- Rhode Island is setting the standard for how to handle educational technology strategy at the state and local level.
- The state is embracing a greater level of autonomy, a reality which is likely to increase in the Every Student Succeeds Act era. Rhode Island is doing this by encouraging experimentation with new teaching and learning models without fear of stringent accountability guidelines via a professional learning and teacher mentorship program called Fuse RT, developed in part with local nonprofit Highlander Institute.
- Leaders hope to see the state become a model example for the use of teacher-leadership, according to The Hechinger Report, and it's already sharing its personalized learning best practices with Syracuse, NY, through a "SyraFuse" program.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a considerable amount of decision-making power around strategy, accountability and more is expected to return to the state and local level. Rhode Island is among states that have a head start on that, alongside New Hampshire, for example, where experimentation with competency-based models has been top-of-mind for years.
That Rhode Island is forging ahead of the pack on ed tech strategy, especially when it comes to teacher leadership, is no surprise. The state's efforts were up until recently guided by Richard Culatta, who had served as its chief innovation officer after leaving his role as director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology. He recently became CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, where he'll once again have an opportunity to influence strategy on a national level.
One of his primary focuses has been ensuring that schools aren't simply digitizing the traditional approach. As he told us in 2015, "We need to be using technology to really transform learning, to really turn students into creators and give them the tools to design and invent and engage and not just do digital worksheets."