ESSA and education technology: 5 reasons for optimism
February 23, 2017
Commentary: The Every Student Succeeds Act, if taken advantage of, could seriously alter the teach-to-the-middle, manufacturing-based approach to modern schooling.
Connecticut Department of Education's Joe Campbell highlights the state's edtech progress and why ESSA will have a big impact on state edtech directors.
Wyatt Kash is an award-winning editor and journalist who has been following government IT trends for the past decade. He joined Scoop News Group in...
Like many state education officials working through the details of the Every Student Succeeds Act, Connecticut’s Joe Campbell sees plenty of issues still to be resolved between now and ESSA’s official start, beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year.
One issue in particular for Campbell, who serves as education technology consultant for Connecticut’s Department of Education, revolves around funding support for technology under ESSA’s requirements. And he doesn’t believe he’s alone.
“I think [ESSA will have] a great impact on technology directors,” Campbell said during a just-released interview with EdScoop, originally filmed during the State Education Technology Directors Association national leadership summit.
“There are some needs assessments and surveying that are needed and that tech directors will need to provide some data points to validate some of the programs that are being rolled out,” he said.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily in the conversations as of yet about ESSA,” with the appropriate planning and policy officials, “but they will soon found out we need to be,” he suggested.
Campbell’s remarks followed a series of assessments he shared about Connecticut’s recent progress using education technologies.
“We have a massive amount of one-to-one learning initiatives that are supported across the [state’s] districts,” he said. “The infrastructure is in place” — albeit not everywhere — so that districts are able to provide “mastery-based learning.”
“The spin is around tying education technology into mastery-based learning,” he said, pointing in particular to a focus on mathematics.
“It kind of challenges some educational philosophies, [proving] that students can learn at the pace that they choose to, and move as fast as they choose to, so the teacher no longer does the ‘chalk and talk’ instruction,” he said. Instead, instruction is based in centers around the room, where students get individualized instruction that changes every day, and allows students to do remediation at home.
“Connecticut is one of the highest users of Google’s Chrome platform,” he said, explaining what software the state uses to support the initiative. “We’re a huge Google Apps for Education state," he said, adding that Connecticut’s schools also actively use Aleks, a math learning tool that can run on Macs or PCs.
The state is also building on its broadband investments.
“We have a statewide network that’s pretty robust – we have high speed bandwidth to every district across the state, so we’re very fortunate,” he said. That’s allowed Connecticut to actually scale back on its reliance of E-rate funding for internet connectivity and shift the funds to help schools build out their Wi-Fi and wireless access points.
Among other edtech initiatives, Campbell said the state is rolling out an optical character recognition (OCR) scanning project that provides students with a simpler, single sign-on capability.