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    Seattle Public Schools Launches Tech Plan and Proposes to Expand Access to Learning Devices
    Posted on 06/13/2019
    Two students work on a school project in a classroom

    Seattle Public Schools Launches Tech Plan and Proposes to Expand Access to Learning Devices, Beginning with Students Furthest Away from Educational Justice

    Update: The Seattle School Board approved the district’s technology purchases at the June 12 board meeting. Watch the board meeting.

    In February 2016, Seattle voters approved the Building, Technology, and Academics (BTA) IV levy with $16 million dollars dedicated to “upgrade and expand classroom/student technology equipment and services, mobile and stationary computer labs, and increase on-site technical support services for schools and student technology.”

    After BTA IV passed, the Seattle School Board asked staff for research on the efficacy of technology in the classroom, a technology plan, and further engagement. Over the course of two years, staff has completed research, piloted programs, conducted extensive engagement and an equity analysis, inventoried current technology use, and created a comprehensive plan for technology in Seattle Public Schools.

    Seattle Public Schools Technology Plan

    The 2019-23 Seattle Public Schools Technology PlanPDF icon backed by research, state Educational Technology Standards, and the district and community, outlines district goals for technology and directly supports the 2019-24 Seattle Schools Strategic Plan’s priority of High Quality Teaching and Learning Experiences, with an initial focus on supporting students furthest away from educational justice.

    Classroom technology use will follow the foundational principles developed over two years of engagement and as outlined in the district’s new technology plan:

    • Technology use will support classroom instructional goals and board adopted curriculum, providing opportunities for students to become “proficient users of information, media, and technology,” and “learn core subjects and applied skills in relevant and rigorous ways,” as outlined in Board Policy No. 2022PDF icon
    • The district will provide a baseline of technology for all schools, reducing inequities and ensuring equitable access as outlined Board Policy No. 0030PDF icon
    • Through targeted investments, the district will eliminate the use of libraries and computer labs for student assessments, increasing access to technology in individual classrooms
    • The district and schools will follow the technology plan, standards, and research when selecting and implementing new technology solutions

    To this end the technology plan includes maintaining a baseline of devices on a four-year replacement cycle centrally managed and funded. The proposed elementary and middle school standard will be a cart of laptops/iPads per classroom with 12-16 devices. This mirrors past technology investments K-8.

    High School Device Rollout

    The most significant change in investment will be at the high school level. In alignment with Washington State Technology Standards, career and college readiness goals, and in order to address the “digital divide,” district staff is proposing all high schools provide a computer to ninth-grade students beginning in 2019-20 to keep for four years. The decision to equip incoming freshman with their own device is not about establishing a ratio, rather ensuring students have the tools and skills they need to be successful in high school and beyond.

    Seattle is far behind neighboring districts in providing this type of learning support to high school students. The Association for Computer Professionals in Education (ACPE), a nonprofit association that strives to increase collaboration and professional development opportunities within the K-12 educational technology community, surveyed all member districts. Out of the 42 respondents, all but six (6) including Seattle had a 1:1 computer ratio in high schools, and most started providing this level of support in earlier grades.

    Higher need high schools including Rainier Beach, Franklin, Seattle World School, and Chief Sealth International will get an accelerated roll out of student laptops if the Seattle School Board approves the district’s technology purchases on June 12. Introduction and discussion of the implementation plan will take place at the May 29, 2019 Regular School Board meeting. View the board meeting agenda.

    Providing a laptop to every high school student closes an access gap ensuring every student is given the right tools to be successful in high school. In addition to providing high school students a district laptop for four years, wireless hotspots will also be made available for check-out by students who would otherwise not have a way of accessing the internet while away from school.

    Learn more about the voter supported BTA IV investment in the Board Action Report.PDF icon