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Bill aims to improve use of technology in school

It's becoming increasingly clear that expanding access to technology in schools is a key component of providing an individualized learning experience for every student so they can be successful in college and their careers.

To help states accomplish this task, U.S. Rep. George Miller of California has proposed a bill that aims to address this very issue. It's called the Transforming Education Through Technology Act, and it would provide grants to K-12 educators to help them improve their teaching, and student learning, through the use of technology.

A great number of education advocates have hailed the bill as an important step in the right direction.

"I don't think it is possible to meet the college and career-ready goals that policymakers have set for schools [with the Common Core] if everyone doesn't have sufficient access to technology," Doug Levin, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, told District Administration.

The Common core state standards, which encourage a blended learning model that combines the effective use of technology with face-to-face teacher instruction, have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

The academic assessments that accompany these standards will require many school districts to make technological upgrades – one of the many reasons that educators would welcome additional funding.

If the bill is passed, it would set aside $250 million in federal funding to be distributed to school districts that demonstrate the most need. Districts could use the funds to purchase technology to redesign curricula, expand learning opportunities and experiment with new models to personalize learning.

Some states are already taking action to expose their students to the newest innovations in education technology. Maine, for example, has an 11-year-old program that guarantees the use of a laptop to nearly all of its public school students.

According to Education News, the idea of providing laptops for students was originally conceived as a method of erasing the "digital divide" between low-income students and their peers from higher-income families.

But technology constantly needs to be updated in order to be effective. Now, Maine is teaming up with other states to try and negotiate a better price for education technology devices and other digital services and software that are in need of an upgrade.

Miller's bill could make it possible for other states to follow Maine's lead and further integrate technology into the classroom to more effectively teach students and prepare them to navigate an increasingly digital world.

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