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Wired Idaho – Foundation boots up schools

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Two years after the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation committed $80 million to increase technology use in Idaho’s schools, innovative programs are producing tech-savvy graduates, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

In 1998, foundation began distributing grants of $250,000 each to the state’s 112 school districts for new hardware, software and training.

School districts such as New Plymouth report the money went a long way. The district’s 300-student high school now boasts three computer labs and internet access in every classroom for online research.

All 60 of the rural district’s teachers have been trained and have received assistance to develop strategic plans for integrating technology into their curriculum. They also have received funds to develop new courses.

Last summer, the foundation sponsored week-long training programs on integrating technology into the classroom.  Nine hundred teachers participated, and the foundation aims to train 4,500 before the initiative is completed, the Chronicle reports.

Starting in kindergarten, Idaho’s children benefit from new lesson plans and testing procedures that integrate technology, the newspaper says. 

High school students in Idaho now can attend one of three professional technical academies funded by the initiative to learn advanced technology skills.

Thanks to these academies, students can earn Microsoft-certified professional certificates along with their high school diplomas.

The initiative has transformed students in the state’s farming communities, said Chris Gibson, special services director in Jerome, Idaho.

“Students that have gone on to college are reporting back that they are much more prepared than some of their counterparts,” he told the Chronicle.

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