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Planning for Evaluation

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Alabama Indicators for Measuring Progress
Alabama took a bold step when it was time to revise our state technology plan in 2000-2001. We shifted from an emphasis on guidelines and recommendations for installing hardware and networks to a framework based on a set of indicators and benchmarks for measuring outcomes. The new plan, IMPACT, which stands for Indicators for Measuring Progress in Advancing Classroom Technology, establishes essential conditions such as funding, support, and training—necessary to use technology, but its primary focus is using technology to improve student learning in Alabama’s schools. Alabama IMPACT provides a set of progress indicators, measures, and a target timeline (2002-2005) for integrating technology across the curriculum. Examples of sources of evidence/data-collection methods are provided to help schools and school systems assess their progress toward meeting the benchmarks established in this document. The indicators address the six objective areas of learning, technology integration, professional development, environment, access, and cost of ownership. Local schools and school systems are using these indicators and benchmarks to design their technology plans for technology integration, to make decisions, and to create policies to guide the direction of technology.
Development of IMPACT
The document was written from the ground up with extensive input from stakeholders throughout the state. This process gained us buy-in from the beginning and a gradual growth in understanding of the use of indicators and benchmarks for technology planning prior to the rollout of the plan. Over the course of one-and-one half years, we convened four different task force groups and held several state agency staff work sessions.
  • Members of the first focus group wrote goals and objectives. Their task was completed over a two-day period.§ The Office of Technology Initiatives’ staff further defined the process and framework for the plan and established the major categories as goal, objectives, rationale, indicators, benchmarks, sources of evidence, and strategies.
  • A second focus group developed the document with indicators, benchmarks, and sources of evidence. This group was the main writing team and worked about six months to complete its tasks. The members gathered input from district technology coordinators, superintendents, and other technology leaders at the annual Alabama Educational Technology Association (AETA) Fall Symposium. The second focus group used this input to finalize the indicators, benchmarks, and sources of evidence.
  • A third focus group wrote the state technology plan requirements for district and school technology plans.§ The final focus group wrote state strategies. This group represented all areas including public, private, and business and industry leaders as well as members from all of the three previous focus groups.

IMPACT Example
The IMPACT document reflects the input from all of the focus groups and state teams. For each objective, we used the same format. The goal—to improve learning through the use of technology—is listed first, followed by a rationale for the objective, indicators, benchmarks, sources of evidence, and the data-collection methods, as shown in the following table

Learning Objective: Encourage learning that is relevant and authentic through the use of technology.

Rationale: In classrooms where technology is used effectively as a tool, students are more autonomous, collaborative, and reflective that in classrooms where technology is used only for drill and practice. Technology engages students in real-life applications of academics and encourages them to be more independent and responsible for their own learning. In a knowledge-based society, it is important that students have the self-confidence, knowledge base, technology fluency, and cooperative skills that will enable them to continue learning throughout their lives. Technology facilitates the study of the academics within the context of meaningful and authentic applications.

(Target year 2005)
Examples of sources of
1 a. Learners develop, model, and assess age-appropriate projects that relevant and authentic

1.1 All students use techno,logy to complete inquiry-based learning projects that reflect personal significance and/or societal importance.

1.2 All teachers assess student-based projects using well-designed scoring guides.

1.3 All administrators assess teachers' ability to implement learner-centered classrooms.


Lesson plans
Video samples
Standards-based scoring guides
Personal Evaluation System (PEPE)
Electronic usage data
Online assessments


1.b Learners' work incorporates real-world applications of technology. 1.4 All students, teachers, and administrators use productivity tools such as spreadsheets, databases, presentation software, and Internet resources to solve problems and make decisions. Surveys
Student products
Lesson plans
1c. Learners use technology resources to gather, store, reshape, analyze, and communicate information.

1.5 Student products contain a data analysis component using productivity tools such as spreadsheets, graphing packages, and/or databases.

1.6 All teachers collect and analyze data to make adjustments to their operational curriculum (i.e., classroom).

1.7 All administrators collect and analyze data to make decisions that affect the overall operation of the school.

Student projects
Lesson plans
Structured interviews
Online assessments
Electronic usage data

1d. Learners use technology resources to access quality information from numerous sources. 1.8 All students and teachers select appropriate technology-based resources such as the Internet, real-time probes, hand-held devices, and the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) based on intended purposes.

Lesson plans
Student projects

Personnel Evaluation System (PEPE)

1e. Learners are proficient in technology and information literacy standards. 1.9 All students and teachers use technology during the instructional day based on the local, state, and national standards.

Lesson plans
Student projects




Students, teachers, non-certified staff, administrators, parents, community members, business owners, and citizens.
The final outcome desired.
Reason for the objective.
Broad actions intended to fulfill the goal or outcome
Attributes or activities that are necessary to fulfill the objective and overall goal (These are readily converted to benchmarks).
Specific, observable, measurable actions or behaviors; used to gauge progress over time.
Sources of Evidence/
Data -collection Methods
Physical items, such as plans, reports, observations, etc., that enable the researcher to document fulfillment of objectives.
Steps or actions that will be taken to accomplish the objective.

Reactions from the Field
By the time we introduced the IMPACT document and the concept of using technology integration indicators and meeting benchmarks to the local educators, they were old news. Educators had heard so much about the new framework that we received very positive reactions. Two of our local technology educators expressed an understanding of the value gained from using indicators to measure progress and the acceptance of the IMPACT framework as follows:

The Alabama State Department of Education’s Office of Technology Initiatives has provided important leadership and guidance to local school districts through the IMPACT document that was produced to assist in the development of district technology plans. IMPACT provided clearly defined benchmarks and indicators and explained scientifically-based research as applied to the use of technology in the educational process. The clearly defined goal and objectives in six domains focused limited funding toward areas that would have the greatest effect on student learning. Local district technology coordinators have been able to develop technology plans that meet the needs of students and teachers as a result of IMPACT. The use of indicators and benchmarks in developing an individual school and school district technology plan are paramount to progress being made toward the stated goal. School leaders and classroom teachers who understand the ultimate goal and understand the steps that have been established to achieve it are more likely to enthusiastically embrace the process and significantly contribute to its achievement. The Alabama Department of Education’s Office of Technology Initiatives is to be commended for its leadership in providing guidance, direction, and support that is on the forefront of education reform.

— Steve Sumners,
District Technology Coordinator,
Cherokee County School District

Having state-developed benchmarks and indicators for the benchmarks helped our system develop its technology plan. IMPACT covered all the areas that we wanted to address, as a system. However, the goals and objectives for the state plan were general in nature. Working with the benchmarks and the indicators made understanding what would be required under these broader goals and objectives easy to understand. They gave concrete examples to follow. That made developing our new technology plan both easy and productive.

— David Crouse, Ed.D.,
Technology Coordinator,
Roanoke City Schools

Current Status
Statewide technology assessment instruments are being developed to measure state progress in achieving the benchmarks outlined in IMPACT. Currently, local school districts are required to align local plans with IMPACT and to evaluate and report progress toward achieving benchmarks on a yearly basis. The local school districts are writing their yearly technology plans and reporting progress toward achieving their benchmarks with an online process. At the state level, the indicators from IMPACT were the basis of our state application for the Enhancing Education Through Technology application for federal funds for educational technology. IMPACT gives us a strong focus on where we need to go in the next few years in educational technology in Alabama and will help the state better measure progress in local schools. It is a statewide, long-range, strategic educational technology plan affecting every district and every school. By having documented outcomes based on the state and local indicators and benchmarks for educational technology, we already have and will continue to receive evidence of the success in using technology to impact teaching and learning. Taking the bold step to not revise but to redesign our state technology plan was a risk, but a risk well worth taking.

— by Melinda Maddox, Ed.D.,
Coordinator, Office of Technology Initiatives,
Alabama Department of Education

Originally printed in SEIR*TEC NewsWire Volume Five, Number Three, 2002
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