Solving the Problem of Human Capacity with CETL

A recent report from the Ford and MacArthur Foundations addresses the key need for more technology talent in government and civil society. The report, A Future of Failure? The Flow of Technology Talent into Government and Civil Society, stresses that institutions are desperate for technology talent, but have some trouble fostering sufficient human capacity. The conclusions and trends noted in the report mirror a lot of what’s going on in education today – and that’s why we created the CETL program. The CETL program addresses human capacity needs by improving the recruitment, training, and retention of CTOs.

CoSN, in collaboration with expert district leaders, built the Framework of Essential Skills of the K-12 CTO to define exactly what skills CTOs need to build modern learning environments. The CTO exam itself is based off the Framework, and verifies that the CTOs have the necessary knowledge.

The problem of recruiting, training, and retaining quality technology leaders is not unique to the K12 education space. According to the report, there are three disconnects in developing a robust pipeline across industries: 1) training and cultivating interest, 2) recruitment, and 3) retention. CoSN believes that these findings point to the importance of the CETL™ program in building the capacity of technology leaders in school systems to enable digital learning.

The report states that “…available technical and technology talent often lacked an appropriate understanding of policy processes and institutions.” That dual need is certainly also present in education technology. The Framework emphasizes the skills CTOs need to merge the technical and strategic aspects of their jobs. Whether in K-12 education, government, or civil society, technologists need an interdisciplinary knowledge base. That’s why our CETL program is so important; to be truly valuable, professional development has to do what the CETL does and provide a blend of practical knowledge, technical training, and visionary leadership.

K-12 education also experiences retention problems for CTOs and other administrative staff. As recognition and respect grow for CETL™ certified CTOs, retention in the field will improve. CoSN is also working with other national and local educational organizations to build connections that will improve the talent pipeline for district technology leaders.

As the report shows, the problem of human capacity is a broadly applicable one. We are very excited about the potential of our CETL program to alleviate this problem, build human capacity in education technology, and serve as a guideline for other industries. If you’re interested in partnering on the program, or if you want to get certified, email us at We’d love to hear from you!