CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) today released the findings from its 2018 K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report. The results show that school leaders place a high priority on cyber security and broadband / network capacity. Also, continuing the trend of previous years, budget constraints remain a top challenge for school technology leaders. 
The annual national survey provides the education community with insights from school system technology leaders on their challenges and priorities. The report was conducted with the support of Dude Solutions and MDR.
CoSN released the results ahead of the organization’s 2018 Annual Conference, which begins Monday, March 12 and runs until Thursday, March 15 in Washington, DC.
“Our national survey helps paint a clearer, current picture of the technology landscape in our nation’s schools,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “The results highlight the continued commitment that’s required to advance robust learning settings. CoSN stands ready to work with school system leaders to ensure they continue to become better equipped to address their challenges and modernize their educational environments.” 
 “IT leaders have a tremendous responsibility to their schools and students, all while staying on top of the latest trends in technology,” said Nick Mirisis, Vice President of Marketing at Dude Solutions. “That’s why we supported CoSN in better understanding the technology landscape and the sentiments of IT leaders and their peers. Armed with this data, we hope IT leaders are empowered to assess their priorities and make informed decisions for their schools that benefit student achievement.”
Here are the top 10 key findings from the report:
  1. Cyber security and broadband / network capacity are the top priorities for IT leaders. When asked to rate the importance of privacy and security of student data, 68 percent of IT leaders indicated that it was more important than the prior year.
  1. For the fourth straight year, budget constraints are the top challenge facing school technology leaders, followed by the unavailability of relevant training and professional development as well as the existence of silos in school districts.
  1. Integrating technology into the classroom continues to be the most understaffed IT function in schools. This has been the most understaffed IT function for three straight years by a significant margin. In addition, 43 percent of respondents said that they are “stretched too thin.”
  1. The transition from print to digital materials in school districts is taking longer than projected three years ago. In particular, three times as many districts (54 percent) are primarily print-based than were projected (16 percent) three years ago.
  1. Twice as many districts that are seeking to create a 1:1 (device-to-student) environment are providing the devices to students versus using Bring-Your-Own-Device strategies.
  1. School IT leaders are increasingly involved in the purchasing decisions of digital content. For 28 percent of districts, digital content cannot be purchased without their approval.
  1. School IT leaders are outsourcing less than they used to. The percentage of those who do not outsource any IT functions (e.g., support for users, software installation) has increased from 32 percent in 2013 to more than half this year.
  1. Women and men take different paths to school IT leadership posts. The majority of women arrive at their positions with an academic background in education and instruction compared to just one-third of men. The majority of male IT leaders have followed a technical path.
  1. Significant progress has been made in the transition to digital assessments. Eighty percent of school technology leaders are ready or almost ready to conduct Common Core or statewide high-stakes online assessments.
  1. Ninety percent of school IT leaders are white. This is the same percentage as prior years and shows no marked progress toward increased racial diversity in the field.
 “MDR is delighted to once again contribute to this survey and support the ongoing efforts of CoSN to support technology leadership and engagement,” said Kristina James, MDR Director of Marketing. “This year’s results further highlight the importance of technology as a tool for schools, and they demonstrate that empowering the use of technology is an ongoing conversation. In our latest K-12 market research, MDR examined the progress of technology implementation for both hardware and enterprise management systems. Several key technologies were given high ratings indicating full implementation. As schools continue to invest in technology, the issues highlighted in this report should be considered.”
About the IT Leadership Survey
This is the sixth consecutive year that CoSN has conducted the K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report. The findings of this year’s survey are based on more than 41,300 data points from 478 responses nationwide. The results largely reflect public school system IT Leaders. As in previous years, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents work in public schools, comprising 95 percent of total respondents. The survey results will help inform CoSN’s programming, initiatives and outreach efforts, as well as provide valuable information for CoSN, IT leaders, school districts and the organizations that serve school systems.