Contributor: Jen Goree
Do you know who all of the K12 edtech stakeholders are that you may want to talk to? They’re not just at schools, and they each have organizations looking out for their interests and concerns. Below is a quick tour of some participants in the technology conversation and the groups in which they network. To keep this manageable I won’t even try to cover teachers here, but instead focus on other stakeholders.
At the State Level
State education departments are called by various names such as the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, New York State Education Department, and North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The state departments of education are involved in approving the technology plans required for districts to participate in E-Rate. The instructional technology leaders of each state form SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association). They recently released a report on the imperative for broadband for public schools, and are helping to coordinate assessing readiness of schools for the new assessments based on the Common Core. The head of the state education department itself works with CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers), which sponsors a consortium on data collection and reporting and information systems made up of members from state departments of education. Keep in mind that this group may have different members (those concerned with measuring school performance through data) than the makeup of SETDA (focused on instructional technology – what’s used in the classroom). The state education departments may be looking outside for input: Massachusetts has an Educational Technology Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the commissioner on instructional technology; California has an Education Technology Task Force.
Across State Lines
Within State Boundaries
States may have regional cooperatives that provide shared services to groups of member school districts and their names vary wildly between states. In Washington they’re Educational Service Districts; Massachusetts calls them Collaboratives; North Carolina has Regional Educational Service Alliances; and New York’s are BOCES. Often they provide special education services and professional development, but may also offer technology services such as hosted services, internet connectivity, or group purchasing discounts.
In School Districts
You’ve probably (hopefully!) heard of ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) already as a network of education technology leaders and innovators. Did you know about ISTE’s SIGs, which create communities around specific topics? ISTE also has state-level affiliates that may run their own meetings and conferences: Maine’s is ACTEM and Washington/Oregon’s is ACPE. CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) also has some state affiliates: Texas’s is the Texas K-12 CTO Council. And then California has CUE (Computer Using Educators) with their own affiliates and Special Interest Groups (SIGs.)
Principals and Superintendents
While principals share a common job role, each level has particular needs, so in Massachusetts there are separate organizations for elementary principals (MESPA) and secondary principals (MSSAA). California has a single association for school administrators, as does New York. MASS (Mass Association of School Superintendents) has a technology committee to provide technology best practice recommendations to member superintendents. They also jointly sponsor a state technology conference with MassCUE, the state ISTE affiliate. The national organization, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) , has an executive consultant program to advise administrators on particular topics, including technology. ESchoolNews says that the AASA conference is the largest annual gathering of superintendents.
Other district leaders
District curriculum leaders may have a strong voice in how technology is used to support and supplement instruction. ASCD provides publications, professional development, and conferences to curriculum leaders. They have their own state-level affiliates such as Connecticut ASCD.
District directors of special education have specialized needs for assistive technology and for systems to manage the many required forms that must be completed for special education students.
In some districts the technology department may report up through finance or operations. District finance and operations leaders have their own networks, such as MNASBO and Montana ASBO, with ASBO International as a national organization. Within this area are departments such as transportation (buses) and food services that have their own specific systems needs.
School districts typically have a board of local citizens who are responsible for school improvement as well as fiscal oversight. In most states they’re called school boards and may have statewide groups such as the Minnesota School Boards Association. In Massachusetts these are called school committees and they hold a joint conference with the state superintendents’ association. The national organization, NSBA, has a technology leadership network that organizes site visits to schools that highlight effective technology solutions.
In case you didn’t already know, the K12 ecosystem is complex and hopefully this guide sheds some light on the different stakeholders and how to find them and engage them in your work.