Happy Giving Tuesday!

After giving thanks on Thanksgiving, it’s time to give back with #GivingTuesday! Today, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world are coming together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

For #GivingTuesday we ask our supporters to consider a donation to Project Tomorrow to ensure that today’s students are prepared for tomorrow. All donations will go towards our programs that help students gain the skills they need for the future. Please visit http://bit.ly/donatePT to support Project Tomorrow.

We also ask our Speak Up family and friends to donate 15 minutes of your time for the future of education. Make a difference today by expressing your views about education, technology, and college and career ready skills through the Speak Up 2016 Research Project. Click here to take the survey.

We want everyone to have a voice in the future of how technology is used in our schools – please share the Speak Up survey with your students, teachers, parents, administrators, community organizers, friends, and anyone who has a passion for improving education: bit.ly/SU16survey

Thank you for your continued support of Speak Up! To learn more about #GivingTuesday, visit their official website.

How Schools Evaluate, Use and Pay for Digital Content – Speak Up 2015

In our latest infographic from Speak Up 2015 National Data, we look at some of the questions we asked administrators, teachers and librarians about digital content.

speakup-2015-digital-content-k12-instruction-october-2016We wanted to share a bit more about what administrators told use both about what they look for when evaluating digital content and how they are (and are not) planning to pay for digital content.

While Speak Up participants tell us they value getting their own school/district-level data for free, they also value what they learn just from participating. These two questions offer an example. Administrators may not have considered some of the options available to them, and we are always interested in seeing how responses to these types of questions shift over the years.

Speak Up 2016 is currently open. Students, teachers, parents and administrators across the country are taking time to share their views with us to inform education policy at the national level – and to inform decisions being made locally. Learn more about this free service, and Speak Up before January 13th!

In 2015, we asked school administrators and teachers: “Which of these factors would you consider most important when evaluating the quality of digital content to use within instruction?”

 TeachersSchool Administrators
Adjusts to multiple reading levels74%74%
Compiled on a list by our State Department of Education18%16%
Content was evaluated by a librarian or media specialist19%11%
Content was highly ranked on Google search13%5%
Includes embedded online assessments43%48%
Includes professional development35%60%
Integration into district learning management system or student information system23%30%
Materials are created by practicing teachers56%38%
Mobile app version of the content24%25%
Multiple language versions available26%32%
No commercial advertisements within the content54%47%
Recommended by education membership associations and organizations32%28%
Recommended on education blogs and websites26%18%
Referred by a colleague47%21%
Research-based58%74%
Source is a content expert organization (e.g. National Science Foundation, universities)29%31%
Source is an online curriculum company or organization12%8%
Student achievement with the materials44%46%
Teacher evaluation of the materials45%40%
Teachers can modify it to meet classroom needs71%66%
Textbook publisher recommendations9%3%
User experience25%19%

In 2015, we asked district administrators: “What is the primary way that you are currently funding your purchases, subscriptions, and/or licenses for digital tools, content, and resources to support student learning?”

 Doing thisConsidering thisNo plans
eRate funds71%5%24%
Funding from PTA/parent support groups43%11%46%
Grants or funding from district or school educational foundation67%15%18%
Local bond measures or taxes41%13%46%
Local donations or grants from corporations or foundations43%26%30%
Parents pay an annual technology fee for each child (like a music, athletic, or field trip fee)24%12%63%
Repurposing other budget funds (such as textbook funds)43%31%26%
Savings from allowing students to use their own mobile devices14%23%63%
Savings from moving some services to the cloud31%23%46%
Specific budget allocations from our general funds62%20%18%
State or federal competitive grants47%26%27%
Title 1 funds53%13%33%

10 Things Principals Told Us About Digital Learning

Before National Principals Month comes to an end, we wanted to share some of what more than 2400 principals told us about digital learning during Speak Up 2015. We look forward to hearing from even more principals during this year’s survey period, open through January 13, 2017!

10things-principals-header#1 Tech in schools is extremely important.

58% of principals say the effective implementation of instructional technology is “extremely important” to students’ success (and 54% of parents agree!).

#2 Data is informing instruction.

3/4 of principals say their school is using student data to inform instructional strategies with positive academic results.

#3 Getting social with parents and students.

52% of principals say their schools are successfully using social media to communicate with parents and students.

#4 Jumps in concerns about digital equity.

In 2007, only 12% of principals cited digital equity (students’ access to technology outside of school) as a top concern. Fast forward to 2015 – 51% of principals rank it now as a top concern!

#5 Principals are tech users too!

81% of principals text with colleagues; 73% used an online video to learn how to do something; 61% use a mobile device for note taking during classroom observations; and 36% use Twitter as an informal PD tool.

#6 Tech in English class most effective? Principals say so.

Principals say technology is used most effectively to help students develop college and career ready skills in English/Language Arts (58%), Career Technical Education (52%), Computer Science/Programming (51%) and Science (51%) classes.

#7 High school principals leading on BYOD.

While 84% of all principals say it’s important for students to use mobile devices during the school day to support schoolwork, just 26% are allowing students to actually use their own mobile devices for learning purposes. However, 41% of high school principals are allowing BYOD with another 16% saying it’s “very likely” that they will do so this year.

#8 Paperless school?

3 in 10 principals say that at least 50% of the instructional materials used at their school are now digital, rather than printed.

#9 High Techxpectations for new teachers.

Principals say new teachers should know how to use technology to differentiate instruction (76%) and to communicate with parents and students (66%). They should also know how to develop, implement, and evaluate online assessments (61%) and manage a classroom where every student has a mobile device (53%).

#10 Value of digital content.

Principals say that the top benefits of using digital content within instruction are increased student engagement (80%), increased relevancy of the curriculum (60%) and increased personalization of the learning process (60%). Are you surprised that only 32% of principals consider cost savings as a digital content benefit?

Data Snapshot: Of the 2400 principals who “spoke up” in 2015, 63% were female, 26% had more than 16 years of administrative experience and 9% were Hispanic/Latino.

Download the 10 Things Principals Told Us about Digital Learning infographic! 

It’s not too late to get your school’s FREE Speak Up Data! Surveys are open through January 13, 2017. Just register a contact person and then spread the word about the surveys with your students, parents, staff and/or community. There are no costs to participate in the surveys or to receive your data!

Learn about the homework gap at next week’s CA STEM Symposium!

If you’re attending the 2016 California STEM Symposium in Anaheim next week, don’t miss Julie’s session about the homework gap! Check out the details below:

The Impact of the Homework Gap on STEM Education
Monday, October 11 at 11am PT
Room 204 C, Anaheim Convention Center
Click here to learn more

As digital content, tools and resources are increasingly used within K-12 instruction, there is an amplified demand for safe and consistent Internet and technology connectivity for all students outside of school. Failure to address this new type of digital divide is becoming a social justice and educational equity issue. This is especially critical when we think about the value of STEM resources to drive students’ development of key workplace and college skills.

In this session, we will share the latest California and national level Speak Up data on the extent of the “homework gap” where students do not regular access to safe and consistent to technology and the Internet when they are beyond the boundaries of their school. Access from a parent’s smart phone is no longer sufficient to support students in flipped or blended learning environments. The Speak Up data documents where students are accessing the Internet for homework (14% of California high school students say they are doing their digital homework at an fast food restaurant or coffee shop), students’ attitudes about the importance of out of school access (64% of students say this is important for student success) and what California districts are doing or thinking about doing to resolve this equity issue. Using the research data as the foundation, we will then engage the session participants in a discussion about what they doing to address this issue in their school, and what policy/program/funding supports they believe ar needed to eliminate the homework gap. Additionally, given that science teachers are the most likely to be using technology within their instructional plans (per the Speak Up 2015 data), we will also discuss the implications of this new digital disconnect on science education in particular. Of special note will be how today’s students are increasingly using digital tools to self-direct learning in science and the impact of the disparity in home connectivity on students’ interests in STEM education and careers.

Audience members will leave this session with a clarified vision on the extent of the homework gap issue in CA, and especially how this trend is impacting science instruction in California classrooms right now.

To learn more about attending the 2016 California STEM Symposium, please click here.

 

Why Participate in Speak Up? Here’s what superintendents told us.

This summer, we recognized 20 school districts and their superintendents for their exceptional participation in the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning.

As you prepare for Speak Up 2016, we wanted to share some of what they told us about why they participate!

“The survey provides districts with great information that can be compared between schools, to their state, and to the entire country. When Southwest Allen County Schools first began to participate, our intention was to educate our constituents by comparing our usage of technology to that of other districts across the country. We are now using it to drive improvement as our constituents are able to give us much more educated feedback. The advantage of national, longitudinal data cannot be underestimated.” – Philip G. Downs, Southwest Allen County Schools, Indiana

“Project Tomorrow’s annual Speak Up survey has allowed us to infuse the voice of our entire school community into key decisions around trends in technology ubiquity, mobility, video and personalization, K-12 use/misuse of social media, and the expansion of classroom walls connecting us to the world. Annual data from the survey is analyzed and shared among stakeholders, creating awareness and conversations that have led to action. The data has helped to generate community support for bond initiatives that resulted in needed infrastructure improvements and wifi coverage throughout the district.” – James P. Lee, Paradise Valley Unified District, Arizona

“East Noble School Corporation continues to find the Speak Up Survey to be a valuable tool used to measure our progress with technology use, instructional integration, and overall effectiveness. Having the ability to annually match stakeholder perception to district perception creates an invaluable reality check that leads to instructional growth and improved outcomes.” – Ann Linson, East Noble School Corporation, Indiana

“Frederick County Public Schools (Virginia) has participated in Speak Up over the past 5 years. Each year, FCPS has increased participation and used the Speak Up findings to inform and guide our efforts toward professional learning opportunities for teachers.  The information gained about our school division and the ability to directly compare that data to state and national trends has been invaluable as we have planned and implemented our division-wide 1 to 1 Chromebook initiative.” – David T. Sovine, Frederick County Public Schools, Virginia

Why do you Speak Up? We want to hear why you participate and how your school or district uses your data. Tell us your story!

speak up findings on social media use of students parent and teachers

How We’re Using Social Media In and Out of School

Students use social media as part of their learning – to collaborate, explore and share. We asked students last fall about how they use social media for learning, what specific tools they use and what related challenges they are experiencing.

More than 40 percent of students (grades 6-12) told us that not being able to access social media tools at school is a problem for them. Given that more than 75 percent of high school students told us they use YouTube “all the time,” it is clear that not being able to access that tool during school hours must feel like a serious challenge to these learners.

It’s always interesting for us to see which networks are (and are not) being used by students across the country each year. (We look forward to hearing from students again on this topic beginning in October!) After YouTube, the most used social networks, among high school students, are Snapchat and Instagram. The least used? Continue reading

2016 Outstanding Superintendents Receive Speak Up Shout Out Awards

 

Speak Up Shout Out Awards
Today, we recognized 20 school district superintendents from across the country with Speak Up Shout Out Awards for 2016 Outstanding Superintendents. Each of their districts have had exceptional participation in the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. The awards were announced during AASA’s Advocacy Conference.

“More than 2,600 districts participated in Speak Up 2015, but these 20 stood out to us for their commitment to raising the voices of their stakeholders, notably students, parents, community members and educators at all levels,” said Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow. “Speak Up, in addition to being a national research project, is a free service open to all schools, and we are thrilled to see so many taking advantage of the online surveys and national reports.”

“Superintendents across the country are dealing with an array of educational technology opportunities and Speak Up offers a platform so they can learn directly from their stakeholders about what students, parents and teachers are looking for now and in the future,” said Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “The superintendents being recognized by Project Tomorrow are leaders in the effective use of technology for learning.” Continue reading

Inaugural Speak Up Study Club @ ISTE

Speak Up Study ClubAs part of our annual Speak Up survey of more than 500,000 students, educators and parents, we are rarely able to distribute all of the findings, so we’re trying something new this year!

At ISTE, we convened our first-ever Speak Up Study Club. Invited members each received exclusive Speak Up data, spent some time talking about digital learning trends and shared some thoughts about the 2016 Speak Up surveys and gave us plenty of new ideas for other ways to share national Speak Up data. Continue reading

YouthTEACH2Learn Students Receive Congressional Recognition

This morning, on behalf of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Field Deputy Cynthia Morales presented 25 graduating seniors with Congressional Certificates of Recognition for completing Project Tomorrow’s YouthTEACH2Learn program, the culminating course in Thomas Jefferson High School’s Teacher Prep Academy.  The students celebrated their accomplishments, and their imminent graduation, with representatives from the school administration, Los Angeles Unified School District administration, and Project Tomorrow.

YouthTEACH2Learn Students

Jefferson High School Students Receive Congressional Recognition from Rep. Roybal-Allard’s Field Deputy Cynthia Morales (left), with their teacher Jaime Gomez.

YouthTEACH2Learn is a high-impact science and math education program in which high school students are enrolled in a full year elective class to learn about teaching math or science. As part of the class, the students develop a series of hands-on science or math lessons and in turn, teach these standards-based lessons in local elementary school classrooms on a regular basis throughout the school year.  The Jefferson High School students taught twelve science lessons at neighboring Nevin Elementary, to students in Kindergarten, First, Second, and Fourth grades.  As a result, the elementary students had additional, hands-on instruction in science that was highly engaging.  One of the cooperating elementary teachers shared the impact of the program, noting: “The Jefferson students have been a great motivation for my students.  My class has looked forward to the science lessons with great anticipation.”

Of course, the students at Jefferson High School benefitted as well, gaining the opportunity to experience teaching first hand, while developing the content knowledge, pedagogical skills, and college and career readiness skills they will need to successfully pursue a teaching career.  At this morning’s celebration, the students reflected on their time in the class, and one concluded: “This experience has inspired me to pursue a career with kids and has definitely made me more interested in becoming a future educator.”

Recruiting tomorrow’s teachers today, starting with high school students, is more important than ever.  The impending retirement of the baby boom generation (1/3 of California teachers are over the age of 50), coupled in California with a precipitous drop in the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs (a 70% decline in the last decade), means that the chronic shortage of qualified STEM teachers has become much worse, and expanded to all subject areas. In fact, according to the California Department of Education, the 2015-16 school year began with 21,500 open teaching positions, while only 15,000 new teaching credentials are issued per year.  Project Tomorrow is pleased to share that we are addressing this problem through our Tomorrow’s Teachers Initiative programs, YouthTEACH2Learn and Educators Rising California.  Participation in both grew tremendously last year, and is on track to do so again in 2016-17.

In the meantime, we hope that you will join us in offering our congratulations to the YouthTEACH2Learn students at Jefferson High School.  We hope that they will continue on the path to becoming teachers, and we wish them the best of luck in all of their future endeavors.

YouthTEACH2Learn is a career exploration program where students explore teaching as a career. During the course, the students gain practical experience by observing elementary school classrooms, learning how to teach, developing and teaching standards-based lessons to younger students in neighboring elementary schools and participating in local community service projects. In addition, students also have the opportunity to meet local educators, attend career panels, and visit local college campuses in order to determine if teaching is a “good-fit” for their professional goals. To learn more about YouthTEACH2Learn, visit http://www.tomorrow.org/programs/yt2l.html.

The Homework Gap Is Real. This Is How It Is Currently Being Addressed.

By Dr. Julie Evans, CEO, Project Tomorrow

Last fall, Speak Up asked education stakeholders – educators, students and parents – across the country about their perceptions and views on the homework gap. We wanted to know how the homework gap is impacting students and teachers everyday and some ways that school districts are approaching the challenges associated with providing safe and consistent access to the Internet outside of school.

More than 505,000 K12 students, teachers, administrators and parents representing 7,800 schools and 2,600 districts nationwide responded. The data included respondents from urban, rural and suburban communities.

Homework Gap Data

(Click for PDF)

Administrators’ views on the importance of out-of-school connectivity have changed over the past few years. As schools and districts are increasingly emphasizing the importance of personalized learning empowered by the use of digital tools, content and resources in the classroom, the issue of homework connectivity (what we used to call the digital divide) has raised its ugly head again.

A majority of district leaders such as superintendents and directors of curriculum and learning now say that the effective use of technology within learning is the best way to prepare students for college and career success and improve student achievement.

Sixty-seven percent say the effective use of technology is extremely important to student success.

The increased emphasis in the district or central offices is obviously trickling down to the classroom too. Based upon our new 2015 data, teachers are using more digital content than ever before. In our national report (From Print to Pixel) released a few weeks ago, we reported that teachers’ use of online videos within instruction increased by 45 percent since 2012. Additionally, the use of online curriculum increased by 71 percent in the past three years, and we document the increase in the use of digital content in the classroom as 4x what is was in 2012.

To fully leverage these tools and also take advantage of advanced tools that facilitate stronger school-to-home communications, it is increasingly imperative that students have not just any access to the Internet outside of school but rather safe and consistent access. Access through devices and connectivity that is appropriate for doing online research, for using online tools to submit homework, to facilitate communicating with their teachers about questions and collaborating with classmates on school projects.

The students understand this very well. Two-thirds of students say that is important for them to have safe and consistent access to the Internet when they are outside of school for them to be successful in school.

Unfortunately, one in five students say this type of appropriate learning environment is not available to them on a consistent basis. Many tell me through focus group discussions that they are using their mom or dad’s smartphone to check on school assignments or checking grades, but that these access points are totally insufficient, inconvenient and inappropriate for doing the types of sophisticated learning tasks we expect from students today. Tasks such as doing research on online primary sources such as from the Newseum to write a paper for history class, or participating in online labs or simulations for chemistry class, or writing that thoughtful essay about Hawthorne for their English Literature class.

I am impressed with the resourcefulness of these students impacted by the homework gap: One-third are getting to school early or staying late to do their online academic tasks using the school’s wifi. Another 24 percent say that they regularly are using their public library as their place for doing homework. One in five are doing their homework at a fast food restaurant or coffee shop. But being impressed with their resourcefulness does not mean that this is the way it needs to be. I think that we will all agree that McDonalds is not the best way for our nation’s potential best and brightest to do their homework. The quality of the out-of-school Internet access matters.

Teachers are the front lines of this situation today. Per our data from this past fall from 36,000 teachers from all kinds of communities and teaching all grade levels, two-thirds say that they are sometimes reluctant to assign digital or Internet dependent homework out of concern that their students may not have safe and consistent out-of-school connectivity.

Consequently, 51 percent of school principals say that ensuring student access to technology outside of school is a top challenge for them today – only 30 percent said the same in 2010. This issue is top of mind today for educators throughout schools and districts nationwide. And the majority are exploring various innovative solutions to remedy this situation – both in terms of local approaches and advocating for state and federal policies to support new solutions.

There is no shortage of good ideas on this, but the challenge for many districts is how to realistically implement sustainable options that fit for their community. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach will probably not work and so understanding how some districts are experimenting or exploring new ideas is helpful for the entire discussion. When we asked administrators about how they were addressing this challenge, the most common response was to allow students to be on campus early or to stay late (68 percent of administrators say they are doing that already). Additionally, one-third are providing wifi access in their school parking lots. We hear from students that they are taking advantage of that also. Fifty-two percent are working with public libraries to expand their hours or allow students to have priority access to the library’s computers in the after school times.

Many of us are familiar with some other innovative approaches such as equipping school buses with wifi hotspots or paying for home Internet access for families. Per our data, only five percent of administrators say their buses are wifi enabled; only four percent are paying for home access. Less than one-quarter of administrators say they are considering either of these options for their districts.

Unfortunately, too many districts report that they are effectively stifling the use of technology within learning by discouraging their teachers from assigning Internet based homework (37 percent) or telling students to download online resources to USB sticks (45 percent).

The Speak Up data validates what many of us already know.

The homework gap is real.

This situation is a critical equity issue.

Failure to address this issue will have significant impact on students’ learning and their preparation for future success in college or the workplace.

The time is now to act with new solutions and new ideas that address the seemingly insurmountable challenges for schools and communities.