Pennsylvania and Microsoft Announce Joint Effort to Enhance Teacher Resources and High-School Reform

HARRISBURG, Pa. — April 6, 2005 — Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell and Microsoft Corp. today announced a four-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support and expand teachers’ professional development and high-school reform. The joint effort will contribute to Pennsylvania’s Keystone Program for teachers and Project 720, the commonwealth’s high-school reform initiative.

Under the MOU, Microsoft will contribute resources including up to $2 million in funding through its Partners in Learning initiative to help build a peer coaching framework for Pennsylvania teachers to excel at integrating technology into their curricula while helping build new tools and resources for preservice institutions and high schools.

“Microsoft approached us because they were impressed with Pennsylvania’s efforts in teacher leadership development and high-school reform,” Rendell said. “Having Microsoft’s expertise and resources available to us will significantly enhance our effort to build upon and expand these key education technology programs.”

The first component of the joint effort will be the creation of resources that infuse best practices from the School of the Future — the new high school being developed by the School District of Philadelphia and Microsoft — into Project 720 programs. The School of the Future is being designed to create a sustainable and replicable model for improved instructional development through the use of technology. It is expected to lend many best practices toward achieving Project 720’s three primary goals: increased rigor of educational programs, enhanced postsecondary access and credentialing for increasing numbers of students, and development of active and productive citizens. The program is named for the number of days a student spends in high school.

“We are changing the way we prepare high-school graduates, ensuring all students are prepared to enter college and the high-skills work force,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Francis V. Barnes. “Eventually, we want all high schools to participate in Project 720, and this alliance will help us to reach that goal.”

“Teachers and leaders in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are clearly using technology in new and exciting ways to reform education. Such use enables new ways of learning while equipping its students with the skills necessary to excel in today’s work force,” said Linda Zecher, vice president of the U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft. “Microsoft is excited to be part of this joint effort with Pennsylvania to ultimately help teachers and students reach their full potential.”

The second component of Microsoft’s investment will be the creation and distribution of best-of-class professional development resources for the Pennsylvania Keystones Program, which identifies teachers across Pennsylvania who effectively use technology to enhance learning in their classrooms. Microsoft also will support a new peer coaching framework to help Keystone Program teachers mentor their peer teachers and colleagues.

“This public-private relationship will help us further develop the extraordinary talents of our Keystones by allowing them to share their expertise with each other,” said Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary of Education Technology Michael Golden.To ensure the success of their relationship and its considerable goals, Pennsylvania and Microsoft will form an executive council, to be co-chaired by a representative from both parties, to identify the activities and tactics that will support the goals of the program.

Microsoft’s Partners in Learning initiative takes the company’s long-standing commitment to education to the next level by using its resources — people, partnerships, services, philanthropy and products — to empower students and teachers to realize their full potential. Partners in Learning seeks to address the issues of digital inclusion faced by educators by facilitating access to technology and training. Microsoft recognizes the need for educators not only to master the technical skills needed to use technology successfully, but also to understand how it can be integrated throughout the academic environment.

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