Last week, I met with Rick Wherley (Independence Local Schools) and Shari Bailey (Garfield Heights City Schools). We were all working on our districts’ technology plans, and spent some time discussing various technology-in-schools issues and how we’re approaching them in our technology plans.
In Ohio, schools are more-or-less required to use the state provided technology planning tool to complete our technology plans. In one of the sections, we must outline our curriculum alignment to Ohio academic content standards. We’re asked, for example, to self-assess our level of instructional integration of technology in language arts at the Pre-K, K-2, 3-4, 5-7, 8-10, and 11-12 grade levels. For each subject, we have to assess how we’re doing with technology integration at each of several different grade levels. But the levels aren’t the same. In foreign language, for example, there are only four levels (Pre-K, K-4, 5-8, 9-12) as opposed to the six for language arts.
The grade level divisions come from the content standards themselves. The technology plan follows the divisions outlined in the academic content standards developed and adopted by the Ohio Department of Education. Those levels aren’t the same for every subject.
It turns out that there are tests at the ends of the levels. We assess language arts in standardized, state-mandated tests in grades 2, 4, 7, and 10. The science tests are in 2, 5, 8, and 10, and the divisions reflect those tests.
Now, here’s the interesting part. The subjects with four divisions (Pre-K, K-4, 5-8, 9-12) are the ones with no proficiency or achievement tests. These include foreign language and fine arts. But in technology, there’s a divergence. In the academic content standards, we find the same grade level bands as in foreign language as in fine arts. But in the tech plan, we have K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-10, 11-12. These are the same divisions that are used for science and social studies, for which there are state tests.
It’s particularly interesting that the technology standards differentiate between 9-10 and 11-12. The philosophy of the technology standards derives from the NETS Standards for Students, in which almost all of the standards are taught by eighth grade and then simply applied at the high school level. Accordingly, there is little (if any) difference between these two grade level bands in technology.
There is, however, a test. The subjects that have split bands in high school are the ones that are tested on the Ohio Graduation Test.
Is an achievement test for technology coming? The grade level bands used in the technology planning tool appear to be pointing in that direction. Rick said that he wouldn’t be surprised to see a test for technology within the next few years, and I tend to agree with him.