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Maryland Study Documents Internet Connectivity and Use of Technology in Schools

February 6, 2001
Most classrooms in Montgomery County Public Schools (98 percent) are wired for access to the Internet, according to a study released on January 30, 2001, by the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education and the Maryland State Department of Education.

The report is based on data from the annual Technology Inventory conducted by staff in all Maryland public schools during November and December 2000.

A major conclusion of the study is that, while student and teacher access to technology continues to rise rapidly across the state, increased support is needed for meaningful instructional applications and for professional development in the use of technology, particularly in high-poverty schools.

The online "Technology Inventory Summary" for MCPS reports that nine out of ten classrooms have at least one computer available for student use, and 93 percent of classrooms have at least one computer available for teachers to use.

The overall student to computer ratio in the school system is five to one - slightly more favorable than the Maryland average reported in the survey. However, the MCPS student to high-capability computer ratio is seven to one, while the state target is five to one. High-capability computers have Pentium or PowerPC and above processors.

Staffing data include information on school-based professional development support for teachers on the use of technology. A full-time staff member coordinating technology is available in 10.84 percent of the 203 MCPS schools and centers completing the inventory, while the largest number of sites (43.35 percent) report that the school library media specialist is the primary provider of these services.

Information on technical support shows that a full time staff member (the MCPS user support specialist in secondary schools) is available in 33 percent of schools, while 42.86 percent depend primarily on the media specialist for school-based support of school equipment and the network. Central office staff is identified as providing the primary non-school-based technical support in 94.09 percent of schools.

Students use computers regularly or occasionally in a variety of ways, according to the survey. Most prevalent regular usage is for writing and publishing text (80 percent of schools reporting), followed by information gathering from a variety of sources (71 percent). Half or more of county schools also report that students use computers regularly for creating graphics and visuals, remediating basic skills, and accommodating a disability or limitation.

Data in the survey, which are collected through an online inventory system, also report the prevalence of other technologies, including assistive devices for students with disabilities, televisions, telephones, and computer projection devices.

Results are available on the Web at msde.aws.com in individual school reports, district summaries, and a statewide summary. For the first time, inventory data have been correlated with Free and Reduced-price Meals data to compare infrastructure access and technology usage in low and high-poverty schools.

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