South Carolina Department of Education: A Promising Practice in Developing an Educational Technology Plan

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AccessIT Article ID: 1277

In 1998, the South Carolina Department of Education released a new state educational technology plan. This five-year plan, which was scheduled for review and expansion in 2003, contained goals and benchmarks for implementing technology access to all South Carolina schools. In preparation for the 2003 review, the Department of Education worked with the SouthEast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium (SEIR*TEC) to devise a five-year plan to direct South Carolina's strategic technology development from 2003 to 2008. In developing this five-year plan, the South Carolina Department of Education determined that enhanced accessibility to educational technology for students with disabilities was an important addition to the state's existing plan.

The final document, South Carolina State Technology Plan 2003–08: Realizing the Dream, contains guidelines for school districts to develop their own educational technology plans that include assistive technology and access for students with disabilities as integral components of the overall plan. The result of this effort is a goals-based, measurable plan that will assist districts in meeting technology goals for the twenty-first century as well as meeting the new federal No Child Left Behind standards. The plan includes the following elements regarding assistive technology and accessible information technology for students with disabilities:

  • Increase student achievement through the use of technology, including assistive technology, by maximizing community involvement and community partnerships.
  • Recognize and promote best practices that successfully integrate technology, including assistive technology, into the curriculum.
  • Engage students in authentic learning activities that are aligned with state standards and that integrate technology, including assistive technology, into the core content.
  • Create and use lesson activities in which students employ a variety of technology tools, including assistive technology, to complete authentic multidisciplinary tasks.
  • Provide appropriate accommodations for students with special needs when conducting tests, including standardized tests, using technology.
  • Increase student achievement through the use of technology, including assistive technology, by maximizing community involvement and community partnerships.
  • Recognize and promote best practices that successfully integrate technology, including assistive technology, into the curriculum.
  • Engage students in authentic learning activities that are aligned with state standards and that integrate technology, including assistive technology, into the core content.
  • Create and use lesson activities in which students employ a variety of technology tools, including assistive technology, to complete authentic multidisciplinary tasks.
  • Provide appropriate accommodations for students with special needs when conducting tests, including standardized tests, using technology.
  • Provide students with an enhanced learning environment through technological tools, including assistive technology, that are designed to promote high academic achievement.
  • Appoint or hire district-wide school technology coaches to offer guidance to schools, educate teachers, and help ensure that lesson plans and activities incorporate a variety of technologies, including access to information technology.
  • Provide training needed to ensure the accessibility of electronic and information technology to students with special needs.
  • Increase the ability of school districts to design web pages compliant with Section 508.
  • Districts should maintain a strategic plan for acquiring and implementing technology, including assistive technology, for universal access to network resources.

To disseminate information about the state technology plan and about how assistive technology can be used by students with disabilities, the South Carolina Department of Education created and distributed a CD-ROM to all school districts in South Carolina. The CD-ROM was developed in partnership with the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program (SCATP) and South Carolina ETV, South Carolina's statewide public broadcasting network.

South Carolina's inclusion of information technology accessibility and assistive technology in its state education technology plan serves as a model for other states as they develop or update their own technology plans.

Last update or review: November 16, 2012