SPECIAL TECHNOLOGY REPORT: Pioneering States in One-to-One Implementations
The most high profile one-to-one implementations have come at the state level in Maine, Michigan and Texas, providing valuable examples for administrators to learn from.
An unexpected $50 million state surplus allowed Gov. Angus King to finance the 2002 deployment of Apple iBooks to all of Maine's seventh- and eighth-grade students and teachers under the newly legislated Maine Learning Technology Initiative. The primary goal of MLTI was to transform learning to prepare students for the technology-based workforce and, in turn, help boost the state's economy.
The state contract with Apple bundled iBooks, warranties, wireless networking, professional development and technology support to educators and students for just $242 a year per child. The first deployment in the fall of 2002 put iBook G3s in classrooms, the next upgraded to G4s in 2006 and Mac- Books were distributed in 2009.
Because each district maintains autonomy, programs and procedures vary, says Jeff Mao, learning-technology policy director in the Maine Department of Education. Some districts have elected to add a full-time computer technician to the staff or incorporate certain software.
In the fall of 2009, MLTI began a push to expand to high schools, which already could participate in the same Apple contract the middle schools had, but at local expense. About 60 percent of the state's high schools are involved, with the hopes that all will be using it by 2013.
While a uniform increase in standardized test scores remains elusive, Mao sees the state's continued faith in MLTI as one measure of success. "When we expanded to high schools in the fall of 2009, we did so amidst the worst financial crisis we've seen in the U.S. since the Great Depression," he says, and more than half of Maine's communities voted to expand the program through local budgets.
Mao says it is still too early to measure the program's impact on the state's economy, as the middle schoolers who were the first group of one-to-one users are college juniors. However, he does point out that grants from MLTI and the National Science Foundation have paid the salaries of several scientists employed to create computer- based simulations for use in schools. And Mao notes the positive economic impact of what he calls "edutourism," or the boom in local hotel and restaurant business due to education delegations visiting the state to observe MLTI.
Spearheaded in 2001 by Gov. John Engler and Speaker of the House Rick Johnson, Michigan's Freedom to Learn initiative was a state-legislated one-to-one program designed to enhance student achievement in core subjects and to equip students with the necessary skills to contribute to the state's workforce. A successful demonstration phase in 2002-2003 led the state to expand it in 2004.
FTL had a specific focus on sixth grade, because research had shown that many students began losing interest in school during that year. A partnership with HP provided 23,000 middle school students and teachers in 100 school districts with laptops. The $37 million program, financed through Title II D federal and state technology funds, focused first on high-needs schools and was designed to include all 130,000 of the state's sixth-graders within the next four years. HP provided wireless infrastructure, laptops, filtering, content and assessment software, professional development and a help desk available 24/7, all at a cost of $250 per student.
When funding for the program was cut in 2006, the legislature established the nonprofit One to One Institute, a group mandated to teach schools how to make their one-to-one programs self-sustaining. The Institute supports state schools and districts with one-to-one and other technology programs, and offers professional development and strategies to government agencies and education institutions.
Launched as a four-year study in the spring of 2004, the Texas Immersion Pilot (TIP) used $14 million in federal Title II D funds to distribute laptops to 29 middle school campuses in 23 districts across the state. Crafted and led by the state's director of education technology, Anita Givens, TIP was created in response to state legislation seeking to explore the academic impact of more ubiquitous technology integration, by comparing one-to-one schools with traditional schools to determine the impact.
To qualify for a TIP grant, says Givens, now associate commissioner of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), schools had to serve middle school students and serve as a control campus for the evaluation, if not selected for immersion. The overarching idea of the immersion model was to have technology be central to the learning process. "Some schools were using technology only as a supplement, sending students to a computer lab or using laptops on a cart," says Givens. "But teachers did not always incorporate the technology into lesson plans, as it was not always available on a daily basis and students may not have had access at home."
Givens says campuses that fully implemented the immersion model had significant student achievement gains, especially in math, showed increased student attendance and decreases in discipline problems. Since TIP's final year in 2007-2008, many other schools have implemented similar models, and the TEA has provided resources to assist districts in implementing and assessing the programs' success. The original TIP and control schools have expanded one-to-one programs to additional middle schools and high schools.