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Nonprofit to elevate educator perspectives in edtech decision-making

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) today announced it is providing more than $1.6 million in support to the Jefferson Education Exchange (JEX), a nonprofit committed to helping educators make informed decisions about education technology (edtech).

The support from CZI will enable JEX to launch an initiative to expand the role of educators in helping shape the national education research agenda, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). It also will help advance the organization’s efforts to map and understand the dynamics that influence the effectiveness of technology in the classroom.

“While educators are often the individuals using edtech tools to serve students in the classroom, their voices are often missing from decisions on how to select and implement those tools,” said Sandra Liu Huang, Head of Education at CZI. “We’re pleased to invest in an evidence-based approach to help teachers, schools, and districts better understand how technology can best support students in the context of their specific needs and learning environment.”

Over the next two years, JEX will conduct rigorous research to support the development of an “EdTech Implementation Framework” designed to help educators, school, and district leaders make more informed, contextually relevant decisions about the selection, purchase, and implementation of education technology.

This research will be supported by a series of convenings, organized in partnership with IES, to better align the national education research agenda with the needs of students and teachers. This grant reflects CZI’s commitment to providing teachers with evidence-based tools and practices that support their efforts to meet the needs of individual learners.

“Investments in education technology often fail because school leaders and decision-makers are not equipped with enough information about how a given tool will work — or not work — in the specific context of their schools,” said Bart Epstein, president and CEO of JEX. “Teachers and administrators are telling us that they want to learn from their peers. They’re asking for more relevant, objective data to inform their edtech decision-making.”

The Jefferson Education Exchange, which was founded through a unique collaboration between the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development and Strada Education Network, aims to promote informed decision-making among education leaders to improve outcomes for students. Each year, the organization provides cash stipends directly to teachers, who document their experiences and perspectives to help edtech decision-makers and policymakers understand and explain why any given edtech tool can work in some environments, but not in others.

“The only metric we should use to evaluate the role of technology in public education is the success of our students,” said Bill Hansen, President and CEO of Strada Education Network and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education. “JEX plays a unique role bringing together educators, researchers, and technologists to cultivate a more collaborative, outcome-focused discussion about education technology.”

About Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan in December 2015, is a new kind of philanthropic organization that brings together world-class engineering, grant-making, impact investing, policy, and advocacy work. Our initial areas of focus include supporting science through basic biomedical research and education through personalized learning. We are also exploring other issues tied to the promotion of equal opportunity including access to affordable housing and criminal justice reform. For more information, go to www.chanzuckerberg.com.

About Jefferson Education Exchange
The Jefferson Education Exchange is a nonprofit public charity committed to bringing educator perspectives to bear on edtech procurement and research. Supported by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development, JEX’s work centers on research and development to guide the design of research protocols and tools that will enable educators to document and share their experiences with education technology products. For more information, view our slide deck and visit JEX on Twitter and LinkedIn.