Maine gets B-minus in school technology

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PORTLAND (AP) – Maine’s first-in-the-nation laptop program wasn’t enough to give the state top marks for technology in schools.

Maine received a B-minus compared to the national average of C-plus in the survey conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center and Education Week, a national newspaper for the education industry.

Maine got an A for making laptop computers available to all seventh- and eighth-graders but its grades for training standards for teachers and administrators were below average.

Maine educators, who said the state deserved better grades, complained that the survey was so narrow that it failed to take into account some of the state’s innovations.

For example, the survey asked states to indicate whether they offered an online high school, which Maine does not. But Maine does offer distance learning at 90 high schools and makes more than 400 courses available online to students of all ages, said Bette Manchester, who leads Maine’s laptop and school technology programs.

She also disputed the survey’s determination that Maine had a higher percentage of teachers with “beginner” technology skills than the national average.

The technology report has been released annually for the past nine years but this is the first year in which states were graded on their performance.

Overall, Maine ranked 11th among the 50 states and was tops in New England. Elsewhere in the region, Connecticut ranked 30th in the nation, Vermont 34th, New Hampshire 40th, Massachusetts 45th and Rhode Island 47th.

Nationwide, West Virginia ranked first and Nevada was 50th.

Jeff Mao, state coordinator of educational technology, also criticized the survey for its narrow scope. He fears the survey may create political pressure to make technology decisions that produce better rankings but “may not positively affect the schools.”

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