In a study conducted in conjunction with NWEA in early 2020, we surveyed district administrators and middle and high school science teachers who reside in the U.S. states that have adopted NGSS. As one might expect, there is room for improvement in understanding how to assess learning, given how differently science must be taught in order to meet these new standards. Check it out!
News and Insights
In this latest survey conducted by rsEdge, we explore the status of technology deployment across K-12 grade levels, including device deployment and access, as well as the types of investments that have been made in order to promote project-based learning within public schools.
Students primarily have access to laptop computers across all grade levels. Tablets are also often purchased for students to use in grades K-8, but are less likely to be in use among high school students.
Approximately four out of ten K-8 school-level respondents (Principals, Teachers, School Specialists) indicate that desktops are purchased for their students to use, versus just 29% of secondary school-level respondents (grades 9-12).
About 1/3 of School-level respondents and half of District-level respondents report providing hard-shell cases for the laptops and/or tablets that are designated for student use. Hard-shell cases are purchased to protect the investment in the devices, particularly for lower grade levels where the devices are often dropped, but also in upper grades, when students are allowed to carry their device home.
“The cases are soft shell but padded much like a tablet case. It allows for easier transportation as well as safety from bumps, drops as well as providing a clean environment for the computer. The students can also carry their tablet pens, and charging device in the case.”
A few also mention that the case helps make the device readily identifiable as school property.
“Number one, this allows you to recognize that it is a school device – and if color coded then you will know which department. It also keeps them safe, because Middle School kids are high energy and full of hormones.”
Devices purchased for student use are primarily accessible in the classroom and school lab; however, 1:1 provisioning (either onsite only, or for their sole use) is nearly as prevalent a method for providing access to computers for upper level students in grades 9-12.
1:1 is often provisioned for use at the school site only in the earlier grades (K-5) – basically the policy is to provide a resource that is available for every child in school. In middle school, about one-quarter indicate that their students are provided with their own device that they have sole use of, and can take home with them, while 35% indicate the child has 1:1 access on campus. This balance shifts within grades 9-12, with 1:1 sole use provisioning the more popular route for deployment. “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” also increases in popularity as the student grade level increases.
Those who do not currently provision devices 1:1 anticipate an average of about three years before their students will have this level of access to devices.
District-level respondents indicate the following types of equipment are provisioned for teacher/classroom use across grade levels as follows:
While Virtual Reality has yet to make much headway into the classroom, most classrooms will have access to Interactive/Smart boards, projectors, and/or document cameras. As discussed below, a desire to move to project-based learning is a key driver in the trend towards provisioning classrooms with technology that can aid in-class collaboration.
Project-based learning (PBL)
“Project-based learning is expected to be a component of instruction at every grade level.”
5 of 10 District Administrators and 4 out of 10 School-level Administrators and Educators agree strongly with the above statement (provided ratings of 7-9 on a 9-pt scale). School-level respondents in early secondary/secondary schools (grades 7-12) are more likely to agree strongly with this statement as well, with nearly half rating the statement a 7,8, or 9.
Investments made within schools in order to facilitate PBL or some form of student collaboration are primarily tied directly to new technology, such as computers, whiteboards, document cameras, and more. Other steps taken include actions such as moving the desks away from a traditional lecture format within classrooms, changing the classroom set-up within the school, or creating STEM labs or other project-based workspaces.
In addition to devices and projectors/whiteboards, respondents mention investments such as:
- Maker space/Robotics/Drones/Labs (17%)
- Touchscreen TVs (6%)
- Software (5%)
- 3D Printers (5%)
The technologies purchased are believed to be highly effective in increasing student engagement, but respondents are less sure about how well technology is increasing student depth of knowledge, or how much it is contributing towards helping PBL become more integrated within instruction.
These percentages remain fairly consistent regardless of the specific technology purchased; 3D Printers and VR score highest for student engagement (although sample sizes for users of these technologies is relatively small).
Adaption to Technology
District Administrators are evenly split as to whether 50% or more of the classroom teachers in their district are adapting their instructional style, in order to make better use of technology and enhance students’ skills/knowledge. Half of Admins believe it is fewer than 50%, while the other half believe that at least half of their classroom teachers are making updates to better incorporate technology.
Principals are a bit more optimistic, but still only 6 out of 10 estimate that at least 50% or more of the teachers in their school are adapting their teaching style.
Teachers, on the other hand, believe they have made adjustments, with only 5% saying they have made no changes to their instructional style. 30% say they have made “substantial” changes, while 46% say they have made more moderate changes. 19% indicate they have made only slight changes. Middle school teachers are the most likely to report having made substantial changes (45%).
Teaching Adaptations: Examples
Examples of those who’ve made moderate changes to their teaching style focus on increasing the use of apps and devices within the classroom, favoring the use of online instruction methods over paper materials. Google Classroom is specifically named by some teachers. Videos and lab software are also frequently mentioned.
“I have incorporated more technology to help students increase their practice and knowledge with math concepts (i.e. fact practice, problem solving skills, and with differentiating lessons). I have also used technology in the area of social studies/science.”
“I have integrated Google Classroom into my instructional practices. I can now send assignments to groups of students or the whole class and grade papers/give feedback without the use of paper. I also use online review games like Kahoot and tools for sharing student ideas like Padlet.”
“I use SMARTboard technology on a large monitor, document camera, some probeware (Vernier) and have utilized online assignments and quizzes using our LMS.”
Those who’ve made substantial changes to their teaching style invoke similar updates, but tend to indicate a more systematic shift to making use of online tools on a daily basis, and some personalization of instruction.
“With the use of our interactive board and software, I have been able to design lessons to meet the needs of my students and then share them in real-time to parents through the use of MSFT OneNote.”
“I now use technology every day. I have increased student background knowledge using the videos and pictures I can find on the internet. I am also able to access so many more books using YouTube that I do not have in the classroom. We now take assessment on the computers. Also I am piloting a science unit and it comes with a technology piece for experiments that I can now do.”
Some of these teachers also mention taking more proactive measures to find new resources to use and/or are striving to flip their classrooms.
“With new tech and websites coming out all the time, I am always looking for new ways to make learning for my students more interactive/engaging. If something new comes along, I will try it in my room to see if it is something that I would like to try and get the district to invest in.”
“I have incorporated more research-based activities. Students are also driving their own learning more. We spend very little time with traditional lecture and hope to trend towards a more flipped classroom model.”
Interestingly, the trends outlined in this flash report generally don’t vary significantly by the size of the school district, or geographically. Schools in the Northeastern region of the country are somewhat more likely to agree that project-based learning should be a component of instruction across all grades (51% vs 39-41% in other regions).
OUR POINT OF VIEW:
At rsEdge, we recognize that the pace of technology adoption varies significantly across the U.S. and across school districts, schools, and classrooms. Sadly, the divide in American socioeconomic status continues to gape ever wider, with larger percentages of the population falling below poverty level than ever before.
We believe that technology is critical to have in schools – students who aren’t exposed to using technology — and learning through technology — will have a disadvantage in the workforce, further contributing to the divide as generations age. If students aren’t able to use technology at home, it must be available within the public education system. At a minimum, this means computers that are accessible to all students. It is encouraging to see the penetration levels reported here for both tech devices and facilitative classroom equipment; however, there is still more that can be done to expand access, and to enable teachers to fully utilize technology to effectively deepen learning and knowledge.
Survey conducted March 2019 by rsEdge, Inc. among 1,466 US public school administrators and educators. Sample consists of 124 District Administrators (Superintendents, Curriculum & Instruction Directors, Directors of Teaching & Learning, etc.), 178 Principals, and 1,166 Teachers/Teaching Specialists. Respondents represent a wide range of school district sizes, from 600 students to over 30,000, and from across the US geographically. 58% represent school districts where the percentage of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch is >50%.
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