. I believe with all my heart that that is the case.

 

Dr. Marockie. Congressman, no one has been impacted more by what you indicated than West Virginia. We went from 155,000 coal miners to 23,000, producing more coal than the 150,000 because of automation, because of technology. When we would go back just from the agriculture era to the industrial era, the Congress decided that vocational education was very important and passed the Perkins Act. We moved because we created vocational education programs and a variety of combinations of things, to train youngsters for that industrial model that we had, and did it pretty successfully.

Well, now, the national interest is, without question, technology and the information age. It is now, in my judgment at least, the national interest, and it certainly is demonstrating by this committee, and other committees in the Congress, the interest of the United States Congress as the national interest. It will, in five years, be just like the other movements.

The education system has the capability and the talent to respond to the new movement. Just as it responded to going from the agricultural era to the industrial era. It will, in fact, do that, and we'll all be very proud of that. We're just now, simply, in the growing stages.

I want to go back, again, to what it was just nine years ago when we were told that it would never work because teachers in the West Virginia would never use computers in the classroom. Well, we can now refute that dramatically because they're all using it in the classroom, and in a very effective way.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Tancredo. Mr. Payne?

 

Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. I am certainly impressed by what I've heard here today. As we move into the new high-tech area and the reauthorization of the telecommunications act, I am grateful that the E-rate under the access that has been around for a long time was brought into that legislation so that we could connect the schools. Of course, it became a political issue because, for the first time, this universal service which has been in effect since the 1930's to give rural communities an equal playing field, as it relates to the cost of telephone service, because, of course, in the more sparsely populated areas you had a higher cost, so that access, sort of, reduced the cost and shared the cost. But, we found that the E-rate, because of the discount by virtue of poverty level, became a big issue after it was agreed to. But, I'm glad that we've been able to withstand. There was a move to abolish the E-rate and telephone companies put it on their bills that this is an E-rate, you are paying for some poor kid somewhere and we want you to know that. This was the first time that this universal service has ever been broken in the bills.

But, anyway, we're going to try to resist having it appealed, as there is a move on the other side of the aisle to do away with the E-rate. Let me just ask a question, I am particularly interested in the experience in West Virginia, as you indicated, that the African-American students had done better, and I just wonder if you could elaborate on that a little bit. The improvement, is it because of the electronic data? The leveling of the teaching playing field? What do you think? I am very impressed with that.

 

Dr. Marockie. Let me clarify. That was the fourth-grade mathematics test of the NAEP. They sample 2,500 youngsters in the State, and the 2,500 youngsters take the test. The reason that we're so proud of that one is because that particular fourth-grade group that took the test was the first grouping that went through our K, 1, 2, 3rd-grade years with the computer basic skills program, with the trained teachers, and then took the test. That was the first year. So, we really had a barometer to compare in terms of how well were our youngsters going to do as compared to the rest.

Now, it goes to equitable access for training of the teachers on the turnkey solution, and it goes toward equitable access of teaching in the classroom on again, let me define it, reading, language arts, and mathematics. It just turns out that the math test is what they took. Now, in addition to the Afro-American children being the highest scoring in the country on that time, as a whole, the 2,500 youngsters who took that test in West Virginia, we were 3rd from the bottom of the 40 States who took the test, and 11th in position on the math achievement. We attribute it dramatically to this basic skills program because we never had that kind of participation before.

More directly to yours, it is equitable, and access of the teacher to the training, and then the presentation to the youngsters because they're treated the same as everybody else in the course of the classroom instruction, and they perform, as I indicated, magnificently well.

 

Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. That is very encouraging. I just wonder, Dr. Mann, I suppose at Columbia University, you probably have courses for administrators. Is there an emphasis on this technology now for administrators to attempt to do projects and measure along, have it quantifiable, as we've seen here in West Virginia? Do you know of any other areas of any of the other persons -- I know there is only one other State superintendent, but if anyone else has any information related to success using the technology?

 

Professor Mann. There are a variety of sources that document similar outcomes. One of the most interesting is from the software publishers association which has a very current 1999 catalog of effective programs in support of instructional technology. I imagine that they would be happy to make that available to you.

 

Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. I yield back the balance of my time.

 

Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Payne. This will bring to close our hearing with a couple of caveats.

Let me start by saying this, I would like to thank all of you a tremendous amount. The reason is, of all the areas of education I can think of -- Mr. Kildee has more experience than I, perhaps he can think of others -- I don't know of any which we have seen as rapid change, which is evidenced by the comments almost every one of you has made, in a lot of ways, as technology; particularly in the education of young people, and the application of technology and computers for the education of young people. This is extraordinarily important. The program Ms. Austin talked about, Mr. Droste's whole methodology of teaching differently because of the use of computers and other sites, and other ways of doing this; the programmatic and effective changes all of you have talked about are keenly interesting to all of us.

I guess we're not in the natal stage of all of this, but we're in the next stage up. There are still a lot of developments and work to be done. So, I consider what we're doing in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to be extraordinarily important in terms of making the right decisions to continue to help you. What we're doing may not be just to continue the programs that are there. It may be some greater flexibility, which seems to be a hallmark of what this Committee has done this year, which I think makes a lot of sense. It could be other changes that we need to take into account.

So, we very much appreciate your testimony here today. We may have other questions. You never get to ask all of the questions you would like to ask; if we did, we would be here until midnight. We, unfortunately, cannot afford that time, with the press of schedules. So, if you will, we may submit some written questions, which if you could answer, would be helpful to us, as well, as well as talking to you at some point in the future about what we are doing -- in other words, as experts to try to help us with that.

Poor Mr. Droste's tape is still pending some place or another. Because I have to go someplace else, as do others, we're going to have to adjourn the hearing, but I believe we have the resources to set that up, and there are some people here in the room who might wish to see it. But, the individual members are going to have access to that tape, so we can look at it when we have more leisure time in order to do that.

I think, with that, we've covered all of the business. Again, we really do thank you. What you said to us is extraordinarily important, and hopefully, we can profit and learn from that, and so can the students in America.

 

[Whereupon, at 3:29 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]