Under rules promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission, an E-rate applicant approved for Priority 2 discounts must affirmatively certify that it is covered by an approved technology plan.
The premise of the requirement for an approved technology plan is to assure that E-rate funding will be used effectively. A brief summary of the objectives of, and the requirements for, an approved plan is provided in the technology plan section of the SLD's web site.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recognized the necessity of thoughtful preparations for the use of these new technologies when they stipulated that requests for Universal Service Program discounts must be based on an approved technology plan….To ensure that schools and libraries are prepared to use the requested services effectively, and to make certain that students and community members experience the real benefits of the Universal Service Program, applicants must certify that their requests are based on approved technology plans that include provisions for integrating telecommunication services and Internet access into their educational program or library services. Many schools and libraries are already engaged in the development and refinement of such plans.
To qualify as an approved Technology Plan for a Universal Service discount, the plan must meet the following four criteria that are core elements of successful school and library technology initiatives:
- the plan must establish clear goals and a realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to improve education or library services;
- the plan must have a professional development strategy to ensure that staff know how to use these new technologies to improve education or library services;
- the plan must include an assessment of the telecommunication services, hardware, software, and other services that will be needed to improve education or library services; and
- the plan must include an evaluation process that enables the school or library to monitor progress toward the specified goals and make mid-course corrections in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise.
Successful plans align these four criteria with the overall education or library service improvement objectives of states, districts, and local schools or libraries. It is critical that technology planning not be viewed or treated as a separate exercise dealing primarily with hardware and telecommunications infrastructure. There must be strong connections between the proposed physical infrastructure of the information technology and the plan for professional development, curriculum reform, and library service improvements.