Funds For Learning Reveals Initial Insights to E-Rate Program Impact 
Preliminary results from the seventh annual nationwide survey of applicants reinforce the vitality of the E-rate Program for schools and libraries

Edmond, Okla. (June 26, 2017) – Changes in leadership in the White House and the FCC have raised questions regarding the promise of the E-Rate Program to deliver safe and proper broadband connections to students in the U.S. In an effort to understand how the largest federally funded education program serves schools and libraries, Funds For Learning has conducted its annual E-rate applicant survey to gather important insights about the 2017 filing window. According to initial feedback, E-rate recipients continue to rely on E-Rate funding to provide connectivity for schools and libraries across the nation.

“Certainly, the E-rate program is not without its challenges, but the fundamental nature of the program remains as strong as ever,” said John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning. “While the political climate has shifted, one thing has remained the same: E-rate is vital and will continue to play an indispensable role in connecting schools and communities.”

For the preliminary results, click here.


ClassTag Bridges the Technological Divide to Engage 100% of Parents


ClassTag supports personalized communications with all parents, whether they have a smart phone, a cell phone or are entirely offline


JUNE 26, 2017 – SAN ANTONIO: ClassTag, a free parent engagement app for teachers and schools, announces it has integrated printing to its intelligent multi-channel communication suite to support reaching all parents wherever they are. Supporting the web, mobile app, SMS and printed messages for children’s backpacks, ClassTag gives teachers a simple, one-step process for ensuring that each parent gets important classroom information in the format they prefer. ClassTag is the first service to support personalized, meaningful, two-way communication with all parents regardless of what devices they use, even if they are entirely offline.

While technology has helped improve communications inside classrooms, a lack of technology adoption is creating roadblocks for many families. Today, 13% of U.S. adults do not use internet, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.  In rural areas, the technological divide is even more striking with 39% of Americans without ‘advanced’ services that enable users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video, according to Federal Communications Commission.

Despite the rapid increase in schools’ adoption of technology to communicate with parents, many teachers still struggle with parent engagement. ClassTag’s survey of teachers found that a majority of teachers (53%) reported feeling “sad” or “frustrated” by the lack of parent engagement in their classrooms.

Some of this disconnection may be caused by poor communication systems, including inaccurate contact information, lack of internet access, language barriers, or just an overwhelming amount of information coming from schools to busy parents. According to Education Week, parents’ usage of various tools remains unsatisfactory, particularly in Title 1 schools and other communities with limited access to a cellphone or computer.

ClassTag is the only application addressing the real reasons behind the lack of engagement from the ground up. The groundbreaking innovation lies in dissecting key breaking points in parent engagement and bridging the gap between online and offline communications.

“Adding more apps to the mix won’t work because we simply don’t have 100% internet penetration. If we rely on email and websites alone, we are accepting that someone will be left out,” explains Vlada Lotkina, ClassTag CEO. “Our solution is an all-in-one platform for managing everything from contact accuracy to identifying the gaps in parent engagement and proactively managing them, across online and offline communication channels.”

ClassTag’s new feature gives teachers smart, actionable alerts and recommendations. If a family isn’t being reached via email or mobile app, the chatbot-inspired assistant will recommend printing a personalized paper copy of announcements, reminders and schedules to be sent home in children’s backpacks to those harder-to-reach parents. ClassTag intelligently produces personalized communication to each and every parent, no matter what their preferred communication channel. Reaching non-English speaking parents will also become much easier thanks to new translation functionality to be released later this summer.

As Danielle Fugazzi, a kindergarten teacher, puts it: “My main challenge is to reach all parents and get them to respond. Too often teachers engage the same families over and over, but those that need this connection the most seem to be missing out. ClassTag understood the very heart of the issue and giving me the opportunity to confidently reach all families and print out the personalized newsletters and announcements for parents who aren’t online or who don’t regularly read their emails.”

“We developed this functionality based on our users’ feedback to help them with the everyday struggles every teacher faces. ClassTag now acts like an assistant who spots missing connections and automatically provides actionable recommendations, taking the guesswork out of engagement and making the mission of reaching 100% of parents possible,” says Lotkina.


About ClassTag

ClassTag is a cloud-based app that helps schools engage parents in their community and improve the quality of family support in education. Founded by two experienced entrepreneurs who met through their children’s preschool, ClassTag is designed to meet their own needs and the needs of their kids’ teachers. Based in New York City, ClassTag is currently in its second year of operation and has been adopted by leading private and public schools across the country. Recently, Entrepreneur Magazine named ClassTag as one of “4 Startups Revolutionizing the EdTech World”.  To learn more, visit:


ISTE Releases New Standards for Educators to Maximize Learning for All Students Using Technology

Educator feedback guided the development of new 2017 ISTE Standards for Educators


San Antonio – June 25, 2017 – Technology in classrooms across the country looks very different than it did almost a decade ago when ISTE last released standards aimed at teachers. Today the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) released an updated version of the ISTE Standards for Educators, which supports educators by providing a framework for learning, teaching and leading that is amplified by technology. ISTE CEO Richard Culatta provided a preview of the new 2017 ISTE Standards for Educators today at ISTE’s 2017 Conference & Expo in San Antonio.


The Standards for Educators were last updated in 2008, when the focus was on supporting learning with technology. For this update, ISTE received input and feedback from 2,200 educators and administrators from around the globe. These standards reflect an evolution in education focusing on the promise technology has for empowering learning and the teaching profession.


Educator Curt Mould from Sun Prairie Area School District in Wisconsin collaborated with 10 other members of the Standards Technical Working Group for over a year, listening and sifting through research and feedback from the field to ensure the new standards would effectively support and inspire educators in their classrooms. They focused on areas such as making sure educators are preparing students to be responsible citizens in the digital age and are able to grasp new technologies to help all students succeed.


“We received an incredible amount of feedback that helped us create a roadmap that would be easy for educators to adopt and be helpful to students,” said Mould, who is director of innovation, assessment and continuous improvement for Sun Prairie. “We are excited about these new standards and empowering educators to embrace them and tailor them to meet the needs of all of their students.”


The seven Educator Standards are:

  1. Learner – Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.
  2. Leader – Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and improve teaching and learning.
  3. Citizen – Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.
  4. Collaborator – Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems.
  5. Designer – Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability.
  6. Facilitator – Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students.
  7. Analyst – Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals.


“The ISTE Standards for Educators set the vision for how educators can use technology to create next-generation learning environments,” said ISTE’s Culatta. “They reflect the transition from using technology to deliver content to using technology to empower learners – that empowerment also speaks to educators as valued professionals within their organizations and communities who are enabling student-centered learning and are entrusted to carry out their practice at the highest levels.”


The ISTE Standards provide a framework for learning, teaching and leading that is amplified by technology. They provide a roadmap for educators worldwide as they navigate decisions about curriculum, instruction, professional learning and the transformation of pedagogy with technology. These standards are refreshed every seven to 10 years to ensure they remain relevant and continue to prepare students for the future while allowing schools, districts and states to have time to adopt, implement and show an impact on learning. The ISTE Standards for Students were updated in 2016 and are already being used by educators around the world.


View the full Educator Standards and their indicators here.


ISTE 2017 marks the beginning of the process to refresh the ISTE Standards for Administrators, which will be released June 2018. Find more information here.


About ISTE

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is the premier membership organization serving educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world. ISTE serves more than 100,000 education stakeholders throughout the world.


Innovative offerings include the widely adopted ISTE Standards for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age — as well as the ISTE Conference & Expo — the world’s most comprehensive edtech event. The organization’s robust suite of professional learning resources feature online courses, consulting services for schools and districts, books, and peer-reviewed journals and publications. For more information, visit Subscribe to ISTE’s YouTube channel and connect with ISTE on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.



Getting Smart Releases Report Showing Connection Between Social and Emotional Learning and Minecraft
Study finds gaming can improve student SEL outcomes when supported by educators.
June 23, 2017 – A new report, How Minecraft Supports Social and Emotional Learning in K–12 Education, published by Getting Smart investigates the connection between classroom use of Minecraft and the social and emotional learning (SEL) outcomes of K– 12 students. Through interviews, a global survey and several case studies, the report provides an overview of SEL, insights on gaming in education and advice from educators on supporting a SEL program within a school.
Based on the responses gathered from a diverse group of educators representing 11 countries across four continents, the report is a deeper dive into the ways educators are incorporating gaming into their lessons via Minecraft: Education Edition to support their students’ SEL growth. Survey findings include:
● Nearly all teachers surveyed (97.7%) cited “problem solving” as the top SEL skill that their students learn from classroom Minecraft lessons and extracurricular participation in the game. Other top skills cultivated include creativity (95.5%), critical thinking (93.3%) and collaboration (91.1%).
● The majority of teachers also felt that their students’ decision-making (88.8%) and communication (86.6%) abilities were positively impacted by the time they spent playing Minecraft, whether working in small groups or individually.
● Just over half (51.1%) believe that Minecraft also enables students to build empathy skills. (This could be due to interactions with classmates, as well as with characters within the game.)
The report features interviews with Dr. Michelle Zimmerman, Renton Prep Christian School; Rody Boonchouy, Buck Institute for Education; and Jeff Gearhart, Brinnon School District.
It also includes several school case studies providing an inside view of how gaming is supporting student SEL outcomes at Renton Prep Christian School, International School in the Bellevue School District and Bryant Montessori from Tacoma Public Schools.
“It is clear from our research that Minecraft creates opportunities for transformational learning experiences,” says Caroline Vander Ark, Getting Smart COO. “However, we also found that the most critical component to connecting gaming and student SEL outcomes is the teacher. The educators we visited and spoke with were transparent about learning objectives, promoted student agency and independence and acted as learning guides.”
The Minecraft Education Team has a variety of workshops on site at ISTE 2017 June 25-28 in San Antonio if you want to learn more. If you’re #NotAtISTE this year, there will be live streaming content for educators around the globe. Visit this site to learn more:
About Getting Smart As a mission-driven organization Getting Smart® is passionate about accelerating and amplifying innovations in teaching and learning. Getting Smart Services designs customized partnerships to amplify and extend the work of those dedicated to impacting the way the world learns. Through our advocacy, advisory and coaching services, we work with impact-oriented partners to invent the future of learning. Our innovations in learning blog, is a community of learners and contributors that cover important events, trends, products and publications across K-12, early, post-secondary education and lifelong learning opportunities.