Measure Up

State technology coordinator Cheryl Toman initiates a state-wide assessment of the effectiveness of teachers' technology integration. Clark County's Superintendent Tony Salvio and three principals strive to balance demands of the technology initiative with needs to increase achievement, lower truancy, and support ESOL students.

First year Principal Edith Wiley struggles to balance parent, teacher, and administrative concerns at Cedar Street Elementary School.


Miss Lowry meets with Dr. Wiley to discuss her use of technology.

Edith couldn’t believe her ears. Despite all she’d done during her administrative internship, she still didn’t feel prepared for this. The university courses, role-plays, time spent reviewing current research, and sitting in on parent conferences had only given her an inkling of what was to come. This was virgin territory, and she could tell she needed help to navigate it successfully.

The week before school started, three parents walked into her office unannounced and demanded their children be transferred out of Miss Lowry’s class. It had been a grueling meeting. Afterwards, Edith reviewed some lesson plans on file and decided to discuss the situation with Miss Lowry in person.

See Miss Lowry’s lesson plans from last year below:

Having survived the battle with Miss Lowry—at least temporarily—Edith’s next hurdle was the new technology integration assessment tool that Superintendent Tony Salvio had presented at yesterday’s leadership team meeting. They were supposed to measure the effective integration of technology in each school’s instructional program—and soon. Edith had barely found the computer lab in her building, and she had hoped to get to know her faculty a bit before she began evaluating their performance.

See Clark County School District memo detailing the state’s requirement on technology integration assessment below:

Edith did have some indication of the level of teachers’ reading instruction in the form of results from last years’ Diagnostic Screening of Teacher Knowledge and Skills. She planned to analyze those results along with student literacy scores to see if any patterns emerged that might help the school’s lowest achieving students. Clearly, reviewing the teacher and student assessment scores would be her top priority. Edith’s mind kept wandering back to the question of Miss Lowry’s students’ test scores. Something there just didn’t look right.


See Cedar Street Teacher scores for the Diagnostic Screening of Reading Teacher Knowledge and Skills below:

See Clark County Schools’ scores for the Diagnostic Screening of Reading Teacher Knowledge and Skills below:

See Sample questions from the Diagnostic Screening of Reading Teacher Knowledge and Skills below:

See Cedar Street Elementary School’s standardized test scores from last year below:

US Department of Education summary of the No Child Left Behind legislation on Adequate Yearly Progress

Across town, Gloucester Elementary School Principal Latisha Howard experiences a rude awakening.

Latisha Howard stood back and evaluated the bouquet. The sunflowers towered over the surrounding daisies. She removed the tallest stems, clipped two inches off the bottom of each, and returned them to the heavy ceramic vase she’d brought from home. She smiled and placed the vase in the center of the small round table in her office.

When the long days allowed it, Latisha kept her sanity by rising early to spend a little time in her garden before school, and she took pleasure in its marking of the seasons. She felt the same kind of admiration and satisfaction after seven years leading her faculty. While she didn’t readily accept praise for each of their accomplishments, she could allow herself some credit for providing guidance these past years.


Latisha worked hard to prepare her faculty presentation.

As she sat down at her desk, Latisha sorted through her email and opened the Clark County School District memo on assessing technology integration, the focus of yesterday’s leadership meeting. She was more than confident that Tony Salvio would be impressed with how her staff measured up in this area.

Due in part to her confidence in her faculty, Latisha wanted to be careful and clear when she presented this assessment requirement to them next week. She’d recently read an article on the North Central Regional Education Laboratory’s (NCREL) site addressing the link between increased student achievement and successful integration of technology into the core curriculum, and she wanted to use that along with her school’s accomplishments to set the stage. She revisited the article now, hunting for a good quote to use as a hook in her presentation.

Critical Issue: Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement

After finding what she needed, she made herself a list of all the technology-related pluses she knew already existed in her building. Each classroom had one computer along with school-wide internet access; they had a new lab with 30 computers; and last year approximately 50%—60% of teachers made regular use of it. Latisha wanted more specifics, so she rose from her chair to walk the halls.


The ESOL lesson that Latisha observed.

As she moved through the corridors she noticed the summer vacation art and writing had disappeared and was replaced by more academic work. She smiled at the orderly hum flowing from half-opened classroom doors. Her first stop was the self-contained ESOL class, where students there were pulled-out of their regular classes for intensive English language instruction. The idea was that the ESOL teacher would design lessons that supported both English language acquisition and content area instruction. A wealthy parent had donated a SMART Board to the ESOL teacher, and Latisha was looking forward to seeing how it was being used.

Around the corner, Latisha found a fourth-grade class working on a social studies review. The classroom and special education teachers had been partnering for a couple of years to differentiate


Latisha examines the social studies review.

instruction using technology. After visiting their class, Latisha was thankful she’d been able to provide the staffing and joint planning time to make this happen.


See an excerpt from the technology integration assessment below:

West Staples High School Principal Charlie Davis juggles increased truancy and drop-out rates along with student achievement and technology integration issues.

Charlie Davis’s gaze went from his half-empty coffee cup to the clock on the wall and back again. He took another gulp and faced the inevitable. On his desk were last year’s truancy reports and the daunting expectation that he reverse this trend.

See the West Staples High School truancy report below:

Just yesterday evening Charlie had left a note for Clarice, the student attendance coordinator. He wanted to be proactive this year, and he knew she had a handle on the truancy patterns that were plaguing their school. Clarice was both detailed and punctual, so it was no surprise that morning when Charlie looked up and saw her standing in the doorway. “Hi Clarice. C’mon in.” He waved her toward a chair.

“Charlie, I got your note. What’s on your mind?”

“Well… what isn’t on my mind? For starters, our truancy rate, as you know, has been going through the roof, and our drop-out rate doesn’t look too hot, either. I’m trying to make sense of all of this and come up with some new interventions. Maybe more family outreach or more guidance department interaction with students you flag? I don’t know.” Charlie paused to drain the rest of his stale coffee. “At the same time, I’m looking at low pass rates on our barrier tests and the resulting drop-out problem that any sane person could have predicted would be the logical result of not providing any options—other than college prep programs—to our students. Aside from all that, not much else is new. How’re things with you?”

“Charlie, I got your note. What’s on your mind?”

“Well… what isn’t on my mind? For starters, our truancy rate, as you know, has been going through the roof, and our drop-out rate doesn’t look too hot, either. I’m trying to make sense of all of this and come up with some new interventions. Maybe more family outreach or more guidance department interaction with students you flag? I don’t know,” Charlie paused to drain the rest of his stale coffee. “At the same time, I’m looking at low pass rates on our barrier tests and the resulting drop-out problem that any sane person could have predicted would be the logical result of not providing any options—other than college prep programs—to our students. Aside from all that, not much else is new. How’re things with you?”


Charlie Davis faced many challenges as principal of West Staples High School.

“Fine, Charlie, I’m just fine,” Clarice shook her head and chuckled at Charlie’s attempt to make light of a dire situation. The trends were all clear, and try as they might, they just couldn’t seem to shake them.

“You know I met with the leadership team yesterday. We have a technology accountability measure to attend to. Take a look at what Tony Salvio handed us.” Charlie slid the memo from yesterday’s meeting across his desk toward Clarice.

As Clarice read it, she wondered if technology integration was really the place to spend their collective energy. She looked up at Charlie, curious about his reaction.

“It’s not like we’re not using technology. Students word process their papers, and some teachers do webquests and stuff like that. I’m pretty sure most teachers let kids on the computers when they finish assignments,” Charlie offered. “And I know our teachers are attending technology workshops because I’ve signed the conference release forms myself.”

With all the pressures they were facing, Charlie wasn’t looking forward to asking his faculty to complete their technology integration assessments or further alter their instructional programs. For years he’d been telling them their focus was on improving student test scores, and he was afraid that this would be yet another blur in the ever-moving-target game.

Tony Salvio reflects on technology integration in Clark County Schools after the teacher assessment data has been collected.

Tony ran his fingers through his thinning hair. There was no getting around it. Despite being in front on both technology spending and receipt of technology grant funds, his schools were lagging behind on effective technology integration measures. “Well, Lucy, how’re we gonna fix this one?” He gave his shepherd a pat and rose to get a glass of water.

See Clark County School District’s technology integration assessment results below:

Planning for the leadership meeting was always a challenge for Tony, and this month was no exception. This particular Sunday evening, everything seemed contradictory. How to strike a balance between pushing his schools forward and supporting their current efforts? Could they meet the state mandate as well as the needs of their students? What about the nuts-and-bolts of instruction? His chest tightened.


Tony Salvio always prided himself on being responsive to teacher and administrator concerns.

Tony clicked on the NCREL videos for the third time and wondered how far from proficient his schools really were. He understood the objections raised by his principals when they revisited technology integration at their last meeting. He knew Charlie’s concerns about truancy, test scores, and preparing kids for workplace challenges were valid. And no one could argue against focusing on literacy achievement, especially at the elementary level, as Edith had reminded them. Still, he couldn’t help thinking there was a more natural way to approach technology and instruction, that it might be part of the solution to all the issues they faced.

quicktime A video clip displaying beginning level technology integration
quicktime A video clip displaying intermediate level technology integration
quicktime A video clip displaying proficient level technology integration

After watching the videos, Tony kicked off his shoes and paced the floor between the fireplace and dining room table. His intuition told him that for any of this to work for kids, he needed to start small and let the teachers build their own momentum. His part should be—would be—providing time, equipment, and support. That was his challenge…and his ace. Quickly, he returned to his computer to take another look at the professional development recommendations suggested by the teachers’ assessment results. Each school had a different set of needs and would require different levels of support.

See Professional development recommendations for Gloucester Elementary School below:

Tony’s thoughts were interrupted by the phone.

“Tony, it’s Cheryl. Sorry to bother you at home, but there are some new developments you should know about.”

“What’s up?”

“Well, the state seed money for technology integration dries up in six months, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be renewed!”

Tony flopped down onto the couch and looked up at the ceiling. He’d faced unfunded mandates before, but the shortsightedness of legislators still surprised him. “So, districts will need to come up with their own funding for implementing these plans.” He sat forward. “I wonder if we could lobby the legislature, or maybe go straight to the finance committee, gather support. There’s that Microsoft grant money, too. Or, what about using funds targeting student achievement? That’s what we’re all about, right?”

“Sure, that’s possible… we could also think about funds marked for professional development. Schools could pool those funds and free up others to support the technology plans.” Cheryl sounded dubious.

Tony resumed pacing. “Could equity and diversity funds fit here? Is it legitimate to say that the digital divide is adversely effecting Title I schools? What about using technology to support special education initiatives? We’ve got to show them we need money to be successful!”