Thursday, May 05, 2005

State ranks well in computer access

NewsOK reports Oklahoma is among the nation's best states in offering computer access to students in the classroom, a national report released today shows. The state ranks ninth for its student-to-computer ratio in public schools -- about three students to every machine, editors with the trade publication Education Week report. The national ratio is 3.8 students to each computer, according to the Technology Counts 2005 survey.

Project editors also examined the use of computer-based testing in the 50 states and Washington and found 16 states -- including Oklahoma -- using computer-based assessments this school year. Oklahoma seventh-graders this year began taking their state-mandated geography tests online. State schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett expects in the near future all student tests will be administered online. Online testing allows for a much quicker turnaround of scores, Garrett said. Phil Applegate, executive director of instructional technology at the state Education Department, told the state Board of Education recently that 171 of the state's 540 school districts allow students to earn course credit from the Internet.

The state wide results are here.

  • Number of public schools:   1,806
  • Pre-K-12 enrollment:   624,548
  • Number of public school teachers:   40,638
  • Average annual E-rate funding:   $38,475,020
  • State funding allocated specifically for educational technology:   None
  • Students per Internet-connected computer:   3.5
  • Students per Internet-connected computer in classrooms:   7.5
  • Percent of instructional computers with high-speed Internet access:   90.5
The information about Oklahoma is State spending on educational technology, which has not been available for the past two years due to persistent state budget deficits, is increasing in Oklahoma.

Revenue from a new education lottery and expanded gaming revenues from Indian reservations, are expected to generate around $150 million, which will fund a variety of education initiatives in the 2005-06 school year, including spending on school technology.

Meanwhile, all 7th graders in Oklahoma are scheduled to take the state geography test online in spring 2005, making the effort the first statewide program for online testing in the Sooner State.

The 7th grade tests will serve as an indicator of the Oklahoma Department of Education’s readiness to eventually conduct all state assessments online, says J.P. “Phil” Applegate, the department’s executive director of instructional technology and telecommunications. San Antonio-based Harcourt Assessment Inc. will administer the tests.

Other online education efforts in Oklahoma are also taking off.

The state education department’s 2004-05 Survey of School Technology found that 98 online courses were offered for credit in various school districts, and that the percentage of districts allowing students to take Web-based courses for credit had nearly doubled, to 32 percent, in the past year. Of the state’s 540 school districts, 170 allow students to receive credit for Internet courses, and 77 use distance learning to provide Advanced Placement courses.

State education officials are also trying to increase computer-based learning in schools by participating in the national Personal Access = Learning Success, or PALS, pilot program.

The program, which was started in 2001 and is underwritten by the federal Fund for the Improvement of Education, provides students with individual hand-held computers for an entire school year. The devices provide access to online content, interactive activities, and e-mail collaboration through a server-based system. Since 2001, about 3,000 elementary, middle, and secondary school students participated in the program in Oklahoma, the largest state pilot nationally, according to Applegate.

The state education department is seeking more federal funds, he says, to help it collect and analyze data on the program’s effectiveness.

Here is information about Technology Counts 2004
(also this) and Technology Counts 2003

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