Which US States Are Most ‘Future Ready’ For Digital Learning?

School Infrastructure

Which US States Are Most ‘Future Ready’ For Digital Learning?

By Michael Winters     Sep 10, 2015

Which US States Are Most ‘Future Ready’ For Digital Learning?

The Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology has been on the road this year. From Providence to Phoenix, the government’s team has criss-crossed the country encouraging school district leaders to sign the Future Ready Pledge, which first launched in early 2014. Signing the pledge marks a commitment to implementing meaningful changes toward being a technology-integrated district that “supports teachers and addresses the district’s vision for student learning.”

But where has the government’s efforts been most successful? After over a year of signups and 13 summits across the country, where had the Future Ready Pledge caught on fastest?

To find out, we pulled data from the Future Ready Register and the National Center for Education Statistics. We looked at the the percentage of districts signed up in each state and found that the Future Ready Pledge is indeed much more popular in some places than others:

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Rhode Island (70% of districts), South Carolina (53%) and Maryland (48%) lead the way among states with more than one school district. Hawaii, which according to Joseph South, Deputy Director of the Office of Education Technology, “functions essentially as a single district,” signed up as a state and has implemented a State-Wide Future Ready Learning Plan. Perhaps most impressive among the states with strong Future Ready showings is California, which has signed up nearly 25% of its 1,000-plus districts.

What explains the quick adoption of the pledge in some states? “Generally in states where we had significant adoption someone at the state level was very active in getting districts involved,” explains Richard Culatta, Director of the Office of Education Technology. “In Rhode Island...the State Department of Education encouraged schools to sign the pledge. In California it was actually several superintendents who helped encourage their colleagues to participate.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Vermont (1% of districts), Montana (2%) and Oklahoma (3%) have seen the lowest turnout so far. Culatta expressed optimism that the next phase of the Future Ready project will improve these participation rates. This new effort, he says, will “work with district leaders in underrepresented areas to encourage their colleagues to join” and help “states to improve communication to the districts about Future Ready.”

Have the Department’s regional summits have any impact on the number of signers? The data suggests so. None of the states who have hosted a summit can be found in the bottom 10; Colorado ranks lowest among these states at 35th among all states (5%).

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