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.