Research

3 of 10 District IT Leaders Report Full Readiness for Online Assessments

This year's top priorities among IT leadership in K-12 are assessment readiness, wireless access and mobile learning, in that order. Those are the same priorities as last year, with the difference that wireless beat out mobile learning. Those and a number of other findings surfaced during this year's K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a professional association for school and district IT leaders. The report was issued at the association's annual conference taking place this week in Atlanta.

This year's report said more IT leaders consider themselves ready for online assessments than in previous years; but the count is only 28 percent. "Almost ready" accounts for another 34 percent. IT leaders who have only just begun, who consider themselves "halfway" ready or who have no resources whatsoever for online assessments make up the remaining 38 percent.

The 25-page report covers a number of other topics, including the transition to digital materials, the growth of BYOD and demographics.

Eight out of 10 respondents said they expect half of all instructional material to take a digital form over the next three years. That could be slightly slower than United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan predicted, when in 2012 he announced that "over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete."

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs are growing at a similar modest rate. Fourteen percent of IT leaders reported that their districts have already implemented BYOD; another 58 percent said they're either discussing it or trying it out. Only three in 10 respondents said they had no interest currently.

On the demographic side, the report offered some telling details regarding gender and salary. The top salary categories consisted mostly of men. As the report stated, even though there were only a "handful" of IT leaders in the $160,000-$200,000 salary range, they were all male. The majority of respondents earned less than $100,000 a year, a finding that has been true in the three years the survey has been conducted. However, the authors noted, "women were disproportionally represented in the lowest salary range of 'under $70,000.'" Women made up two-thirds of that group, even though they represented only 46 percent of total respondents.

This year's survey asked questions for the first time about race and ethnicity. Eighty-eight percent of respondents identified as white. The next largest category was seven percent identifying as black or African-American. Less than six percent were of Hispanic or Latino or Spanish origin. What's of interest is that the demographics on the IT leadership side don't mesh with the profile of students, where whites comprise less than half of the population. "We will watch these numbers over time to see if the make-up of IT leadership changes to reflect the demographics of the schools and districts they lead," the authors said.

"Strong IT leadership is integral to the success of schools and districts," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN in a statement. "The decisions IT leaders make affect schools and the students they serve far into the future. CoSN conducts this survey to gain a better understanding of the state of the chief technology officer (CTO) and gain deeper insight into who they are. The trends, challenges and priorities that emerge from the survey results inform CoSN's activities and help us to better address the changing needs of our membership."

The survey is available with registration on the CoSN site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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