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Schools must prepare for the technological demands of the Common Core
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 01, 2012 17:36 PM

As states' implementation deadlines for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) approach, the question on the minds of some educators and parents is, "How technologically prepared are schools for the Common Core?" The answer really depends on the district. However, even school systems that believe they are ready have to wonder if they have truly done enough.

The state of schools' technological infrastructure
In New Hampshire's Nashua School District, Superintendent Mark Conrad told The Union Leader that students are currently graduating without the skills they need to thrive in college. Thankfully, the CCSS exists to ensure this does not happen, and students either progress to higher education or the workforce with all the skills they need, including a knowledge of technology. As Nashua implements the Standards, the adoption of new technology is very much a priority, with students already using iPads in the classroom.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Department of Education officials believe their school districts do not have the appropriate funding necessary to purchase software, learning tools and other materials that could help them better implement the CCSS, Gotham Schools reported.

"We are bound to fall short if we raise the standards without investing in the support that educators need to meet this challenge," Shael Polakow-Suransky, the deputy chancellor for the City's Department of Education said, as quoted by the news source.

What type of technology is needed?
If parents and teachers are wondering what technology today's children need to become comfortable using, they should think about modern colleges and work environments. At the collegiate level, students must know how to conduct research using the internet, while workers in many professions spend much of their day in front of a computer, emailing coworkers and customers.

For school districts, however, the purchase of a few new computers does not mean they are ready to handle the CCSS, as bandwidth needs should also be a concern, according to the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). This past May, the Association released a report titled "The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs."

Bandwidth is essentially the amount of data that can be consumed by a network. In its report, SETDA believes that by the 2014-2015 academic year, schools will require "external internet connections to their internet service provider of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students." Furthermore, institutions will need "1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff" before the 2017-2018 academic year.

"Addressing teacher and student concerns regarding educational broadband reliability and speed is as critical as ensuring plumbing and electricity in schools," said Douglas Levin, SETDA's executive director. "This report highlights the need for the federal government, states, districts and schools to invest not only in school broadband infrastructure but also more broadly to ensure students can access learning resources both in and out of school."

Trouble for rural schools
For school districts located in rural districts, internet connectivity issues may become a problem as more students head online under the CCSS. That is because internet architecture is not dissimilar to a municipal water system, Denise Atkinson-Shorey, a Colorado-based educational technology consultant, told Education Week. The core network is the central water supply and the middle-mile connections are the pipes that carry water to homes.

"They haven't built the pipes out to get it there, so even if they could find the dollars to buy additional bandwidth, it's not there, it doesn't exist," Atkinson-Shorey said.



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