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NCLB Draft a Boost for Ed Tech

The bill's newest iteration includes key goals of the ATTAIN Act,but unresolved budgeting issues still loom large.

In BriefTHERE'S GOOD NEWS about education technologyfunding at the federal level: The latestdraft outline of No Child Left Behind reauthorizationlegislation incorporates the maincomponents of the Achievement ThroughTechnology and Innovation (ATTAIN) Act.

Those ATTAIN objectives, designed to advance student achievement by enhancing professional development for teachers and improving technical proficiency in students, are intended to replace NCLB's current Title II, Part D (Enhancing Education Through Technology, or EETT).

ATTAIN was initially developed with input from key ed tech organizations, such as the Consortium for School Networking, the International Society for Technology in Education, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association—as well as the Software & Information Industry Association and other stakeholders.

The NCLB draft, released by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA), retains the key features of ATTAIN as Title II, Part F. Those include the allocation of funds to professional development and systemic school reform centered on the use of technology; the targeting of competitive grant funding for districts with schools that are not making adequate yearly progress; and the renewed commitment to ensuring that all students reach technology literacy by the end of the eighth grade.

The draft also advances ATTAIN's proposal to change EETT from a 50 percent competitive and 50 percent formula grant program to a 60 percent competitive/40 percent formula split. (Formula grants are noncompetitive awards based on a predetermined formula).

The proposal does contain some significant departures from ATTAIN. For one thing, it does not include a set authorization amount for the program, whereas ATTAIN sought a $1 billion authorization. Neither does it retain ATTAIN's mandate that all states assess students' technology literacy at least once by the time students reach the eighth grade.

Perhaps of more concern is that Congress has not completed its 2008 fiscal year appropriations work. And even if Congress manages to reach agreement on any or all of the FY08 spending bills, the administration's thus far uncompromising stance on spending increases remains an issue.

President Bush has threatened to veto any spending bill that exceeds his proposed budget, jeopardizing many of the domestic spending bills Democrats have passed. So this NCLB draft—a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill that exceeds the budget request by a wide margin—may be especially susceptible to veto.

GRANT MOVES STEMEXPERTS TO TEACH

THE NATIONAL SCIENCEFOUNDATIONhas awarded the University ofRochester Warner School of Education$634,157 to "help encourageand train both talentedundergraduate majors in science,technology, mathematics, andengineering and STEM professionalsconsidering a career changeto work as math and scienceteachers in high-need school districts,"according to the university.The grant is part of the RobertNoyce Scholarship Program andwill allow a total of 30 Noycescholars over the next three yearsto enroll in a 15-month teacher preparationprogram in math orscience, free of tuition costs.

"This National Science Foundation Noyce Scholars Program will enhance our ability to increase the number of highly qualified math and science teachers who are committed...and well prepared to work in underserved school districts," according to Raffaella Borasi, dean of the Warner School.

The teacher-preparation programs lead to certification in the state of New York to teach STEM subjects such as mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, or earth science. Participants agree to teach for at least two years in a high-need school district within six years following the completion of their master's program. Noyce scholars will also receive support during their first two years of teaching through monthly seminars, professional development, and electronic communications via listservs and blogs.

:: Industry News

METAMETRICS LAUNCHES LEXILEFRAMEWORK FOR WRITING. Adding to its Lexile Framework forReading and Quantile Framework forMathematics, MetaMetrics has debuted itslatest assessment tool, Lexile Frameworkfor Writing, which is designed tomeasure student writing achievementon a common, developmental scaleover time and across curricula.

According to the company, the new system uses the same Lexile scale used by the Lexile Framework for Reading to monitor writing and reading growth, applying the same consistent method to reinforce the importance of reading in the development of writing skills. The writing measure estimates a student's writing abilities based on semantic complexity and syntactic sophistication.

VMWARE OFFERS FREE ACADEMICPROGRAM. Virtual infrastructure softwarecompany VMware says that more than 300 schoolsare participating in its academicprogram, which provides products,resources, and source code—at no costto qualified schools—for research andpublication.

VMware also sells its products and services at a discount to higher education and K-12 schools for use in campus IT infrastructure.

TRLD CONFERENCE TACKLES 21ST-CENTURYSKILLS. The AdministratorForum at the upcoming Technology,Reading, and Learning Diversity(TRLD) Conferencewill focus on 21st-century skills, andwill also cover the use of technology tosupport instruction.

The forum will include panelists who will discuss topics ranging from technology in education, to curriculum development, to pedagogical techniques. Presenters will include Lynne Anderson-Inman, director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education at the University of Oregon; Jeff Diedrich, director of Michigan's Integrated Technology Supports; David Warlick, director and principal consultant for The Landmark Project; and Susan Simmons, education specialist at the California Department of Education.

The 26th annual TRLD Conference will be held Jan. 24-26, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero Center in San Francisco.

DIGILORE KICKS OFF SOFTWARE GRANTS. Education technology provider DigiLore has launched a new $2 million grant program that will provide K-12 schools and colleges with free licenses for the DigiLore Learning Lifecycle Management suite. The grant application can be completed online at DigiLore's website. The licenses will support five concurrent users, but hosting and maintenance fees will still apply.

:: Awards

SCIENCE FAIR INVITES ENTRIES VIAYOUTUBE.The 2007 InternationalVirtual Science Fair Contest iscalling for students from first gradethrough college to post video versionsof science fair projects on YouTube.

Each video, which can be up to five minutes long, must demonstrate the steps of the experiment. The deadline for entries is Dec. 31. Each student who enters the contest will receive an award certificate that was designed exclusively for Super Science Fair Projects.com contests.

There will be three first-place winners. The winning elementary school student will receive a telescope. The winners of the middle school and high school/college divisions will both receive an iPod. The winning videos will be published on their own page of the Super Science Fair Projects website. In addition, the entrant whose video gets the most views on YouTube will receive $100. Winners will be announced by Jan. 30, 2008.

INTERWRITE, TEACHERTUBELAUNCH SCHOOL VIDEO CONTEST.Interwrite Learning, an interactive classroomtechnology provider, has partneredwith education portalTeacherTube to launch a new video contest for K-12schools. The contest asks students tocreate a music-video parody that alsodemonstrates various technologiesused in the classroom. (Participantsdon’t need to be users of Interwritetechnologies or TeacherTube.)

There will be three winners, one in each of the following grade groupings: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The winners will be awarded $15,000 worth of computer equipment to be put toward a classroom makeover, as well as $1,000 cash and a party to celebrate their victory. The competition is open to all teachers and students in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. Entries will be accepted until Oct. 21 and must be submitted by a teacher.

Videos will be judged on these criteria: demonstration of effective use of technology, portrayal of teachers and students working together, and overall creativity and spirit. Winners will be announced Nov. 27.

:: People

LEVIN ELECTED TREASURER OF THEPARTNERSHIP FOR 21ST-CENTURYSKILLS. Douglas Levin, senior directorof education policy for Cable in theClassroom, hasbeen named treasurer of the Partnershipfor 21st Century Skills, an advocacy organizationfocused on infusing 21st-centuryskills into education. Levin will beresponsible for overseeing the financialcondition of the partnership as well asongoing advocacy.

TOM KNIGHT NAMED DEEPNINES VP. Network security systems provider DeepNines Technologies has appointed Tom Knight to the position of vice president of worldwide sales. Knight’s new role will be to drive the company’s overall sales strategy.

WOOLLEY-WILSON HONORED BY ASPEN INSTITUTE. Jessie Woolley-Wilson, the newly hired president of K-12 for Blackboard, has been named a 2007 Henry Crown Fellow by the Aspen Institute. The fellowship brings together entrepreneurial professionals under age 45. The new Henry Crown Fellows will meet four times over a two-year period and will undertake individual community service commitments.

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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