Pilot Projects, Ed-Tech, Struggle
Pilot Projects – EdTech, Districts have Difficulty Judging Outcomes
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Quite simply, the primary objective is to advance student success outcomes by 25%.
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Pilot Projects – But a new study suggests that school officials and tech developers often fail to set clear standards for judging the success of those trial runs, and that there isn’t an effective process for gathering feedback from teachers and students.
And even if products perform impressively during pilots, district budget cycles tend to prevent administrators from buying the tech tools they’re trying out anytime soon.
Those were among the findings of an analysis put forward by Digital Promise, a congressionally authorized nonprofit that has sought to shine a light on how districts buy educational technology and why the process seems to frustrate and confuse both companies and educators.
Districts typically agree to allow companies to test products in their classrooms in the hope that the technologies will help meet specific educational needs or forge new paths for teaching and learning. Ed-tech companies, in turn, use pilots to showcase their goods, refine them, and nurture relationships with potential clients who could buy their products for use across an entire district or set of schools.
Yet the Digital Promise study, which focused on the experiences of six districts around the country, lays bare the factors that can stymie both parties’ ambitions.
Many K-12 officials would like to be able to judge the value of ed-tech products by looking at their impact on student test scores—no surprise, given the pressure schools face to raise achievement. And some of the districts that participated in the study sought to track gains through test scores, too.
But the participating districts also said that when state assessment results were used to measure success, the results didn’t come in until after the academic year had ended, interfering with their decisions about how, or whether, to use the products the following school year. A few districts in the study sidestepped that problem by using locally crafted tests, which could be administered on their own schedules.
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