November 12, 2007 15:48 ET

Michigan's State Superintendent, Michael Flanagan, Refers to State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) Members as the "Henry Fords" of Education Policy Reform

While Students From North Carolina and Arkansas Highlight How the Proper Use of Technology Has Transformed Their Schools and Provided More Rigorous and Successful Instruction Resulting in Increased Graduate Rates and the Ability to Compete in the Future Global Economy

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - November 12, 2007) - At the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA)'s Education Forum: What It Takes to Compete event, Andreas Schleicher with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlighted the uphill battle America must face in terms of educating our nation's young people to compete in a global economy.

Schleicher highlighted how America is being surpassed by emerging nations in baseline educational success measures. "In the 1960s America was #1 in the percentage of persons with high school or equivalent qualifications. By the 1990s America had fallen to #13 with Korea leading the World," Schleicher commented. "This ranking is very generous when you factor in actual graduation rates (minus GEDs) putting America at #23 among OECD countries."

Michael Flanagan, Michigan's Superintendent of Public Instruction, is grappling with these issues perhaps more feverishly than any other state due to the decline of the auto industry that challenges educators to promptly re-tool Michigan's workforce. "We are in the midst of a perfect storm in Michigan," said Superintendent Flanagan. "Michigan's economics mirror the competitiveness trends we see nationally -- students used to be able to work on the line whether or not they graduated from High School," he said. "Now successful workers in the car industry must have post-secondary education. We must provide more rigorous instruction in high school to prepare our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow regardless of students' college aspirations."

Flanagan went on to say, "SETDA play a crucial role in changing the conversation with policy makers nationally. Like Henry Ford shifting the thinking and transforming the industrial age, SETDA is shifting the education reform discussions and transforming education in the information age."

SETDA's Education Forum: What It Takes to Compete event convened 300 education technology professionals, state and federal policy leaders, state and district superintendents, teachers and students from 46-plus states for a one-day summit on preparing our students for a global marketplace. These education leaders shared programs that are successfully addressing the daunting economic ramifications of continuing with our current education system.

"Students today are ready for rigorous instruction and engaging content," said Mary Ann Wolf, SETDA's Executive Director. "It's not just the three R's anymore; tomorrow's leaders will need creativity, critical thinking and innovative spirits to prosper in the world economy. Proper use of Innovation Packages, programs where schools are provided planning time, robust technology tools, training and support based around curricular goals, is transforming teaching and individualizing learning in states such as UT, ME, MO, TX, NC, AR, SC, and VA."

During this event, students from Greene County, North Carolina and Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas urged the audience of education policy leaders to do more to prepare them for college and the global workforce.

Little Rock High School is an EAST school which features a student-centered, service oriented, project-based technology education curriculum. This curriculum helps educators teach students to use the sophisticated technological tools of the 21st century to promote equity of educational opportunities, and to raise student achievement through a focus on higher order thinking skills. "In a school with such rich history, it is interesting to see the huge gains in student achievement these students from varied backgrounds have been able to achieve," said Jim Boardman, state educational technology director for Arkansas.

The IMPACT program was developed with support from North Carolina's Enhancing Education through Technology (EETT) Grant under NCLB. IMPACT provides teachers with the tools, professional development and support necessary to re-think the way they teach core subjects. "Test scores have increased, students are engaged in their own learning, and teacher retention is at an all time high with the systemic reform we implemented by leveraging a federal educational technology grant," said Frances Bradburn, state educational technology director for North Carolina. "What we realized in this pilot project is that when you give a school all the pieces to the puzzle -- including teacher training and support for the tools being utilized in the classroom -- both students and teachers thrive."


The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal association for state directors of technology and their staff members. SETDA provides its membership consisting of 50 states and two territories with opportunities to collaborate and learn from one another as well as the broader education community. For more information about SETDA and/or its events, visit

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