to produce the report card, and make it available publicly, so the summaries are available in the local newspapers," she said. "Now, 20 years later, we're able to integrate that data on our state homepage. If you were thinking about moving to Illinois, we now incorporate through GIS [a service that] enables you to get the census data of the community you're moving to and the report card data."

Indiana

If you want to know how Indiana schools are doing, log on to the Accountability System for Academic Progress (ASAP) , said Mike Huffman, special assistant for technology in the Department of Education. The newly created site is a storehouse for school data, academic standards and other information.

The state also offers a suite of innovative online services, developed by the Indiana WebAcademy.

For example, E-parent allows parents with user names and passwords to access lesson plans, attendance records and student grades. The application connects with school information systems, pulls data from those systems and sends it to a centralized server, making the material accessible to parents.

"It allows communication between parent and teacher," said WebAcademy Director Ken Scales. "When a parent logs on, they have the ability to communicate with teachers."

"E-store allows e-commerce for schools. They can sell bookstore items online. We have a couple of schools doing this. PTAs can do their fund raising online with this as well," he added.

The new EZ Website is a tool that allows a teacher or student to create a Web site in 10 minutes. "Type, hit one button and you have your Web site," said Scales. "Teachers love it, [it's] just so easy. We wrote the application ourselves, and SQL server is the database behind it."

South Dakota

"Years ago we wired classrooms," said South Dakota CIO Otto Doll. "We have 100 percent of our teaching corps, 100 percent of our administrator corps online simultaneously, and we have upwards of 70 percent of our students online. They are on a network that directly ties them to each other, to state government, to K-12 and to universities.

"The state is also the ISP," he continued. "So we give them access to the Internet; we have a videoconferencing network with sites at every university, every junior high school and high school."

About half the state's teachers have completed a 200-hour course on using technology in the classroom, and all school administrators have finished a two-week course in technology, said Doll.

Utah

The 20-year-old Utah Education Network enabled much of the technology innovation in the state, according to Dr. Gary Wixom, assistant commissioner of the Utah State Board of Regents.

"The infrastructure for technology is pretty good," he said. "It supports all of our Internet infrastructure."

While Wixom said tight budgets are affecting many innovative programs, eight institutions are upgrading their student and management information systems. He added that the state plans to continue extending online courses to cope with a rapidly growing student population.

"We have about 20,000 enrollment across the state, so where we can deliver online or with a combination of in class and online, that all helps," he said. "It's very difficult to move forward with technology if you don't have budgetary support. But on the other hand, in a time of budget constraints, where we have growth, technology is the answer as well."

Wayne Hanson is senior executive editor of the Center for Digital Government, and editor of Government Technology International

Wayne Hanson  |  Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government