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Survey Highlights American Teacher Demand for Bigger Role in Ed Tech Decision-Making

Budget concerns often trump student outcomes among school district buyers; American teachers call for bigger role in creation and selection of education technology

A new survey of over 4,300 American teachers reveals a desire to disrupt the status quo by moving ed tech decision-making closer to the classroom. Conducted by leading digital education company TES Global, in partnership with the Jefferson Education Accelerator, which was founded by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, the survey findings suggest teachers want to play a more active role in dictating what technology and materials are used in their classrooms.

Current Classroom Clout

The survey found that the majority of teachers (63 percent) believe they should be the primary decision maker for what technology enters their classroom, but only 38 percent are currently consulted during the process.  Respondents assert that teacher buy-in is not a major factor in ed tech purchasing decisions.

  • Nearly 50 percent say that decisions are currently left to school, district, or regional leadership.
  • Budgetary pressures appear to drive much of ed tech decision-making. Forty-eight percent of respondents believe that cost is the number one influence on ed tech selection, more so than student outcomes (22 percent) and teacher buy-in (9 percent).
  • Only 12 percent of respondents say school-based technology experts currently make decisions, but 33 percent of respondents say they should play an important role (second only to teachers).
  • Half (49 percent) say parents should play the smallest decision-making role, with District Leadership not far behind (24 percent).

Teachers Know Best

Despite the research and vetting decisions that are being made at a higher level, teachers continue to create classroom environments they feel are best for their students.

  • Most teachers learn about new technology by researching it on their own or by relying on their teacher peers in the same school or district (38 and 37 percent respectively).
  • Sixty percent said that teachers are the best creators of classroom materials, while only six percent believe publishers should be the lead creators.

Finding Middle Ground

Given that the process of researching and implementing new technology can be complex and time-consuming, how involved do teachers want to be?

  • The majority (62 percent) would like to make decisions based on a defined set of options.
  • 26 percent would prefer to make all decisions without someone else narrowing the options.
  • 1 in 2 teachers (48 percent) care most about identifying what products to pilot or roll out.
  • Nearly half of teachers (45 percent) said that their teacher training programs failed to make them feel very or somewhat prepared for evaluating and using technology in the classroom.

“Teachers are closest to the needs and behaviors of students, so it’s not surprising they want to have a seat at the table,” says Rob Grimshaw, CEO of TES Global. “Education tech companies, school leadership, and district officials must find more ways to let teachers voice their opinions, so that only the best and most effective technology makes it to the classroom.”

“Nobody is better situated than classroom teachers when it comes to observing which education technologies are driving meaningful improvements to student learning outcomes,” says Bob Pianta, Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, and Chairman of the Jefferson Education Accelerator. “Decisions about which ed tech products and services should be in our classrooms should be heavily influenced by teachers who have access to evidence of their impact.”

You can download the full global report here