State boards of education weigh in on ed-tech policy

According to the report, states must take a broad, purposeful approach to ed-tech integration.

In a new set of recommendations aimed at advising state leaders on ed-tech integration, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) discusses how states are integral in meeting the needs of today’s students.

The report, titled “Born in Another Time: Ensuring Educational Technology Meets the Needs of Students Today—and Tomorrow,” details the findings of an NASBE study group on the role of technology in schools and communities.

The study group examined how the current digital age has affected the learning needs of today’s students, and how state boards of education can ensure that their schools are fully prepared to address the impact of “rapid technological change on the fundamental processes of teaching and learning.”

The study group also analyzed how educational technology intersects with other school reforms, including the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other college- and career-ready standards, the emergence of robust data systems, the upcoming next-generation CCSS assessments, the growing number of virtual courses and schools, and efforts to address cyber bullying.

“It’s the wild, wild West out there in terms of technology,” says the report. “From virtual schools and online courses to the growing use of personal digital devices in schools and open-source instructional materials, much about technology is still in flux.”

This is why, says the report, state education systems are the “only entities able to offer a sustainable platform for aligning these promising—but still fragmented and rapidly changing—forces.”

According to the report, without a broad, purposeful approach, state education systems are likely to pursue a fragmented course that merely addresses individual policy issues as they happen to arise—and states “will miss a critical opportunity to comprehensively move teaching and learning forward in support of … the next generation of students.”

Recommendations

In addressing the needs of today’s students, NASBE’s study group recommends:

  1. Address digital citizenship and digital literacy. State boards should urge their districts and schools to define and discuss these critical topics and make sure their state education department is prepared to offer resources and guidance for these discussions.
  2. Design instruction to take advantage of how each student learns now. Policies at the state and local levels should be responsive to student’s lifestyles and behaviors at home and in the classroom.
  3. Create policies that allocate resources based on data, student needs, and student, parent, and stakeholder voices. Giving parents and students access to student performance data can help them serve as informed partners in ensuring that student study habits, methods, and schedules are most conducive to learning outside of school hours.

In ensuring that educators use technology to meet the needs of today’s students effectively, NASBE recommends that state boards:

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