The Arkansas Science & Technology Authority (the Authority) was created by statute in 1983 with the mission to bring the benefits of science and advanced technology to the people and state of Arkansas. This mission is addressed by strategies to promote scientific research, technology development, business innovation, and math, science and engineering education. In the 2005 session, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 2266 (Arkansas Code Section 6-16-319) to help address the challenges for education, economic development, and community development brought on by the emerging global economy of the 21st Century. As a step toward meeting these challenges, Act 2266 authorized the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority to develop a knowledge-based technology curriculum, with lesson plans and related materials, for use in Arkansas public schools, grades seven through twelve. The Authority, in cooperation with the Arkansas Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Coalition, established the Technology Task Force to assist in the process and to develop further legislative recommendations in this area. The Technology Task Force included volunteers from state agencies, school districts, businesses and foundations. The Technology Task Force determined that interweaving 21st Century Skills into existing Arkansas curriculum standards would be more beneficial than creating new technology standards. The SMART Portal was selected as a means of demonstrating the integration of 21st Century Skills into Smart Core, Arkansas' public school college preparatory curriculum. The SMART Portal hosts continually updated lesson plans and materials that meet three criteria for content: The lesson addresses objectives in the Arkansas frameworks for core educational content. The lesson has a technology component that will help prepare Arkansas students for a technology-rich world. The lesson includes practice of 21st Century Skills that prepare students for the emerging challenges of a global economy. Since Act 2266 had no accompanying appropriation, support was provided by the Authority and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (www.wrfoundation.org) to develop the SMART Portal. The initial lesson plans and materials focus on science and math because the funding sources focused on these subjects. The intent is to add other subjects over time. With the help of the Arkansas Community Foundation, the IMPAC Technology in Education Endowment, an AT&T grant, and other state and private sources, the Task Force raised the required funds to study best practices at the national level, to provide training, and to involve Arkansas teachers in the creation of the activities for the portal. The University Math and Science Centers have supervised the development of the current lesson plans by providing workshops and authorizing the standard based lessons for acceptance to the portal.
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