The Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization that works to improve education policy, has released a report entitled "The Nation's Schools Are Stepping Up to Higher Standards." Every school, district, and state leader, notes the report, must make critical decisions in the next two years involving digital learning that will shape education for decades.
The report identifies four key challenges that public school district leaders must systemically address in the next two years and outlines the essential elements for developing a comprehensive digital strategy. (Link to an infographic with further detail here: http://www.all4ed.org/criticalchallenges.)
The report and the webinar accompanying its release are the first steps in a major effort by the Alliance to help district leaders make smart, far-reaching decisions about implementing education technology that support teachers and improve student outcomes in K-12 public schools.
The four key challenges identified in the report that all school district leaders need to face include: 1) graduating all students college and career ready; 2) managing shrinking budgets; 3) training and supporting teachers; and 4) dealing with the growing technology needs of society and individual students, especially low-income students and students of color who are most at-risk of being left behind. By employing effective educational strategies that link and improve the "three Ts"-teaching, technology, and use of time-district leaders can create the conditions for whole-school reform and effective instruction, the report finds.
According to the Alliance, many school districts have already stepped up to address these challenges by developing comprehensive plans for digital learning strategies and will serve as examples to others in the next two years, while other districts are in the process of implementing aspects of digital learning. On the other hand, far too many districts have yet to begin preparation.
The major force driving the need to change is the move by all states to raise academic expectations by requiring students to graduate from high school ready for college and a career. For 46 states and the District of Columbia, adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) also requires using technology to prepare students for computer-administered assessments in the 2014-15 school year.
If schools and districts adopt a comprehensive digital learning strategy, says the report, the effective application of technology assists in the implementation of the CCSS by supporting profound changes to teaching and learning. Technology also plays a critical role guiding educational, administrative, budgetary, and policy decisions by providing constant data about student and school performance to educators, parents, students, and policymakers.
The Alliance, which will be partnering with national membership organizations on this initiative, has identified a framework that will provide education leaders in states and school districts with tools to make good decisions about how technology aligns with the goals and vision for their students. This growing effort, which includes access to a team of experts, a self assessment tool, and other resources, will help districts through a comprehensive planning process around seven interconnected areas within the education system where technology and digital learning can maximize the impact on student achievement:
budget and resources;
curriculum and instruction;
data systems and online assessments;
technology and infrastructure; and
use of time.
On November 15, the Alliance held a free webinar--to be archived at http://media.all4ed.org/webinar-nov-15-2012--featuring early digital learning adopters who discussed the need for states and school districts to develop plans that incorporate the use of technology in school improvement efforts. State and district leaders are encouraged to view this webinar discussion of the tools and resources district leaders will need to address technology's role in the successful implementation of the CCSS in K-12 public schools.
The complete report is available at www.all4ed.org/files/SteppingUp.pdf.
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education, www.all4ed.org