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SUMMARY AND REVIEW FOR: Study Type General Articles and The First-Year Implementation of the Expert Opinions Technology Literacy Challenge Fund in Five Descriptive and Survey States Studies By Kirshstein, R., Birman, B., Quinones, Levin, D. & X Formal Evaluations Stephens, M. (2000). Formal Research Studies American Institutes for Research , 1997 – 1998 Definition of Study Types Printable Version of Review Major implications for educators/decision makers: o State and local-level leadership is necessary for efficient administration of TLCF funding. o Broad-based and locally planned funding criteria (such as the TLCF model) permit support of a wide range of state-level technology- related programs. This allows TLCF funds to be applied in a manner consistent with local requirements. o Flexible programs such as TLCF require careful monitoring by state and federal education agencies. o It has proven difficult for States to identify the school districts most in need of TLCF funding. Major implications for educational researchers/evaluators: This document is an extended summary of the results of five state-level case studies. Little detail regarding methodology or data analysis is provided. Regarding efficient administration of federal and state-level technology- funding programs, presented results suggest the importance of high and low- level leadership, district financial resources, experience with technology grant writing, and experience with technology plans in general. Major intervention(s) or variables studied: How various states utilize federal funding provided under the TLCF program. Critical questions addressed: What are effective funding strategies/sources for technology in education? What are effective strategies for eliminating the "digital divide"? How do various schools, communities and states compare on technology access and use? What are the Federal and state role(s) in technology in supporting local technology use? What is the impact of competitive vs. entitlement funding on technology impact? Sources of evidence identified: Personal interviews with State and local-level administrators, staff, teachers, and students. Replicable strategies, practices, and/or products: Other federal technology-funding programs could easily be modeled along the lines of TLCF, pending congressional approval. Such a program would be characterized by flexible qualification standards coupled with efficient federal program monitoring. Funds would be distributed directly to states, which would then provide competitive grants to districts and schools. Applications would be weighted on the basis of greatest need. TLCF funded projects would ideally be fully integrated with ongoing technology programs. Strengths and limitations of the study: The broad focus of this article provides a nice overview of the first year implementation of the TLCF program. The within and between-state analyses are particularly interesting. The practicality and clarity of the final conclusions are also commendable. Overall, the article efficiently conveys in an organized, direct manner well-supported results and final conclusions. The results and conclusions are limited to case studies. Suggested related studies or resources to consider: Summary: Kirshstein, R., Birman, B., Quinones, Levin, D. & Stephens, M. (2000). The first year implementation of the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund in five states. Retrieved January 24, 2002, from http://www.ed.gov/pubs/TLCFFirstYearReport. Kirshstein et al. present five case studies of state (Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, & Washington) use of federal funding in support of state technology plans, via the U.S. Department of Education's Technology Literacy Challenge Fund (TLCF). Initiated in 1997, TLCF provides funding in support of State and local-level technology plans. States first submit technology plans to TLCF for evaluation. Pending TLCF approval, individual states dispense TLCF funds in a competitive manner to local school districts. At the local level, grant approval is based upon school district technology plans, degree of technological need, and degree of poverty. Funding regulations require that TLCF funds be used in support of technology programs that service school districts with the highest degree of poverty, and the greatest overall need for technological development. Participating state programs are also required to promote the development of at least one of the following technology-related areas: o The application of technology in support of school reform. o The acquisition of educational technology for the express purpose of improving student learning. o The improvement of district, school and classroom-level telecommunications connectivity. o Professional development regarding the integration of educational technology into the classroom. o The provision of improved education services to adults and families. Between spring of 1997 and winter of 1998, Kirshstein et al. conducted personal interviews with state and local-level employees (administrators, teachers, and staff), and students involved in TLCF-funded programs or administration. These interviews provided insight into the following general research questions: o What were the experiences of states and districts in implementing the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund? o How were states and districts using the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund? o How did Technology Literacy Challenge Fund activities relate to other technological and reform efforts? Kirshstein et al. found that increased time for states and districts to prepare and implement their technology plans would have been beneficial, and that within-state competition for TLCF funding often favored those districts with greater financial resources, and technological planning and grant writing experience. Results also show that definitions of "technological need" varied substantially from state to state, and that TLCF funded a wide range of programs specifically designed to improve student learning. TLCF funds were also employed in support of professional development activities, hardware and software acquisitions, and in support of other, ongoing technological initiatives. Kirshstein et al. argue that the TLCF program needed to be evaluated within the context of other, ongoing technological initiatives, and stress the importance of state and local-level leadership in support of TLCF-funded programs. They conclude that TLCF funding should not be spread to thin among competing grantees, point out the inherent difficulties in identifying "at need" school districts, and stress the need for federal monitoring of TLCF-funded programs.
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