Thursday, September 23, 1999

Schools are hoping
to click up in

A national survey shows
students are doing well, but
teachers need training

By Crystal Kua


While Hawaii's public schools have made significant progress in giving children access to computers and the Internet, more needs to be done to train teachers and integrate technology into classroom lessons.

Those are the results contained in a national survey released today by Education Week magazine.

The magazine's Technology Counts '99 report showed that 99 percent of schools in Hawaii have Internet access and 82 percent of schools can access the Internet from one or more classrooms -- way above the national average.

There is one Internet-connected computer for every 10.5 students in Hawaii, compared to the national average of 13.6 students per Internet computer.

While Hawaii students have greater access to the internet, they are slightly below the national average when it comes to access to computers. In Hawaii, the number of students per instructional computer is 6.7 and the number of students per instructional multimedia computer is 11.9, the survey said. Nationally, the average is 5.7 students per instructional computer and 9.8 percent per instructional multimedia computer.


Computers in Hawaii's schools:

Bullet 6.7: Number of students per computer. Nationally, the number of students per computer is 5.7.

Bullet 10.5: Number of students per Internet-connected computer. Nationally, the number is 13.6.

Bullet 99: Percentage of schools in Hawaii that have Internet access. Nationally, 82 percent have Internet access.

However, the survey shows the state has made significant progress in increasing access to technology.

In 1994, the student-to-computer ratio was 30-to-1 and no schools were connected to the Internet.

The survey also shows the need to integrate more meaningful technology curriculum in the classroom.

In Hawaii, 74 percent of fourth-graders and 91 percent of eighth-graders have language arts teachers who have never or hardly ever used computer software for reading instruction.

Also, 59 percent of fourth-graders and 50 percent of eighth-graders have language arts teachers who have students use a computer to write stories or reports.

More than 50 percent of schools have at least half of the teachers using the Internet or computer for teaching.

Hawaii is also following suit with the national issue of teachers having difficulty finding quality software and Web sites for instructional purposes. Here, it's a lack of accessibility and money for software, said Diana Oshiro, Hawaii assistant schools superintendent.She said teachers are sometimes reluctant to spend money on, and try out, new software without knowing what that software will do.

Oshiro said the department would like to set up a software clearinghouse, and noted that implementing the recently revised Hawaii Content and Performance Standards will help. "It sets the things you want to do with technology."

While the survey says Hawaii teachers in most districts have 33 hours -- or nearly three times the national level -- of technology training, many teachers don't feel properly prepared to use software to teach reading and writing.

But a vast majority of teachers feel "moderately prepared" in the use of computers. Some schools have shown they can do more than just teach keyboarding and word processing on computers, Oshiro said.

She pointed to a Fort Shafter Elementary project that included computer research and posting a report on soil samples from the Big Island on the school Web site. It was so impressive the Army wanted to use the data.

The goal is to make the technology commonplace in meaningful instruction, Oshiro said. "To me, it's just a change in instructional practices." Oshiro, whose office will be reorganized to merge curriculum and technology, said, "I think we're getting there."

Elementary school students in Hawaii have more access to technology in classrooms than middle school students -- 92 percent of fourth-graders have computers available in classrooms, while only 40 percent of eighth-graders do. Most students apparently gain access to computers through the computer labs. The survey showed that 96 percent of fourth graders and 91 percent of eighth graders are in schools that make computers available in a computer lab.

Oshiro said the survey underscores a goal to have all classrooms connected to the Internet with appropriate high-end computers.

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