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Technology Counts Shows Classroom Technology Fails To Reach Full Potential

The 20th Anniversary Edition of Education Week's Technology Counts Reveals a Digital Divide Among Schools Fueled by Resource Inequality, Gaps in Teacher Training, and the Uncertain Future of the Federal E-rate Program

June 14, 2017 - Education Week today releases Classroom Technology: Where Schools Stand, a special report investigating the impact technology is having in K-12 schools as digital learning tools flood classrooms across the country. The report reveals that technology is failing to reach its full potential in K-12 schools, despite the rapid infusion of new devices and technologies into the classroom. Further, disparities in technology access and adoption, and in the ways new tools are integrated into instruction, may be fueling a new digital divide that threatens to exacerbate long-standing inequities and separate education's haves and have-nots along new fault lines.

"We live in a technology-driven world that is far different from the one that existed two decades ago, when Education Week first set out to map the state of educational technology in K-12 schools," said Kevin Bushweller, executive project editor of Technology Counts. "Technology is everywhere today but a digital divide among schools has emerged because quality and equity issues are huge and they need to be confronted."

More Technology, Less Training
As digital devices proliferate in the classroom, teacher training has risen to the top of the ed tech to-do list. Analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center shows that professional development for technology integration has actually declined over time and that training lags behind in low-income schools.
  • In 2015, just 61 percent of 4th grade reading teachers said they had received training on how to integrate technology into their classroom instruction - a drop of 3 percentage points from six years earlier.
  • At the same time, the number of laptops, tablets, netbooks, and Chromebooks shipped annually to U.S. K-12 schools grew by 363 percent, with more than 14 million devices shipped this year compared to just over 3 million devices in 2010.
  • The share of 4th grade math teachers receiving training on integrating technology into instruction in the past two years ranged from 59 percent for the highest-poverty schools to 69 percent for the lowest-poverty schools.
Not Keeping Pace With Technological Change
To illustrate the gaps that exist between how teachers are trained to use technology, and how digital learning tools are used in classrooms, Education Week technology reporter Benjamin Herold visited two schools in the Pittsburgh area. "There's widespread agreement that teachers aren't coming out of college well-prepared to navigate this new digital environment," Herold writes in Technology Counts. "And for teachers already in the workforce, professional development hasn't kept up with the pace of technological change."

Experts say that lack of training is becoming a major barrier to effective use of ed tech in the classroom. The Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data confirms that concern. Results show that the nation's 4th graders use classroom computers for rote activities like practicing and drilling math concepts far more frequently than for activities that require critical thinking, such as making charts and graphs. Moreover, the gap between such active and passive use has grown over time.

FCC Uncertainty Grows
A change in leadership at the Federal Communications Commission has led to rising uncertainty about the future of efforts to boost broadband access, preserve an open Internet, and protect online privacy - all issues affecting the K-12 sector. Atop education leaders' list of concerns is the E-rate, a $3.9 billion federal program that helps schools and libraries pay for telecommunications services.

Technology Counts 2017 - Classroom Technology: Where Schools Stand is available online at www.edweek.org/go/TC17