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Freedom to Learn Initiative Shows Statewide Improvements in Michigan Test Scores
In its first full year, collaborative one-to-one wireless learning program with Michigan, HP and Microsoft boosts achievement in math and readingLansing, Mich., June 27, 2005
In rural, urban and suburban schools across the state of Michigan, students are showing a marked improvement in their standardized test scores in reading, writing, science and math achievement through Michigan's Freedom to Learn (FTL) initiative, produced in collaboration with HP and Microsoft Corp.
According to progress results announced today, the Michigan initiative's innovative one-to-one learning program is having a positive impact on learning, broadly and consistently boosting student achievement on the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) tests.
In January and February 2005, schools took the standardized MEAP test, following the implementation of the FTL program in the fall of 2004, providing initial data on the effects of the program. Results from the tests show:
"Usually such overwhelmingly positive results like this aren't seen for three or four years out," said Bruce Montgomery, executive director of the Freedom to Learn program. "Clearly, the FTL program is doing what it is designed to do for our school children - enhance student learning and achievement in core academic subjects. Michigan FTL has been a leader in the national one-to-one computing movement and these early results prove how important the program is to transforming schools and achieving state performance goals. We want to continue to build on that success."
The FTL program provides every student and teacher with access to a wireless notebook PC in a wireless environment, a development that has been credited with improving grades, motivation and discipline in classrooms across the state. Aimed at improving student achievement and engagement in Michigan schools, FTL is one of the largest programs of its type in the country with some 20,000 middle school students and 1,200 teachers participating from 188 schools across 95 districts.
Adopting lessons learned and best practices from its 2003 pilot project, the program was expanded last year with a focus on middle school students using complete technology solutions from HP and Microsoft, along with Classroom Connect, Broad Education and other educational technology experts. Further enhancements to the program include the addition of a Scantron assessment tool for immediate review of progress and the implementation of Microsoft's Learning Gateway Framework.
"The MEAP test score results are exciting and certainly demonstrate the value of integrating one-to-one technology into the middle school curriculum," said Cathy Martin, director, Education and Government, HP. "In order for students to be prepared to live and work in the 21st century, they must use 21st century tools. Michigan teachers and students have harnessed the power of these one-to-one computing wireless environments to transform teaching and learning. HP is pleased to be the education technology solutions partner for FTL, helping to improve student performance, bridge the digital divide, and increase student excitement and enthusiasm for learning."
In the fall of 2004, participating FTL schools started to receive the educational solution package delivered and managed by HP. The one-to-one computing solution includes HP wireless notebook PCs, a curriculum aligned to national and state standards, teacher professional development, and a centralized learning portal which provides teachers, parents and students with powerful communication and collaborative tools to create a more personalized learning environment. This statewide portal is hosted on HP technology, using Microsoft® Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Microsoft Class Server, and is modeled on the Intel-supported Managed Learning System.
HP also works with other industry leaders such as Classroom Connect and ETS to build collaborative, customized and agile technology infrastructures. One of the most critical components of the solution is an HP-staffed technical support help desk that offers the schools' teachers and technical staff 24x7 problem resolutions for all hardware, software and network infrastructure related to the program.
"The credit for the dramatic and rapid across-the-board increase in test scores goes directly to those who designed and run the FTL program," said Anthony Salcito, general manager of U.S. Education for Microsoft. "It is a classic example of one-to-one computing done right. Michigan took a holistic approach in using technology to improve student achievement. It wasn't just about the devices or the software; they created an entire environment complete with training and support to make it work. Microsoft is very pleased to have supported Michigan in this breakthrough effort and congratulates the program on such quick and impressive results."
FTL provides a complete school improvement program to engage students in learning, enhance student achievement, provide greater access to equal educational opportunities, foster more effective use of wireless technology through systematic professional development for teachers, administrators and staff, and empower parents with the tools they need to become more involved in their child's education.
At the core of FTL also are comprehensive, focused professional development opportunities for Michigan's teachers, administrators and technology staff that helps ensure all levels of learners are supported and contributes to the program's success.
A state-enacted program funded through both state and federal funds, the continuation of FTL beyond 2005 now depends on state legislative support, added Montgomery. "The future of FTL is now in the hands of Michigan's leaders. We have solid evidence of the program's success from improved test scores to the heart of our schools - our teachers -- that point toward a positive movement in transforming our schools. It's important to teachers, administrators, parents and students in our high-need, high-priority schools to keep that momentum going."
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About Michigan FTL
The Freedom to Learn program is jointly coordinated by the Michigan Department of Education and Ferris State University (FSU) and is based at FSU. Further information can be found at http://www.ftlwireless.org.