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Two US Ed Tech Studies


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Reposted with permission from Wired News..

Feds Elated With E-Rate

10:30 a.m. Sep. 12, 2000 PDT,1282,38729,00.html

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia -- Two studies released by the Department of Education have proponents of educational technology cheering.

On Monday, Education Secretary Richard Riley discussed the results of one of them: E-Rate and the Digital Divide: A Preliminary Analysis From the Integrated Studies of Educational Technology (, conducted by the Urban Institute.

The report found that e-rate funding is accomplishing what it was established to do, namely improving internal connections in the nation's poorer schools and getting them connected to the Internet.

"The e-rate is helping to eliminate the digital divide and raise standards of learning in virtually every school and classroom," Riley said at the Conference on Educational Technology. "The report clearly shows that we're moving in the right direction."

According to the Urban Institute study, nearly $4 billion in funds were distributed during the first two years of e-rate, with 84 percent of the money going to public schools. Per student funding to school districts increased with the level of poverty. The most impoverished school districts received almost 10 times as much funding per student than wealthier districts. The study found that both rural and urban schools have greatly benefited from the program.

The e-rate was created by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as part of an effort to connect all schools and libraries to the Internet. The act mandated that telecommunications companies "contribute" monies to the fund. The telcoms in turn added charges to consumers' telephone bills to cover the e-rate charges. The money from the E-Rate allows schools to receive up to a 90 percent discount on telecommunications and Internet services.

While applications from poor schools was lower than most school districts in the first year of funding, the second year of the e-rate saw greater percentage of applicants from high-poverty districts. Larger districts and libraries applied for funding at greater rates, and when approved, received the most amount of funding per student, the study found.

Despite the positive results, Riley also said that the poorest of the poor still need assistance to gain access to technology. Some of the poorest urban and rural districts have not applied for e-rate funding, and some cannon afford the 10 percent remaining fees after the e-rate discount on telecommunications services. In addition, the poor conditions of certain schools must be improved before they can support the technology.

Riley said that teachers also need greater understanding in how to use technology in their classrooms.

A second study released Monday from the National Center for Education Statistics, Teachers' Tools for the 21st Century: A Report on Teachers' Use of Technology ( showed that 99 percent of teachers have access to computers or the Internet at school, but not all of them have the skills to use it effectively.

The report said young teachers and educators who have had extensive professional development are successfully using technology in the classroom, but a barrier remains for those teachers who are uncomfortable with technology.

Riley said he is asking Congress to double the funding for teacher technology training to $150 million.

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Last updated: September 15, 2000 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0