Special Report: The 5 Biggest Challenges Facing K-12 Tech Leaders

Superintendents and chief technology officers work in an increasingly complex digital environment

The people in charge of improving the use of technology in schools face daunting challenges, and their needs are likely to become even more complicated in the years ahead. Think cybersecurity threats, lean budgets, data isolated in silos, and demands for improved professional development. Making progress in all five of those areas is going to take hard work, collaboration, patience, and time—and there will likely be setbacks along the way. District IT leaders, in particular, see urgent needs ahead: In a survey conducted by the Consortium for School Networking, those administrators named cybersecurity as their top priority.

In this special report, Education Week explores all five challenges and how ed-tech leaders are responding to them. The report includes an examination of those hurdles as seen through the experiences of five different district ed-tech leaders; an analysis of the skills that effective chief technology officers need, beyond technical expertise; a CTO’s take on building digital literacy, moving to the cloud, and using analytics to improve student outcomes; and a superintendent’s perspective on digital content use, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity strategies, and the expansion of makerspaces.


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About This Report

This Education Week review of the top technology challenges facing K-12 schools is the third of three special reports focused on the needs of district technology leaders, including chief technology officers. Each report in the series features results of a new, nationally representative survey of CTOs, conducted by the Consortium for School Networking, an organization representing K-12 district technology officials.

Read the first two installments of this three-part series:
Unchaining Digital Data: K-12 Interoperability

K-12 Cybersecurity: Big Threats and Best Practices


What Are the Biggest Challenges for Ed-Tech Leaders?
What are some of the responsibilities of K-12 Chief Technology Officers (CTOs)? And what are some of their biggest challenges? Take the Quiz.

Technology Counts 2019

Educators Tear Through the Hype
See the results of a nationally representative survey of 700 teachers conducted by the Education Week Research Center that shows fewer than one-third of America’s teachers said ed-tech innovations have changed their beliefs about what school should look like.

Education Week Experts

Subject-matter experts featured in this report include:


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