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NC State Researchers to Evaluate Technology Use in K-12 Classrooms

School districts across the state are investing millions of dollars into instructional technology for K-12 schools in hopes of better preparing students to work and live in the 21st century. But are the technology and media programs helping students succeed? Researchers at North Carolina State University are evaluating the success of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s (NCDPI) IMPACT model – a model for technology integration – that is currently being implemented in 31 North Carolina schools across 11 districts.

The IMPACT model is North Carolina’s guide for media and technology programs. It provides an innovative framework for infusing technology and media resources into instructional programs, focusing on the collaboration among teachers, technology and media personnel, as well as appropriate and sustained staff development and support. Professional development is a required component of the program, and all IMPACT schools are tasked with hiring a full-time technology facilitator and media coordinator to lead the integration of instructional technology within the school.

“The purpose of this in-depth evaluation is to really engage each participating school in a dialogue to better understand how the program is working in that specific school,” says Dr. Jeni Corn, senior research associate at NC State’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and lead researcher on the study. “We want to learn more about how the state’s investments in having technology accessible in the classroom are making a difference in teacher practice and student learning.”

The goal of IMPACT is to meet short-term objectives such as equity of learning opportunities, educator satisfaction and increased student motivation, as well as long-term objectives like creating globally competitive students. In addition to looking at how the technology improves student success, another goal of the study is to evaluate how this added technology improves teacher retention and engagement. Researchers will evaluate the program at the district, school, classroom, principal and student level. They will collect data through one-on-one interviews, focus groups, classroom observations, surveys, test scores and more.

Title I (low-income) schools across North Carolina, clustered in four cohorts, received funding to implement the IMPACT Model beginning in the 2003-2004 school year. NC State’s College of Education and the Friday Institute were awarded $695,172 for the two-year evaluation.

The William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation is part of NC State’s College of Education.