Technology in Texas Public Schools

January 23, 2014

Texas school districts have struggled to get teachers engaged in using technology, according to a new report from James Golsan, an education policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and research associate Brandy Alexander.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation interviewed officials in 27 school districts to assess how well schools were putting technology into classrooms, finding wide variation in technology use:

  • Some classrooms were equipped with Smart board technology, but the boards were never used. Similarly, anecdotal evidence indicated that personal computers -- purchased specifically for classroom use -- were rarely if ever utilized.
  • Sixty-three percent of the districts are using online courses to help students who are at risk of not graduating. These courses allow students to move at their own pace and have helped struggling students remain in school.

The various districts pointed to different challenges in integrating technology into their schools:

  • More than 50 percent of the districts interviewed indicated that the most difficult part of technology integration has been getting teachers to buy into the programs. Many teachers struggle to find a way to implement the technology efficiently and lack experience in using the devices.
  • Forty-one percent of districts said that school funding was their biggest hurdle. However, Texas has tried to make access to technology funds available for schools. The Instructional Materials Allotment was created in 2011, allowing districts to use funds that are designated for instructional use to include technology-related devices and software.
  • Additionally, some schools employ a "Bring Your Own Device" policy, allowing students to bring their own computers from home into the classroom. These programs have certain challenges, though they can also reduce costs while increasing engagement.

Texas has a very strong digital learning policy when viewed on a national scale, ranking 11th out of all the states in a report conducted by Digital Learning Now. Finding cost-effective ways to maximize the number of students able to use technology will improve the growth of digital learning in the state.

Source: James Golsan and Brandy Alexander, "The Current State of Digital Integration in Texas Public Schools," Texas Public Policy Foundation, January 2014.

 

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