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Report: Most IT Pros Say Common Core Will Be Good for Their District

More than three quarters, 81 percent, of K-12 IT professionals believe Common Core State Standards will have a positive effect on their district, according to a new report by CDW-G. Better on-demand data analysis, new classroom technologies, and improved technologies were the areas where respondents showed the most optimism, at 81, 79, and 78 percent, respectively.

According to the report, "Common Core Tech," 83 percent of IT pros questioned said that meeting the Common Core's technology requirements was one of their top three IT priorities, with 29 percent saying it is the top priority.

"While IT professionals have a positive outlook on Common Core, they noted a number of concerns that may impact their ability to meet the technology requirements," according to a news release about the report. Lack of budget and IT staff were the most commonly reported concerns at 76 and 69 percent. Not having enough technology for online assessments, lacking adequate technology for classroom instruction, and insufficient infrastructure or unreliable wireless access rounded out the top concerns, at 62, 60, and 55 percent, respectively.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Seventy-eight percent of districts represented  by the survey plan to test students in shifts and only 20 percent plan to test all students at the same time;
  • Among districts telling researchers they plan to test all students at once, 92 percent said Common Core was a top priority for IT;
  • More than a third, 34 percent, of districts surveyed that had a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy said they would test all students at the same time;
  • More than 90 percent of the BYOD districts that participated in the study had more than 1,000 students;
  • Computer labs, at 75 percent, and one-to-many carts, at 37 percent, are the most common plans for Common Core testing, according to the report;
  • One-to-one, BYOD, and virtual desktops round out the top five ways responding districts will administer Common Core assessments at 29, 17, and 9 percent, respectively; and
  • With the exception of the smallest districts, those with 500 students or less, smaller districts were more likely to report that Common Core technological requirements were a top priority, with districts that had 501-1,000 students calling it such 90 percent of the time, districts with 1,001-5,000 students reporting it as a top priority 85 percent of the time, and only 73 percent of districts with more than 5,000 students reporting it as such.

The report also offers four recommendations for districts as they prepare for the Common Core State Standards:

  • "Move forward confidently" by updating and upgrading infrastucture before bringing in new technology;
  • "Share your vision" and communicate it clearly so "everyone is speaking the same language";
  • "Focus on instruction and good teaching" rather than devices to create an "instructional shift that makes students active participants in learning so that they take over ownership of their education"; and
  • "Prepare for more change" in an environment in which a program will look very different within a year by continuing to use pilot groups and leaders "to share best practices and borrow ideas that unify your vision."

"There is a great deal of excitement around Common Core and the potential it holds for students and educators to measurably improve education," said Julie Smith, vice president of K-12 education at CDW-G, in a prepared statement.  "Likewise, our conversations with our customers — and the report findings — tell us that from an IT perspective, districts are still working hard so that they can support Common Core with the appropriate technology and be ready for the 2014/2015 online assessment mandate."  

The report is based on responses from 300 IT professionals at public schools surveyed in May 2013. Individuals working in Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia were excluded, as those states have not yet adopted the Common Core.

For more information, or to see the full report, visit cdwnewsroom.com.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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