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Survey: School Districts Squeezed for Money, Time in Implementing Technology

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As the use of technology in schools evolves and expands, district administrators are worried about their ability to keep up with those demands, financially and otherwise, a new survey suggests.

The "K-12 IT Leadership Survey," released this week by the Consortium for School Networking, found that only a small portion, 18 percent, of school district technology officials believe their systems are fully ready to implement online assessments by this coming fall.

Those responses refer to online assessments, generally, a spokeswoman for the consortium said. That means they could include either the computer-based common-core assessments expected to be implemented in states in the spring of 2015, or the lineup of existing high-stakes tests delivered online in some states.

Ovearll, budgets for technology appear to be improving, according to the consortium, a Washington-based group representing district technology leaders. But the results also suggest that districts are feeling strained on several fronts when it comes to paying for digital tools and systems.

  • 59 percent of respondents said their district staff has no time to implement new classroom technologies;
  • 47 percent said their budgets are not adequate to meet equipment needs, school board expectations, or future technology demands;
  • 72 percent reported that their staffing has remained the same or declined despite an increase in information technology; and
  • 68 percent said they plan to delay replacements of technology, or defer maintenance (a decision that the consortium argues results in waste and inefficiency.

At the same time, interest in expanding technology in districts seems high. Eighty-one percent of district officials say they support or are keen on bring-your-own-device programs; 51 percent said that they've already implemented some type of BYOD effort in their school systems.

The survey was given to 29,000 tech leaders across the country in early 2014. Six hundred people responded and 350 completed the survey, with responses coming from 45 states, including those from regular public districts, charter schools, private schools, and state and regional agencies.

While the results offer some reasons for optimism, it is also "overwhelmingly apparent" that "districts still lack the necesssary resources to provide transformative learning environments," said Keith Krueger, CEO of the consortium, in a statement.

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