Findings from National K-12 Survey: Cybersecurity Is Top Priority for School Technology Leaders

Annual CoSN Report Reveals Key Education Technology Trends, Challenges and Progress in School Systems
Portland, Oregon
Monday, April 1, 2019
CoSN today released the organization’s long-standing K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report.
 
According to this year’s findings, cybersecurity is the number one priority for school system technology administrators, and the top challenges facing IT leaders are lack of budget resources, the need for more professional development and removing department silos within their districts. There is also overwhelming consensus among technology leaders that closing the “Homework Gap” is a concern.
 
The report was conducted through the support of the Ed-Fi Alliance and in partnership with Forecast5 Analytics and MDR. CoSN issued the new findings at the start of the organization’s 2019 Annual Conference, April 1-4 in Portland, OR.
 
 
“Our national survey puts into focus the pressing and emerging technology issues in school districts. The findings allow us to better support the current needs of IT leaders in building transformative educational environments. This is an ongoing, collective effort, entailing local and federal commitments to investing in 21st century teaching and learning,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.
 
 
“The findings highlight the growing priorities for school technology leaders — from cybersecurity to addressing digital equity. The report also underscores areas where more progress is needed in the profession, especially with regard to increasing diversity. CoSN is committed to addressing these key issues and supporting the needs of CTOs,” said CoSN Board Chair Pete Just, CTO, MSD of Wayne Township (IN).
 
The top 10 key findings from the report follow:
 
  1. Cybersecurity is the top priority for IT leaders today.
 
  1. The top three challenges faced by IT leaders for the past three years have remained the same: Budget, Professional Development and Breaking Down Department Silos.
 
  1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies are declining in popularity. They are used by only 16 percent of school districts — likely as a result of lower cost devices being introduced to the market.
 
  1. Virtually all IT leaders (95 percent) agree that addressing the Homework Gap is a concern for their district. This is a significant change. Last year, 30 percent of leaders indicated digital equity was not an important issue for their district.  
 
  1. Print is not dead. Past predictions have been overly optimistic. For 67 percent of districts, print still comprises at least half of their instructional materials.
 
  1. There is some progress on all areas of interoperability, but only Single Sign-On (SSO) has been fully implemented in more than a quarter of school systems.
 
  1. This survey identifies a number of ways in which IT leaders are looking to be more relevant to teachers and learning, with 75 percent of IT leaders saying it is important to be more responsive to educator IT needs in the classroom.
 
  1. The largest percentage of IT leaders continue to have education backgrounds (40 percent), followed by those with technical backgrounds (35 percent), a growing number from business/management backgrounds (20 percent) and other fields accounting for 3 percent of respondents.
 
  1. Lack of ethnic and racial diversity in school district IT leadership remains a serious problem in most school systems with no progress since last year.
 
  1. The percentage of women in school district IT leadership roles has declined in recent years, with 28 percent in leadership roles this year compared to 36 percent in 2016.
 
“The CoSN Annual IT Leadership Survey Report delivers invaluable information for our sector. It provides data and insights directly from the front lines in the field that can help us understand where critical changes are needed and what might be holding us back,” said Troy Wheeler, President, Ed-Fi Alliance. “One of the areas that the report sheds light on is that leaders want to spend more time using technology to directly support teaching and learning. This is where we see significant opportunities for IT to act as internal thought partners, providing greater value and impact, and where we know that interoperability is fundamental to powering this transformation.”
 
CONTACT:
For CoSN: Michael Kaplun, The Fratelli Group, 202-822-9491, mkaplun@fratelli.com
 
About the IT Leadership Survey
 
This is the seventh consecutive year that CoSN has conducted the K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report. This year’s findings are based on 48 questions, which collected more than 36,600 data points from 335 completed surveys. Respondents represent large, medium-sized, small, low-income and low-poverty school districts. The survey results help inform CoSN’s programming, initiatives and outreach efforts, and they give valuable information for the broader education technology community and its stakeholders.
 
 
CoSN 2019 Annual Conference is underway in Portland, OR. Themed Envision 2030: Leadership for Learning, the four-day conference will explore how school leaders can prepare students and kindergarteners — the high school graduation class of 2030 — to succeed in the rapidly changing technology environment. Learn more here, and track live updates on CoSN’s Twitter and via #CoSN2019.
 
Media are invited to attend at no cost. If you are interested, please contact Michael Kaplun (mkaplun@fratelli.com). 
 
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 the 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 Forecast5 Analytics
Forecast5 Analytics provides interactive data analytics solutions to schools covering a spectrum of organizational performance areas. The Forecast5 platform includes cloud-based business intelligence software, an analytics platform that connects a district’s disparate student datasets into one system, a financial forecasting engine, interactive data visualizations and a Google Maps-based tool for geospatial projects. More than 1,500 school districts across the country are using Forecast5 tools to maximize their data insights. forecast5analytics.com
 
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