ISTE’s policy priorities guide our policy and advocacy efforts at the federal and state levels, as well as inform our work with local policymakers, ISTE members, affiliates, partner associations, non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and coalitions in the U.S. and where ISTE works internationally. These priorities provide foundational direction in advancing the organization’s ends, vision and mission.

ISTE has a long history of engaging in federal and state advocacy to champion policies, legislation and regulations that create the conditions for educators to transform teaching and learning. ISTE is proud of our track record for advocacy over the years, resulting in increased federal funding for professional development, state and national adoption of the ISTE Standards, expanded funding for school connectivity, and drawing attention to the need for net neutrality protections and strong student data privacy laws. The following issues encompass six areas that are vital for federal and state government leaders to fully support for America’s students to thrive in school and in the workforce of the future.


ISTE positions on key policy issues

Creating the conditions for effective learning

The following key issues are pivotal to advancing ISTE’s mission and vision.

  • Educator preparation and professional development
  • Broadband internet for learning
  • Student privacy and security
  • Digital citizenship
  • Higher ed modernization
  • Computer science and computational thinking

Our vision

ISTE’s vision is that all educators are empowered to harness technology to accelerate innovation in teaching and learning, and inspire learners to reach their greatest potential.

 

Our mission

ISTE inspires educators worldwide to use technology to innovate teaching and learning, accelerate good practice and solve tough problems in education by providing community, knowledge and the ISTE Standards, a framework for rethinking education and empowering learners.

 

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Educator preparation and professional development

 

Technology provides educators with a wealth of tools and resources for engaging students, personalizing learning and closing equity gaps in ways never before imagined. However, effectively selecting, using and evaluating digital resources and tools for learning requires sustained, high-quality professional learning opportunities for all educators. Educator preparation programs have the responsibility to prepare incoming educators with the skills they need to thrive in today’s technology-rich classrooms.It’s also imperative that in-service educators keep up with the opportunities technology provides to ensure high-quality learning experiences. Educational leaders also need the skills to establish the vision for how technology will be used to support top-quality instruction in their schools.

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ISTE's policy positions:

  • ISTE supports policies that update teacher preparation programs to focus on the intersection of pedagogy, content and technology skills.
  • ISTE supports policies that strive to ensure all educators have opportunities to continually update and expand their effective use of technology through sustained, high-quality professional learning.
  • ISTE supports policies that enable educational leaders to gain the expertise to lead digital learning transformation and evaluate teachers’ effective use of technology.
  • ISTE recommends that teacher evaluation instruments measure educators’ abilities to effectively implement digital tools and resources in the learning environment to improve learning and close achievement gaps.
  • ISTE supports funding for meaningful professional development programs on the national, state and local levels. In the U.S., ISTE supports full funding for Title II-A and Title IV-A of ESSA.

Broadband internet for learning

World leaders recognize that in our interconnected world, high-speed internet connectivity is a requirement for a strong national economy. This includes ensuring reliable broadband access for students and educators at school and at home. However, in the U.S. and around the world, there are still schools that don’t have the network capacity necessary to meet the demands of today’s digital learning environments. In addition to support learning, we believe governments should adopt principles of net neutrality. Connectivity should be free from preferential pricing, throttling and other tactics that could impair the learning experience for students and educators, raise the costs of online educational materials and stifle innovation.

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ISTE's policy positions:

  • ISTE supports efforts to provide high-speed broadband to the classroom to enable digital learning in schools.
  • ISTE will continue to lead efforts to protect the U.S. E-Rate program and hold it as an effective model for other countries to adopt.
  • ISTE is opposed the removal of net neutrality protections and supports efforts to reinstitute net neutrality rules.
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    Student privacy and security

    As nations wrestle with balancing laws to protect citizens’ privacy against keeping access to tools and information open, student data privacy is becoming an area of global interest. With the advances in digital learning tools and online resources, it’s critical to ensure national and state privacy laws and regulations adequately protect students in the digital age without stifling innovation.

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    ISTE's policy positions:

    • ISTE is steadfast in its support for protecting student privacy and ensuring that school networks are secure globally.
    • ISTE supports policies that balance the benefits of personalized learning, data-driven decision-making and innovation with the priority to protect student information.
    • ISTE supports policies that educate school personnel about the legal requirements for protecting student privacy, precautions they must take and ways to strengthen school networks.
    • In the U.S., ISTE supports revamping the existing Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) statute but remains wary of any legislation that supports excessive punitive fines on school districts for inadvertent violations.

     

    Digital citizenship

    In today’s interconnected digital world, it’s critical that all students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and collaborating in virtual spaces, and act in ways that are safe, legal and ethical. It’s critical that educators inspire students to positively contribute to and respectfully participate in the digital world. ISTE believes that digital citizenship extends beyond online safety to include understanding of how to use technology to improve the community, engage in democratic processes, engage respectfully with people of differing viewpoints online and distinguish between true and false digital information. All educators must model behavior that recognizes the global, social, ethical, legal and human issues and responsibilities related to an evolving digital culture.

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    ISTE’s policy positions:

    • ISTE supports policies that promote digital citizenship in schools across the globe, ensure equitable technology access for all students and address their diverse needs.
    • ISTE supports training for educators that helps them inspire a culture of innovation and collaboration, create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions, and help students engage in safe, legal and ethical practices.

     

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    Higher ed modernization

    America’s higher education institutions are are charged with the vital responsibility of preparing the future workforce, scholars and civic leaders. However, many postsecondary institutions lag elementary and secondary education when it comes to using technology to improve access and empower learners. In addition, technology can help higher education be more cost-effective and more effectively meet the needs of today’s learners -- particularly those who may be balancing work and family responsibilities. To address this need, universities and colleges need to fundamentally reconsider the design of their learning experiences and student support services based on technologies that hold the key to making an affordable, high-quality postsecondary education available to everyone.

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    ISTE's policy positions:

    • ISTE supports policies that leverage technology to expand access for all learners, particularly those who have been traditionally underserved by higher ed, close achievement gaps, increase completion rates, lower the cost of access and materials, and enable fluid transitions between college and career.
    • In the U.S., ISTE supports incorporating the ISTE Standards for Educators into the reauthorization and modernization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

     

    Computer science and computational thinking

    Leaders and educators around the world have the enormous responsibility of preparing students to harness the power of computing to create critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Computational thinking is a powerful ingredient for solving ambiguous, complex and open-ended problems by drawing on principles and practices central to computer science. ISTE acknowledges that women and minority groups are underrepresented in the STEM, computer science and coding fields. Educational systems must prepare all learners to become computational thinkers who understand how today’s digital tools can help solve tomorrow’s problems.

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    ISTE's policy positions:

    • ISTE supports federal and state grant preferences and direct funding to support greater availability of and access to computer science courses. In the U.S., ISTE supports the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) Title IV-A flexible grant program that allows districts to use a significant portion of their annual allocations for computer science instruction and a smaller percentage for necessary equipment.
    • ISTE supports greater diversity in the STEM, computer science and coding fields and will continue to partner with organizations focused on increasing the number of women and minorities in those fields.

     

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