Students, parents, teachers, and now—for the first time—K-12 administrators are invited to take part in Speak Up 2007, an annual survey that seeks to determine what is needed to give students a top-notch, 21st-century education.

Administered by Project Tomorrow (formerly known as NetDay), a national nonprofit group focused on improving science, math, and technology education, Speak Up gives education stakeholders a chance to make their voices heard and contribute to an ongoing discussion about technology’s role in the curriculum.

“National and state leaders look for the Speak Up data each year to gain insight from education stakeholders about how to fix America’s education system in order to ensure our continued global competitiveness. The survey is an avenue for everyone—students, parents, teachers, and school administrators—to participate in this national conversation,” said Julie Evans, chief executive of Project Tomorrow.

“At the same time, we also provide participating schools and districts with their own Speak Up data to inform and impact local policies, programs, and budgeting and purchasing decisions,” Evans said.

All public, private, parochial, and charter schools in the United States and Canada are eligible to participate. Individual responses are kept confidential, and the online survey can be accessed any time until Dec. 15.

New this year is the addition of questions for school and district leaders, including principals, district administrators, and school board members. The survey now invites school leaders to share their opinions about how technology and science education can be leveraged to give students the skills they need to succeed in a digital economy.

Given the importance of education in the upcoming 2008 presidential election, Project Tomorrow says, Speak Up 2007 includes new questions to help stimulate national and local discussions. These new questions will address topics such as student interest (and parent support) in science, math, and technology careers and the “national competitiveness” agenda; using Web 2.0 tools such as MySpace in school; views on the importance of so-called “21st-century skills,” such as critical thinking and learning a second language; the value of emerging technologies in education, such as video games, cell phones, MP3 players, and other portable computing devices; and designing the ultimate school for the 21st-century learner.

“We highly value the Speak Up [survey information], because it gives us unique insights into the views of our students on emerging technologies and their aspirations for a 21st-century education,” said Sharnell Jackson, chief eLearning officer for the Chicago Public Schools. “We use [these] data to shape new programs, to inform our budgeting and purchasing processes, to train our teachers, and to engage our parents and our Chicago business and civic leaders in an effort to improve learning opportunities for every child.”

Quantitative survey results are available to participating schools and districts free of charge, so they can use the local data for their own planning and community discussion. National findings are released through a variety of venues, including a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., national and regional conferences, eMail distribution, Project Tomorrow’s web site, and Speak Up partner organizations.

Over the past four years, close to 1 million students, parents, and educators from coast to coast have participated in Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up surveys. The group expects roughly 325,000 K-12 students, teachers, parents, and school leaders will submit Speak Up surveys this year.

Speak Up 2007 is sponsored by CDW-G, SMART Technologies, PASCO Scientific, Futurekids, and KI Education. It also is supported through a network of more than 100 nonprofit education, business, and community partners, including the State Educational Technology Directors Association, the Consortium for School Networking, and the National School Boards Association.

Links:

Project Tomorrow

SpeakUp 2007