Point in Time Assessment Technology infrastructure and Integration audit

Technology: nECESSARY, limited, underfunded, and underused

“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.” – Nancy Kassebaum
The time frame for this assessment consisted of a four day observation period. Each day, Monday through Thursday, the intermediate computer pod at Helen M. Smith Elementary School was observed from 2:25pm until approximately 3:10pm.

During the time of the observation, the computer pod was being utilized by a fifth grade teacher and her students. The fifth grade is departmentalized and this teacher teaches English Language Arts with an emphasis on informational text and nonfiction reading and writing. There are 32 students in her class. Students were using the four day period to attempt to complete interim assessments in preparation for SBAC Testing next month. The assessment period for students consisted of the following:

  • On Monday, students took the Math multiple choice section of the interim assessment.
  • On Tuesday, students took the Math Performance Task section of the interim assessment.
  • On Wednesday and Thursday, the same steps were repeated with the English Language Arts sections of the test.

The computer pod consists of 32 Dell desktop computers. These computers are approximately 8 years old - purchased under the administration of a previous principal. Aside from the occasional re-imaging when new programs are released and installed, these computers are in the same condition as when purchased. A few computers have had some extra memory added to them to accommodate storing student work.

This pod is typically used by third grade students during this allotted time. Teachers take their students to the pod for work on typing skills, research projects, and reading practice while additional interventions take place. Accommodations to the schedule are made to prioritize SBAC Assessments.
Although the amount of computers available coincided with the number of students in this class, it is important to note that several computers had "glitches" during the testing period. Four different computers would not properly load the DRC Portal website to allow students to begin the test. These students were required to read while the school's ECS attempted to figure out the problem and get the test working. During the test, several computers froze and two even shut down without warning. The teacher was frustrated with the process. Students seemed unfazed and somewhat used to these technological issues.

The above forth mentioned is fairly typical of the technological workings of the school - outdated computers used for specific purposes, frequently, for tests. The computers are often more of an obstacle to the desired result than they necessarily are an asset.

This led me towards asking the staff some basic questions about their technology use...

The following survey was sent out to a staff of 35 teachers. A total of 23 responses were collected.

It is evident through the survey that:

  1. Teachers at the site are completely unfamiliar with the NETS Standards.
  2. Over 70% of the staff feels as though they need more training on the technology available to them.
  3. Almost 80% of the staff wish for technology they do not currently have.
  4. Most of the staff sees technology as an asset to their instruction.
So, if most of the staff is willing to embrace technology, where do they need to go with it? What changes need to take place in order for this to happen? What are the standards they should be addressing through the use of technology and what is the purpose behind it all?
The National Education Technology Standards for students, teachers, and administrators aim to empower students to be technologically skilled for the 21st century and to take ownership of their learning as they engage with technology.

ADMINISTRATORS: As with all school issues, the underuse and underfunding of technology at the site begins as an administrative decision. Due to many different reasons, administration had been unable to prioritize the funds necessary to update the computer pods around the school prior to this year.

NETS-A Standards state:

  1. Visionary Leadership: Educational Administrators inspire and lead development and implementation of a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformation throughout the organization.
  2. Digital Age Learning Culture: Educational Administrators create, promote, and sustain a dynamic digital-age learning culture that provides a rigorous, relevant, and engaging education for all students.
  3. Excellence in Professional Practice: Educational Administrators promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.
Through the observation of administrative supports in light of the NETS Standards, it is evident that the staff requires more leadership in the realm of technology implementation. A shared vision for how technology will be used in the school is not currently in place in order to promote rigorous use of technology.

The main area of focus for administration at the moment consists of standards 3A and 3B in which leaders, "allocate time, resources, and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration" as well as facilitate opportunities "that stimulate, nurture, and support...faculty and staff in the study and use of technology." Without administrative implementation of deliberate time and training, very little change will take place in regards to technological usage for the benefit of student learning.

TEACHERS: Through observations during the assessment period, it is evident that teachers at the site long to use technology for the betterment of student learning, yet are often frustrated with the lack of advancements and the struggles they face when attempting to use outdated equipment.

NETS-T Standards state:

  1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity: Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments.
  2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments: Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating temporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the student standards.
  3. Model Digital Age Work and Learning: Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society.
Through the observation of teacher's technology usage as well as responses from the staff-wide survey, it is clear that much work is needed in order to begin addressing the NETS Standards. Teachers at the site are completely unaware of these technology standards and therefore unable to successfully implement and measure them.

The main area of focus for teachers at the site is Standard 2A which specifies that educators will "design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity." Teachers long to be able to utilize technology for more than simply testing purposes and thus engage students in the process of using technology to enhance their learning experiences.

STUDENTS: During the observation period of the assessment, it was noted that students are more or less accustomed to the challenges that arise with the use of outdated technology at the school site.

The NETS Standards aim to "emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world."

NETS-S Standards include relevant information regarding students being: Empowered Learners, Digital Citizens, Knowledge Constructors, Innovative Designers, Computational Thinkers, Creative Communicators, and Global Collaborators.

Considering there is a lack of vision in regards to technology use at the site, it is without question as to why student use of technology is so limited. Students are well-versed in technology at home, yet lack the resources necessary at school to integrate technology as part of their learning.

After discussion with administration, it has been noted that one of the main areas that need improvement when it comes to technological advancement is the fact that students are currently only using technology as a means for testing or to engage with certain programs. As the school aims to use working technology to enhance student learning, the goal is to assist students in order to "communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats, and digital mediate appropriate to their goals." Standard 6 ensures that students are active goal setters in their integration of technology and that the tools allow them to enhance their communication skills.

“Technology-related organizational change and educational improvement begin with a vision…Unless the vision of those leaders is based on a clear understanding of the processes, outputs, and outcomes of technology use, technological implementation will be haphazard at best.”
(Dexter, Richardson, Nash)

It is quite evident that much work is needed in order to meet technology standards for students, teachers, and administrators. A cultural shift regarding the purpose of technology is necessary to best utilize the technology currently in place, yet administrative initiative is required so that the staff has a clear vision of where the school is heading in regards to technology implementation to promote student learning. As stated by Anderson and Dexter, “It is the responsibility of the principal not only to learn about technology him or herself but also to ensure that other staff in the building receive learning opportunities by providing either release time or professional development opportunities.”

After discussion with the school's principal, it was noted that technology funds have been set aside to transform the lab and new computers were in the process of being installed following the fifth grade testing window. The school purchased all-in-one Acer desktop computers to replace the outdated ones. General supply funds were used for this technology upgrade and the staff agreed the change was long overdue.

Although new computers are not a "fix" for the lack of appropriate technological implementation at the school site, it is indeed a start in the right direction. Students are loving the new, updated, and fast computers and are able to work on them with much more ease.

Citations:

  • ISTE.org
  • Anderson, R., Dexter, S. (2004). School Technology Leadership: An Empirical Investigation of Prevalence and Effect.
  • Dexter, S., Richardson, J. W., Nash, J. B. (2016). Leadership for technology use, integration and innovation: A review of the empirical research and implication for leadership preparation.

Credits:

Created with images by Pexels - "computer display electronics" • casey.marshall - "Dell" • TeroVesalainen - "question mark hand drawn solution" • Stefan Baudy - "Question!" • Alexas_Fotos - "target arrive reach" • InspiredImages - "figures games piece" • Freeimages9 - "chalk color red" • xMizLitx - "IMG_1128"

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