November 05, 2007 22:42 ET

Three K-12 Leadership Groups Urge Broad and Intensive Use of Technology to Improve Education

Nation Cannot Compete If Schools Remain Dead Last in Technology Use

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - November 5, 2007) - Three K-12 leadership groups today warned that the nation's schools would not be able to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century without using technology broadly and intensively -- just as competitive U.S. industries have been doing for years.

In a new report, "Maximizing the Impact: The Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System," the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills urged renewed emphasis on technology in education.

"Most people assume that schools already are using technology in the same way that leading businesses and organizations are using it as an indispensable, integral tool for every critical function," said Mary Ann Wolf, Executive Director of SETDA. "This is simply not the case. Our educational system has a long way to go before the potential of technology to improve teacher quality, increase rigor, and maximize efficiencies is realized."

The report urges federal, state and local policymakers and other stakeholders to take action on three fronts:

1. Use technology comprehensively to develop proficiency in 21st century skills. Knowledge of core content is necessary, but no longer sufficient, for success in a competitive world. Even if all students mastered core academic subjects, they still would be woefully underprepared to succeed in postsecondary institutions and workplaces, which increasingly value people who can use their knowledge to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate, and solve problems, as specified in ISTE's recently refreshed National Educational Standards for Students. Used comprehensively, technology helps students develop 21st century skills.

2. Use technology comprehensively to support innovative teaching and learning. To keep pace with a changing world, schools need to offer more rigorous, relevant and engaging opportunities for students to learn -- and to apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways. Used comprehensively, technology supports new, research-based approaches and promising practices in teaching and learning.

3. Use technology comprehensively to create robust education support systems. To be effective in schools and classrooms, teachers and administrators need training, tools and proficiency in 21st century skills themselves. Used comprehensively, technology transforms standards and assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, learning environments, and administration.

"Schools cannot possibly prepare students to participate in a global economy without making intensive use of technology," said Ken Kay, President of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. "Schools are doing a good job of teaching technology proficiency to students. But technology also must be used routinely for learning core subjects and 21st century skills, such as critical thinking and problem solving, innovation and creativity, and life and career skills. And technology must be a fundamental building block for strengthening teaching and learning and for modernizing education support systems."

Right now, however, "education is the least technology-intensive of any major industry in America," said Don Knezek, CEO of ISTE. "In the digital age, how can we expect schools to improve student achievement -- the most important outcome of education -- without taking full advantage of technology to support students, teachers and administrators? No other leading industry would try to position itself for success today without using technology comprehensively and purposefully to achieve its goals."

The report supports the Partnership for 21st Century Skills' framework for 21st century learning, which calls for mastery of core subjects and 21st century skills. The report also highlights effective practices in states, districts and schools that are using technology to achieve results. And it provides guiding questions and action principles for policymakers and other stakeholders who are committed to maximizing the impact of technology in education.

Together, SETDA, ISTE and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills represent dozens of leading U.S. companies and organizations, six leadership states, education technology directors in all 50 states, 85,000 education technology professionals and 3.2 million educators throughout the country.

The full report, "Maximizing the Impact," is available at

About the State Education Technology Directors Association

SETDA is the principal association representing the state directors for educational technology in all 50 states. SETDA's goal is to improve student achievement through technology. SETDA provides professional development and leadership around the effective use to technology in education to enhance competitiveness in the global workforce.

About the International Society for Technology in Education

A nonprofit membership association, ISTE provides leadership and service to improve teaching, learning, and school leadership by advancing the effective use of technology in PK-12 and teacher education. Home of the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), the Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET), and the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), ISTE represents more than 85,000 professionals worldwide.

About the Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education. The organization brings together the business community, education leaders and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education to ensure every child's success as citizens and workers in the 21st century. The Partnership encourages schools, districts and states to advocate for the infusion of 21st century skills into education and provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change.

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