There are over a thousand school districts in the state of Texas, each one unique in its own way. Yet in spite of their differences, these districts all face very similar challenges when it comes to providing students with the education they require. Some of these, such as mental health and staff recruitment/retention, require districts to adopt a new mindset and new practices.
Others, however, require districts to completely rethink their approach to technology — these are the problems we’re going to discuss today. From interoperability to legacy tools, we’ll go over the answers to six of the most significant technology challenges facing Texas school districts.
Technical debt is a massive problem throughout the education sector, and Texas is no exception. Even a small school district might be supported by scores of different applications, platforms, and systems, all working in isolation from one another. Not only is this overwhelming, it’s also completely unsustainable — a cumbersome logistical nightmare defined by siloed data where teachers and administration often feel disconnected from one another.
It’s a problem for parents, too, as they often receive the same information from multiple platforms.
Given that simply retiring older tools may not be an option, districts need systems that can integrate with what they’re currently using as well as what they may plan to implement in the future. This not only helps them future-proof their technology, but also streamlines operations. And when everything is tied together, it’s much easier to get parents involved in education.
Ed-Fi compliant technologies help to consolidate a school district’s tech stack and allow them to meet their data security requirements.
Unfortunately, most school districts leverage EdTech solutions that work well enough from a practical standpoint, but typically struggle when it comes to providing a quality user experience and interface.
As a result, most people — administrators, educators, parents and students alike — find them hard to use and frustrating to navigate.
The reality is: it doesn’t matter how effective these tools are if the user experience makes it challenging to even use them at all.
Edsembli designed our platform for usability from the beginning. We wanted to make things as lightweight and intuitive as possible for both families and faculty. With features like customizable reports, single sign on, and intelligent automation, we’ve done precisely that.
Many districts are still far behind when it comes to technology. They need to catch up in order to ensure their students all have equal access to education. But between restrictive budgets, legacy systems and outdated processes, digital equity can seem like little more than a pipe dream.
Districts that successfully pursued digital transformation have run headfirst into another problem. They’re collecting mountains of information, but they have no real way to use it as they’re constantly playing catch-up in their efforts to parse available data. As a result, they’re losing potential insights on everything from student performance to internal operations.
The problem is twofold:
Again, Ed-Fi compliance is the first step to addressing the issue here. When using an Ed-Fi compliant platform like Edsembli, you know the data exchange between the various departments and systems will be completely seamless.
To put it bluntly, the support experience offered by most EdTech vendors leaves a lot to be desired. It’s incredibly difficult to reach support when you need it, and getting even basic assistance can often feel like an exercise in futility. This makes it even more challenging to get buy-in for new technology.
Aside from examining what current and former clients have to say about each prospective vendor, you can significantly reduce pushback by identifying change champions within your own district — people who can support your staff and guide them on using and implementing each new solution.
Traditionally, educators had to rely on their intuition and observational skills to determine when a student needed help. As a result, many students simply fell through the cracks. Teachers not only had no idea what was going on in the lives of their charges, they also had no idea how to intervene — or what each student even needed.
This remains an ongoing issue in Texas, particularly in light of ongoing concerns about school and student safety. While greater insights wouldn’t necessarily address the core issues, they could still help teachers gain a better understanding of their students. And in so doing, those educators could more effectively reach out to those students who need their help the most.
A student information system is the key here, allowing teachers to see everything including grades, absences, contact details, and past communications. At a glance, an educator can get a high-level view of what’s going on with each student’s education, all in one place. This makes intervention planning considerably easier, and helps ensure that students which might at one time have been overlooked can get the help they require.
There are some problems for which there are no easy answers, from financing to safety and security. These are issues well beyond the scope of any one vendor — or any single district. Likely as not, they’ll require industry-wide collaboration and cooperation.
In light of those big-picture problems, the technology challenges Texas educators must currently grapple with seem far more manageable. It’s largely just a matter of adopting and implementing the right platform. A matter of finding a platform that’s intuitive, interoperable, and budget-friendly.
A platform like the Edsembli Ecosystem.
Want to learn more about the Edsembli Ecosystem? Book a meeting today with Ashli Smith, Edsembli’s very own Texas-based Ecosystem expert!