Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

SIIA Lays Out a Vision for Change

With defined goals and benchmarks, the association's new initiativeurges increasing technology use in K-20 classrooms.

In BriefTO ENSURE THAT all students have access to alearning environment that will prepare them tocompete globally and enjoy innovative careers,the Software & Information Industry Association(SIIA) has launched its VisionK-20 initiative. The project calls on teachers,administrators, business executives, and policymakersto support the combination of proven,well-implemented, and well-supported technologiesand solid curriculum to help students thrivein an increasingly competitive marketplace.

At the core of Vision K-20 is SIIA's belief that technology allows educators to be more efficient and effective in their teaching, using methods that were not previously available, and is essential for lifelong learning. But beyond acknowledging the need for a 21st-century learning environment, Vision K-20 offers a clearly defined set of goals and benchmarks for leading the nation's schools toward measurable change. The goals-which number seven in all-include supporting accountability and nurturing creativity through technology; the five benchmarks include offering differentiated learning and employing technology-based assessment. Through these guidelines, SIIA aims to help K-20 institutions dramatically increase accessibility to technology within three to five years.

SIIA has partnered with several organizations to promote Vision K-20 and encourage educators and administrators nationwide to incorporate the goals and benchmarks into their institutions' missions. With the help of its partners, SIIA is offering a brief online survey to every educational institution in the nation that evaluates the school's current technology use and its impact on student achievement. Each time the survey is taken, the correlations are determined between reported technology use and educational outcomes, providing the user with an individual progress report for a classroom, school, district, or college campus. Individual results will remain anonymous and will not be shared publicly, but beginning in 2008, SIIA will annually release the aggregated survey results and their implications.

To kick off the Vision K-20 initiative, including its partnerships and survey-monitoring process, SIIA hosted a dinner on March 12 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. At the event, education industry leaders from around the country and attendees of SIIA's Ed Tech Government Forum, held concurrently in the nation's capital, came to show support for building a school system that prepares students for the future awaiting them.

"To remain relevant in today's economy, Americans must rebuild our competitive edge and revitalize our education system," said Ken Wasch, president of SIIA. "This initiative will help stakeholders make progress toward creating a truly 21st-century learning environment," To review the Vision K-20 initiative, access the survey, and find additional resources, visit here.


AS PART OF AN ONGOINGstudy on the impact of the NoChild Left Behind Act, the Centeron Education Policy (CEP)recently conducted a deeperanalysis of data on changes inclassroom instructional time itfirst reported on last July.

The original study, "Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in the NCLB era," found that since NCLB became law in 2002, a majority of the nation's elementary schools had increased time spent on reading and math while decreasing time devoted to other subjects. The CEP's new report, "Instructional Time in Elementary Schools: A Closer Look at Changes for Specific Subjects," examines the magnitude of those time shifts and concludes that they're relatively large.

According to the report, 44 percent of districts nationwide have added time for English language arts and math at the expense of social studies, science, art, music, physical education, recess, and lunch, typically with cuts of 75 to 150 minutes per week. On average, districts reported increasing instructional time for ELA and math by 43 percent while cutting instructional time on other subjects by 32 percent. "In other words, changes in curriculum are not only widespread but deep," says Jack Jennings, president and CEO of CEP.

To read the complete report, visit here.

:: Industry News

ED TECH VENDORS JOIN COALITION.The Partnership for 21st Century Skills hasannounced the addition of four newmembers to its coalition. The Associationfor Supervision and CurriculumDevelopment (ASCD),Atomic Learning, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo will join the organization'sefforts to equip students with the skills tocompete in the global economy.

LUMENS DONATES TO TEACH FOR AMERICA. Lumens Integration has donated 100 visual presenters to Teach for America, a national corps of new college graduates and professionals from all fields who commit to two years of teaching in urban and rural schools across the country. The donation was made in an effort to expand the resources available to corps members and help level the technological playing field in their underserved classrooms.

:: Awards

COSN HONORS TEXAS DISTRICT. The Consortium for School Networking named Texas' BryanIndependent School District the winnerof its annual Team Award during itsK-12 School Networking Conference,held in Washington, DC, in March. Theaward celebrates the achievements andcontributions of a team of educators in aschool district or consortium of schooldistricts that has successfully leveragededucation technology to impact teachingand learning. For more informationabout the award, visit here.

SCHOOL RECOGNIZED FOR ACADEMIC IMPROVEMENT. Renaissance Learning has chosen Palm Elementary School in Orosi, CA, to receive its 2008 Dreamers Wake the Nation Award, which recognizes a school's effort to boost student achievement through the use of Renaissance Learning products. Palm Elementary credits its use of the company's Accelerated Reader software with playing a large part in its steady improvement on California's Academic Performance Index. The school, once labeled "underperforming," is now also eligible to receive the California Distinguished School Award, which honors the most exemplary and inspiring public schools in the state.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.