SETDA Family Road Trip

State Interest Breakouts – ETF 2023

Michigan’s Digital Content: Open Educational Resources (OER) and Computer Science (CS)

Michigan State ImageGina Loveless and Cheryl Wilson – [slide deck]

Background: In the summer of 2019, Michigan adopted K-12 CS standards. Three weeks before the pandemic lockdown, the state hired a CS consultant, to help implement, but how do you implement standards when everything is virtual. At the same time, the Michigan Department of Education wanted to continue its push for OER.

Challenges: Teachers were overwhelmed, needed more digital resources for remote learning, and needed implementation support to show student readiness. Districts were interested in OER and CS but were time strapped and burned out. Shortage of substitutes continues to be a problem to work around.

Solution: The Educational Technology unit cobbled together $231K (from Title IV administrative dollars and other areas of the department that weren’t being used) to create a new grant opportunity with awards of $14,500 for OER year 1 and up to $20,000 for CS year 1. Year 1 of the OER grant includes $7,500 to travel to a district that has already implemented an OER curriculum. The remaining $7,500 in year 2 of OER is for training, supplies, etc.

The CS consultant got trained to be a SCRIPT trainer by CSforALL (the nonprofit working to make high-quality CS mandatory for every student). As a grant assurance for the CS grant, districts had to form a team and create a CS implementation plan. Depending on where they were on the CS continuum, they received $10K (Developed or Highly Developed) or $20K (Novice or Emerging).


  • Awarded the OER grant three times. In 2021, a district visited Missouri and California to see OER in action.
  • More districts are using OER resources from GoOpen Michigan, leading to increased OER curriculum adoption.
  • The SCRIPT Program (Strategic CSforALL) has exploded. One district sees the benefits; the surrounding districts hear about it and ask for training with no grant money.
  • Districts can get funding for up to three cycles for each side of the grant (reduced in years 2 and 3).
  • Legislation was introduced to support further funding (so the word is getting to legislators).

Nevada’s Digital Learning: Statewide Virtual Courses

Nevada State ImageJaci McCune [slide deck]

Background: Nevada is a large state with two urban areas and the rest of the state is rural. Some towns have limited resources and are two hours from the nearest major grocery store. Teacher vacancies are high, with many “filled” positions occupied by long-term subs.

Challenge: To ensure that every Nevada student has access to a variety of courses taught by qualified teachers.

Solution: In the summer of 2022, the Nevada Department of Education’s Office of Standards and Instructional Support partnered with another Dept of Education office that had a federal grant to create more course opportunities and hired a retired teacher who’s an expert in online learning and knows Canvas, the statewide LMS. Potential course writers had to interview and prove content expertise; many were able to take online PD through Canvas.

The state pays educators a stipend to develop asynchronous courses. The courses are reviewed by online education experts (via a Canvas contract) and delivered by course facilitators who are paid through the Department of Education.

This January, the Nevada Course Access Partnership launched. A few districts piloted a high school CS course that’s a graduation requirement. “We learned a lot, including that we need to know about IEP accommodations and how to navigate internet access for incarcerated students,” says Jaci.

Results: By this August, there will be 29 completed courses, including Algebra 1, AP US Government, CTE Principles of Business & Marketing, French 1 & 2, and Geoscience.

“An unintended benefit is that any teacher in the state can use the quizzes and resources,” says Jaci. “A long-term sub with zero knowledge of biology can use the biology course as an in-person class. We’re able to provide rural districts with more course options and also help classrooms without licensed teachers.”

Washington’s Equity of Access: Digital Equity & Inclusion

Bre Urness-Straight [slide deck]

Background: Washington, like most states, suffered an inequity of devices and connectivity in its schools that was exacerbated during the pandemic. Many educators also lacked access to devices and/or connectivity.

Bre Urness-Straight joined the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in the middle of the pandemic and was determined to use funding to address these access challenges. Her approach: to address the issue philosophically and lay the foundation around equity of access.

Challenge: Seventy percent of Washington’s districts are rural, and the Office did not know how to connect with those districts. Bre knew that small, rural, and remote districts do not typically apply for grants because they’ve decided it’s not worth the effort to access those funds.

Solution: The Office found funding and created grant outreach positions to specifically support underserved districts. At the same time, they streamlined the grant application, eliminating all the “nice to haves.” If they received an incomplete application, they worked with the district to help it meet the requirements. They worked across agencies to find migrant and unhoused students to be sure every student had what they needed, continually identified barriers, and helped districts through the application process, even assisting with tech planning.

Results: Underserved districts are addressing their equity gaps:

  • “Small schools like ours don’t have the funding available to really be able to bring the latest and greatest technology to our schools. This grant has been a definite game changer. We were able to purchase enough Chromebooks to have a school that was offering a one-to-one device per student ratio which we were really excited about. At that point in time we thought that we had crossed the finish line, but in essence we had just started our journey.” —Robert Elizondo, Superintendent, Touchet School District
  • “These kinds of funding opportunities really make a big difference for us because we’re struggling just to make it. We’re trying to help folks that are economically challenged stay connected to education and give them the best experience we can.” —Jarred Blauser, Edtech Director, Port Angeles School District

In March, the broadband office gave them $3M to continue this work, bringing the total to $5M for the next two year, says Bre. Part of that money will go toward purchasing more specialized devices for the state edtech center to lend to small and rural districts.

The next step is professional learning. They are working with the Association of Educational Service Districts to fund 10 coaches across the state.

“When you set equity of access as the fundamental guiding principle, it gives you a lens to evaluate the process from bottom to top,” says Bre. “Ask yourself: What gets in the way? Why do those barriers exist? How do we either remove those barriers or support navigating the process? Equity of access is foundational to all conversations I have in advocating for our small/rural and remote school districts. From conversations about federal grants for cybersecurity to our own internal grants, we need to be aware of the unintentional barriers that exist for these schools and consider how the barriers can be removed to improve equity of access.”

Lessons Learned

  1. Encourage intentional internal/external district communication.
  2. Build grant applications/funding on critical factors (Remember: Every district is different.).
  3. Districts need assistance with state procurement processes/requirements.
  4. Ensure fidelity to the intention of the funding.
  5. Support builds relationships and trust. It is worth the time and investment.

Resource: Washington OSPI EdTech DEI Webpage

Massachusetts’ Professional Learning: Edtech Capacity Building 

Massachusetts State ImageAJ Cote, Jackie Gantzer, Eileen Belastock – [slide deck]

Background: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) wanted to strengthen equitable edtech selection, implementation, and evaluation across the state while also building the collective expertise of educators to use technology to deliver high-quality instruction. With digital equity as a priority, MA adopted The Learning Accelerator’s (TLA) definition of digital equity, which requires that students have access to and ownership of the tools that best support them as learners, skills and competencies they require in order to best take advantage of these digital resources, and learning experiences that are targeted, authentic, relevant, socially connected, and growth-oriented. In order to achieve that vision of digital equity, MA DESE identified a few challenges and a couple of supporting solutions.

Challenges: DESE wanted to learn the following:

  • How can we evaluate the extent to which tech is supporting district priorities?
  • How can we strengthen the impact of tech through specific selection, implementation, and/or eval processes?
  • How can districts proactively center educational and digital equity through edtech systems?
  • What capacity-building programming, projects, and activities could districts implement that would build the collective expertise of educators to use technology to deliver high-quality instruction?

Solutions: First, DESE worked with TLA to form an in-state cohort of district tech leaders and their teams. The cohort attended monthly meetings during the 2022-23 school year, received individualized coaching, and used the EdTech Systems Guide to strengthen equitable edtech selection, implementation, and evaluation.

Each cohort member focused on different goals. One district implemented a digital portfolio tool, another worked on strengthening the implementation of their student information system to better engage English learners and their families, while a third district evaluated its digital tools to decide which to keep, scale, or remove from circulation.

Running concurrently but separate from the cohort, DESE offered a competitive grant for districts: Building Capacity for High-Quality Instruction through EdTech. Proposals were accepted for the adoption or expansion of capacity-building programming, projects, and activities that would build the collective expertise of educators to use technology to deliver high-quality instruction. Proposals were directly aligned to each of the five priority focus areas: Effective Instruction, High-Quality Professional Learning, Effective Use of Technology to Support Instruction, Equity and Digital Equity, and Sustainability of Capacity-Building Efforts. An overview of the seven grant recipients’ activities can be found here.

Results of the Cohort:

  • 100% participation from LEA teams.
  • Site visit protocol pilot for classroom observations to show strategic use of edtech.
  • TLA case studies from the cohort that include best practice strategies and artifacts are here: Accelerating Equitable Edtech.

Results of the Grant:

  • MA DESE collected data regarding a variety of approaches to capacity building over a diversity of settings/contexts, ultimately determining what was effective.
  • Seventeen districts had educators engaging in high-quality edtech PD, educators implementing effective practices in classrooms, and students with improved classroom experiences.


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