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(98T11) Technology Standards for Teachers


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SREB: 404-875-9211

"To be effective, technology certification for educators needs to be part of formal education policy and a required element of school and teacher evaluations. . . . Educators need a system of technology training and certification."

Council on Basic Education, 1998.

The rapid increase in the availability of computers and other technology in schools represents a significant investment, and state leaders are concerned about results. To what extent does technology use result in improved student learning? Research has found that teacher skill in using technology is a major factor in improving student learning with technology. Teachers must know not only how to use technology but also when and why to use it.

Teacher technology standards identify essential skills teachers need for effective use of computers and other electronic equipment in schools today. State teacher licensure and certification has not kept pace with rapid changes in technology and teaching. Linking technology skills assessments to licensing requirements helps ensure that teachers have the skills to support and guide students and to increase student learning using technology.

Twelve SREB states have established teacher technology standards or guidelines that address several levels of competency:

  • Fundamental computer operations skills and understanding of technology concepts and terms;
  • Ability to use technology for personal research and communication;
  • Understanding of legal and ethical issues pertaining to computer use, such as how copyright applies to classroom software use, and what additional safety measures may be needed in the classroom;
  • Ability to use computers in a variety of ways to integrate technology into classroom activities that support student learning.

Of these standards, the most difficult one for teachers is the requirement that they know how to integrate technology into instruction. For example, teachers should know what technology is appropriate for use with a particular lesson. At the same time they also must know how to manage the classroom to effectively guide students using the computer. The teacher's role changes to that of a coach or guide as well as an instructor. Technology creates opportunities for students to work together, such as on group projects in which students exchange ideas about the project and about how to use technology to answer their questions. The focus shifts toward more active student learning. A veteran teacher may not be prepared for these changes and may not be any more skilled than a novice in this area.

Concern about teacher preparation and standards for using technology is not new. In 1984 the Southern Regional Education Board concluded in its report "Computers in Education: Implications for Schools and Colleges" that colleges and universities should use their computer resources to assist with teacher training. Several states in the early 1980s proposed that courses in computer literacy be required for teachers who are to be certified.

Other early efforts in teacher technology standards include those developed by the International Society for Technology in Education, a professional organization of teachers who use technology. ISTE formed a committee in 1989 to address the need for standards because technology training was increasingly important to teachers of courses such as business communications or drafting. The organization then began developing technology standards that could be applied to teaching programs in every subject.

The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education adopted these teacher technology standards for use when accrediting teacher education programs after fall 1998. NCATE standards now expect accredited schools of education to provide adequate access to computers and other technologies; faculty and teacher education students are expected to be able to use it successfully. Accreditation standards are being revised, and NCATE will introduce new standards in 2000 that include technology use throughout accreditation requirements for all teacher education programs. SREB states also have used the ISTE teacher technology standards as a guide as they develop their own standards.

SREB states use teacher technology standards in a variety of ways. Some states, such as Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi, use teacher technology standards to guide professional development or technology planning. In other states, such as Texas and Florida, teachers are expected to incorporate technology use into classroom activities, but specific skills needed to do this are not spelled out. Maryland and West Virginia apply technology standards similar to those promoted by NCATE to the states' accreditation process for teacher training institutions. New teachers in North Carolina must master technology standards in order to receive their state teaching license. North Carolina's approach has been the most comprehensive and includes students and faculty in schools and colleges.

ISTE Foundation Standards

These standards reflect fundamental concepts and skills for applying information technology in educational settings.

A.     Basic Computer/Technology Operations and Concepts. Candidates will use computer systems to run software; to access, generate and manipulate data; and to publish results. They also will evaluate performance of hardware and software and apply basic troubleshooting strategies as needed.

B.     Personal and Professional Use of Technology. Candidates will apply tools for their own professional growth and productivity. They will use technology in communicating, conducting research and solving problems. In addition, they will plan and participate in activities that encourage lifelong learning and will promote equitable, ethical and legal use of computer/technology resources.

C.     Application of Technology in Instruction. Candidates will apply computers and related technologies to support instruction in their grade level and subject areas. They must plan and deliver instructional units that integrate a variety of software, applications and learning tools. Lessons developed must reflect effective grouping and assessment strategies for diverse populations.

International Society for Technology in Education, 1998.

The North Carolina experience

North Carolina has been incorporating technology in education and teacher preparation for more than 15 years. In 1983, as technology began to be implemented in schools, the State Board of Education adopted standards called the Computer Competencies for All Educators in North Carolina Public Schools. These standards, which were revised in 1992, were developed to address the need for basic computer skills and listed technology competencies both in general computer use and in subject-area software and materials. In May 1991 the board adopted the North Carolina Computer Skills Test to ensure that students meet proficiencies based on the North Carolina Computer Skills Curriculum. The test assesses students' basic computer skills, such as spreadsheets and desktop publishing. Passing this test is a graduation requirement for students beginning with the class of 2001.

In March 1995 the North Carolina State Board of Education began the process of requiring assessment in technology skills before new teachers could receive licenses. At the same time, the president of the University of North Carolina, chairman of the State Board of Education and president of the Community College System announced an initiative to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for addressing current teachers' need for professional development in the use of technology. Representatives of these agencies made up a School Technology Users Task Force.

The task force recommended basic and advanced technology skills that should be required of all North Carolina educators, including faculty of schools of education, community colleges, and high schools, middle schools and elementary schools. The State Board of Education adopted these standards in March 1996, along with a requirement for assessing new teachers' technology knowledge and skills. Both public and independent colleges and universities are held accountable for these program standards.

In 1996, a one-time allotment of $1.5 million was appropriated to the University of North Carolina system to support technology training in teacher preparation programs. Money was used by public universities to purchase hardware and software needed to fully integrate technology into instruction. This allotment also provided ongoing support for an instructional technology position in each of those public universities to assist faculty in preparing future teachers to meet the new standards for technology skills necessary for licensure.

Technology competencies for initial licensure will be assessed at two levels: the Essential Technology Skills Inventory (ETSI) and portfolio assessments. The Essential Technology Skills Inventory has been developed, and those who expect to receive initial licensure in spring 1999 will be required to pass the test. Each prospective teacher also must prepare a portfolio that demonstrates use of advanced technology skills in selecting and creating classroom activities that fit curriculum goals and children's needs.

While these assessment efforts have been aimed at newly trained and licensed teachers in North Carolina, attention also is being paid to the technology skills of practicing teachers. Beginning in spring 1999, these teachers must complete at least 30 hours of technology training every five years to renew their licenses. Local education agencies must determine how teachers meet technology requirements. Some districts have developed their own assessments or are working with area community colleges to provide professional development.

Teacher Technology Standards and Licensing Requirements
Southern Regional Education Board States, 1998

State Action Application of Standards
Alabama The state has established standards for technology competence based on NCATE and ISTE standards. Baccalaureate teacher-preparation institutions are required to include technology. Alabama offers a Technology Scholarship Program for Alabama Teachers, which provides assistance with tuition and fees for teachers pursuing technology training in the state. Assessment of technology competencies is not required in order to receive initial or continued licenses, although technology courses are available as options for teachers seeking license renewal. Used for planning and professional development.
Arkansas Representatives from the teacher education institutions in the state are involved extensively in developing technology standards. Implementing technology standards for licensing teachers is in process. The Teacher Licensure Task Force will make formal recommendations to the Arkansas State Board of Education regarding the acquisition of technology skills by Arkansas educators. Standards initially will affect only new teachers, with a phase-in that will require teachers seeking license renewal to reach standards, which will be assessed based on performance evaluations.
Delaware Delaware has not yet developed a set of technology competencies for teachers. However, Delaware is developing Professional Teaching Standards that do include a technology component and will form the basis for any further development of technology standards. There are currently no specific plans to include technology competencies in certification requirements except as part of
the Delaware Professional Teaching Standards.
Florida Technology competencies are interwoven into Florida's preservice education programs. Several teacher-preparation institutions offer specialized training in instructional technology. Regional Education Service Cooperatives have Instructional Technology Training Centers for in-service training. Technology courses are offered but not required for initial licensure. Teachers are permitted to substitute technology training for subject-area training for license renewal.
Georgia Professional development objectives are correlated with ISTE standards and used by school districts to plan professional development. The Professional Standards Commission is reviewing the technology licensure issue and the role that technology standards will play in initial and renewed licensure for teachers in the state. Implementation plans are expected to address competency standards. Used for planning professional development activities.
Kentucky Technology standards or competencies are left to the local boards of education. The Kentucky Master Plan for Education Technology recommends that competencies for both staff and students must be incorporated into the K-12 curriculum. Guidelines are provided for use by school districts to plan professional development and assess teachers' mastery of technology skills. The Kentucky Association of Technology Coordinators, a statewide organization, is beginning efforts with the Education Professional Standards Board that may result in a strengthening of the technology-related standards for both new and experienced teachers.
Louisiana The Louisiana State Plan for Educational Technology adopted in fall 1997 calls for creation of technology standards for teachers and students. Louisiana has formed the Council of Deans and the Louisiana Technology Consortium of Higher Education to develop content and technology standards for teacher education programs. A draft teacher-licensure proposal has been developed for presentation to the state's Council of Deans (of colleges of education) and to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Louisiana Teacher Assessment Program for beginning teachers includes a technology component.
Maryland Representatives of the teacher preparation institutions in Maryland are involved in developing the teacher-education reform agenda; 19 of 22 approved programs require a computer course or have technology infused through several courses. The Teacher Candidate Assessment Task Force is evaluating assessing technology competencies at all phases of teachers' careers. State standards for technology proficiency are used in the state review and approval of teacher education programs. Perfor-mance-based assessments of pre-service teachers were approved in May 1995, and technology is identified as a critical area for teacher preparation.
Mississippi The Mississippi Department of Education has established state standards for teachers' technology proficiency. Three phases of professional development are offered to educators, ranging from those who need basic computer skills to those who are expert computer users. Teachers may take courses either in their teaching specialty or in technology for license renewal.
North Carolina Each of the public universities offering teacher education has hired a technology specialist to work with faculty and pre-service teachers to help them achieve the necessary competencies. Effective 1999, for each five-year license renewal, educators are required to complete a minimum of three credits in technology course work; developing methods to assess technology competencies for current teachers is the responsibility of the local education agencies. In spring 1997, all teacher-education institutions began administering assessments to pre-service teachers as the first step in developing an assessment instrument for initial licensure. These assessments will be required in spring 1999 for teachers who will receive their initial teaching license.
Oklahoma All teachers in Oklahoma are to receive training and the support necessary to help students learn through the use of computers and telecommunications. Technology standards are included in General Competencies adopted by the State Board of Education in January 1997. Individual teacher-training institutions are responsible for preparing students to meet these competencies.
South Carolina Most teacher-training institutions in South Carolina include courses emphasizing computer applications as part of the teacher-training process. The South Carolina Plan for Educational Technology is being updated and will address technology standards. Teachers are permitted to take computer-oriented course work in lieu of course work in their discipline for license renewal.
Tennessee State-developed technology standards are being included in teacher preparation programs. Technology standards for teachers are included in requirements for initial licensure beginning in 1998. These are recommended but not required for license renewal.
Texas The Texas State Board of Education has adopted proficiencies to "plan, implement and assess instruction using technology and other resources" through adoption of The Learner-Centered Proficiencies for Teachers. The new Texas State Board for Educator Certification with the Texas Education Agency is developing technology proficiency requirements for use in teacher licensing.
Virginia School divisions must incorporate technology standards for instructional personnel in their technology plans by December 1998. School divisions will determine assessment of proficiency. Virginia's Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure participated in a task force that recommended in 1997 that technology standards be tied to teacher licensure.
West Virginia According to legislative rule by the Board of Education, technology specifications based on standards developed by ISTE and NCATE must be included in state-accredited teacher-preparation programs. The state is developing technology standards based on ISTE standards for teacher licensure renewal as well as for accrediting teacher education institutions.

Compiled by Jennifer Burke, SREB, from information provided by state departments of education, 1998.

Barriers to implementing teacher technology standards

If teachers are expected to meet standards of technology competency, quality professional development must be available to help them integrate technology into instruction. Rapid changes in technology are a challenge for schools and states trying to keep teachers up to date.

Another challenge is teachers' lack of access to adequate equipment and software. For example, a teacher who participates in an e-mail training session needs to have the chance to use that new skill upon returning to the classroom. Training without access to equipment is a waste of time and money.

Georgia Framework for INtegrating TECHnology

One example of quality professional development is the Georgia Framework for INtegrating TECHnology in the Student-Centered Classroom (InTech). InTech focuses on curriculum and teaching methods rather than starting with technical skills. Technology gradually is infused into training. Teachers participate in intensive workshops and contribute lesson plans that incorporate technology into the classroom to share with others in the program. Follow-up is an important part of the program that includes additional training sessions and e-mail communications with colleagues.

Teachers also point to the lack of quality training in ways to integrate technology into the teaching process. There are few quality models demonstrating ways to integrate technology into the curriculum that can be used to build training programs for veteran teachers. As educators become more skilled with computer equipment, they need training in applying these skills in the classroom. Professional development in technology until recently has reflected "one size fits all" thinking, and training has focused on broad technical skills rather than specific uses for technology in the classroom. However, teachers of different grade levels or subjects have different needs for technology training. A first-grade teacher may use a computer to help reinforce students' reading skills. But a high school science teacher needs to use specialized equipment and software to conduct experiments in the classroom and spreadsheets to gather and analyze the data collected. Those who develop technology standards and assessments for teachers need to consider what skills are needed at different levels of instruction.


Since the early 1980s, recommendations to improve education have included improving teacher preparation and setting high standards. Recently there have been renewed calls to license teachers based on demonstrated performance, including tests of subject matter knowledge, teaching knowledge and teaching skills. SREB states are developing standards for what technology skills teachers should have. States also need clear guidelines for assessment and plans for helping teachers meet the standards if they apply technology standards to licensing requirements, as in North Carolina.

Can state technology standards for teachers help make a difference? Yes, if:

  • States and districts use technology standards as part of quality professional-development programs for teachers;
  • Skills described in state standards are incorporated into programs to prepare new teachers;
  • Assessment of teacher mastery of the standards is done accurately; and
  • Demonstration of teacher technology competence is required for teacher licensing.

Teaching is a process that uses diverse tools and methods, including technology. Through adoption of technology standards, states can set expectations for teachers and help direct pre- and in-service training programs. Including technology standards in the licensure or certification process helps ensure that teachers who meet these standards have the training they need to incorporate technology into their classroom that will result in improved student achievement.

Lynn M. Cornett, "Computers in Schools: Implications for Schools and Colleges," Regional Spotlight vol. XIV n. 4. Atlanta, GA: SREB, January 1984.

Report on the Effectiveness of Technology in Schools '90-'97, Washington, D.C.: Software Publishers Association, 1997, pp. 2-3.

U.S. Department of Education, "Educational Technology: Preparing America for the 21st Century," meeting of education leaders and business representatives, April 24, 1998.

Sandra J. Wellens, "The Computer Hearth," Basic Education, vol. 42 n. 5. Washington, D.C.: Council on Basic Education, January 1998, p. 4-6.

Educational Benchmarks 1998, Atlanta: SREB 1998.

What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future, National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, September 1996. p. ix.

The Southern Regional Education Board is a partner in the SouthEast and Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium, one of six U.S. Department of Education regional technology consortia. SEIR*TEC promotes the use of technology to improve teaching and learning, with emphasis on benefiting traditionally underserved populations.
This document is based on research supported in part by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under CFDA 84.302A, grant number R302A50010. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of OERI, the U.S. Department of Education or any other agency of the U.S. government.

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