Partnering to Close the Digital Skills Gap for Oregon Students
Late in 2015, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was adopted with overwhelming support from the House and Senate and signed by President Obama, ushering in new priorities and goals for schools across the country. For the first time, computer science was included with other core subjects, such as writing, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in the definition of a “well-rounded education.”
Students in our home state of Oregon are getting a head start on ensuring they get a “well-rounded education” through a new partnership we’ve formed with the Oregon Elementary School Principals Association (OESPA), a division of the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). At almost the same time that the new federal regulations were being adopted, our partnership launched free access to Learning.com’s TechLiteracy Skills Inventory for all Oregon fifth graders. In just the first month since the initiative was launched, 25 Oregon school districts have registered to participate and many others have expressed interest.
Learning.com’s TechLiteracy Skills Inventory will help Oregon educators ensure that all students have the technology skills to successfully complete online tests, such as the Smarter Balanced assessment. The TechLiteracy Skills Inventory helps teachers gain a deep understanding of students’ technology skills by providing authentic and detailed, student-level reports. Teachers can use these reports to pinpoint technology skills that students are struggling with and identify teaching strategies that will help improve those skills.
To sign-up to receive the free TechLiteracy Skills Inventory, Oregon school administrators can go to www.learning.com/COSA and enroll their fifth-grade classes. Deadline for enrollment is February 19, 2016 and the assessment can be administered between January 4 and June 17, 2016.
Identifying gaps in and building students’ technology skills is crucial not just for learning today, but so they are prepared for the jobs of today and in the future. In July 2015, Fast Company magazine identified the city of Eugene here in Oregon as one of the Top 10 Cities for Technology Jobs, with 3,000 positions available. Nationwide millions of jobs go unfilled every year because there aren’t candidates with the skills – often in technology – to fill them. In fact, 71 percent of companies with unfilled positions are seeking qualified workers in technology or math.
As a digital publisher, we see firsthand how engaged in learning students are when using digital content and tools successfully. It is crucial to the future of our country, growth of the global economy and, most importantly, the lives of today’s students that we ensure they graduate with the digital skills necessary for success in school, college, the workforce and life. Through this unique partnership with OESPA and COSA, Learning.com is offering Oregon fifth graders an on ramp to success. We hope that all of the state’s more than 200 school districts participate in this important initiative.