Evaluation of LAUSD’s Instructional Technology Initiative - Year 2 Report

Jonathan B. Margolin, Jessica Heppen, Erin Haynes, Kristin Ruedel, John Meakin, Jordan Rickl

The Instructional Technology Initiative (previously called the Common Core Technology Project) is the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)’s signature investment in technology. Originally planned to provide technology devices to every teacher and student in the 640,000-student district, ITI aimed to transform learning throughout the district by providing interactive and engaging learning environments, supporting implementation of the Common Core State Standards with digital curriculum materials and assessment, and closing the “Digital Divide” by ensuring that all students have access to 21st century technology.

AIR conducted an external evaluation of the implementation and outcomes of the initiative starting in spring 2014. This report is intended to provide formative feedback to inform district plans for re-envisioning ITI, based on the first two years of implementation, from which many lessons learned can be gleaned.

The primary evaluation questions addressed in this report are as follows:

  1. What is the continuing nature and effectiveness of the district planning and assistance for ITI and other technology-integration programs? What, if any, improvements are recommended to maximize the potential for program success in subsequent years?
  2. How was technology used by teachers and students in the ITI and non-ITI schools
  3. In what ways did schools differ with respect to models and strategies for technology integration?
  4. Based on a synthesis of the findings, what are the recommendations to the district?1

The Year 2 evaluation examined the degree to which the district implemented its planned strategy for ITI during the 2014–15 school year, depicted the progress of schools in implementing local support for technology use, and observed the degree to which technology was integrated in classroom instruction.

Key Findings

In general, we found that the district and ITI schools made steady progress relative to the previous year, particularly with building essential infrastructure for deploying devices, training teachers, engaging with parents, and providing technical support. At the same time, however, the district has not yet arrived at a solution for several organizational and technical challenges. Ongoing challenges and areas where less progress occurred included: deploying devices in a timely manner, communicating with schools, coordinating efforts with other instructional initiatives, and clarifying a vision for technology use in instruction. The district has publicly acknowledged these challenges and has initiated several efforts to address them. Schools also made progress with implementing key support structures for technology, and classroom technology use appeared to be more frequent than during the previous year. However, the ways that technology was used in the classroom were similar to the last year, and access to and use of high-quality digital resources remained limited.

Principal Researcher