Digital Devices and Assessments Are Top Priorities, District Tech Leaders Say
Efforts to put in place "bring your own device" policies and prepare schools for online assessments are viewed as top priorities by district technology leaders, who are also coping with budget constraints, a new survey reveals.
The survey, released by the Consortium for School Networking, based in Washington, found that more than 40 percent of district technology leaders cited implementing "BYOD" policies as one of their three top areas of focus over the coming year.
Nearly 35 percent said that the challenge of preparing for the common-core tests in 2014 was a top priority. Most states will be implementing online assessments matched to the content of the Common Core State Standards, a task expected to pose a significant test of districts' bandwidth and system capabilities.
Other top priorities named by district officials surveyed were ensuring broadband access, cited by 24 percent of respondents; creating cost-effective budgets, named by 23 percent, and supporting data-driven decisionmaking, described as a priority by 22 percent of those surveyed. (See the table below)
District tech leaders expect to meet those demands at a time when there's not a lot of money available. Sixty-two percent of the respondents said their budgets for the coming year would be "essentially the same" as last year, while 19 percent said their spending levels would be worse. Roughly the same number, perhaps reaping the benefits of an improved economy, said their budgets would improve. (See more on districts' budget constraints in the graphic, below.)
The survey is the first of its kind conducted by the consortium, a professional association for district tech leaders. The survey went to 2,500 district information technology officials, 250 of whom responded.
Not all of the survey's findings focused on the needs of schools. Some of the questions and responses offer a portrait of IT leaders themselves.
More than 60 percent of district technology leaders have six or more years of experience in their current jobs, more than twice the average tenure of a school system superintendent.
About two-thirds of district chief technology officers said they earned less than $100,000 annually, while the consortium said that the average yearly paycheck for private sector chief technology officers is $190,000. Large suburban districts hire IT officials with more graduate education and pay them more, the consortium said.
Most IT leaders, 56 percent, favor LinkedIn as their online social media professional development tool of choice, while 35 percent use Twitter, 30 percent use Google, and 27 percent turn to Facebook, the survey shows.