Virginia Society for Technology in Education


Advocating for Educational Technology

The 2015 Virginia legislative session begins Wednesday, January 14. VSTE is working with the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VAASCD) to become better advocates for education at the state level.

IMPORTANT UPDATE January 28, 2015

As you know the General Assembly is in session. There seems to be renewed interest in keeping the A-F rating system for schools, even though we expected it to be repealed this year. In order to move forward towards a better accountability system, we really need A-F to be repealed.  There are two versions of bills circulating right now. Both acknowledge that we are working to redesign the accreditation system; one includes a specific repeal of A-F and one does not.

These bills are still in Committee right now; if your legislator is on one of the education committees, now is a very important time to drive this message home. If your legislator is not on one of the committees, it’s still worth it to make a call or send an email, and we will ask you to do so again later when the bill comes before the full House and Senate. When you make your call, reference House Bill 1672 or Senate Bill 727.

Important Points To Make In Your Call:
    - the Innovation Committee and the Board of Education agree that the accreditation system should be revised to include additional levels.
    - these groups are working now to determine what these levels should be; VASCD, our partner, supports a “ladder-like” system that will not only show the rating of a school, but also trends (progress measures), areas of strength and areas for improvement.
    - assigning a single letter grade as a school’s accreditation rating defeats these moves toward a better system before they have even had time to be developed.

There is momentum across Virginia to develop alternative assessments that provide a variety of ways for students to demonstrate what they know and can do. House Bill 1675 provides an option (this would be decided and approved at the division level) for students to earn verified credits under certain circumstances with less than 140 clock hours of instruction or by demonstrating mastery of SOL content and skills using an alternative assessment. This bill grew out of a recommendation of the Innovation Committee, and this morning even a legislator who is a member of that committee expressed concern about letting local divisions substitute alternate assessments for SOLs.  VASCD supports this proposal, which did pass out of Committee this morning after a nail-biter of a debate!  Please ask your House member to support this bill, understanding that the state will have guidelines to ensure the quality of the alternate assessments. Basically, our position is that once students can demonstrate the skills and are solid on the content of a course, they should not be prevented from moving on to more challenging, interesting, or relevant material while they mark time and wait for the test date to arrive. Again, under this legislation this would be a local option, not a requirement.

You can find information about how to contact your legislator further down this page.


Special Action

Act Now to Prevent Charter School Constitutional Amendment
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Send a Message to Your Senator Now
Please act now!  Send a message to your senator urging him or her to vote against SJ 256, a Constitutional amendment which transfers the power to establish charter schools from local school boards to a nine member board appointed by the governor.

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We encourage you to contact your legislator and share your ideas about improving education in the Commonwealth. The steps below will help you get started:

1. Find our who represents you at the state level.
2. Use this list to discover if your representative is part of the education committees for the General Assembly or the Senate. While you should talk with you representative, you can be even more influential if your legislator in on one of these committees.
3. Read the Talking Tips to learn ore about how to effectively talk with your legislator.

VSTE Statement on Net Neutrality

VSTE Supports Blueprint for the Future of Public Education

VSTE Responds to the Virginia Board of Education’s proposed Guidelines for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct and Abuse in Virginia Public Schools.

The Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) serves as an advocate for educational technology. While our members come from many different areas of the educational spectrum, they share a belief that technology has the power to transform teaching and learning. They also believe that technological literacy is an essential part of the skills needed to be successful in the 21st century. If the United States wants to maintain its position as a global leader, our students must be able to use technology effectively.

We want to let policy makers know of the importance of educational technology. We want to let them know what they can do to support effective technology use. Our goal is to bring the voices of Virginia’s educators to those policy makers, using their stories to show the powerful ways that we can improve teaching and learning through the systemic use of technology.

We have developed several white papers related to educational technology designed to guide educators:

From John Hendron, Goochland County Public Schools:
Check out the videos our middle schoolers made with teacher Jillian Edwards. Their assignment was in marketing. The teacher placed them up on YouTube for a more authentic audience. All of the assets are free or creative-commons.

From Sean Sharp, Floyd County Public Schools:
One of the projects that a teacher did last year was having his 6th and 7th grade students create a daily podcast of the news. Each student had to “rewrite” a news article from the local paper, in their own words. Then the rewritten piece was recorded as a podcast and uploaded to the web, every day. It was a great project for these students to undertake. In addition, this same teacher created a World War II wiki in which groups of students had to add information to the wiki as they did research on a particular topic. It can be seen here:

Increasingly this anecdotal evidence of technology’s success is being supported by empirical evidence. A review of recent research conducted by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) demonstrates that technology can support successful schools in a variety of different ways. Technology can support student achievement, improve school efficiency and productivity, and contribute to teacher professional development. You can learn more about these findings here.

Issues Statement

VSTE supports some specific issues related to educational technology at the national, state, and local level. Join us in shaping your own issue beliefs or embrace the areas below.

National Issues:

E-Rate: You can learn more about this program at ETAN. The E-Rate is crucial to Virginia’s schools. In 2007, this program provided nearly 29 million dollars in discounts on telecommunications services and Internet access for schools throughout the Commonwealth. You can learn more about this funding by visiting the Universal Service Administrative Company website. Additional State Information: Virginia Department of Education’s E-Rate Page

Enhancing Education Through Technology Program: You can learn more about this program at ETAN. In Virginia, the EETT funding is used to support the state’s accountability program that includes over 1,200 Instructional Technology Resource Teachers who directly work with teachers and students to change teaching and learning. Virginia is one of only five states with significant increases in overall science achievement in both grades 4 and 8 on the 2005 NAEP. The funds are critical to be able to adequately support teachers as they use technology to increase student achievement.

State Issues:

Support for Instructional Technology and Technical Positions: The 2004 General Assembly passed legislation recommended by the Board of Education to amend the Standards of Quality (SOQ). The budget approved by the General Assembly includes funding for technology in the form of two positions: an instructional technology resource teacher position and a technology support position. The positions are designed meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, which calls for programs that encourage the use of technology. VSTE continues to advocate for continued support for these positions.

Increased State Support for Educational Technology: With the publication of its first technology plan in 1988, Virginia has shown vision in using technology to improve its education system. The state continues to spend a significant level on educational technology each year. While this amount shows some commitment to educational technology, we believe it should be increased to keep up with increased costs related to updating systems, expanding networks, and providing ongoing professional development opportunities.

Read Technology Planning in Virginia: A Trend Analysis to learn more about the history of educational technology planning in Virginia.

Local Issues:

Fully implement Standards of Quality: The Standards of Quality call for one instructional and technical position per 1000 students. VSTE believes each school division should implement these guidelines. In particular, the instructional technology resource teachers should be licensed teachers whose full-time job is to work with teachers and students to integrate technology.

Increased Local Support for Educational Technology: School divisions vary in how much they spend on educational technology. Many rely completely on the dwindling state and federal funding. Is it essential that local school divisions commit ongoing funds to purchasing technology and, even more importantly, to providing professional development related to the classroom use of that technology.

EdTech Action Network

VSTE is a participant in the EdTech Action Network (ETAN). We share ETAN’s mission to influence public policy-makers at the federal, state and local levels and to increase public investment in the competitiveness of America’s classrooms and students. For the latest legislative news as well as an easy way to contact legislators, visit the ETAN page.


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