How Do Education Leaders Know if an Edtech Tool is Likely to Work? – Digital Promise

How Do Education Leaders Know if an Edtech Tool is Likely to Work?

April 9, 2024 | By and

The edtech marketplace is rapidly evolving to meet a multitude of priorities that boil down to a single question: Will the edtech tool do what it claims for my community’s learners? District and state education leaders are beginning to reject the status quo with edtech procurement and demanding vendors be held accountable for their claims. And we’re here for it!

We’re thrilled to launch the Evidence-Based Edtech product certification and relaunch the Research-Based Design product certification to support education leaders with quickly identifying edtech intentionally designed for learning. These certifications align with the ESSA Tiers of Evidence to lift some of the edtech evaluation from districts while enabling them to comply with federal regulatory guidance.

“As a district leader in Lynwood Unified, leveraging Digital Promise’s evidence-based edtech product certification enables more strategic technology decisions and improved utilization, directly enhancing student learning outcomes,” said Patrick Gittisriboongul, assistant superintendent of technology and innovation at Lynwood Unified School District. “This approach positions our district to effectively meet the diverse needs of students, ensuring access to high-quality resources and preparing them for future academic and personal success.”

The timing for change is critical. As stimulus funding wraps up, education leaders need to leverage robust evaluation systems to determine which tools to continue with renewals, which contracts to terminate, and whether new edtech would support key goals and initiatives. Through these processes, many states and communities will need to halve—and in some instances, even more—the number of existing edtech product contracts to support their learners. We believe this work is essential to connecting each learner with high-quality edtech.

“We are at a critical moment in the evolution of educational technology, where the promise of innovation meets the rigor of evidence-based practices,” said Kristina Ishmael, former deputy director at the Office of Educational Technology. “The launch of Digital Promise’s new product certification marks a step towards elevating the standard of edtech tools and ensuring products are rooted in proven educational methods. It’s more than just a certification—it’s a beacon of trust and quality in edtech that will help shape the future of teaching and learning.”

How do education leaders leverage this certification?

A growing movement of districts and consortiums have begun leveraging certifications in a variety of ways, including adding a weighted question about certification status to Request for Proposals (RFPs), requiring certifications as a filter for vendor pitches, and incorporating certification status as a weighted component to internal program evaluation. Through recent innovations like Outcomes-Based Contracting (OBC) and the Edtech Joint Power Authority (Ed Tech JPA) in California, learning communities are working together to reimagine how to determine if an edtech tool is the right fit. These ESSA-aligned certifications can support districts in evaluating vendor bids from an RFP as they engage with OBC to increase the likelihood that the vendor achieves the outcomes goals.

“It is important for edtech vendors to show districts that their research is valid and the product has been shown to work with actual students,” said Jeremy Davis, assistant superintendent of innovation and instructional support in Fullerton School District. “That is one of the reasons we have added Digital Promise product certifications to the Ed Tech JPA Request for Proposal processes (purchasing ed tech for 2 million students in California). Districts want to know when they are trying to choose vendors if they have certifications or not, and that certification can be a tiebreaker with competing products.”

Check out our district resources to learn how to incorporate product certifications into your evaluation and procurement processes.

Join the ecosystem by signing the Edtech Evidence & Integrity Pledge to signal to vendors that you demand evidence of high-quality, research-based edtech for your learners. We encourage edtech teams interested in supporting this ecosystem to apply now!

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