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Common Core, BYOD, assessments among districts’ budget priorities

Survey reveals that school districts are prioritizing ed-tech in the wake of more positive budget news

districts-surveyAn annual report based on two large-scale surveys of education decision-makers reveals that school technology budgets are growing stronger, school leaders are seeking Common Core-aligned instructional materials, and there is a growing demand for tools that improve teaching and personalized learning.

The results come from MDR’s State of the K-12 Market 2014 report, conducted by the EdNET Research team. The report seeks to define important trends that will impact U.S. schools in the coming year.

Major findings reveal a reliance on digital resources and an expansion of access through mobile devices, implementation of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, and one-to-one computing initiatives; increased experimentation with new instructional models; an uptick in preparation for online assessments; and fewer worries about budgets.

(Next page: Schools anticipate their next year’s budgets)

“Schools are more optimistic about their ed-tech budgets than they have been for the past few years,” said Kathleen Brantley, Director of EdNET Insight.

In fact, nearly 90 percent of districts anticipate their 2014-2015 technology budgets in hardware, software, teacher training, and technical support to stay the same or increase. Topping the list of their concerns are hardware/device purchases and infrastructure capacity, meaning bandwidth and wireless networks will influence purchasing decisions going forward.

A growing interest in one-to-one and BYOD programs is fueled in part by the rapid growth of mobile computing devices and the increased focus on personalized learning. Nearly half (44 percent) of all U.S. districts report that one-to-one computing is substantially implemented in high schools, 36 percent in middle schools, and 20 percent in elementary schools. Chromebooks have come on strong, with half of all surveyed districts citing implementation of these newer devices.

“Fully a third of districts already administer the majority of student assessments in core content areas online, with an additional 25 percent expecting to reach that measure this year,” Brantley said. “Districts’ current experience with online assessments underpins their overall readiness to administer the new CCSS assessments online. The majority (56 percent) of districts report that they are substantially ready to implement the new assessments, up from 43 percent in 2013.”

Support for personalized learning is rated as the most important consideration when districts decide what digital instructional materials to purchase. To that end, they are exploring new instructional models to get students more deeply involved in learning. Much of this experimentation takes place in high schools—63 percent of districts have implemented flipped learning models in at least some classrooms, and 60 percent use a flexible blended model where students take all or a majority of courses online and teachers or paraprofessionals provide face-to-face support as needed.

Despite the swirling controversy surrounding CCSS, 43 states remain committed to implementation, and states that have not adopted or that have recently rejected the CCSS are still creating and implementing locally developed college- and career-ready standards.

“It should come as no surprise that educators seek instructional resources aligned to standards,” Brantley said. More than 70 percent of districts, up slightly from 68 percent last year, plan to obtain instructional materials for CCSS implementation by purchasing new materials.

After years of cutbacks on instructional resources, districts also plan to purchase materials in math, English language arts, science, and social studies. One out of four districts expects their 2014-2015 instructional budgets to increase, up from 16 percent the prior year. Purchases of math instruction will be especially strong, with 43 percent of districts planning to purchase middle school products, 36 percent elementary, and 33 percent high school. ELA purchase expectations are almost as high for all grade levels.

To learn more about the State of the K-12 Market 2014 report and the market trend research from EdNET Insight, visit EdNET Insight or call 800-333-8802.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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