District IT Priority: Meeting Common Core Technology Requirements

According to a new report, the majority of K-12 IT professionals say that meeting the technology requirements of Common Core is one of their top priorities – if not the top priority.

At the ISTE Annual Conference, CDW-G presented the results of its latest education research, “Common Core Tech.” Among the 300 K-12 IT professionals surveyed, 83 percent noted that meeting the Common Core technology requirements for the online student assessment mandate and improved instruction was among their top three IT priorities – and 29 percent said it was the top IT priority. Additionally, more than three-fourths of IT professionals believe that Common Core will have a positive impact on their district, especially in the areas of improved on-demand student data analysis (81 percent) and new and improved classroom technologies (79 percent and 78 percent, respectively).

While IT professionals have a positive outlook on Common Core, they noted a number of concerns that may impact their ability to meet the technology requirements. Lack of budget (76 percent) and lack of IT staff (69 percent) top the list of challenges, but IT professionals are also concerned about having enough technology for online student assessment (62 percent) and having enough classroom technology for instruction (60 percent). Fifty-five percent of respondents also noted that they lacked a strong IT infrastructure or reliable wireless access – crucial elements of a strong educational technology program.

When it comes to overcoming challenges, CDW-G’s panelists at ISTE provided insights for other districts to consider:

Joanna Antoniou, technology coordinator, Passaic Public Schools, N.J.: “Professional development is so important in helping to overcome some of the challenges. We launched a successful professional development pilot program, where we worked exclusively with a small group of pilot teachers, who later began to turnkey to their colleagues. Our pilot teachers now run workshops and breakout sessions themselves based on the experience they’ve gained with Google Chromebooks.”
Doug Renfro, instructional designer, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Tenn.: “Our IT department launched a two-year project to address infrastructure and wireless access, and our IT and learning technology departments now work hand-in-hand on projects.”

Geoff Fletcher, deputy executive director, SETDA: “We can be smarter about how we spend our money and think about flexibility in funds. The technology necessary for the new online assessments is also technology that we have to use for instruction and instructional materials. Approximately half the states have made significant policy changes to accelerate the shift from print to digital in instructional materials, including, in some states, allowing textbook funds to be used for technology. Money can be a challenge but traditional priorities can be adjusted with new funding flexibility.”