New Data Suggests Rural Schools Outpace Peers on Classroom Tech Access; BYOD Policies May Improve Access within Suburban Classrooms

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BrightBytes analysis of over 180 million data points offers new insight into access and equity gaps, teacher perspectives on preparation for and use of education technology

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Drawing on millions of data points from schools around the country, this report provides critical insights into the relationship between school characteristics, such as geographical setting, and successful implementation of technology.

Data management and learning analytics firm BrightBytes, today, published an analysis of over 180 million data points, collected using a national survey designed to gauge educational technology access, utilization, and effectiveness across 8,558 schools throughout the United States.

The data suggest that students in rural schools, while facing difficulty obtaining devices and internet connectivity at home, actually outscore their urban and suburban peers in access at school. By comparing the characteristics of the top 5% of schools and bottom 5% of schools, evaluated on a unique technology framework, the BrightBytes Insights Report explores the factors that affect technology access and utilization.

“The Report provides district and school leaders with insights into what works to improve student outcomes,” said Teela Watson, Director of Digital Learning at Education Service Center Region 11 in Fort Worth, Texas. “The information we are able to get from our work with BrightBytes has allowed us, for the first time, to accurately and clearly communicate the effectiveness of our technology initiatives.”

According to BrightBytes’ analysis, rural schools are outpacing urban and suburban schools in providing technology to their students and teachers. Rural schools were disproportionately represented among schools scoring in the top 5% for access at school, while suburban schools were disproportionately represented in the bottom 5%. Conversely, suburban schools were disproportionately represented in the top 5% of schools for access at home, suggesting that suburban students, who are more likely to have devices of their own, could benefit from policies that allow them to bring their devices to school.

“Drawing on millions of data points from schools around the country, this report provides critical insights into the relationship between school characteristics, such as geographical setting, and successful implementation of technology. It provides a way forward for schools – whether they are rural, urban, or suburban – to adopt the technologies necessary for building a stronger future for their students,” said former North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, who authored the foreword to the new report.

Using the CASE™ framework, which evaluates technology implementations across four domains (Classroom, Access, Skills, and Environment) in order to help school and district leaders develop a more holistic perspective on technology, the BrightBytes Insights Report considered:

  • Classroom use of technology, including teacher and student integration of technology for communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity
  • Support for technology implementation around areas for professional learning, and the extent to which the school policies, practices, and procedures (3Ps) support the use of technology
  • Student and teacher access to technology at home and at school
  • Student and teacher perception about technology use in the classroom

Interestingly, schools with high rates of students receiving free or reduced price lunch scored lower across all domains analyzed except professional learning, indicating that teachers have the freedom to influence their own professional development regardless of their school characteristics. However, the data, which show low scores for the 3Ps in populations with high FRPL rates, suggest that teachers are having difficulty transferring new skills and strategies to the classroom due to the impact of administrative decisions on technology integration.

“The aggregate data from our research confirms that there are a number of characteristics that hinder or enable the success of high-performing and low-performing schools,” said Genevieve Hartman, Ph.D, Vice President of Research at BrightBytes. “Looking across factors such as access at home and at school, policies, procedures, practices, and professional development needs, we have been able to uncover insights that can equip educators and policymakers with specific, data-driven recommendations on how to tailor ed tech plans to the needs of individual schools.”

Highlights of the report can be found here:

About BrightBytes: BrightBytes provides the leading end-to-end data management solution for education organizations. Our platforms integrate, analyze, and organize complex data from multiple systems across research-based frameworks to deliver educative, engaging, and actionable visualized results that drive student learning.

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Media Contact:
Hannah Leedle, 615-294-3448, hannah(at)whiteboardadvisors(dot)com


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