Leading a school district in the digital age can be both exhilarating and formidable. Technology has proven to enhance the educational experience of students and educators, preparing everyone for success in the ultra-competitive, highly connected, ever-shrinking world.

What core competencies do school system technology leaders exactly need to succeed? And what skills should a superintendent look for in his/her technology leader?

CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking), the national association of school district technology leaders, has thought long and hard about this question, and we have developed the first-ever aspirational leadership certification to address this need.

Identifying and Understanding Today’s Chief Technology Officer

In 1990, PwC found that 80 percent of the technology leader’s role was technical. Today, managing the technical aspects of the job is less than 30 percent. However, districts mostly advertise and recruit district education technology positions on the basis of technical skills.

To address this shift and get school leaders on the right path, CoSN formed the Framework of Essential Skills of the K-12 CTO. The Framework’s body of knowledge was built and updated by expert CTOs, and validated with support from the National Science Foundation. It defines 10 essential skills that can be grouped into three buckets:

  • Managing Technology (the traditional role of CTOs);
  • Understanding the Education Environment; and
  • Leadership & Vision.

Next page: The 10 essential skills for today’s technology leader)


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