Technology Report 2021-22
School Board Work Session
December 12, 2022
Strategic Plan Report Summary
Title: Technology Report
Objective: The objective of this document is to report the state of technology systems functionality and on strategic key measurements of student and staff technology experience.
Data: Data on percentage of staff and students reporting adequate access to technology is provided through the 2021-22 staff and student surveys. Additional data sources for this report include the Help Desk System, Asset Management System, server and networking systems log files.
% teachers reporting adequate access to technology to support their instruction: NA
% students reporting adequate access to technology to support their learning: 93.6%
2020 Parent Survey - Remote Learning Experiences - Spring 2020
2020 BSD Certified Survey - Remote Learning - Spring 2020
- Despite the swift transition to remote learning and work in Spring 2020, students, parents, and staff report high satisfaction with technology and support.
- Spring and Fall device distributions at all elementary schools were conducted safely and efficiently for staff and parents.
- Addressing student connectivity needs for our most vulnerable students remains a challenge.
- Beaverton School District continues to experience an increase in the number of cyber security threats. The methods and sophistication of attacks have escalated with the move to remote learning and work.
- Work to increase technology support for students and staff continues through bond and general fund investments and is summarized in this report. While not inclusive of all projects within IT, the projects below represent work aligned to increasing staff and student satisfaction of how technology supports their work.
% teachers reporting adequate access to technology to support their instruction: 88.00%
% students reporting their school teaches them how to use technology responsibly: 83.2%
2022 BSD Student Survey – Technology Support for Student Learning
In the 2022 elementary student survey, students were asked about internet access outside of school. Although the number of elementary students responding in the 2022 student survey was almost double from student participation in the 2021 survey, the frequency of responses to internet access categories remained consistent with two exceptions. The first was that students reporting they access the internet through a mobile phone rose significantly.
The second notable change was that the percentage of students reporting they had no access to the internet outside of school dropped, with only 3% of participating elementary students selecting that option. At the elementary level, students do not take home devices and there is no expectation that elementary students use devices outside of the school day.
Middle School Students
Technology support questions were included in the middle school survey and in 2022, the survey respondents were in 7th grade. Students were asked if digital tools supported their learning, teacher Canvas use, whether their student device was their main device used for completing school work and if the student had adequate internet connectivity.
Student responses were over 90% in all areas except using the Chromebook as the main device outside of school. Over 3 out of 4 students reported the district issued Chromebook was their primary device used to complete school work outside of school.
High School Students
Students in high school were asked the same questions as middle school students and their responses were similar. High school students reported their learning is supported by digital tools, teachers are regularly using the Canvas learning management system and 94% of students report having adequate internet connectivity to access school work.
Although slightly lower than the 77% of students at the middle school level, 72% of high school students reported their district issued Chromebook is the primary device used to complete school work outside of the school day.
- Students and staff survey response indicate high satisfaction for technologies supporting student learning and staff work.
- IT department staff are successfully closing projects from the 2014 bond and beginning the next round of infrastructure and student device projects funded from the 2022 bond.
- Beaverton School District continues to experience an increase in the number of cyber security threats. The methods and sophistication of attacks escalated throughout the school year.
- Work to increase technology support for students and staff continues through bond and general fund investments and is summarized in this report. While not inclusive of all projects within IT, the projects below demonstrate work aligned to increasing staff and student satisfaction of how technology supports their learning and work.
The Beaverton School District has redundancy at the data center level, with 2 locations serving district network, telecommunications and system access needs and with either location able to assume full control of the district and continue operations in the event of an outage.
The IT network engineering team recently completed a core router replacement project. The district has multiple core routers at each data center to provide network connectivity and the existing core routers were approaching 10 years in age. They were no longer capable to meet increased network requirements and were approaching end of life. Working over a period of many months, the networking team completed the transition to the new core routers without any impact to the school or work day. In addition to increased security and management features, the new core routers are capable of supporting district networking needs for many years into the future to maximize our investment in this most critical component of the district network.
In 2014 the entire district network connection to the rest of the world was 500 MB, or .5 GB. This meant that all district network traffic shared a connection that is smaller than what is now used in many homes. At the start of the 2022 school year, the average network utilization on a school day was over 9 GB and very close to the district capacity of 10 GB. To address immediate connectivity concerns and allow for continued future growth, the networking team recently completed increasing our district network capacity from 10 GB to 40 GB. When compared to district capacity in 2014, this represents an 8,000% increase in network capacity.
Securing Beaverton School District networks, systems and data continues to be a primary area of focus for the IT Department. The cyber intelligence provider Check Point Research reports that education and research suffered a 114 percent increase in cyber attacks over the past two years, making it the most attacked industry sector.1 These attacks include account compromise, ransomware, unauthorized access, and disclosure of student and staff personal data. Worldwide, 64 percent of organizations in higher education and 56 percent in K-12 suffered ransomware attacks in 2021 2.
Every two years, an external security assessment is conducted to assess areas of strength and areas for improvement of our cybersecurity posture. The 2022 security assessment is in process and focusing upon these areas:
• Policies and practices
• Web application vulnerability
• Wireless network security
• External penetration test
• Internal penetration test
The assessment is aligned to standards defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and once the assessment is complete, IT Department staff will design the plan to address findings in the report. Over the past year, a number of significant cyber improvements have been accomplished. Among the notable improvements were the removal of administrative access on workstations, implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for staff users, and launching the Hoxhunt Security Awareness platform for staff training.
- Synergy Enhancements
- 2022 Bond Projects
- Student Device Replacement
- Infrastructure Improvement
- Dark Fiber Improvements
IT Department staff work closely with Teaching and Learning staff to ensure the Synergy student information system continues to meet needs of teachers and support the Teaching and Learning mission of the Beaverton School District.
This past year, the team completed the re-design of the Elementary Report Card to include and report student behavioral measures aligned to learning targets. This work involved significant programming adjustments to the teacher interface and synergy reports and the result is improved information for parents on student progress.
Secondary teachers and students use the Canvas learning management system in addition to the student information system. A past challenge has been connecting the student learning targets in Synergy to Canvas so they can be attached to formative assessments within Canvas. This year, the development team was able to design a solution to this constraint and for the 2022 school year, learning targets in Synergy are now automatically available for use in Canvas. This improvement saves teacher time and allows students to better understand assignment connections to subject learning targets.
In May of 2022, Beaverton voters approved the 2022 bond. The 2022 bond contains $44M of investments for student devices, networking upgrades and infrastructure support. Information Technology department staff are working on the following projects as part of the first year implementation of the 2022 bond.
The majority of monies allocated from the bond are used to replace student devices. Devices for high school students are scheduled to be replaced in fall of 2023 and devices for middle and elementary school students are scheduled to be replaced in fall 2024. To prepare for the next round of student devices, IT staff collaborated with Teaching and Learning staff to collect input from students and staff on instructional requirements for the next round of student devices. Vendor and device evaluation is in process with the team not only evaluating instructional use needs but also warranty, break/fix, and benchmarking to calculate total costs of ownership for student devices. This selection process should be complete within two months.
IT staff recently completed an upgrade of our virtual server environment. The Beaverton School District utilizes a hybrid application model, including both cloud and on-premises servers as part of our application service delivery. Now that the virtual server environment upgrade is complete, it is time to replace the hardware used by the virtual server environment and the team is designing the virtual server environment hardware replacement.
Dark fiber is a strategy of leasing fiber optic network cables and maintaining the electronics on the points where those network connections enter buildings to connect school and ancillary sites. The advantage of a dark fiber network is that monthly connection costs remain constant during the long-term lease agreement and the District has the ability to scale up network speeds by upgrading the electronics on the connections without incurring additional monthly costs.
In 2017 as part of the 2014 bond, High and Options school sites were connected to the district via a dark fiber connection. Construction has begun on phase 2 of the dark fiber network project and will connect half of elementary and middle schools. Construction should be complete in Spring 2023. The remaining schools will be in phase three which should be completed in Spring 2024.
When phase 3 is complete, all District sites will be on a long-term, leased fiber optic network. In addition to the ability to scale to meet future network needs, ownership of the network will allow IT staff to best secure and optimize the network.
A strength of the IT Department is that in addition to high levels of technology skills and knowledge, IT Department staff understand and embrace the importance of their work related to the teaching and learning of our students. As a result, the IT Department staff has maintained exceptional levels of service aligned to the IT Department Customer Service Standard.
At the end of every IT Help Desk ticket submitted, there is a chance for staff to provide feedback on how quickly IT resolved issues, the level of approachability and professionalism displayed, and our communication throughout troubleshooting the issue. Survey results on each question from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022 are above 96% ranking staff as excellent or good in each area.