Federal report details public K-12 tech use

Seventeen percent of school districts reported having no education-technology director.

While most American schools employ an education-technology leader either full or part time, 17 percent of districts surveyed in fall 2008 reported having no one in place to oversee the use of technology in schools.

Small districts were more likely to remain without a technology director: 21 percent of districts with an enrollment of less than 2,500 said they did not have a technology director, compared with 5 percent of districts with an enrollment size of 10,000 or more.

The survey, “Educational Technology in Public School Districts: Fall 2008,” was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET).

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the survey findings in December. The survey included data on the availability and use of a range of education-technology resources, such as district and school networks, computers, devices that enhance the capabilities of computers for instruction, and computer software.

The 2008 survey was developed to reflect how information on education technology is kept within most public school systems. Topics included whether schools had written policies on acceptable student use of various technologies, the types of technology resources that districts offer to elementary and secondary teachers and students, and general opinions on the use of education technology in instructional programs.

According to the selected results, 92 percent of districts offer access to online district resources to all elementary or all secondary teachers. Eighty-seven percent of elementary schools and 95 percent of high schools offered access to electronic administrative tools to all teachers. Regarding server space for posting web pages or class materials, 82 percent of elementary teachers and 83 percent of secondary teachers had access.

Seventy-two percent of elementary schools reported offering online access to a library catalog to all students, compared with 82 percent of secondary schools. The survey found that 62 percent of elementary schools and 83 percent of secondary schools offered electronic storage space on a server for all students.

Eighty-three percent of district respondents agreed that teachers are interested in using technology in classroom instruction, but only 58 percent agreed that teachers are sufficiently trained to integrate technology into classroom instruction. Just 42 percent of respondents agreed that funding for education technology is adequate, and 83 percent agreed that ed-tech funding is being spent in the most appropriate ways.

Ninety-two percent of districts have written policies explaining what constitutes acceptable student use of the internet, and 84 percent have written policies on student eMail use. But fewer districts have such policies in place for students’ use of social-networking web sites (76 percent) and wikis or blogs (52 percent).

Every year between 1994 and 2005, with the exception of 2004, OET and NCES conducted a survey of public schools to track access to information technology in schools and classrooms. In 2008, the study was redesigned and expanded with surveys at the district, school, and teacher levels to provide complementary information that covers a broader range of topics.

“Because the purpose of this report is to introduce new NCES data through the presentation of tables containing descriptive information, only selected findings are presented,” the report says. “These findings have been chosen to demonstrate the range of information available from the … study, rather than to discuss all of the observed differences; they are not meant to emphasize any particular issue. The findings are based on self-reported data from public school districts.”


Educational Technology in Public School Districts: Fall 2008

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