EdTech Leaders Cite Cybersecurity as No. 1 Priority, Critical IT Infrastructure Updates Needed

New CoSN Report Details Results of Nationwide Survey of EdTech Leaders on School District Priorities to Reveal Key Trends & Challenges
Washington, DC
Friday, May 8, 2020
CoSN today released a new report, combining the results of the organization’s long-standing IT Leadership and Infrastructure surveys, to give school districts and policymakers a holistic understanding of the K-12 IT landscape.
 
The report, The State of Ed Tech Leadership in 2020, stems from a national survey of over 500 rural, suburban and urban school systems. According to the results, cybersecurity remains the top priority for school district IT leaders, however, they continue to face severe budget challenges, a lack of adequate staffing and outdated infrastructure. Diversity and digital equity are among other key concerns.
 
 
“This annual survey of school district IT leaders across the country allows CoSN to gain vital insight into today’s edtech trends. This new knowledge will enable organizations, companies and policymakers to help educators more effectively implement technology-enriched learning, both during COVID-19 and moving forward,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “While this year’s results point to much-needed progress, additional focus on cybersecurity and improved IT infrastructure is required to truly enhance teaching and learning.”
 
The survey and report was conducted with the support of CDW•G and the Ed-Fi Alliance, and in partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, MDR and Forecast5 Analytics.
 
CoSN has created an infographic to highlight the report’s top 10 findings, which include:
 
  1. Cybersecurity remains the number one technology priority for IT leaders today, yet the size of the threat is generally underestimated — less than 20 percent of respondents consider any particular cyberthreat “High Risk.”
 
  1. A large majority (74 percent) of IT leaders oversee both educational and administrative technology, blurring the lines between these systems.
 
  1. Women hold even fewer IT leadership positions this year, continuing the trend of recent years.
 
  1. The lack of racial and ethnic diversity in IT leadership persists, with an overwhelming majority of respondents identifying as white.
 
  1. Over half of respondents say they do not have adequate staffing to integrate student-facing technology in the classroom. Without sufficient support for teachers, instructional technology is difficult to implement and can negatively impact learning.
 
  1. The majority of IT leaders predict that artificial intelligence will play a significant or transformational role in schools, and recognize the need to address data privacy concerns first.
 
  1. Digital equity remains a key priority for nearly all school districts surveyed (96 percent). IT leaders’ responsibilities have expanded as they work to close the “Homework Gap” with innovative solutions.
 
  1. The top three challenges IT leaders face persist: budget, professional development and department silos. To create a successful digital learning environment, school districts should first create a cross-functional leadership team to improve information sharing.
 
  1. 75 percent of IT leaders make decisions about digital content in their districts, an important step to cost-effectively integrating technology in schools.
 
  1. Broadband progress continues. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) have met the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students, but infrastructure updates remain essential.
 
 
“CoSN’s annual report represents the north-star of edtech leadership priorities by bringing forward the critical voices of district IT leadership from across the country. In addition to input from our own customers, the findings of The State of Ed Tech Leadership in 2020 report help to guide our approach to serving the IT needs of the education community. We applaud CoSN for this important undertaking,” said Joe Simone, Vice President, Education, CDW•G.
 
 
“At a time when our schools are being asked to support more distance learning than ever before, understanding school districts’ challenges, priorities, concerns and the state of their IT infrastructure is an important tool in offering solutions to some of these larger issues,” said Troy Wheeler, President, Ed-Fi Alliance. “The good news is that if we band together, many of the challenges that IT leaders have identified can be addressed with more interoperable solutions, by stitching together the technology solutions that educators find most helpful in this new reality.”
 
“We are pleased to partner with CoSN on this report. The critical importance of IT leadership in our school systems, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, cannot be understated,” said Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “The forced shut down of tens of thousands of schools across the country points to why remote learning systems for K-12 students in today’s learning landscape need to be top-notch. If we’re serious about exploring new technologies and conquering the digital divide so all of our students can succeed, we must address the challenges faced by our IT leaders.”
 
 
 
The 2020 CoSN Annual Conference has been transformed into a Breakthrough Virtual Experience, taking place May 19-21. The three-day online conference will convene edtech professionals from around the world who are taking the lead on adopting new technologies to transform school systems and improve student outcomes. Keep up with live updates on CoSN’s Twitter and via #CoSN2020.
 
Media can register to attend online conference sessions by contacting Susanne Connors Bowman (sbowman@cosn.org).
 
The 2020 CoSN Conference is made possible through the generous support of its sponsors.
 
 
 
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
 
About CDW•G
A trusted partner to school districts of every size, CDW-G has more than 300 dedicated K-12 account managers, including a core group of education strategists and learning environment advisers. Our team’s experienced teachers, principals, superintendents and chief technology officers understand what it’s like to stand in your shoes – and are uniquely qualified to partner with you to architect, implement, and manage technology. cdwg.com
 
About Ed-Fi Alliance
The Ed-Fi Alliance is a nationwide community of leading educators, technologists, and data advocates connecting student data systems in order to transform education. A not-for-profit organization founded in 2012, by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Ed-Fi aims to boost student achievement by empowering educators with real-time, comprehensive insight into every student. Ed-Fi technologies streamline data management in school districts and states across the country. By allowing schools to integrate data previously siloed within disconnected tools and software—and organizing it through a single, secure data standard —Ed-Fi solves one of the country’s most perplexing educational challenges: how to get a complete, accurate view of individual student achievement, so that every student can receive the support they need when they need it most. ed-fi.org
 
About AASA, The School Superintendents Association
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA advocates for equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education and supports school system leaders. aasa.org
 
About MDR
MDR is a full-service school and community engagement partner. A division
of Dun & Bradstreet, MDR is a different kind of integrated marketing services
agency that combines rich data with unique digital, creative, and branding capabilities. They have been connecting brands through data and marketing services to educators, youth and parents for 50 years. MDR’s database and digital communities, including EdNET, SchoolData, WeAreTeachers, WeAreParents and School Leaders Now enable brands to connect with educators. mdreducation.com
 
About Forecast5 Analytics
Forecast5 Analytics provides decision support tools for school leaders.  Our analytics technology helps you identify strategic and financial opportunities with highly visual outputs and dashboards in the areas of financial performance, compensation, student performance, and enrollment/demographics. More than 2,000 school districts across the country are using Forecast5 tools to maximize data insights. forecast5analytics.com