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WV earns A- in survey studying government's use of technology

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West Virginia is one of six states to earn top honors in a survey of technology practices of state governments.

The 2012 Digital States Survey gave an A to Michigan and Utah, while California, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia received A- grades. Twenty-two states earned Bs or B- grades, and 18 states received Cs or C-. Florida and Idaho received the lowest grades in this year's survey, earning D's.

According to a news release from the West Virginia Department of Education, reviewers for the survey looked at each state's technology strategy, return on investment, demonstrated progress, innovation and creativity, and collaboration.

The state Education Department said the Mountain State was highlighted for the West Virginia Network, higher education and state agencies on a statewide telecom network; school district savings, especially in the rural areas, with statewide contracts for wiring and equipment; efficiency in e-rate mandated filtering of K-12 content by hosting the filtering servers at the state level; a statewide K-12 data system for scheduling, teacher evaluation, payroll and other functions; and a statewide West Virginia Virtual School for quality online courses.

"I'm proud that West Virginia is changing the way teachers teach so students will be ready to lead in a world that knows no boundaries," West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple said. "But technology is ever changing, so we must be vigilant in making sure our schools have access to the latest technology and the bandwidth to support it." 

Todd Sander, executive director of e.Republic's Center for Digital Government, said the survey reveals two different approaches to technology in light of the challenging economic circumstances still plaguing U.S. states.

"In some states, technology is viewed as a way to mitigate and overcome those pressures and in other places, it's viewed as a cost center and something to be cut back and reduced," Sander said. "The survey results clearly show that it is possible, even during challenging economic times, for state government to continue to innovate and improve service delivery through the application of information technology."

According to the report, states receiving A's "are trending sharply up. They demonstrated results across all survey categories. Nimble leaders use modernization to implement strategic priorities and operational efficiencies. They show evidence of meaningful collaboration. Performance measures and metrics are widely adopted. Cuts tend to be made strategical."

n interactive map of digital states grades is posted at www.govtech.com/policy-management/2012-Digital-States-Survey.html.