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For Immediate Release
Friday, March 8, 2002
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106 or Jonathan Palumbo 781-338-3105

Schools report more computers and Internet access; increased efforts to use technology in the classroom

MALDEN - Over the past five years Massachusetts schools have made impressive progress in building a technology infrastructure by quadrupling classroom access to the Internet and reducing the number of students sharing computers.

According to the Department of Education's latest report on technology in schools, "Ed Tech 2001," nearly 9 out every of 10 classrooms (88%) across the state are connected to the Internet, with 60% of districts having all of their classrooms wired to the Internet.

The report also found that access to computers in schools does not appear to be linked to poverty. Districts with the highest concentration of students from low-income households have ratios close to the statewide numbers.

In addition, the report also shows that the student-to-computer ratio has been reduced from 15-to-1 in 1997 to less than 6-to-1 in 2001. In early 2000, the Department of Education released a set of six benchmark standards as goals for technology. This included the goal of achieving a 5-to-1 student-to-computer ratio by 2003 in every district. The 2001 district numbers show significant progress toward that goal.

Cost, another factor, shows that per student spending on technology has increased more than 60% statewide since 1996. Although per student spending dipped slightly from 2000 to 2001, school districts have still increased spending by more than $100 per student over the past five years. In 1997, average per pupil spending on technology was $159.59 while in 2001 the average was $262.67.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll said that while it is important to make strides in the use of technology, he still wants to make sure schools are using it practically.

"While infrastructure is critical, the ultimate goal is to use technology to increase student achievement," he said. "Technology is most useful when teachers are able to use it effectively in the classroom. When it works best, teachers are developing lesson plans based on the curriculum frameworks and using technology to make the standards come alive for their students."

The report suggests that for districts to use technology to help students learn, they must provide curriculum support staff for teachers and professional development opportunities that allow educators to improve their technology skills and learn ways to integrate technology into their local curriculum.

To view the complete report or to view a district-by-district breakdown of student to computer ratios and classroom connectivity to the Internet, visit the Department of Education's Web site.

Last Updated: March 8, 2002
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