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Ingredients for School Reform

Mary Ann Wolf, Executive Director, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), tells how schools increase student learning.

Here … are the essential ingredients for high school reform: Effective technology, integrated by well-trained and competent teachers, and solid longitudinal data that provide not just accountability but also a compass by which to keep teaching and learning on a true course for each unique student.

Wolf described how the Technology Immersion Pilot (TIP) in Floydada Junior High School, Floydada, Texas, combined professional development, assessment tools, and integrated technology, to increase test scores in language arts, math, and science among 10th graders by 24, 26, and 34 percent, respectively, from 2005 to 2006.

She also described unusual academic gains for students with disabilities in the Floydada program.

Wolf and Bob Wise, former West Virginia Governor, explained the urgency for this kind of school reform.

Wise said that there are 20,000 high schools in the U.S., and 2,000 of these schools account for a majority of the dropouts. “We know where the dropout factories are.” He went on to say that 90 percent of the fastest growing careers “require a secondary education,” implying that it’s important to “fix” the dropout factories, so more students will graduate and contribute to society as taxpayers rather than be tax takers.

Wolf explained that only 5 percent of U.S. students now go into math or science. Between 1989 to 2001, U.S. patent applications from Asia grew 759 percent, while applications from the U.S. itself grew by only 116 percent. She implies that it’s in the national interest for more applications from the U.S., and that this will require a higher percentage of U.S. students in mathematics and science.

See and hear the complete series of podcasts originating at Demonstrating the Role of Data and Technology in High School Improvement, the first event jointly presented by the Alliance for Excellent Education and the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

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