Washington Watch: State edtech training grows

The latest K-12 edtech news from the nation’s capital, including how more states are now offering edtech training and how educators are preparing to have their voices heard in the next presidential election
By: | May 7, 2019
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An increasing number of states now offer educators professional learning in digital technology and edtech, according to the “State K12 Instructional Materials Leadership Trends Snapshot” from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).  

The findings are derived from SETDA’s Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States, an interactive database that provides details on state and territory policies and practices for K-12 instructional materials selection, implementation and procurement. It was recently updated and expanded to include stats on professional learning.

Among the other key findings in the report:

  • 26 states have a digital resource repository.
  • 13 states allow districts to use state funding for digital instructional materials.
  • 12 states allow districts to use state funding for devices.
  • 19 states require districts to develop a technology plan.

With the new professional learning stats, SETDA leaders hope to help stakeholders discover what training opportunities states are providing teachers on the selection, creation and implementation of digital instructional materials.

According to the report, the number of states with definitions, guidance and policies supporting digital learning environments continues to increase annually. The trend reflects the shift toward using digital instructional materials to provide all students with access to personalized, engaging learning experiences.

Other report findings include:

  • 22 states provide educators with professional learning opportunities for the selection of high-quality digital instructional materials, while there are 20 that provide learning opportunities for implementing digital instructional materials.
  • 16 states offer professional learning programs to support the development of digital OER, while there are 14 that offer professional learning opportunities for teachers to share digital OER.
  • 25 states provide technical assistance to support the implementation of accessible educational materials, while there are 20 that provide it to support the use of accessible technologies.

The report encourages educators to understand how to use digital tools and resources and addresses the need for professional learning opportunities on selecting and implementing high-quality digital instructional materials.


How will educators sway the 2020 presidential election?

NEA launches Strong Schools campaign and seeks to engage presidential candidates

National Education Association (NEA) leaders hope to influence the next presidential election by engaging the group’s 3 million members, the public and presidential hopefuls in a discourse about public education and by building on the #RedforEd movement.

“We’re going to use the power of activism to be part of the ground game in the 2020 campaign and play a major role in choosing the next president of the United States,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcìa said during a conference call with members of the media. “We are determined to elect a president that will always put students, public education and the communities we live in first and make sure that every student has an equal opportunity to make their dreams come true.”

The Strong Public Schools 2020 campaign builds on the #RedForEd movement, which spurred a national conversation about reinvesting in the nation’s public school systems.

In recent presidential campaigns and midterm elections, NEA pushed for adequate funding for teachers, smaller class sizes and fewer charter schools. As part of this effort, Garcìa will ask presidential candidates to go on the record regarding issues such as education, student safety and health care.

“They also have to agree to sit down with me as president of NEA for a recorded live interview,” Garcìa says of candidates who seek the organization’s endorsement. “We want our members and the public to have every opportunity to get information, to engage with those candidates and to even engage with each other.”

Mike Beranek, a third-grade teacher and president of the Iowa State Education Association, says educators in Iowa are engaging in the electoral process to help shape education policies. When they meet with presidential candidates, they intend to discuss how societal issues, such as poverty, homelessness and access to health care and mental health resources, affect students and schools.

As candidates build their policy agendas, they should also understand funding for public schools, for-profit charter schools and vouchers, and how they impact the teaching profession, says Ruben Murillo Jr., a special education elementary school teacher and president of the Nevada State Education Association.  

He says Nevada was hit hard by the recession, leading to an $850 million reduction in public education funds that have not been fully restored.

“We need to make sure we have the right conditions in Nevada that will make people want to come into the education profession,” Murillo says. “More than 50% of our teachers leave after the first five years, and the impact on our public schools in Nevada is devastating.”