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Articles in the Educational Technology category

Urban school leaders convene in Chicago

Urban school district leaders will gather in Chicago to learn about best practices and new solutions for their public schools at the Council of Urban Boards of Education’s (CUBE) Summer Institute.

This year’s event will feature sessions on equity and access to STEM education, Common Core state standards, the “pushout” crisis, expectations for children living in poverty, parent engagement, and math and science education. CUBE is a service of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that is dedicated to helping urban school districts find ways to close the achievement gap and give all students a high-quality education.
Notable speakers will be Tyrone Howard, Professor of Education at the University of California Los Angeles; Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) and Founder and President of Educational Achievement Services Inc.; Valeria S. Silva, Superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota; and Jeff May, Program Facilitator for Roanoke City Schools in Virginia.

The conference will open with a half-day workshop on educational technology and defining equity led by Ann Flynn, Director of Educational Technology for NSBA. The session will include leading school technology experts and practitioners.

“The Summer Institute is an excellent opportunity for urban school leaders to find solutions to some of the challenges facing our public schools,” said Van Henri White, Chair of the CUBE Steering Committee and President of the Rochester City School Board in New York. “The myriad of ideas and insights exchanged during this event will inform CUBE’s work and will ultimately benefit students in urban districts across the country.”

CUBE hosts the Summer Institute as well as an annual conference and special programming at NSBA’s Annual Conference to provide educational opportunities to urban school board leaders.

“The Council of Urban Boards of Education is an important part of NSBA’s mission to ensure excellence and equity in public education,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “We appreciate the commitment of the urban leaders who attend CUBE events and contribute to the conversations about student achievement.”

The conference hashtags are #CUBEvision and #Brownimperative.

Alexis Rice|July 17th, 2014|Categories: CUBE, Educational Technology, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Technology Leadership Network, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

NSBA to Congress: Hands off E-rate

NSBA is urging Congress not to jeopardize Internet, broadband, and Wi-Fi access for millions of students or block improvements to E-rate, the federal program that provides connectivity resources for schools and libraries.

Student access to high-speed Internet connections is critical, and 80 percent of schools currently have slow or an inadequate number of Internet connections. An amendment to limit options for schools and libraries under E-rate would halt progress in providing urgently needed access to students and schools. Such an amendment to the appropriations bill also would hamper the FCC’s efforts to modern the 20-year-old program.

NSBA has written a letter to Congress asking for a “No” vote on any amendments to the E-rate program in HR 5016. As a member of Education and Libraries Network Coalitions (EdLiNC), NSBA is adding its voice to the coalition’s letter to Congress urging the same.

Kathleen Vail|July 15th, 2014|Categories: Educational Legislation, Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Legislative advocacy|Tags: , , |

School boards encouraged by E-Rate modernization plan, but further improvements are vital

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) welcomes the decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve the long oversubscribed E-rate program, while also noting remaining funding gaps. This was reinforced by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who announced that the FCC will consider added funding for E-rate in a future call for public input.

“The FCC made key revisions to its E-rate modernization proposal,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Though we must solve for remaining funding gaps, NSBA is very pleased with the FCC’s commitment to advance WiFi and broadband in America’s public schools and libraries and its willingness to seek public input for future E-rate funding.”

For the past two decades, NSBA has proactively supported the goals of the E-rate program. As a member of the Education and Libraries Network Coalitions (EdLiNC), NSBA expressed concern about proposals that rewrite the program’s need-based dissemination of funds, which risks hurting school districts and libraries with the greatest need.

Gentzel calls for sustained focus: “Absent a meaningful increase in funding, NSBA has long argued that the future of E-rate is undermined. E-rate’s need and demand is double its current funding cap of $2.4 billion. Clearly the program must continue to be expanded to ensure that adequate bandwidth does not stop at selective schoolhouse doors, but rather reaches every classroom and student across our great nation.”

Alexis Rice|July 11th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Federal Programs, Online learning, Policy Formation, School Boards|Tags: , , , |

NSBA: E-Rate funding shortage jeopardizes future of program

The federal E-rate program will lose impact and some school districts will be harmed without additional funding, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has warned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In a July 1 letter to FCC commissioners, NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel warns, “The absence of a meaningful increase in funding – at the heart of NSBA’s recommendations and those of many other organizations – undermines the future of E-rate as a catalyst for progress.  The simultaneous retrenchment of resources from the discount matrix and legacy services exacerbates the dilemma for school districts.  Further, a multi-year commitment to Wi-Fi expansion without a clearly identified funding source in the later years puts the entire E-rate fund at potential risk.  Finally, any departure from need-based dissemination of resources would fundamentally alter the program and potentially harm the very students and schools that need it the most.”

NSBA and other groups have urged the FCC to permanently raise the E-rate’s funding cap and continue the program’s poverty-based funding formula. The FCC is expected to modernize the program sometime this year.

“For nearly 20 years, NSBA has supported the goals of the E-rate program to increase Internet connectivity and provide digital learning opportunities to underserved students, schools and libraries,” the letter states.

Learn more on NSBA’s positions on educational technology and E-rate.

Joetta Sack-Min|July 1st, 2014|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, School Buildings|Tags: , |

E-Rate must expand, focus on neediest schools, coalition says

The E-rate program needs a major funding boost to meet demand and should continue its focus on high-need school districts and libraries, a letter signed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC should permanently raise the E-rate’s annual funding cap, now at $2.4 billion, as annual demand is estimated to be double that amount, the letter states. Further, the program must be expanded to ensure adequate bandwidth reaches every classroom and student–not just the school building door, which was the program’s intent when it was first created to provide low-cost connectivity as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The letter was sent to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and four other commissioners by EdLiNC, The Education and Libraries Networks Coalition, which advocates for the E-rate program on behalf of national education associations. It was signed by NSBA and 18 other organizations.

The lack of support for internal connections “is creating major roadblocks” for students and educators to have enough bandwidth to participate in activities such as online research or digital learning classes, the letter states.

The letter also urges the FCC to continue the E-rate’s poverty-based funding formula rather than proposed allocations that would spread funding by students, buildings, or school districts.

“A change to the current funding formula would undermine the E-rate program’s focus on equity for the nation’s underserved schools and communities, particularly those in rural areas,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The E-rate has been tremendously successful in helping high-poverty and rural areas access technology, and the FCC should build on that success by increasing funding to meet demand.”

The FCC is considering changes to the program and is expected to issue a Report and Order to modernize E-Rate sometime this year. For more information, read NSBA’s Issue Brief on the E-rate.


Joetta Sack-Min|May 29th, 2014|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Technology, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, Online learning|Tags: , |

Coalition urges Senate to keep funding bond program for school renovations

The Rebuild America’s Schools coalition is supporting legislation to extend the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program, which helps give low- or no-interest financing to school districts for school renovations and upgrades.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is a member of Rebuild America’s Schools, a coalition of national education and civil rights groups and 42 large-city school districts that works to create federal support to help local communities build, renovate and modernize schools.

“QZABs and other low-cost federal financing programs provide crucial assistance to budget-conscious school districts so that they may provide better facilities and technology upgrades that help foster student achievement,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel.

A bill in the U.S. Senate would extend the authorization of QZABs, which began in 1997, for another two years. In a May 12 letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Finance, Rebuild America’s Schools notes that QZABs are being used by school districts in every state.

QZABs and a similar program, the Qualified School Construction Bond, “are helping repair, renovate and modernize America’s school infrastructure and stimulating and creating jobs in Oregon and every state,” according to the letter written by Rebuilding America’s Schools Chairman Bob Canavan to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “These jobs are generated in the construction industry among suppliers, ranging from architects and engineers to roofing, heating and cooling contractors and other skilled construction workers who modernize, renovate and repair schools. Modern, energy efficient schools are helping local communities increase opportunities for all students to develop the educational skills necessary to achieve and succeed in the 21st century workforce.”

The extension for QZABs is part of S. 2260, the Expire Act, which would extend federal tax credits and deductions for a wide variety of programs.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 15th, 2014|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Educational Technology, Federal Programs, School Buildings, Uncategorized, Urban Schools|

Blended learning showcased in District of Columbia schools

A small group of eighth-graders sit at a cluster of desks, staring down at their iPads. On their screens are diagrams of the interior of a slave ship. Their teacher, Tanesha Dixon, leads the discussion. She prompts them to consider what it was like on those ships. They enlarge the image for a closer look.

At another cluster of desks, students are discussing passages about the Atlantic slave trade on their iPads. The rest of the students are reading silently about the Fugitive Slave Act on their iPads.

From her tablet, Dixon can monitor all her students. An alarm sounds; the students working with Dixon move to the discussion group. The students working individually move to Dixon’s area.

Dixon is a social studies teacher at the K-8 Wheatley Education Campus, part of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Her classroom is an example of blending learning, which integrates online technology and content with traditional face-to-face classroom activities. Her students have instant access to source documents and other resources electronically through their tablets through a service called Techbooks – digital textbooks with text, audio, video, and images.

Students have individual IDs and can log in on to any device – computer, mobile phone, or tablet.

“Digital textbooks are more engaging,” said John Rice, DCPS’s manager of blended learning. He recently took representatives from several national education associations on a tour of three district schools that were using blended learning in their classrooms.

The practice of blended learning is growing in schools across the country. Proponents say it allows students to practice simple or rote lessons online, freeing the teacher to do more small-group and individual instruction. DCPS uses blended learning in a variety of ways in its schools.

At the K-5 Randle Highlands Elementary School, all grades moved to a blending learning approached at the beginning of the school year. In one second-grade class, some students sit at classroom desktop computers, working on a program called ST Math. It allows them to work individually at their own pace, while their teacher works with another small group.

Other grades use a program called I-Ready, which includes language arts and math, for self-paced work.

Columbia Heights Education Campus houses a middle school and a high school. The high school, Bell Multicultural High School, features an early college program and classes taught exclusively in Spanish.

Sebastian Kreindel teaches ninth-grade World History in Spanish. He uses Techbooks to find digital resources such as Spanish videos for his students.

Fellow World History teacher Kristen Whitaker’s students don’t have individual computers or tablets yet like they do in Tanesha Dixon’s class, but she’s found a low-tech solution: She prints out Techbook resources for her students, including information about Genghis Khan for a recent discussion on psychological warfare.

Discovery Education, which sponsored the tour, provides Streaming Plus – a collection of instructional videos, skill builders, games, audio files, images, writing prompts, and encyclopedia reference materials – to DCPS district-wide. The company also provides the science and social studies Techbooks to five district schools.

“We are pleased to share with representatives from some of the nation’s leading education associations the wonderful digital learning environments DCPS educators are creating each day,” said Stephen Wakefield, Discovery Education vice president of public affairs. “The district’s efforts to create classrooms that mirror how students are interacting with technology and digital content outside the classroom are helping to prepare a new generation of learners for college, careers, and citizenship.”

The tour was organized by the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of education organizations, of which NSBA is a member.

Kathleen Vail|May 13th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Mathematics Education, Middle Schools, Online learning, STEM Education, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , , |

Call for proposals for NSBA’s 2015 Annual Conference

2015 NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is requesting proposals for breakout sessions to be conducted during our 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., March 21-23. The conference will draw thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and guests representing nearly 1,400 school districts, and will feature distinguished speakers and hundreds of workshops, presentations, and other events that will help school board members develop leadership skills, boost student learning, and improve school districts’ operations.

If your school district or organization has an idea for a high-quality breakout session that focuses on a topic of critical interest to school board members for presentation at this conference, please complete a proposal online by the deadline of Monday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Only proposals submitted through the online process  will be considered. Breakout sessions will be 30, 45, or 75 minutes in length and will be scheduled throughout the conference.

Proposals are being solicited for the following focus areas:

• Innovations in District Management
• Legal and Legislative Advocacy
• Professional and Personal Development
• School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
• Student Achievement and Accountability
• Technology + Learning Solutions

NSBA issues student data privacy guide in cloud computing era

As school districts increasingly move to cloud computing instead of on-site data storage, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and its Council of School Attorneys (COSA) have released a guide for school boards introducing the legal issues associated with protecting student data and suggesting best practices.

The guide, “Data in the Cloud,” seeks to raise awareness of student data privacy concerns, and to provide a framework for comprehensive student data privacy approaches in school districts.

The guide notes that cloud computing applications offer ease of use and accessibility, but come with the potential for loss of privacy and increased liability, as personal information is transferred to the application.

“School boards should consider starting a discussion with school district staff and their communities about building a comprehensive student privacy protection program,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This guide is a helpful tool for school boards as they review and potentially rethink policies related to data and student privacy.”

The guide uses a question-and-answer format to explain the relevant terminology, recent academic research, the breadth of software offerings, important legal requirements, and additional resources available to school board members and school lawyers.

“The legal requirements that could potentially govern student data privacy are still evolving,” said Greg Guercio, COSA Chair. “The school law requirements section of this guide is a key asset for school districts and their attorneys. Current laws still leave plenty of room for interpretation on student privacy, making it is essential for district leaders to ask the right questions and understand potential problems.”

Recommendations for school boards include:

• Identify an individual district-wide Chief Privacy Officer (CPO), or a group of individuals with district-wide responsibility for privacy;

• Conduct a district-wide privacy assessment and online services audit;

• Establish a safety committee or data governance team that includes the school or district’s Chief Privacy Officer to work with the school community, recommend policies and best practices, and serves as the liaison between the school district and the community on privacy issues;

• Regularly review and update relevant district policies and incident response plans;

• Consistently, clearly, and regularly communicate with students, parents, and the community about privacy rights and district policies and practices with respect to student data privacy;

• Adopt consistent and clear contracting practices that appropriately address student data; and

• Train staff to ensure consistent implementation of school district’s policies and procedures.

Alexis Rice|April 28th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, School Boards, School Law, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA previews student data privacy in the cloud policy guide

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Student Attorneys (COSA) Director Sonja Trainor for presented a preview of a comprehensive policy guide for school boards during a session entitled, “Cloud Computing and Student Privacy,” on Sunday, April 6 at the NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans.

The policy guide, which focuses on the tug-of-war between individual privacy rights and the benefits of data management, analysis, and storage on cloud-based platforms in school districts, presents the relevant terminology, recent academic research, breadth of software offerings, important legal requirements, and fundamental resources for school board members and school lawyers.

By acknowledging cloud commuting’s undeniable future in school districts, the report emphasizes that with the ease and accessibility of the cloud comes with the potential for the loss of privacy—and the increase in liability—with any transfer of personal student information.

Due to the numerous laws that potentially govern student data privacy, the school law requirements section of this guide is a key asset for districts and legal teams. Current laws still leave plenty of room for interpretation on student privacy, making it is essential for district leaders to ask the right questions and understand potential problems. The most directly applicable student privacy laws for school districts and service providers are the following:

  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and its sister statute, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which apply to educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance; and
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which applies to operators of websites and mobile apps that are directed to or known to be used by children under the age of 13.

Formed in 1967, the NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys provides information and practical assistance to attorneys who represent public school districts. It offers legal education, specialized publications, and a forum for exchange of information, and it supports the legal advocacy efforts of the National School Boards Association.

Staff|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Law|Tags: , , , |
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