This week district and school leaders from over 30 school districts in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia gathered in Raleigh to share ideas and experiences related to their participation in the Future Ready initiative. Future Ready is an effort of the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology and the Alliance for Excellence in Education to help school districts implement high-quality education technology and integrate digital learning meaningfully into their classrooms. As a part of this effort, 12 regional summits are being held around the country to help the over 1,700 (!) school districts that have signed on to this mission as they think through transformative opportunities and answer challenging implementation questions.
The district teams at the Raleigh summit were full of excitement about the positive, empowering, and equalizing potential of purposeful digital learning in schools. The teams shared innovative ideas about everything from preparing and supporting teachers to engaging parents and communities to designing classrooms that let students collaborate in new ways.
Since DQC is a proud Future Ready coalition partner, I was able to get in on the summit fun and talk with these inspiring school and district leaders about how they can use data effectively and protect privacy as a part of this use. Our group talked about four ways to ensure data use and privacy:
- Communicate the value of data to parents, teachers, and the public to build support and trust.
- Improve privacy, security, and communications policies and practices to make sure districts and schools protect privacy and are transparent about how they do it.
- Build capacity and a culture of responsibility by using professional development and data coaches to help educators become data literate and use data to benefit their students.
- Establish data governance to ensure consistent and transparent data decisions that protect privacy while using data to help students.
A common theme of our conversation was the districts’ commitment to serving their students, teachers, and communities. Rather than a technological initiative, these district and school leaders see Future Ready as an opportunity to serve each of their students in new ways. With this vision as a guide, the districts are certainly ready to use data effectively and ethically to support their students’ success.