K-12 technology leaders across the U.S. this year stepped up cybersecurity measures at school but lost ground in providing high-speed Internet access to students outside the classroom, according to an annual report by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

CoSN’s 2024 State of EdTech District Leadership Report, released this week, noted that the use of two-factor authentication increased to 72 percent this year from 40 percent in 2022, as school CIOs and other ed-tech leaders overwhelmingly indicated that data protection remains their top concern. At the same time, however, 31 percent of those surveyed said their district no longer supports efforts to provide home broadband access to students, compared to only 19 percent that provided that response two years ago. And during the same two-year period, the number of districts providing hot spots to unconnected students declined from 69 percent to 49 percent.

The survey, now in its 11th year, fielded responses from 981 school IT leaders between Jan. 10 and Feb. 29. The 55-page summary was released April 30. Even though a prior survey was completed in 2023, some findings are presented in comparison to the 2022 report.

“The role of ed-tech leaders is rapidly expanding as technology is permeating every aspect of our education system, necessitating their proactive involvement,” CoSN CEO Keith Krueger said this week in a public statement. “Our latest survey underscores the growing complexity of their challenges, from developing generative AI best practices and cybersecurity measures to addressing the digital equity divide. Since 2012, demands in ed-tech leaders have surged, yet resources have not kept pace with these escalating needs.”

On the topic of artificial intelligence, 97 percent of those surveyed noted that the emerging technology can benefit education, though only 35 percent of districts reported having a “generative AI initiative.” Respondents also noted concerns not seen in prior surveys — new forms of cyber attacks and cyber bullying that are enabled by AI. Only 3 percent of districts have banned AI, while 20 indicated that they use tools to detect AI-related plagiarism, according to the report.

Other highlights in the report:

  • 43 percent of respondents improved interoperability by implementing single sign-on access across multiple digital tools. Ed-tech leaders cited “a lack of awareness/understanding” as the main obstacle for better interoperability.
  • 57 percent said the most common outsourced service in their district is cybersecurity, and they considered that to be a staffing issue.
  • 93 percent said technology is used in their schools to address student well-being, and 63 percent reported having tools that can monitor for instances of bullying, violence, depression and self-harm.
  • Only 24 percent said every student in their districts has access to a web-browsing device at home.
  • 73 percent of districts made changes to their parental-engagement practices.
  • 39 percent said their district offers esports programs.
  • The salary levels of K-12 ed-tech leaders varied greatly, with 18 percent noting they earned less than $70,000 annually, 27 percent between $100,000 and $129,999, and 2 percent above $200,000.
  • Regarding the share of school budgets spent on technology, 41 percent indicated the amount at 2 to 5 percent of the annual spending plan, 16 percent said 8 to 11 percent, and 3 percent noted the share was more than 15 percent.

Ed-tech leaders are severely limited to what they can accomplish due to staffing and funding constraints, the report summarized, quoting one respondent who said, “All this is just pie-in-the-sky nonsense when you don’t have a workforce.”

“Until a way is found to address the perennial problem of budget constraints and lack of resources, each will continue to be cited as ed-tech leaders’ top challenge year after year,” the report concluded.


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