Special Report: Unchaining Digital Data: K-12 Interoperability

K-12 tech leaders push to make data safe, secure, and actionable

As schools have become increasingly dependent on technology, many district leaders have come to grips with a frustrating reality: They’re awash in data, but much of it sits in silos, isolated and virtually useless. Now, a nascent effort by K-12 district tech administrators and advocates seeks to break through those technological barriers, by demanding “interoperability”—the seamless sharing of data across products and systems—of themselves and tech companies. In this report, we look in depth at the hard questions that K-12 district tech leaders need to ask about interoperability. And we detail the experiences of districts that have already begun down that uncertain path.

The report includes a profile of one district’s interoperability journey; tips and mistakes for K-12 administrators to avoid when they pursue data overhauls; and the results of an original survey of the nation’s chief technology officers, breaking down their biggest challenges with interoperability, and the problems they are counting on it to solve.


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About This Report

This Education Week examination of school districts’ pursuit of “interoperability” is the first of three special reports focused on the needs of K-12 district technology leaders, including chief technology officers.
Each report in the series features exclusive results of a new, nationally representative survey of CTOs, conducted by the Consortium for School Networking, which represents K-12 district technology officials.

Read the second report on K-12 cybersecurity here.


How Much Do You Know About Interoperability?
What is interoperability, how can interoperability standards be adopted, and what challenges can improved data interoperability help with? Take the Quiz.

Education Week Experts

Subject-matter experts featured in this report include:


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The Highline Public school system, outside Seattle, is at the forefront of an effort to integrate multiple K-12 data systems. But even in the forward-thinking Washington state district, big questions lie ahead.
November 28, 2018 – Education Week

In a Q-an-A with Education Week, San Francisco Unified School District’s Chief Technology Officer Melissa Dodd talks about the cultural and technical changes a district needs to consider in moving toward data interoperability.
October 31, 2018 – Education Week

District tech leaders offer practical advice to their K-12 peers on how to implement interoperability—and how to bring tech staff, administrators, and teachers on board.
October 31, 2018 – Education Week

Confusion about standards, budget constraints, and poor tagging of digital content scuttles K-12 efforts to move toward data interoperability, according to a survey of K-12 chief technology officers by the Consortium for School Networking, in partnership with the Education Week Research Center.
October 31, 2018 – Education Week

Technologist and privacy advocate Bill Fitzgerald argues that school districts and education companies need to better understand the problems interoperability can solve and those that it can’t.
October 31, 2018 – Education Week

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