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.

Are you near Washington DC? Attend NCTET’s special homework gap briefing on June 6!

Our friends from the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) are hosting a special Congressional briefing on Monday, June 6 about the homework gap. This event features remarks from our very own Julie Evans – learn more below:

SEIZING THE MOMENT: PROGRESS ON BRIDGING THE HOMEWORK GAP BUT MORE WORK TO BE DONE

When: June 6, 2016   1:00-2:30
Where: 904 Hart Senate Office Building

In this installment of the Seizing Opportunity in the Digital Age Congressional briefing series, the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) will discuss the progress made by the FCC and Congress in closing the “homework gap”: the chasm that exists between students who have home access to high speed broadband and those who do not. In addition to highlighting changes wrought through the Every Student Succeeds Act and the FCC’s recent Lifeline Modernization Order, this session will also explore the work that remains to be done to ensure all students have access to high speed broadband in the classroom as well as at home.

This event will feature remarks from:

  • Senator Angus King (I-ME)
  • FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
  • Project Tomorrow CEO Julie Evans
  • Albemarle County Public Schools (VA) CIO Vincent Scheivert

Please RSVP by June 5th at info@nctet.org

Interested in learning more about the homework gap before attending this event? Click here to view our Speak Up 2015 homework gap data. We look forward to seeing you at this event!

Addressing the Teacher Shortage: Recruiting Tomorrow’s Teachers Today

It is more than likely that your district has felt the impact of California’s teacher shortage.  By now, the numbers are well known. The 2015-16 school year saw a need for 21,500 new teaching positions, while only 15,000 new teaching credentials are issued per year.  The impending retirement of the baby boom generation (1/3 of California teachers are over the age of 50), coupled with a precipitous drop in the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs (a 76% decline from 2001-2014), means that the chronic shortage of qualified STEM teachers has become much worse, and expanded to a shortage in virtually every area of teaching. A full analysis of the causes of the current shortage, as well as recommendations to address the challenges, was released in January by the Learning Policy Institute, and several bills have been introduced in the state legislature to attract more candidates into teaching.  Districts and schools do not need to wait for state action, however, to stop the boom and bust cycle of teacher recruitment and preparation.  Indeed, many districts across the state are working to “grow their own” teachers by recruiting the next generation of teachers beginning in high school.

Project Tomorrow has been working with districts to recruit the next generation of teachers by providing high school students with significant teaching experiences for the last 18 years.  We target high school students because our national research project, Speak Up, shows that 45% of college students say their decision to become a teacher was made prior to college. In addition, in 2015, over 10,000 California high school students took the Speak Up survey, and 34% said that they were either somewhat or very interested in becoming a teacher.  Finally, 77% of students said they want to learn about a future career through direct field experiences. This is in line with Richardson’s and  Watt’s research, which showed that perceived teaching ability and having had positive prior teaching and learning experiences was a strong motivation for those who chose a teaching career.  Thus, by moving the starting line for candidate recruitment and development from college to high school, we can dramatically increase the pipeline for new teachers.

Project Tomorrow offers several programs designed to provide high school students with significant opportunities to learn about and experience teaching in specific content areas.  For example, YouthTEACH2Learn (YT2L) is a full year class to learn about teaching math or science. High school students develop a series of hands-on science or math lessons and in turn, teach these standards-based lessons in local elementary school classrooms. In addition, Project Tomorrow is the state affiliate for Educators Rising, a national Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO). Educators Rising California is a student leadership organization with co- curricular chapters throughout the state providing high school students with information and experiential learning opportunities, including statewide teaching competitions and conferences, to support their exploration of teaching careers.  Our program evaluations indicate that students are more likely to visualize themselves as teachers and believe they can be successful as teachers because of their experiences in our programs.  In fact, a recent analysis of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing database found that 38% of YT2L alumni hold a credential.

Give that 2/3 of teachers teach within twenty miles of where they went to school, it is not surprising that many are turning to a “grow your own” approach in the face of the current teacher shortage.  There are 50 teaching academies across the state (including this one at Century High School featured in EdSource).  At least two Career Pathways Trust Grants are supporting education pathways, the Orange County Teacher Pathway Partnership led by Santiago Canyon College, and the Establishment and Enhancement of Education Pathways led by Clovis Unified School District.  San Diego Unified and Fresno Unified both have teacher recruitment and preparation initiatives that begin in high school.  Educators Rising California alone supports 30 chapters and 700 students across the state. Today’s high school students will not be able to fill open teaching positions this fall, but these efforts show that we can start filling the teacher preparation pipeline today with the teachers that we will need tomorrow, and prevent the current teacher shortage from becoming a chronic problem.

For more information on Project Tomorrow’s programs mentioned above, contact gnicholson@tomorrow.org.

Our Speak Up 2015 report, From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education, is now available!

From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education

Speak Up 2015 National Findings

ProjectTomorrowCover2016_v1-page-001

From Print to Pixel: The role of videos, games, animations and simulations within K-12 education documents the key national findings from Speak Up 2015.

For the past thirteen years, Project Tomorrow’s® annual Speak Up Research Project has provided schools and districts nationwide and throughout the globe with new insights into how today’s students want to leverage digital tools for learning based upon the authentic, unfiltered ideas of students themselves. Each year, education, policy, research, and business leaders leverage the Speak Up findings to understand the trends around students’ use of technology, and how schools and communities can better serve the learning needs of today’s digital learners. Speak Up reports over the past few years have focused on connecting the digital dots for learning, mapping a personalized learning journey, and moving from chalkboards to tablets as part of a digital conversion effort.

This year’s report departs from that tradition of examining the state of education change and focuses on a particular phenomenon that we have documented over many years, the emergence of pixel based digital tools, specifically, videos, games, animations and simulations, as legitimate vehicles for learning. Leveraging the views of 415,686 K-12 students, 38,613 teachers and librarians, 4,536 administrators, 40,218 parents and 6,623 community members representing over 7,600 schools and 2,600 districts in the United States and around the world, this year’s Speak Up report examines three aspects of this phenomenon:

  • What precipitates the move within schools from print to pixel to lay the foundation for then understanding how teachers and students are using these digital tools in their classrooms?
  • How are students self-directing learning beyond the classroom?
  • What should we expect in further adoptions of visually engaging digital tools in education?

Key Findings from this year’s report include:

  • School principals (84 percent) are almost unanimous in their belief that the effective use of technology within instruction is important for student success. However, they do acknowledge challenges or barriers to meeting the expectation of effective technology usage.
  • Five out of 10 administrators note that the implementation of digital content resources such as videos, simulations and animations was already generating positive student outcome results
  • Almost 60 percent of technology leaders say that one-quarter of instructional materials in their schools today are digital, not paper-based; 26 percent say that their level of paperless-ness is 50 percent.
  • The top subject areas in which the students in grades 6-12 watch videos to support homework, research projects or studying are science (66 percent), math (59 percent), social studies/history (53 percent) and English/language arts (45 percent).
  • When asked what was holding back further expansion of their digital learning visions, 57% of principals say the lack of teacher training on how to integrate digital content within instruction is their top barrier.

Click here to download the report and more

Tomorrow’s Teachers are Teaching, and Learning, Today

Educators Rising California Students at Century High School in the News

We’ve been sharing news about the teacher shortage for a while now (see a previous post here). This week EdSource highlighted one of our Educators Rising California schools and how they are working to prepare their students for careers in teaching – and ultimately combat the teacher shortage. Check out our summary below:

When Century High School (Santa Ana, CA) senior Maria Vasquez teaches 1st graders about sentence structure and pronunciation, she “learns so much more from the students than they do from her.” Students in the school’s TEACH Academy are given the unique opportunity to gain hands-on work experience to prepare for careers as teachers. This is not only an excellent way for these high school students to gain real world experience as teachers, but, as educators note, it is also a great way for California schools to funnel students into teaching careers.

Through the TEACH Academy, Century High School students begin gaining experience as sophomores, where they learn skills such as lesson planning and parent correspondence. As juniors they serve as tutors and aides at nearby elementary schools, and as seniors they are paired with graduate students from Cal State Fullerton to further explore careers in teaching. All academy students also take college-level education courses and accrue 15 units of college credit by the time they graduate.

The academy is a part of the Orange County Teacher Pathway Partnership, which is funded through a $6 million California Career Pathways Trust grant and is headed by Rancho Santiago Community College District.

Century High School’s TEACH Academy is just one of over 50 education pathways in California high schools.  Janis Perry, lead project specialist at Santiago Canyon college, says, “Students will learn in a robust [teacher pathway] program that will lead to high-wage, high-growth, and high-skill occupations that will help fill California’s anticipated shortage of well-prepared teachers.” Officials estimate that the current academies could eventually add 2,000 – 4,000 teachers annually.

To read the original article by Fermin Leal, please click here

All students in the TEACH Academy are members of Educators Rising California. Project Tomorrow is proud to be a community partner in the OCTPP initiative. Two of Project Tomorrow’s initiatives, YouthTEACH2Learn and Educators Rising California, work to combat the issue of the teacher shortage.

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.

Educators Rising California – Project Tomorrow is the state affiliate for Educators Rising, a national student leadership organization that provides high school students with information and experiential learning opportunities to support their exploration of a teaching career, particularly in teaching science and math, through co-curricular and after-school student clubs. To learn more about Educators Rising, visit https://www.educatorsrising.org/.