Report: EETT Cuts Threaten NCLB Goals
Slashing EETT ("Enhancing Education Through Technology") has become an annual event in federal budget planning. A little more than a month ago, the Bush administration again proposed eliminating funding entirely for the program for fiscal year 2009. But a new report from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), released today, suggests that cuts imperil the scope of programs that have improved academic achievement and helped to ensure teacher quality.
EETT is part of Title II Part D of the No Child Left Behind Act, designed to support the deployment and integration of educational technology into classroom instruction. It provides the sole source of federal funding in NCLB specifically supporting education technologies.
So why is it so consistently targeted for cuts?
In explaining the proposed elimination of EETT funding for FY 2009, the United States Department of Education last month stated: "Schools today offer a greater level of technology infrastructure than just a few years ago, and there is no longer a significant need for a State formula grant program targeted specifically on (and limited to) the integration of technology into schools and classrooms. Districts seeking funds to integrate technology into teaching and learning can use funds from other Federal programs, such as Improving Teacher Quality State Grants and Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies."
But cuts to federal funding do have a detrimental effect on education programs, according to SEDTA's 2008 National Trends Report, which compiled data on funding for Round 5, FY 2006, in which funds had been slashed by about 45 percent from the previous year. Fifty states and the District of Columbia participated in the SETDA survey, conducted in the fall, representing nearly 16,000 local education agencies (LEAs).
Twenty-one of these states indicated that they do not have "any state funds explicitly targeted for educational technology," according to the report. And for those 21 states, EETT is the primary source of funding, so LEAs are hard-hit by these cuts.
"The cuts took place in a year when 52 percent of the states were conducting multi-year grant programs through their competitive awards," the report said. "These multi-year grants are important on several fronts. First and foremost, they enable the LEA to focus their educational technology funds on a specific target over several years, increasing the likelihood of sustainability. Second, they provide an opportunity for LEAs to conduct high-quality evaluation and/or research studies once programs are solidly in place, thus evaluating the true efficacy of a program rather than its potential during startup. And third, they reduce the administrative burden on SEAs and LEAs, enabling them to dedicate a larger portion of time and money on implementation rather than grant application writing, processing, and administration."
"Research and data have shown that educational technology programs help to ensure that all schools have highly qualified teachers and provide students with the academic resources necessary to compete in a global economy," said Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of SETDA, in a statement released in conjunction with the report. "Effective professional development and leadership are key to the advancement of the NCLB II D program goals. The ... slash in EETT funds in Round 5 forced states to eliminate highly effective programs or to scale back successful programs."
The 2008 report identified several trends supporting the position that federal funding has helped to ensure that education agencies aim to meet NCLB IID goals in Round 5. Among them were:
- An increased emphasis by grantees on math and science and a continued emphasis on literacy;
- An increasing use of integration to promote technology literacy; and
- Overall positive results in state research on the impact of NCLB IID programs.
Participants in the study also indicated that the cuts "severely" compromised the ability of LEAs to meet the academic and technological goals of NCLB IID.
"While the findings for Round 5 indicate that the states are implementing the NCLB IID program as prescribed by law," the report stated, "the cuts have caused significant reductions in the scope."
"From professional development models in inner city New York to technology integration programs in rural North Dakota to comprehensive school reform in North Carolina, educational technology programs and models raise student achievement," SETDA's Wolf said. "We know what models and programs work, and EETT is one fundamental component to transforming more schools and ensuring our students are prepared for the 21st Century global economy."
Further information can be found at SETDA's site here. A PDF of the complete report, with detailed findings, can be downloaded here.
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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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