Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What Texans Said about Technology and Learning

The 2014 Speak Up data is in! As part of our time at this year’s TCEA Convention, we decided to take a look at what students, parents and educators in the Texas had to say about technology and learning during this year’s surveys. More than 83,000 Texans weighed in – more participation than from any other state!

Texas parents expressed strong concern about their children’s futures and whether or not they think their children’s schools are helping to prepare them for careers:
  • Like parents nationwide, Texas parents have three primary concerns about their child’s future:  
    • My child is not learning the right skills in school to be successful in the future (57%)
    • My child is going to need more than a college degree to get a good job (47%)
    • My child is going to have to compete with better educated workers around the globe (45%)
  • Texas parents were also asked about the best ways for their child to acquire the “right skills” for future careers. Their top responses should be very interesting for both education and community leaders:
    • Use technology in classes at school (75%)
    • Get real world job experience through summer or part time jobs or internships (75%)
    • Participate in school leadership activities (66%)
    • Learn an additional language (64%)
    • Participate in sports teams or academic groups (61%)  
Texas parents also appear to be leading the nation in terms of their desire for more use of technology to connect with their child’s teachers and school.  
  • 37% of Texas parents say that they would like to use a school or class mobile app for better school-to-home communications (vs. 30% of parents nationwide).
  • 60% of Texas parents would like their child’s teacher to send text messages to their mobile device about class or school news (vs. 48% of parents nationwide).  
  • However, only 27% of Texas teachers say they are currently using text messaging to communicate with their students’ parents.   
In our review of the data, we noted some interesting “disconnects” between the various groups when it came to access to mobile devices:  
  • While 75% of Texas students in grades 6-12 and 86% of school principals say it is important for every student to have access to a mobile device (laptop, tablet or Chromebook) in class to support schoolwork, 53% of Texas teachers say that their students do not have regular access to mobile devices to use in their classrooms.
  • Note: 57% of Texas high school students and 66% of Texas middle school students say that the use of technology in school increases their engagement and interest in the learning process.   
We asked about the state of online and virtual classes and found not only a disconnect, but a lack of preparedness by school districts for this mode of learning:
  • More than half of Texas school principals (56%) and parents (52%) think students should be required to take a fully online or virtual class as a high school graduation requirement, but only 34% of high school students agree. 
  • Much more work is necessary before such requirements can be implemented. Per Texas school principals, 74% say they are not offering any fully online or virtual classes for their students currently.  
  • Of those that are offering this type of learning experience, it is limited to the core subjects of English, math, science and social studies. Only 10% of Texas principals say they are offering online classes in world languages even though 25% of high school students say they would like to learn another language online.  
  • Note: Parents’ appreciation for online learning may be based upon their own personal experiences; 51% of Texas parents say they have taken an online class for their own work-related professional development.  
Students, parents, teachers and administrators in Texas have different views on the value of various digital tools and resources to support learning. When asked to identify the digital tools that should be included in an “ultimate school” for today’s learners, the Speak Up responses demonstrate that the different stakeholder groups do not yet share a common value proposition on many popular technology initiatives.  

Digital Tools for Ultimate School
TX Gr 6-8 students
Parents
Teachers
Principals
Internet access campus wide
78%
55%
76%
79%
Students use their own mobile devices at school for learning
71%
45%
45%
52%
Mobile apps for education
67%
61%
49%
62%
Digital content
65%
63%
56%
63%
Educational digital games
64%
24%
47%
49%
Online textbooks
60%
64%
50%
63%

As the national interest in the need to prepare students for STEM continues, we have asked about student interest in science, technology, engineering and math fields for years:
  • Aligning with national Speak Up data, 27% of Texas middle school students (Grades 6-8) say they are very interested in a STEM career field. But equally significant is the 36% who say that they are somewhat interested.  Supporting the idea that coding can be a meaningful way to increase student interest in STEM, 57% of Texas middle school students say they would be interested in taking an in-school or after-school class on how to learn to code.   
Across Texas, 83,881 total surveys were submitted; 40 Districts submitted at least 10 surveys; 362 schools submitted at least 10 surveys. Break down of participants: 70,090 K-12 Students, 7,939 Teachers & Librarians, 3,813 Parents (in English & Spanish), 783 School/District Administrators, 1,256 Community Members. 

All schools and districts around the country who registered for Speak up 2014 can access their data beginning tomorrow (2/4/15) for free at

Learn more about the Speak Up Research Project