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U.S. Department of Education Releases 2016 National Education Technology Plan

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Education announced today the release of the 2016 National Education Technology Plan and new commitments to support personalized professional learning for district leaders across the country working to improve teaching and student achievement through the effective use of technology.

Updated every five years, the plan is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. The 2016 plan outlines a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology.

“Technology has the potential to bring remarkable new possibilities to teaching and learning by providing teachers with opportunities to share best practices, and offer parents platforms for engaging more deeply and immediately in their children's learning,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “It can change the experiences of students in the most challenging circumstances by helping educators to personalize the learning experience based on students’ needs and interests—meeting our students where they are and challenging them to reach even higher. This year’s update to the National Education Technology Plan includes a strong focus on equity because every student deserves an equal chance to engage in educational experiences powered by technology that can support and accelerate learning.”

The plan calls for schools and districts to:

  • Redesign teacher preparation programs to shift from a single technology course to thoughtful use of technology throughout a teacher’s preparation and minimum standards for higher education instructors’ tech proficiency.
  • Set an expectation of equitable access to technology and connectivity inside and outside of school regardless of students’ backgrounds.
  • Adopt high-quality openly licensed educational materials in place of staid, traditional textbooks.
  • Implement universal design principles for accessibilityacrossall educational institutions and include these principles within teacher preparation programs.
  • Improve technology-based assessments to allow for embedded delivery within instruction and making near real-time feedback for educators possible.
  • Establish a robust technology infrastructure that meets current connectivity goals and can be augmented to meet future demand.

“Today we set a new vision for technology to support learning and have assembled an unprecedented coalition of partners dedicated to making sure that vision becomes practice to transform the learning of all students,” said Director of the Office of Educational Technology Richard Culatta.

In addition to the release of the plan, the Department celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Future Ready initiative with the announcement of new commitments including the launch of 17 statewide Future Ready initiatives. Since the launch of Future Ready in 2014, more than 2,000 superintendents across the country have signed the pledge and committed to foster and lead a culture of digital learning in their district and to share what they have learned with other districts. More than 44 national and 12 regional partner organizations have committed to helping states, districts and schools become Future Ready.

The Department’s Office of Educational Technology also unveiled a set of professional learning resources to help district superintendents and their teams to effectively lead the transition to digital learning. These resources include personalizable video playlists for district leaders that highlight exemplary, peer-based stories and practices from districts across the country.

“Through collaboration, a robust infrastructure and personalized learning, Future Ready district leaders are shaping the vision for how technology can transform learning for all students,” said Delegated Deputy Secretary of Education John King.

Future Ready commitments

  • The Alliance for Excellent Education has launched a new, independent entity called Future Ready that will lead the charge for ongoing Future Ready work. The new Future Ready website features a one-stop resource center for ongoing professional learning opportunities including partner events, workshops, online chats, mentoring and topic conversations all aligned to the Future Ready Framework. These high-quality, curated Future Ready resources, are provided by the Alliance, the Department and coalition partner organizations. A free online planning tool called the Future Ready Planning Dashboard helps district leadership teams assess readiness, identify gaps, choose research-based strategies, and create a customized digital learning action plan.
  • The Future Ready coalition includes 44 national partner organizations and 12 new regional organizations. In addition to supporting Future Ready, coalition partners have also been specifically asked to contribute resources that align to the four key Future Ready focus areas: Collaborative Leadership, Robust Infrastructure, Personalized Professional Learning, and Personalized Student Learning.
  • Future Ready partners are launching extension programs such as toolkits, webinars, courses, workshops and mentoring programs to provide support for districts and states as they transform teaching and learning in their schools. At least four in-person workshops and monthly virtual dashboard training sessions will also be available. These implementation support programs can be found at
  • Seventeen states are launching Future Ready statewide initiatives designed to capture and harness the momentum of the national effort. The states are: California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. With the exception of California, all statewide initiatives are sponsored by the state departments of education. The Future Ready California Initiative is co-sponsored by CUE, TICAL and CALSA.
  • The Department will hold five regional Future Ready summits in 2016 in Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; and Tampa, Florida. The summits are open to district leadership teams from districts where the superintendent has signed the Future Ready District Pledge. Corporate partners Apple, Google, Microsoft and McGraw Hill have committed to provide support for 2-day regional summits and 1-day dashboard training workshops.

For more on the work of the Department’s Office of Educational Technology, visit