EDTECH-ONLY: On April 16, the Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) unanimously voted to pass the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 bill. The bill is seen as a step toward reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and includes an amendment that has edtech advocates cheering.
The Innovative Technology Expands Children’s Horizons (ITECH) amendment outlines a competitive grants program for states with funds allocated specifically for edtech use. Areas covered by the grant include edtech-specific professional development for teachers and school leaders, digital resources to rural and underserved areas, and online courses to offer advanced students further instruction.
To apply, states would submit an application that explains how they plan to use the grant money to achieve the goals outlined in the amendment. States would also need to include an assurance that each school receiving grant money had conducted a technology readiness survey, and would take steps to address any readiness gaps within three years of completing the survey.
The amendment does not specify a particular survey to be used by schools, and simply defines it as, “a survey completed by a local educational agency that provides standardized information on the quantity and types of technology infrastructure and access available." But it looks like a good fit with the Future Ready District Assessment that the Department of Education has created in partnership with education organizations.
Next step along the edu-legislative road: the bill will be introduced to the Senate floor, where Senators can introduce additional amendments and debate the bill’s merits.