Plugging in for Quality Schools - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

Plugging in for Quality Schools

What does a school that uses technology effectively look like? Despite limited resources, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District #144 in Markham, in southern Cook County, is ahead of the curve.

As a part of its quality reform agenda , Network 21 advocates for more effective use of technology in schools.  In addition to helping Illinois students prepare for graduation into a digital economy, Network 21 members believe that technology can transform, enhance and expand the way teachers teach, and raise student achievement.

What does a school that uses technology effectively look like?  Despite a limited local property tax base and high percentage of students in poverty, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District #144, in Markham in southern Cook County, is ahead of the curve in using technology to enhance the district's curriculum, student assessments, instruction and operations. 

At Prairie-Hills, teachers and principals have access to detailed information about each student's performance through a technology-based student achievement data system.  Quarterly student assessments are done online, saving time and putting valuable results and feedback immediately back into teachers' and parents' hands.  Teachers can access the district curricula online and share lesson plans with other teachers using an online instructional design template.  Teachers are also encouraged to experiment with technology wherever possible in projects with students. 

Student achievement data at Prairie-Hills has shown marked improvement over the past two years. The district can offer valuable lessons to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) as it struggles to meet the rigorous new demands of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  Apart from the high standards it sets for reading and math, the act also demands improvements in students' technology literacy, teacher use of technology for instruction, and student access to networked computers. 

Some legislators and policymakers see technology in the classroom as a luxury, and made deep cuts to the state's education technology budget in the past legislative session.  Network 21 is working with ISBE on technology standards for school districts, and urging the State to collect better data on technology use in Illinois classrooms.  We are also seeking better state resources for education technologies.  During the coming year, Network 21 will explore how technology tools can be used by the state in its intervention strategies with under-performing schools. 


More posts by Mary Ellen

All posts by Mary Ellen »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.?

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »