South Dakota: A South Dakota Report Card: Results From the ISTE/LOFTI Teacher Profile
By Gloria Steele, Education Technology Specialist for Technology & Innovations in Education and LOFTI Evaluation Team Member
The South Dakota LOFTI (Learning Organizations for Technology Integration) Project, a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education is a K-16 collaboration involving an array of education partners, including local school districts, school consortia, educational cooperatives, public universities, regional education centers, the South Dakota Department of Education and Cultural Affairs (DECA), the South Dakota Board of Regents, and Technology & Innovations in Education (TIE).
LOFTI was initiated in response to a growing need in South Dakota to invest in professional development that would increase the technology skills of classroom teachers and help them find meaningful ways to use technology to enhance student learning. The goal and objectives of the project were grounded in the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers published in 1997 and revised in 2000. These Standards define fundamental concepts, knowledge, skills and attitudes for applying technology in educational settings in the following six areas:
- Technology operations and concepts
- Planning and designing learning environments and experiences
- Teaching, learning and the curriculum
- Assessment and evaluation
- Productivity and professional practice
- Social, ethical, legal and human issues
These six identified ISTE standards and 23 indicators for measuring specific teacher behaviors became the framework for LOFTI activities. The LOFTI Steering Committee (www.usd.edu/sildl/lofti/members) used them to guide statewide program design, while local districts, school consortia and public universities used them as the basis for annual LOFTI work-plan development focused on the redesign of preservice curriculum. In addition, the South Dakota Department of Education used them for assessing teacher certification issues, while TIE used them for planning the delivery of professional services to schools across the state.
The ILTP Study Emerges
During the first three years of LOFTI, the K-12 sites used a variety of processes to gather data regarding teacher performance relative to the ISTE standards. In order to standardize the data collected from K-12 sites for comparisons to be made, however, LOFTI launched the ISTE/LOFTI Teacher Profile (ILTP) Study. The study had two purposes: First, the data would be used to help shape the LOFTI project evaluation. Second, the results would be used for LOFTI project improvement and decision-making. In addition, project evaluators envisioned the study as a professional development opportunity for participants, helping them to develop new skills and build their leadership capacity.
The ILTP study sought to answer the overarching question 'How do LOFTI participants perform relative to the 2000 ISTE Standards?' Planning for this study began in the spring of 2000 and a draft survey and interview tool were piloted in June 2000. Project evaluators designed and tested several instruments, resulting in a final tool organized into three sections:
- A self-report survey section designed to gather quantitative information about ISTE Standards I and V;
- An interview guide addressing ISTE Standards II, III and IV; and
- A section designed for use in analyzing student and teacher products based on a unit of study.
A rubric based on ISTE Standards I through V was also designed to accompany the instrument and serve as a basis for judging teachers' achievement of the 23 performance indicators.
More than 1,500 K-12 teachers in 210 schools across South Dakota responded to the online survey portion of the study. Once the data were compiled, each participating school received a report indicating the competency of their teachers relative to ISTE Standards I and V. The data in the reports showed areas of strength and weakness in districts so that focused professional development could be organized in response to specific needs.
The second section of the LOFTI tool required different data collection methods. Thirteen interviewers were trained to collect information on ISTE Standards II, III and IV. The training not only provided them with interviewing tips and techniques, but also gave them an opportunity to practice their skills. During this phase of the study, 56 teacher interviews were conducted and transcribed. Teachers interviewed were identified by LOFTI site coordinators and selected because of their perceived proficiency or high performance relative to the ISTE standards.
Interviewers also collected teacher and student products and placed them in the ILTP packets in order to complete the collection of data for the study. During this phase, a second round of training prepared 15 reviewers for the packet-scoring process. Two individuals reviewed and blind-scored each teacher packet. Those packets with a difference greater than 20 points between scorers were reviewed and scored by a third reader. Scoring was completed for 51 ILTP packets using the rubric developed for the 23 indicators associated with ISTE Standards I through V. Click here to see the rubric.
Results of the ILTP Study
South Dakota teachers met or exceeded expectations on two ISTE standards, according to data revealed in the ILTP Study.
Standard I - 92% of the teachers either met or exceeded this standard on two indicators: 'possesses knowledge and skill' and 'pursues continual growth in technology knowledge and skills.' This means that teachers are comfortable with their ability to operate technology hardware, use software, understand technology concepts, and solve basic technical problems. They also regularly use a variety of computer-based technologies in their personal and professional lives.
Standard II - 96% of the teachers also met or exceeded this standard on one indicator: 'Designs developmentally appropriate experiences.' This information tells us that teachers believe they have the skills to create lessons with a range of activities to meet the developmental needs of students.
In addition, four performance indicators under three ISTE standards were identified as areas in which South Dakota educators performed least well:Standard II - 'Applies research on teaching and learning with technology.' Underperforming teachers in this area have not provided clear evidence that they apply current research on teaching and learning in the planning, implementation or assessment of the lesson/unit.
Standard III - 'Addresses technology standards.' Teachers scoring low in this area have not aligned activities in their lesson/unit design with specific technology standards for students.
Standard IV - 'Applies technology in assessing student learning' and 'uses technology to collect information, analyze data, interpret results and communicate findings.' As a group, South Dakota teachers seldom use technology for managing student assessment data or assessing student learning of content and/or skills. In addition, teachers infrequently use technology for data collection and analysis. They were unable to offer examples of technology used for these purposes.
Finally, more than half the teachers either did not meet or only partially met the performance standard identified in each of these areas.
Click here to view the ISTE Performance Indicators/ILTP Score Range chart.
How do LOFTI participants perform relative to the 2000 ISTE Standards? The ILTP study helped the LOFTI project answer this overarching question and provided the data necessary for making informed decisions about program improvements. The study also provided project evaluators a process for standardizing the collection of data regarding teacher performance on the 23 indicators associated with six standards identified by ISTE. The ILTP study was recognized by interviewers, reviewers, teacher interviewees, LOFTI project leadership, and LOFTI evaluators as a valuable professional development and capacity building experience.
Undertaking a major study such as ILTP requires a commitment of human and fiscal resources to properly implement each phase. However, the benefits can be far-reaching for participating schools and individual teachers when the results are used to design and focus professional development efforts. The use of data from this study may be key to sustaining the LOFTI work of improving teacher technology skills and helping them find meaningful ways to use technology for improving teaching and learning. The use of the data by other statewide educational entities may give meaningful direction to other statewide professional development efforts.
This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.