Classroom Technology

We’re Not Ready for Online Tests, Most District Ed-Tech Leaders Say

By Benjamin Herold — March 16, 2015 2 min read
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Fewer than 30 percent of K-12 school technology leaders believe their district is ready for online assessments, according to an annual survey by the Consortium for School Networking.

That’s potentially a big worry, given that for-real versions of online common-core exams are already being administered in some states. (Here’s a handy map from my Education Week colleagues showing where each state’s testing plan stood as of last month.)

Also high on the list of concerns expressed by ed-tech officials: improving wireless access and creating better mobile-learning opportunities in the classroom.

The findings come from the Washington-based CoSN’s third annual survey of K-12 officials who report being the highest-ranking ed-tech leader in their district. The results were released Monday in conjunction with the kick-off of the organization’s annual conference, being held here.

Among the survey’s findings on big topics in ed-tech:

  • Data privacy: 57 percent of survey respondents said data-privacy concerns are more important now than last year—not surprising, given the wave of enacted and proposed state legislation, guidance, tool kits, and principles that have come out in the past 12 months.
  • Digital content: 84 percent of survey respondents expect instructional materials in their districts to be at least 50 percent digital within the next three years.
  • Ed-tech budgets: Nearly 3 of 5 respondents reported no change in their district’s technology budget. Thirty percent reported an increase, while 10 percent reported a decrease.
  • Training and professional development: More than half of respondents reported not having enough staff to effectively integrate new technology into the classroom.
  • Bring Your Own Device programs: Just 14 percent of district ed-tech leaders reported having a “fully implemented” BYOD program. Twice as many survey respondents said they have no interest in going BYOD.
  • Migrating to the cloud: Almost every respondent reported using cloud services, with productivity tools such as Google Apps for Education (65 percent), learning management systems (45 percent), student information systems (39 percent), and help desk functions (35 percent) being the most frequently cited cloud services.

This year’s CoSN survey also took a close look at gender gaps in K-12 ed-tech leadership. Disparities in women’s access to high pay and prestigious titles persist—even though women tend to be better-educated and more experienced than their male counterparts.

For the first time, CoSN also asked survey respondents about their race/ethnicity: 88 percent of K-12 ed-tech leaders are white. Fifty-four percent are male.

And despite making significantly less than their peers in the private sector, school-system technology leaders reported a heavy burden: Nearly three-fourths of survey respondents say they are in charge of both administrative and instructional technology in their district.

See the complete report here.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.