Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All About Speak Up

Speak Up 2013 is just around the corner...


Is your school/district going to participate?

For those of you new to Project Tomorrow and to our Speak Up surveys, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is Speak Up?

We're glad you asked! Below you will find all the information you need! Still have questions? Contact speakup@tomorrow.org. Registration information for Speak Up 2013 can be found at the bottom of this post!

What educators, district administrators, and more have to say about Speak Up:


"Why take the time to design our own survey? This survey gives us great information, is well-designed, and easy to administer. We use the data for technology planning and for year-to-year assessment of our technology program. The data is also useful to show teachers how much students really value technology."         
         --Pam McLeod, Director of Technology, Alton School District (NH)

"We use the information for local decision making by organizing bits of applicable information for appropriate discussions or audiences. The data has also been an effective means of sharing our story in grant applications."
          --Lavonne Sparling, Chief Academic Officer, MSD of Wabash County (IN)

"Speak Up provides incredibly relevant data regarding trends in educational technology and how K-12 kids learn best. We share the data with our school board, community, district leaders, principals, tech leaders, and teachers in order to help inform instruction and guide budget decisions."
          --Kathy Bari, Director of Educational Technology, Capistrano Unified School District (CA)

"The Speak Up campaign gives a “loud” voice to a core group that is often ignored in education, Our Students."
         -- Baltimore City School District (MD)

"Speak Up is extremely valuable for our district. It gives us a good pulse on what our students are currently doing with technology, and what they would like to be doing."
-- Jenith Mishne, Director of Education Technology, Newport-Mesa Unified School District (CA)


Speak Up Overview


Speak Up is a unique research project designed to collect and report on the authentic, unfiltered ideas and views of K-12 students and their parents, teachers and administrators.

The primary focus of the Speak Up project has been on education stakeholders in the United States though schools in Australia, Canada and around the world have participated in the surveys for many years.

In general, Speak Up has three primary objectives: To provide a means for local schools and districts to easily and effectively listen to and act upon the ideas of their stakeholders. To provide a conduit for the voices of education stakeholders, most notably students, to inform national and/or state/provincial policies and programs. To stimulate new local discussions around the use of technology within education.      


History


Speak Up was started in 2003 as an outcome of a national AmeriCorps program that was developed and managed by NetDay (the predecessor organization to Project Tomorrow) in five highly challenged communities in the United States. The AmeriCorps program uncovered a “digital disconnect” between how students wanted to use technology for learning, and how their teachers were using technology in the classroom. This discovery was further investigated and validated through a series of national focus groups with students in those five communities; Detroit (MI), Oakland (CA), Santa Ana (CA), Rosedale (MS) and Mercedes (TX). The first Speak Up online surveys were thereby funded by a small grant from the US Department of Education that was interested in infusing some student views into their National Education Technology Plan under development at that time. Subsequently, additional Speak Up surveys have been developed to provide opportunities for teachers, librarians, technology coordinators, administrators, parents and pre-service teachers to share their voices as well.


Methodology


The project methodology includes both reading level appropriate online surveys and focus groups. Any school or district that wants to participate in Speak Up is eligible to do so including private as well as public schools, charter schools, parochial schools, virtual schools etc. While the online student surveys are only currently available in English, the parent survey is available in English or Spanish. The online surveys are facilitated through cooperating schools and districts who sign up to participate in Speak Up, select their own specific password, and monitor the survey taking process. The only demographic information collected from the students is grade and gender. Other demographic data is asked on the parent, teacher and administrator surveys but those are noted as optional questions. All data collected is 100% confidential and no single individual can be identified from any submitted survey. The online surveys are open for input typically in the fall and are available through any internet accessible computer, at schools, in libraries, in community centers and through personal access at home. Speak Up is not a typical, textbook model research project as it is fundamentally a convenience sampling; though the participation selection is not at the individual level but at the school or district level. Each year we also conduct 15-20 face-to-face focus groups with students and educators to inform our data analysis. Since 2003, over 2.6 million online surveys have been submitted through Speak Up and the national, state and local data has informed numerous policies, programs and initiatives around the use of technology in education. 


Release of Speak Up Data


Each spring, Project Tomorrow creates national reports on the aggregated US survey data. The data analysis and the resulting reports is done 100% by in house Project Tomorrow staff. The US national reports are released in a series of Congressional Briefings in Washington DC and through numerous conference presentations, webinars and meetings with federal agencies, state education agencies, associations, organizations, research groups, think-tanks, business groups, and policy organizations throughout the year. This past year, our CEO, Julie Evans, presented Speak Up data findings in over 50 conference presentations. Additionally, every participating school and district receives free access to their own local Speak Up aggregated data reports (which includes all of the survey questions and their own respondents’ data totals) along with the national data totals to use for benchmarking. All of the local data is secured for the “eyes” of the Speak Up contact person only at each school or district; these special contact people have a unique password to access that data. It is the discretion of the Speak Up contact person if they want to share their aggregated data with others at their school or district.


Development of Survey Questions


The development of the Speak Up topics and questions is a year long, extensive and complicated process. Our staff is constantly on the lookout for the topics that are of the most interest to school and district leadership right now so that we can ensure that the Speak Up data that is given back to the schools and districts is of maximum value. To supplement our own efforts we reach out to a wide and varied collection of thought leaders, industry leaders, policy researchers, state education agency professionals, nonprofit and association leaders and members, practicing teachers and administrators, parents and even students each year to get ideas for question topics. Listening to their responses gives us an invaluable insider perspective on the types of questions and topics that will provide the most benefit to the participating schools and districts. We believe that our “wide net” approach to question development and specifically getting the input from our diverse and varied network of friends, colleagues, educators, students, thought leaders and sponsors is the best approach to ensure the ongoing relevancy of the surveys and the resulting data. The development of the actual questions and the topics on the surveys is wholly the work and discretion of the Project Tomorrow team.

 

Registration for Speak Up 2013


Thank you for your interest in Speak Up! Please send us an email at speakup@tomorrow.org with your registration request.
  1. Please include the name of your district or school
  2. Your State
  3. Name and email address of the main contact
    Main Contact’s Role: The main contact will be in charge of the promotion and encouragement of the survey, will receive emails with the up to date participation numbers by school and district, will be able to monitor your district/school’s survey counts at any time and will have access to your district and individual schools’ results come February 2014.
  4. A student survey password
  5. An organizational login password (to view weekly survey counts and other important updates during the survey period)
** To ensure confidentiality, every participating district is provided with two passwords: one organizational login password and one student survey password. The organizational login password is used for registering/updating contact information and to view your results come Feb. 2014. The student survey “secret word” password is what student participants will use when going to take the survey.
We will then send you a follow up email with a PDF of your school list and passwords to confirm that your district/school has been registered.

Speak Up 2013 Surveys will open October 2nd, 2013, and will run through December 20th, 2013!