In eight years Arizona can

by francine Hardaway on January 20, 2005

In eight years Arizona can lead the nation in K-12 academic performance. This is a bold statement, when you consider we are now 49th. Most parents are dissatisfied with the public school system, and many are straining their two-income pursestrings to the max paying for private schools.

Everyone would love to have a functioning public education system again. But how can we do it? By using the elearning techniques that are commonly employed in adult education and informal education (gaming, entertainment, etc.)Anyone who has ever seen a child pick up something–good or bad–from a computer knows this.

My friend Ted has been trying to do something for Arizona education for fifteen years, dragging me behind him on every initiative because his wife once ran my kids’gifted program. But now, I think he has held an intervention with the legislature that may work, because we have hit bottom.

So this is the year of the Hail Mary pass for Ted’s effort. Today marks the launch of a legislative initiative by the Arizona advocacy group eLearning System for Arizona Teachers and Students (eSATS), whose research shows that in eight years Arizona can lead the nation in K-12 academic performance by bolstering the current system with eLearning that supports teacher-student interaction.

Senate Bill 1181 develops a statewide eLearning system to deliver individual student mastery of core subjects at every grade level.

Don’t worry about the politics: SB1181 is aligned closely with the National Educational Technology Plan [ ] and No Child Left Behind Act. It provides the means to attract and develop exceptional teachers and to increase the academic performance of each child. We’re experienced education advocates, and we know we have to hook into every other initiative going on in the state, plus a few unfunded and underfunded federal mandates.

The eSATS design is based on fifteen years of planning, research, focus groups and engagement with the Arizona education, business and government communities.

�There is a new fervor in American (and Arizona) education and a new creativity that�s being driven in part by our current generation of tech-savvy students,� said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. �We are already seeing some remarkable results, and I believe this trend bodes well for the future of our country.�

Arizona has already pioneered eLearning by giving each student in Wilson School District a computer in 1993, implementing the Cox Education Network in rural Snowflake District in 2002, and now by adopting a �computer for every student� program at the new Vail High School in Tucson in 2005. Other pilot programs that have made Arizona ready for the full move to eSATS include ten Virtual Cyber Schools and the adoption of laptops by teachers in Paradise Valley.

�The state is ready for transformation to eLearning on a school by school basis,� said Ted Kraver Advocacy Leader for eSATS. �One of the more fascinating aspects of the eLearning Centered School legislation is the ability to shift low efficiency costs of legacy education into highly effective investments in eLearning. These include digital curriculum, teacher education and professional development, and 1:1 computer-connectivity systems with technical support.�

Automated student assessment offloads most of the lecture, recitation, grading and grade-reporting responsibilities from the teacher, greatly increasing one-on-one contact time with the students. Teachers, principals and administrators are better able to track student achievement and adjust instruction specifically to individual needs. A statewide data system supports awareness and decisions to teachers, administrators, parents, Arizona�s Department of Education, Legislators and the Governor.

And as the Arizona statewide K-12 eLearning system transitions to being fully operational by 2009 and is completed by 2012, Arizona�s children will be the first to benefit from the innovative new approaches being created by eLearning providers.

For those of you who care to learn more…

The eSATS design is based on vision and recommendations from Arizona education, governance, business and eLearning enterprise experts and leaders. Expert advice and research has been incorporated from educators and eLearning technology experts across the country and around the globe.
Arizona�s eSATS initiative is the first to be designed to transform an entire statewide school system. Its major components include teacher education and development, digital curriculum, well-supported computers and connectivity systems and assessment of student work to state standards in real time. Annual student, teacher and school performance assessments are easily derived from the data system. The two year bridging from legacy education followed by a six year build out is based on best practice innovation diffusion for long-term, systemic transformation. This approach will provide orderly and cost effective eLearning adoption. Under the plan, major K-12 support roles are funded for Arizona�s Universities and for the Arizona Department of Education. The accelerated deployment of broadband telecommunications to all Arizona communities over 1000 population is critical for success.

The full set of eSATS supporting papers, design and legislation is available at

The full text of the National Education Technology Plan is available at

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