Category Archives: Speak Up

Choose Your Own Speak Up Questions (sort of)

For the last 15 years, all schools and districts have used the same questions as part of Speak Up participation. Most of the questions remain the same year-to-year (with a little updating for terms and technology), while 30-40% of the questions rotate and make room for new topics of interest.

We are happy to let administrators know they now have some control over the Speak Up questions they can ask their students, staff, parents and community! For schools who use Speak Up to track longitudinal (year-over-year) changes, you can now select to use the questions that were asked the last time your stakeholders participated, or to use the latest 2018 questions. (If you are new to Speak Up, you will use the 2018 question decks this year.)

When administrators are registered and logged in, they will now have the option to create a customized District Direct Landing. The second step of this set up is to select the version of the Speak Up questions to use this year:

  • Speak Up 2018-19 (includes a focus on coding and school safety)
  • Speak Up 2017 (includes a focus on math instruction and digital citizenship)
  • Speak Up 2016 (includes a focus on science instruction and data security)

Note that if a school district is participating in Speak Up, all of the schools within that district will use the same version of the questions. Individual school administrators may only select a question deck if their district is NOT registered to participate in Speak Up 2018.If your district is not registered and you would like to use a different version of Speak Up for your school, contact the Speak Up Team.

Additional options will be available for those using the Speak Up 2018-19 version:

  • Teacher PD Assessment + Speak Up 2018-19 (Available Nov. 1st) – The Teacher PD assessment is grouped with the 2018-19 version. Selecting this option will replace the Teacher questions with a shorter set of questions focused only on professional development.
  • Mobile Learning Evaluation (Available Nov. 1st) – This stand-alone option is an extension to the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning and offers a separate set of questions focused on mobile learning specifically for teachers and students only. Selecting this option will provide a set of questions focused on mobile learning specifically for teachers and students only. Select this option if you are interested in evaluating the impact of your mobile learning initiatives.

The Teacher PD Assessment and Mobile Learning Evaluation are an extension of the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. You can use these options as stand-alone question sets or in conjunction with the 2018-19 Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning version.

We are excited to offer this additional Speak Up flexibility, and answer our users’s calls for this option to make the project even more useful!

Please join us on October 15th for one of two Speak Up 101 webinars where we will discuss these options and answer any questions you might have. As always, you are welcome to reach out to us at with questions as well!

New Learning Leaders: Principals as Instructional Leaders and Digital Evangelists

Project Tomorrow and Blackboard released a report over the summer identifying a new cohort of school leaders via Speak Up data who are rethinking instructional practices, providing a bold vision for the future of their schools, leading by example and supporting their teachers through this transition.

This new school site leader brings a set of skills and values that inherently emphasize the importance of personalized learning and effective school-to-home communications. We are calling this emerging principal profile the “New Learning Leader” as they embody the dual capacities of instructional leader and digital evangelist initiating and nurturing new modes of online and digital learning.

In a new infographic released with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) during National Principals Month, we are sharing some of the data that illustrates who these New Learning Leaders are. For instance, 74% of this principal cohort have implemented blended learning in their schools, compared with just 51% of all principals.

Learn more about this cohort from the New Learning Leader infographic and the report, Trends in Digital Learning: The New Learning Leader – the emerging role of the agile school principal as digital evangelist and instructional leader.

Blackboard is hosting a special Trends in Digital Learning webinar on Wednesday, October 17th at 2pm for education leaders to learn more about this research! Julie Evans will share more about school leaders who are:

  • Rethinking instructional practices
  • Providing bold vision for the future of their schools
  • Leading by example
  • Supporting their teachers

We’ll also be revealing new (and maybe surprising) practices that can transform K-12 education using digital tools. Register for the free webinar today.


Speak Up 2018-19 opens for participation in October. Learn more about how your school or district can take advantage of this free tool and add to the knowledge being shared about schools nationally!

Teachers PD: What Teachers Need, What Districts Are Offering

The Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning regularly asks teachers and administrators about professional learning: how teachers feel about their own skills, what support teachers are looking for, what districts are offering, and what they think about the effectiveness of professional development.

Our latest infographic on this topic, Professional Learning for Teachers: New Demands Need New Approaches, shares several of the findings, including:

  • Teachers’ comfort levels with using student data to inform instruction, creating project based learning experiences, personalizing learning and facilitating student collaborations using digital tools are lagging. Just 30% of teachers said they were “very comfortable” using data to inform instruction, and of those four practices, that was the highest number.
  • Motivating teachers to change instructional practice and staff professional development remain the top two challenges administrators face in implementing innovative tools in the classroom.
  • Teachers say collaborative time with their peers is their top need to effectively implement new teaching and learning innovations, followed by traditional professional development and in-school coaching.
  • Much like students, teachers’ self-directed learning has been evolving. Between 2010 and 2017, the percent of teachers attending face-to-face conferences has dropped, while teachers watching online videos, participating in webinars, using social networks and taking online courses have all increased.
  • While 64% of districts say they offer some sort of online professional development, just 39% reported positive results from these offerings.

View this infographic to learn more. Districts looking for this type of information from their own district should sign up to participate in Speak Up 2018. It’s easy and it’s free!

STEAM Research From the Frontlines

Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 1.20.00 PMView this summer’s webcast on Speak Up research related to STEM and STEAM interest among students across the U.S. Hosted by STEAM Universe, the webcast shares feedback from students, parents and educators, including:

  • STEAM learning trends,
  • drivers for STEAM education,
  • digital learning trends in STEAM classrooms, and
  • students’ career interest in STEAM fields.


Download the PPT slides.

Glimpse into the State of Digital Citizenship Education: Speak Up 2017 Results

Ahead of next week’s 2018 Global Symposium on Digital Citizenship, we wanted to release some brand new Speak Up data on the topic! We added some new questions to several of the Speak Up 2017 surveys to get a better gauge of the state of digital citizenship education across the country.

We asked students, teachers, parents and administrators about nine types of digital citizenship skills (as outlined in Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship in Schools, Nine Elements All Students Should Know). We asked:

  1. students if they are learning the skills,
  2. teachers if they are teaching these skills,
  3. librarians and school administrators if these skills are explicitly being taught in their schools, and
  4. parents and district administrators which skills are important for students to learn.

The results show two things: 1) everyone is focused on safety (and not as much on the ethical and technical skills) and 2) there is a large disconnect between what many parents and administrators think should be taught, what teachers say they are teaching and what students say they are learning.

Here’s a sample of the data findings (see full set of 9 skills in the table below).

Notably, we also ask students in a different section of the survey if this statement is true for them: “I know how to be safe online.” More than half (56%) of high school students and 60% of middle school students said this is true. Given the focus on safety, these numbers seem rather low.

We also asked adults who should have the primary responsibility for teaching digital citizenship skills, and we asked students who has taught them these skills. (Full table of this data is below)

Parents see themselves as having the most responsibilty for this, but classroom teachers are close behind. Note that just 38% of high school students and just over half of middle school students say they have learned any of these skills from their teachers. Half of high school students say they have learned most from their parents, followed closely by teaching themselves (44%). Students learning on their own ranks last among administrators and parents.

Also note that 10% of high school and 6% of middle school students said no one has taught them these skills.

We asked parents “When is the right age for children to start learning Internet safety and good digital citizenship behaviors?” More than half said lower elementary grades (1-3).

Thanks to Rod Carnill, Supervisor of Instructional Technology Coaches, Frederick County Public Schools (VA), and VSTE board member, for sharing some of this Speak Up data for us on Monday! Catch his Global Ed Ignite Session at 10:30am to learn a bit about this data and how his district is putting it to use.

And, stay tuned for more analysis of this digital citizenship data! What would you like to see? Let us know:!

Speak Up 2017 Digital Citizenship Data Tables

Digital Citizenship Skills

Digital Citizenship SkillsStudents, Grades 6-8Students, Grades 9-12ParentsTeachersLibrariansSchool AdministratorsDistrict Administrators
Appreciating that everyone has digital rights as well as responsibilities to the society at large38%38%47%34%57%49%64%
Knowing how to be safe online and use safeguards to protect our information and ourselves63%53%89%59%87%78%93%
Knowing how to use various communications tools appropriately41%40%60%46%64%62%68%
Knowing how to use, and how to learn to use, technology for learning purposes58%52%66%66%77%75%73%
Learning how to be an effective consumer in a digital economy23%24%36%19%37%29%59%
Learning how to protect one’s self from the physical and psychological dangers of technology use44%37%73%30%63%51%77%
Understanding ethical and lawful use of digital tools29%33%64%38%70%57%80%
Understanding that not everyone has access to technology35%38%40%42%37%37%45%
Understanding what are appropriate and inappropriate digital behaviors52%47%78%59%81%75%85%
Audiences were asked:

Students: Digital citizenship is the set of norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. Which of these types of digital citizenship are you learning about in school?

Teachers: Digital citizenship has been defined as the set of norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. Which of these types of digital citizenship are you explicitly covering in your class this year with your students?

Librarians and School Admins: Digital citizenship has been defined as the set of norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. Which of these types of digital citizenship are students at your school receiving explicit instruction?

Parents and District Admins: Digital citizenship is the set of norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. Which of these types of digital citizenship do you think are most important for students to learn today?

Digital Citizenship Responsibility/Influence

Digital Citizenship Skills - Responsibility/InfluenceStudents, Grades 3-5Students, Grades 6-8Students, Grades 9-12ParentsSchool AdministratorsDistrict Administrators
Afterschool program leader5%8%5%11%11%19%
Classroom teacher47%53%38%73%88%91%
Media specialist12%8%31%61%57%
Other students9%26%20%5%11%16%
School librarian28%16%7%22%41%40%
Student learning on their own/Learning on my own17%35%44%11%14%17%
No one has taught me this4%6%10%
Questions asked:
Adults: "Who should have primary responsibility for teaching digital citizenship to students at your school?

Students: Who has had the biggest influence on what you know about being a good digital citizen? Who taught you how to be a good digital citizen?"


Download an infographic with this data.

Between October 2017 and February 2018, 340,927 K-12 students, 33,156 teachers, 1,677 librarians, 2,423 administrators, 23,159 parents and 4,611 community members representing more than 10,619 public and private schools and 3,222 districts shared their views as part of Speak Up 2017. Schools from urban (29%), suburban (37%), and rural (34%) communities are represented. Well over half of the schools (68%) that participated in Speak Up 2017 are Title I eligible schools (an indicator of student population poverty). More on Speak Up 2017 Methodology.


Congratulations and Thank You!

Congratulations to all of the winners of this year’s Speak Up prizes! And, thank you again to our wonderful partners for your ongoing generosity and support of Speak Up!

Speak Up District Leadership Grants – Project Tomorrow awarded District Leadership Grants – valued at $7,500 each – to three districts participating in Speak Up 2017:

  • Brevard County School District – Florida
  • Archdiocese of Newark – New Jersey          
  • Randolph County Schools – North Carolina

Parent Participation Leadership Awards – Every district with more than 1,000 completed parent surveys received one custom infographic and was entered to win $1000 in Speak Up consulting services.

  • School City of Hammond – Indiana (infographic and consulting services)
  • Poway Unified – California (infographic)

School Communications Recognition Award – Every district with at least one completed communications officer survey was entered to win $1000 in Speak Up consulting services.

  • Florence Schools – Arizona


National and Regional Prizes for Schools and Districts

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, offered two complimentary registrations to their National Conference on Education.

  • Tomball ISD – Texas
  • Clinton City Schools – North Carolina

AASL, the American Association of School Librarians, offered a prize to one lucky school librarian.

  • Jefferson County School District No. R-1 – Colorado

CoSN offered one of their online learning courses, Protecting Student Privacy in Connected Learning, to one district ($550 value). This 9-module self-study course offers 9 CEA Credits toward CETL® recertification.

  • TBA as of 2/20

iNACOL offered a one-year complimentary Institutional Membership to a school, but decided to award the memberships to FIVE lucky schools! This membership allows everyone within the school to become an iNACOL Member for the year giving them access to professional development resources, members-only forums and more. One school at each of the following districts won the memberships:

  • Weslaco ISD – Texas
  • Pennfield Schools – Michigan
  • Portage Township Schools – Indiana
  • Shelby County Schools – Alabama    
  • Tomball ISD – Texas

ISTE offered one complimentary registration to ISTE 2018, The Epicenter of Edtech, in Chicago, June 24-27, 2018.

  • Poway Unified – California

ISTE also offered one complimentary individual basic membership.

  • Arrowhead Union – Wisconsin

CETPA offered one complimentary registration to their 2019 conference in Anaheim.

  • Solana Beach – California

CUE offered three complimentary 2018 conference registrations to their Spring 2018 National Conference (March 14-17, 2018 in Palm Springs).

  • Tulare City School District – California
  • Stanislaus County – California
  • Tustin Unified School District – California

CUE offered one day of professional development with their Interim Executive Director, Jon Corippo, to one lucky California district.

  • Fallbrook Union Elementary School District – California

CUE also offered one complimentary registration for a district leader to attend the Lead3 Symposium in San Francisco, April 12-14 2018.

  • Salinas Union High School District – California

ICE-IN offered one complimentary registration to the 2018 ICE Conference (fall 2018).

  • East Noble School Corporation – Indiana

MassCUE offered two complimentary registrations to their upcoming conferences.

  • Belchertown Public Schools – Massachusetts
  • Norton Public Schools – Massachusetts

METC offered two complimentary two-day registrations to their 2018 conference in St. Louis, February 12-14, 2018.

  • Fox C-6 School District – Missouri
  • Oakhill Day School – Missouri

Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) offered two complimentary registrations for their February 2018 conference in Seattle, Washington.

  • Issaquah School District – Washington
  • Salem-Keizer School District 24J – Oregon

NETA offered one complimentary registration to their 2018 Spring Conference, April 18-20, 2018 in Omaha.

  • Omaha Public Schools – Nebraska

TCEA offered two complimentary basic registrations to the TCEA Convention & Exposition.

  • Canutillo ISD – Texas
  • Lubbock-Cooper ISD – Texas

Individual Prizes

$250 Amazon gift card for classroom supplies for one teacher

  • Teacher from Fayette County – Kentucky

$250 grant for one communications officer towards any 2018 professional conference of their choice

  • Communications officer from Omak School District – Washington

$100 Amazon gift card for one communications officer

  • Communications officer from Manchester Township School District – New Jersey

Video Contest 

First Place
J.W. Alvey Elementary School

Second Place (Three Awards!)
Kingston Gardner – Franklin Road

Albert Rodriguez – Clovis East Ed. Center

Krystina Carrasco – Northwest Early College High School

Third Place
Harding Elementary School

Photo Contest 

First Place
Northwest Early College High School (multiple entries; these are a sample)

Second Place
Chaparral Elementary School

Speak Up photo entry

Third Place
Marshall Elementary School
Speak Up photo entry from Marshall Elementary School


Design Challenge Finalists

Thanks to all who voted for our winning design. Congrats to Paloma!

Paloma Rodriguez, Northwest Early College High School

Matison LeBlanc, Morgan High School

Katelyn Moody, Trumbull Career and Technical Center

*NEW: Special Offers for Speak Up Districts!

*NEW for Speak Up 2017* Project Tomorrow will award several top-performing Speak Up districts with grants (valued up to $7,500!) for services to help increase the value of your Speak Up participation. Speak Up closes for participation on January 26, 2018!

Speak Up District Leadership Grants (3)

Project Tomorrow will award District Leadership Grants – valued at $7,500 each – to three districts participating in Speak Up 2017 (Oct. 2017-Jan. 2018).

Winning districts will receive:

  • 5-page executive narrative report specific to your district
  • 3 customized infographics – select from our national data infographics and we will recreate them using your district data 
  • 5 hours of customized disaggregation of your district data, based on your needs. For instance: student data by gender or grade level, teacher data by years of experience, or parent data by home income
  • Customized presentation (virtual or in person) by our CEO and Chief Researcher for Speak Up, Dr. Julie Evans, on the most important trend lines from your district data – the things that you should be paying the most attention to today! 

Project Tomorrow will select the winners from the following groups:

Two winners will be selected from among all the top-performing districts (those with at least 3500 surveys); one winner will be selected from among our top-performing “rookie districts” (those who had not participated in Speak Up prior to 2017).

Parent Participation Leadership Awards

Every district with more than 1,000 completed parent surveys will receive one custom infographic plus be entered in to a drawing to win $1000 in Speak Up consulting services.

School Communications Recognition Award

Every district with at least one completed communications officer survey they will be entered in to a drawing to win $1000 in Speak Up consulting services.

–>>Don’t forget all the other offers – for teachers, administrators, communications officers and librarians – as well!

Speak Up surveys must all be submitted by January 26, 2018!

All winners will be announced by February 9, 2018.

Speak Up Participation extended to Jan. 26

Chances to Win Prizes for Sharing Your Opinions!

We have heard from a number of districts who have been navigating snow (and cold weather!) days. In response to their requests, we are extending the deadline for Speak Up 2017 participation to January 26, 2018. Everyone can take advantage of the extra week!

We also announced 2 NEW opportunities this week!

  • Teachers can enter to win a $250 Amazon gift card for classroom supplies, in addition to being eligible for a free registration to ISTE 2018!
  • Communications officers can enter to win a $250 grant towards any 2018 professional conference of their choice.

We’ve added an entry option for these prizes to the end of the teacher and communications officer surveys (identifying information will not be connected to the surveys, keeping responses confidential).

We also added a final question to the surveys for librarians (to win a registration AASL’s National Institute) and administrators (to win a registration to AASA’s National Conference on Education). Administrators, teachers, tech leaders can also win a registration to upcoming conferences from CUE, ISTE, MassCUE, METC, NCCE and TCEA through the end of the survey period.

>> Take your Speak Up survey today! <<

Speak Up Photo, Video and Design Challenges – Deadlines Extended!

Our challenges offer additional chances to WIN gift cards!

Video Challenge – Class Entry

Create a 30-second video about how/why using technology in your classroom is important for student learning. Awards for classroom submissions. Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

Photo Challenge – Class Entry

We’re looking for the best demonstration of Speak Up participation spirit in a photo – be creative! Awards for classroom submissions. Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

Design Challenge & Contest – Student Entry

Calling student designers…We’re looking for a new participation badge for Speak Up 2018. Awards for student designers or design teams. Prizes for 3 finalists and the winner.

Details for all the challenges:

Speak Up 2017 – Sneak Peek at Preliminary Data!

We pulled some preliminary data from surveys submitted from more than 10,000 teachers, 26,000 high school students and 8,000 parents during the early weeks of Speak Up 2017. Take a peek at what they are saying this year about their views on technology and learning, digital citizenship, views on math education and more!

Remember, Speak Up is open for participation through January 19, 2018. So, if you want to add your opinions or learn what your own teachers, students and parents have to say, get started with Speak Up 2017! Note: we will be hosting an informational webinar on Friday, December 8th. Register, join and get your questions about the free research tool answered!


Top 3 uses of technology by teachers to facilitate student learning:

  • 64% Use digital games with my students
  • 50% Customize digital content I find online to meet my class needs
  • 48% Post class information to a school portal

81% of teachers say they learned how to do something from an online video.

68% of teachers say they feel somewhat or very comfortable teaching good digital citizenship behaviors and strategies to my students.

“Planning time to work with my colleagues” is still the #1 need (at 64%) among teachers to more efficiently and effectively integrate digital content, tools, and resources into daily instruction in their classrooms.

54% of teachers say their students are collaborating with other students as a result of how they have integrated technology within class.

While 64% of teacher say they are better able to differentiate instruction because of technology, 46% put this topic on their wish list for PD.


Only half of all high school students say they are learning about any digital citizenship skills in school; 49% say their parents have had the biggest influence on what they know about being a good digital citizen, followed by learning on my own (41%) and classroom teacher (39%).

90% of high school and 77% of middle school students have a smartphone for their own use.

49% of high school students say they are learning at their own pace as a result of using technology

12% of high school students said “Sometimes I cannot do my homework because I don’t have access to the Internet outside of school.”

18% of high school students said they have  used the Internet to do homework or schoolwork assignments on a school bus or public transportation.

Middle school students say that as a result of using technology, they are getting better grades and test scores (53%) and developing creativity skills (49%).

Half of all middle school students said they use technology more outside of school than in school.


82% of parents say being successful with math will help their children develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Top concern among parents of their child’s use of technology at school continues to be: technology use varies from teacher to teacher (51%).

While most parents (87%) say they should have primary responsibility for teaching digital citizenship to students, 72% also selected classroom teacher as primarily responsible.

More than half of parents said children should start learning Internet safety and good digital citizenship behaviors in grades 1 to 3.

37% of parents said the best mobile situation for their child would be to use a mobile device that the school assigns for use at school and at home (top selection of several mobile device situations).

Source: Preliminary Speak Up 2017 data from online survey responses from more than 10,000 teachers, 26,000 high school students and 8,000 parents (October-November 2017). Final Speak Up 2017 data will be released in 2018.