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For Immediate Release
January 12, 2005

Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420

Julie Grimes
Public Information Officer
(804) 225-2775

Federal Report Recognizes Virginia for Leadership Role
In Use of Educational Technology

Virginia’s success in utilizing educational technology to increase student achievement is highlighted in a new report from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).

The report, Toward a New Golden Age in American Education: How the Internet, the Law and Today’s Students are Revolutionizing Expectation, focuses on the increasing use of educational technology, technology partnerships between teachers and students, and greater accountability in the nation’s public schools.

Virginia is praised in the USDOE report for pioneering online testing and improving instruction through the Web-based Standards of Learning (SOL) Technology Initiative. Since the initiative was launched in 2000, Virginia students have taken more than 400,000 SOL tests online, including 47,000 tests taken online during the course of a single day in the spring of 2004. All of the commonwealth’s high schools and 40 percent of Virginia’s middle schools now meet the initiative’s objectives for educational technology.

“The governor and the General Assembly should be applauded for their investment in educational technology,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary. “These commitments have put Virginia in a leadership position.”

“It is gratifying that the USDOE has recognized the significance of this important Virginia initiative and technology's emerging role in increasing student achievement through analysis of data," said Assistant Superintendent of Technology Lan Neugent.

“As detailed in this report, we are already seeing some remarkable results, driven by better use of existing technology,” said USDOE Secretary Rod Paige, in issuing the report. “There is a new fervor in American education, a new creativity — driven in part by this generation of tech-savvy students — which I believe bodes well for the future of our country.”

The USDOE report also recognized the commonwealth for its progress in meeting the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Virginia was one of nine states in which the number of schools meeting the federal law’s objectives for achievement in reading and mathematics increased by at least ten percentage points.

In addition to the test delivery system, Virginia’s Web-based SOL Technology Initiative, implemented five years ago, gives school divisions the opportunity to use technology to improve instructional, remedial, and testing capabilities. The initiative provides greater student access to computers; Internet-ready local area network capability in every school; and adequate high-speed, high-bandwidth capability for instructional, remedial, and testing needs. To date, all Virginia’s high schools, more than 40 percent of middle schools and 10 percent of elementary schools currently meet the technology initiative requirements.

The infrastructure developed through the SOL Technology Initiative is now supporting the implementation of a Web-based Educational Information Management System (EIMS) for the collection, reporting, and management of state and local student data about K-12 education. The EIMS also will provide a powerful tool for educators to make informed decisions about instruction.

Currently, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is working to create unique student testing identifiers, ensure secure data transfer, and provide decision-support tools teachers and administrators can use in measuring student progress. VDOE expects to have student data from all 132-school divisions in the EIMS by the end of February.

The USDOE report also featured a program that supplied every Henrico County high school student — and later expanded to include all middle school students and elementary school teachers — with a laptop computer as an example of a successful effort by a school district to integrate technology and instruction.

The full text of the National Education Technology Plan is available at www.ed.gov/technology/plan.