Integrated Studies of Educational Technology (ISET)

The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund (TLCF) was the first federal grants program to assist states in bringing educational technology into the nation’s elementary and secondary classrooms. Between fiscal years (FY) 1997 and 2001, the program provided $1.93 billion to states and territories, which then awarded funds to school districts within their state (including consortia of districts). In FY 2000 (the most current year for which TLCF funding data are available), 3,191 districts received TLCF funding, representing 21 percent of the nation’s nearly 15,000 school districts.

A key feature of the TLCF program was the flexibility that it gave states in awarding funds to subgrant recipients. Subgrantees could use funds to purchase modern computers, to improve their connectivity to the Internet, to support the professional development of teachers in educational technology, and to promote the integration of technology into the classroom. States were directed to focus their awards on school districts that had a high leve l of economic need or a level of need to develop educational technology.

This report describes the implementation of the TLCF program from 1997 through 2001 from the perspective of state technology coordinators, district technology coordinators, school principals, and classroom teachers. It uses data from the Integrated Studies of Educational Technology (ISET) surveys funded by the U.S. Department of Education to obtain nationally representative information on educational technology as of the 1999–2000 school year. These surveys provide a comprehensive picture of the availability and use of educational technology at a point in time, including the potential need for different types of assistance among the nation’s school districts, such as professional development.

The report also uses data from the State Performance Reports (SPR), an annual reporting system to the federal TLCF program office in which states described their program operations, including their priorities in awarding funds and their distribution of funds across school districts. The SPR data were available each year for 1997 through 2000 and give a great deal of information on how states targeted their funds across various types of districts.

The TLCF program operated at a time when educational technology was rapidly becoming available, accompanied by a growing concern of how to effectively integrate technology into the curriculum. States and school districts provided many different forms of leadership during this time, including the provision of statewide networks, regional technical assistance centers, and purchasing consortia. States and districts also played an important role in setting the policy environment for educational technology, in that they developed technology plans that specified priorities and goals, and they also set standards
for students and teachers on technology-related uses and proficiencies.

In 2002, the TLCF program was replaced by the Educational Technology States Grants Program (“Ed Tech Program”), part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Ed Tech Program has many of the same features as the TLCF, including flexibility for states to structure their grant competitions. One significant difference in the new program is that half of the available funds are to be distributed by states to districts on a formula basis, in which districts will receive funding based on their relative share of each state’s economically disadvantaged students. The remainder is to be awarded by states through competitions as under the TLCF program.