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ESSA: State Leaders Take Action in Support of Digital Learning


The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December coupled with the release of the 2016 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) strives to push America’s education system forward in order to better prepare our students for college and careers in the digital age. Spread throughout ESSA is the prominent importance of technology and digital literacy as fundamental to improving academic achievement and renewing a national commitment to supporting digital learning.

ESSA features provisions focused on supporting and promoting the use of technology to improve academic achievement, academic growth, and digital literacy. For example, the new law authorizes the Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, to study students’ home broadband access behaviors and needs. The new law also authorizes support for professional development opportunities designed to enhance capacity for educators and school leaders’ to use technology to support teaching and learning, while also strengthening technology infrastructure and program delivery.

States are beginning to tackle the challenges of implementation regarding the new law including launching the development of state ESSA plans and responding the ED’s Request for Information (RFI) for program guidance and implementation. Digital learning leaders across multiple departments including educational technology, instructional materials, assessment, professional learning and special education, are providing input into preparation of state applications with considerations for the flexibility to implement digital learning. Issues specific to ESSA include technical assistance, infrastructure, devices, blended learning, digital resources, professional development, technological needs assessment, developing consortiums, personalized learning and data security. SEAs and LEAs are encouraged to respond to all of ED’s RFIs related to ESSA to help support effective program implementation and guidance.

The time to take action is now! SETDA encourages our membership and leaders across State Education Agencies (SEA) to communicate and collaborate with one another to best understand how digital learning can support school improvement and professional learning. Your SETDA member is best positioned to provide guidance and share resources regarding effective and efficient implementation of digital tools and resources. Connect with your state’s SETDA leaders to learn more.


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