Introducing kids to technology can be a powerful learning tool. Students using technology in the classroom have better attitudes toward learning and have better access to individualized learning. This is particularly important for students with special needs or risk factors, and ultimately improves students’ test scores.
Comfort and familiarity with technology is also a critical job-readiness skill. In California, the growing tech industry currently employs nearly eight percent of the state’s private sector workforce.
California schools aren’t keeping pace with new approaches to learning and a changing job market. Widespread adoption of technology in classrooms is hindered by a lack of resources, infrastructure and training. California schools only provide an average of one computer for every 5.6 students. Only 6% of schools have a school-specific IT specialist. And while almost 80% of California schools are connected to the Internet through California’s K-12 High Speed Network, rural schools still have slower, less efficient Internet connections. Only two out of three teachers feel their school does a good job providing them with technology training and resources.
In Riverside Unified School District, every student benefits from a 1:1 technology program providing 25,000 devices and coordinating parent and teacher technology orientations. This program is increasing student engagement and test scores; one year of a tech-based math program improved students’ algebra scores by 19%.
Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda
California should leverage technology to increase student engagement and advance learning by eliminating existing policy and regulatory barriers, building the 21st century infrastructure needed to fully integrate technology, and supporting professional development and training in this area.
There are some examples of California schools and districts successfully using technology to improve learning and increase access to courses, but the use of technology in classrooms isn’t universal. Still, there are promising early steps in state policy. California invested in the state’s infrastructure to allow teachers to use technology in new approaches to learning. The State also designated $77 million to strengthen schools’ broadband technology infrastructure in preparation for the new Smarter Balanced computer adaptive assessments. Finally, the California Department of Education created “Digital Chalkboard”, an online information-sharing community for educators.