Ellen Ullman
Communications Manager
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New Report: Cybersecurity Tops List of State Education Technology Priorities

The latest survey from SETDA sheds light on key trends and priorities and the emergence of
artificial intelligence in K-12 education. 

September 14, 2023 (Washington, D.C.)In an era where K-12 education faces unprecedented challenges and opportunities, state education agencies continue to grapple with how to mitigate cyberattacks and integrate AI-enabled tools. A new report offers invaluable insights into the top priorities and emerging trends in state education technology and underscores the need for collaboration across state and local agencies and program offices and the ways in which state departments of education continue to adapt for a digital world. 

The 2023 State Edtech Trends Report, a collaboration between SETDA and Whiteboard Advisors, draws in insights gathered from edtech directors, state superintendents, chiefs of staff, and other senior state officials from 45 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and Guam. The report complements the survey data with state spotlights that showcase the work states are leading to support cybersecurity efforts, the effective and equitable use of edtech tools, and the development of policy to guide the use of AI in K-12 classrooms. 

It is the follow-up to the 2022 survey and report, the former of which was administered during a time when schools were completing their transition back to in-person learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“State leaders can’t shy away from change or the technologies that bring it about. That’s not an option for the students we serve whose future success depends on their ability to thrive in an ever-changing, technology-rich world,” said Kirsten Baesler, Superintendent of Public Instruction of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, in the preface to the 2023 report. “The SETDA State EdTech Trends report serves an invaluable purpose. It shows us that at state agencies, too, change is constant.”

Among the key findings in the report and survey:

  • Cybersecurity Tops the List: The report underscores that “cybersecurity” is now the paramount concern in K-12 education—an increase in priority since 2022. However, a staggering 42% of respondents reported inadequate funding and support for cybersecurity needs, signaling a critical gap. 
  • Federal and State AI Policy Lags: While 55% of respondents observed an increased interest in AI policy development, only 2% reported having active AI initiatives in their states. The report highlights the urgent need for comprehensive AI strategies at the federal and state level.
  • Home Access Demands Attention: “Home access connectivity”—referring to access outside of school premises—jumped to the top of the list of top unmet technology needs nationwide, with nearly one-third of respondents listing it as their primary concern. This finding underscores the persistent impact of the digital divide on education, as students require consistent access to teachers and high-quality resources for flexible, anytime, learning.
  • On-going Focus on EdTech Effectiveness: The number of states collecting data on the effectiveness of their edtech tools also increased according to respondents, and using edtech effectively to support instruction remains a top priority for state leaders. 

Julia Fallon, Executive Director of SETDA, reflects on the report’s significance, stating, “This report signifies the uniqueness of this moment in time as school systems emerge from the pandemic into a technology-rich new normal rife with opportunity but also risk. Last year’s needs have become this year’s priorities, and states are making progress in addressing these challenges.”

SETDA is the principal association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology and digital learning leaders. Through a broad array of programs and advocacy, SETDA builds member capacity and engages partners to empower the education community in leveraging technology for learning, teaching, and school operations. For more information, please visit

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