2021 CoSN Back-to-School Survey Reveals Increase in School District Technology Funding

Respondents’ Top Priorities Include Cybersecurity and At-home Connectivity
Washington, DC
Thursday, July 29, 2021
 CoSN today released its 2021 EdTech Trends Survey Report, highlighting that the majority of school district technology leaders reported IT budgets larger than last year, with curriculum software/subscriptions and cybersecurity receiving the most funding. The Report, sponsored by Juniper Networks, is based on 170 survey responses from CoSN members who are preparing for the 2021-22 school year.
 
According to the Report, almost three-quarters of respondents expect that on-site classrooms will return to a pre-pandemic normal in the fall. Most school districts have experienced increased IT investments, and cybersecurity and at-home connectivity are the top priorities among edtech leaders for this school year.
 
Key findings in CoSN’s 2021 EdTech Trends Survey Report include:
 
  • 56 percent of respondents reported an increase in their overall district IT budget; 12 percent characterized the increase as “major.”
  • A majority of participants reported IT budget increases in two areas: curriculum software/subscriptions (62 percent) and cybersecurity (56 percent).
  • Respondents ranked cybersecurity as their top unmet technology need, with home access connectivity and interoperability ranking number two and three, respectively.  
  • Almost three-quarters of participants (73 percent) are planning to request support from the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund for Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • 71 percent of respondents anticipate on-site classrooms to return to a pre-pandemic normal for the 2021-22 school year, a stark contrast from last year’s survey results, in which only 7 percent of respondents expected this return.
  • To meet remote teaching and learning needs, 64 percent of respondents added technology to their classrooms, such as rotating cameras, classroom microphones and speakers, to increase the quality of remote learning in a simultaneous hybrid learning environment; 60 percent now provide a remote-only instruction option; and almost half expanded their cybersecurity initiatives.
  • The overwhelming majority (90 percent) of respondents said that the federal economic stimulus funding (CARES, CRRSA and ARP) was important to support remote learning or related IT initiatives in their districts during the pandemic.
 
“There is a marked shift in how school district IT leaders are preparing for this fall, compared to the back-to-school survey results from last year. While the federal government delivered critical funding when school districts needed it most, we must now invest in cybersecurity and ensure sustainable, secure and equitable home broadband access for students and educators into the future,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.
 
“As schools look to navigate the post-pandemic return to school, cybersecurity issues shouldn’t be the thing that gets in the way. As the survey shows, cybersecurity has been a top concern for districts even before the pandemic required more schools to move more services online. We know the importance of cybersecurity today and we, too, advocate for the increased investment to protect students from compromised administrative data and perhaps prevent students’ devices from searching where they are not allowed, among other things,” said John Orbe, Senior Director of Global Business Development at Juniper Networks.
 
 
MEDIA CONTACT:
Heidi Payter, hpayter@fratelli.com, 202-822-9491
 
About CoSN
CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education. cosn.org