Although 90 percent of principals said they believe technology is critical for student learning, only two-thirds would rate their school technology as strong, according to a new report from MDR EdNET Insight.

The report, “School Trends: Principals’ Perspectives on Instructional Initiatives and Purchasing Decisions,” includes data broken down by school level, size, location, and Title I status.

In combination with the research from the entire four-part series, the report offers a 360-degree view of decision-making authority at all levels, from an administrator, to a principal to a classroom teacher.

(Next page: Principals’ priorities and purchasing decisions)

Based on a national survey, U.S. principals shared their priorities on:
• Instructional initiatives–implementation of innovative practices, such as personalized learning
• Purchasing–where, how, and by whom decisions are made on various types of purchases with discretionary school budgets
• Professional development needs for teachers and themselves
• Resources–how they learn about new products and view marketing and sales approaches
• Leadership issues–overall vision to improve student outcomes while facing many challenges

An example in the research highlights purchasing levels on various instructional materials for schools and districts. MDR’s survey data finds that primary purchasing decisions for library and supplemental instructional materials favor the school level, while textbook and facility improvement are likely at a district level.

Purchases of digital curriculum, professional development and instructional hardware are both levels. Additionally, 82 percent of principals have discretionary funds, but their influence about which products to purchase extends considerably beyond their individual school budgets.

“Purchasing decisions are never cut and dry in U.S. education, but it is clear that principals have significant authority, especially for products that have a direct impact on student instruction and outcomes,” said Maureen Hance, MDR’s EdNET Insight Product Manager. “Principals also look to vendors who will help them solve significant challenges and have products that are easy to deploy and supported by evidence of effectiveness.”

Additional findings in this report include highest priorities and significant challenges:
• STEM, personalized learning, and project-based learning are the highest instructional priorities
• Improving student outcomes, instruction and engaging with parents are significant challenges
• 50 percent of principals have planned for or are implementing personalized learning
• Nine out of 10 principals believe technology is an essential tool for enhanced student learning, although only 67 percent rate their technology infrastructure as strong. Just 45 percent believe teachers are effective in using technology to engage students and improve learning.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura