Report: States Fill In for Feds in Ed Tech

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Federal funding for technology in K-12 schools has declined drastically since 2002, but states are stepping in to cover the deficit, providing districts with line items within state budgets and offering alternatives for schools and districts to purchase technology. This according to a report released this month by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), "State Educational Technology Funding Report: State of the States."

In the report, SETDA states, "Technology is the tool that has changed the way the world works. To address the issues related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and 21st century skills, the role of technology, specifically in education, must be at the forefront. Despite the lack of Federal funding and attention to 21st century learning and STEM, there is a wide range of activity from state legislatures in ensuring students are prepared for a technology-driven society."

According tot he report, "Federal funding through the NCLB Title II Part D for educational technology decreased 28 percent from $635 million in fiscal year 2004 to $462 million in fiscal year 2005 and to $272 [million] in fiscal year 2006. Although the role of NCLB II D funding varies across states, NCLB II Part D provides a significant percentage of educational technology funding in almost all states. The lack of federal funding for educational technology directly impacts states’ ability to provide funding for educational technology to the local school districts."

 

Thirty-three percent of states, according to SETDA, report that NCLB Title II Part D funds are the only source of funds that state education agencies award to school districts for technology, while 43 percent said that the NCLB Title II Part D funds are the "primary source of funds that the state education agency awards to school districts for technology."

On the flip side, only 4 percent of states reported that NCLB funding was a "minor percentage" of funds awarded to local school districts, and 20 percent said that state funds match federal funds.

This report, the first of its kind from SETDA to measure the states' role in education technology funding, indicated that individual states "differ widely" in their approaches to ed tech funding, but 32 states in the United States indicated to SETDA that their state budgets include an education technology line item. Many provide funding for local district programs at the state level to "provide support to local districts through virtual high schools, technical assistance, or by providing a state portal for teachers." Several states provide funding for network infrastructure and integration. And some provide funding for regional organizations that support local districts. (See Fig. 1.)

General Ed Tech Funding by States
By category, infrastructure receives the highest amount of funding from states, at about $217.3 million (Fig. 2). Coming in at a close second is end-user technology at $204.4 million. Professional development receives about $98.5 million in state funding. And data warehousing trails the bunch at roughly $41.1 million.

In total, according to the report, states provide a total of $561 million in direct funding for educational technology in these four categories.

SETDA also broke down the amount of spending per state by category. According tot he report, "It is important to note that states may define categories differently, and that there may be overlap within categories depending on the individual state funding structure. Thirty-two states provide a total of $561 million in direct state funding for educational technology infrastructure, end-user technology, professional development, and data warehousing. States varied widely in the amount of direct state spending, ranging from $500,000 in Vermont to $115 million in Texas."

Figure 3, below, provides details on each state's spending in these categories.

FIG. 3 | DIRECT STATE FUNDING BY CATEGORY
State
Ed Tech Infrastructure
End-User Technology
Professional Development
Data Warehousing
Total

Alabama

$4,000,000

$18,320,359

$1,352,399

$0

$23,672,758

Alaska

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Arizona

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Arkansas

$16,500,000

$2,100,000

$0

$2,000,000

$20,600,000

California

$15,600,000

$0

$0

$0

$15,600,000

Colorado

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Connecticut

$5,000,000

$0

$0

$0

$5,000,000

Delaware

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

District of Columbia

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Florida

$8,840,349

$0

$0

$1,000,000

$9,840,349

Georgia

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Hawaii

$2,375,558

$1,428,858

$115,237

$204,748

$4,124,401

Idaho

$0

$8,990,000

$0

$0

$8,990,000

Illinois

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Indiana

$3,500,000

$2,500,000

$14,000,000

$0

$20,000,000

Iowa

$0

$500,000

$0

$2,000,000

$2,500,000

Kansas

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Kentucky

$6,277,876

$2,379,342

$212,452

$1,285,592

$10,155,262

Louisiana

$0

$20,000,000

$1,000,000

$0

$21,000,000

Maine

$3,472,335

$5,208,503

$1,736,168

$500,000

$10,917,006

Maryland

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Massachusetts

$0

$0

$0

$5,200,000

$5,200,000

Michigan

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Minnesota

$3,750,000

$0

$0

$0

$3,750,000

Mississippi

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Missouri

$3,655,000

$0

$24,643,948

$0

$28,298,948

Montana

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Nebraska

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Nevada

$482,500

$2,582,500

$1,492,500

$600,000

$5,157,500

New Hampshire

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

New Jersey

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

New Mexico

$1,500,000

$5,000,000

$2,400,000

$2,000,000

$10,900,000

New York

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

North Carolina

$6,000,000

$18,000,000

$0

$13,000,000

$37,000,000

North Dakota

$1,700,000

$1,825,000

$55,000

$0

$3,580,000

Ohio

$454,998

$6,071,296

$3,004,673

$0

$9,530,967

Oklahoma

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Oregon

$0

$0

$0

$1,800,000

$1,800,000

Pennsylvania

$10,000,000

$29,000,000

$4,000,000

$2,000,000

$45,000,000

Rhode Island

$1,600,000

$2,500,000

$500,000

$500,000

$5,100,000

South Carolina

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

South Dakota

$7,704,832

$2,256,450

$200,226

$759,481

$10,920,989

Tennessee

$0

$0

$0

$0

$0

Texas

$55,200,000

$20,700,000

$39,100,000

$0

$115,000,000

Utah

$20,000,000

$0

$0

$0

$20,000,000

Vermont

$0

$0

$0

$500,000

$500,000

Virginia

$14,582,500

$45,683,672

$0

$7,593,796

$67,859,968

Washington

$1,939,000

$0

$1,959,000

$126,000

$4,024,000

West Virginia

$1,340,000

$9,336,000

$2,670,000

$0

$13,346,000

Wisconsin

$17,000,000

$0

$40,000

$0

$17,040,000

Wyoming

$4,800,000

$0

$0

$0

$4,800,000

Totals $217,274,948 $204,381,980 $98,481,603 $41,069,617 $561,208,148

Source: “State Educational Technology Funding Report: State of the States,” released by the State Educational Technology Directors Association, April 2007.

The report also detailed several means by which states provide funding for specific programs. Some examples of this, cited from the report, include:

  • In Idaho, through the Idaho Technology Initiative, school districts can purchase infrastructure, hardware, and software based upon the school system technology plan.
  • The Education and Research Network in Missouri provides subsidized Internet to higher education institutions and K-12 public school districts.
  • Minnesota allocates $3.75 million annually to school districts, charter schools, and private schools to offset Internet access costs not covered by E-Rate.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Administration provides subsidized bandwidth to Wisconsin schools, as well as access to video distance education via the BadgerNet Converged Network.
  • Pennsylvania conducts an annual $10 million competitive E-Fund grant program to assist schools with purchasing broadband services, supporting equipment, technical assistance, and distance education resources.

Further examples are detailed in the report, which can be accessed via the link at the end of this article.

Online and Virtual Learning
The SETDA report also evaluated funding for online, distance, and virtual learning programs. According tot he organization, 24 states do provide funding for these categories. Of those states, funding varies widely, from a low of $25,000 to a high of $8.9 million. Three of these states offer funding at levels higher than $5 million, and these three states account for about 48 percent of total state funding for online/distance programs. Eleven of these states fund at less than $1 million and account for $5.3 million of the total funding. In between were 10 states that provided funding between $1 million and $5 million, totaling $17.6 million between them.

Total funding for all 24 states that provide funding for online, virtual, and distance learning was $44.4 million. Definitions of costs varied by states, with some including hardware and connectivity in addition to the other costs associated with offering online courses.

Other Funding
The study also looked at alternative means of funding by states. In addition to those noted above, 31 states provide funding for technology that is not specifically flagged as "educational technology" spending. These states provide funding that can be used to purchase "end-user technology, curriculum, or hardware and software used by teachers and students," according to the report.

Examples of this, cited from the report, include:

  • California, which will provide $100 million in grants next year to local districts for the purchase of library materials, curriculum materials, or educational technology
  • Illinois, which offers a School Technology Revolving Loan Program, allowing schools to borrow money from the state to support technology infrastructure;
  • Iowa, which has the Iowa Learning Technology pilot program, for evaluating technology in schools, assessing impact on students, and encouraging professional development integration;
  • Maryland, which allows school systems to use state funds to purchase educational technology through the Bridge to Excellence funding model; and
  • South Dakota, in which local school districts can purchase laptops for high school students through a grant from Citibank.

"It is critical that funding for technology in schools remains a dedicated and targeted source to ensure adequate and equitable access for all students," the report concluded. "Students must be able to use technology to help them learn content and skills--so that they know how to think critically, solve problems, use information, communicate, innovate, and collaborate. Without appropriate and adequate technology in schools, students lack opportunities to learn skills that are critical for success in work and life in the 21st century."

Further details can be found in the SETDA report, which is available to the public at the link below.

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About the author: Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Have any additional questions? Want to share your story? Want to pass along a news tip? Contact Dave Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

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