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Inclusive Technology Ecosystems Wanted! National Center Seeks School Districts to Lead Changes in EdTech and Assistive Technology

The Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems (CITES) is teaming up with districts across the country to find out what works in creating and sustaining effective technology systems in schools. Is your district ready and willing to be part of this work?

Many schools across the country have made strides in improving collaboration between assistive technology (AT) and educational technology (EdTech). Coordinating efforts is a first step toward improving access to digital learning opportunities for students with disabilities. But how is interdependence between AT and EdTech achieved in a way that leads to inclusive technology ecosystems?


Led by CAST and American Institutes for Research (AIR), CITES is a national technical assistance (TA) center funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. We’re partnering with select districts to identify practices that support and sustain balanced, inclusive technology ecosystems in schools. The goal is to produce the CITES Framework, which will be built on research and evidence-based practices that can be scaled and used nationally. What we learn in the process will inform our ongoing TA products and services for school district personnel and families.

Partner with Us

CITES will be selecting up to 10 school districts to create a cohort of Framework Development Districts. Will your district be one? If selected, the CITES team will provide TA, resources, and coaching as your district team implements promising and evidence-based practices identified for consideration in the CITES Framework. Practices related to district leadership, instruction, and family support will be selected. Together we’ll find what works in the coordination of AT and edtech and, ultimately, inclusive technology ecosystems in schools.

How It Works

We are looking for districts that will commit to a three-year partnership. As a Framework Development District, you will establish a cross-disciplinary team and implement up to three evidence-based practices per academic year. Practices are broadly defined as tools, guidelines, protocols, or strategies that show evidence of improving technology systems for learners with disabilities. During each implementation, the CITES team will provide training, resources, coaching, and data collection instruments. An annual $1,000 stipend will be provided to support districts with self-selected supplies and materials.

In addition to activities related to implementation of practices, Framework Development Districts will be connected to one another to form a CITES Cohort. The CITES team will facilitate routine opportunities for districts in the cohort to exchange resources, share findings, and solve common problems.

Finally, CITES will rely on our Framework Development Districts to help in the dissemination of our findings about what works in creating balanced, sustainable inclusive technology ecosystems. If you’re interested in being in the national spotlight as a change agent, being a Framework Development District can make that happen! Consider telling your story in a video, over a webinar, or co-presenting at a national conference with us.

Responsibilities of Framework Development Districts

If selected to be in the CITES Framework Development District Cohort, your district will be expected to:

  1. Establish and sustain a cross-disciplinary team
    1. Establish a core team that represents multiple roles, including administration, instructional staff, technology, and at least one parent. The core team will have leadership responsibilities for communicating with the CITES team, overseeing the implementation of practices, collecting data, and participating in the Framework Development Cohort. You can invite other members of your district to participate in the project as needed.
    2. Sustain the core team for a minimum of three years. While it’s expected that individuals will leave, they should be replaced as soon as possible to maintain a balanced cross-disciplinary team.
    3. Seek support from your state leaders in AT, EdTech, and special education for resources, TA, and data. CITES will provide contact information and a sample request letter.
  2. Engage in the CITES Framework development
    1. Pilot evidence-based practices to be considered for inclusion in the CITES Framework. Annual implementation cycles of three to six months for each selected practice will be established. Each cycle will begin with the CITES team hosting a one-hour kick-off virtual conference to provide background information and resources for the selected practice. A two-hour virtual training will prepare your district for implementation. Coaching and feedback from CITES will be available during the implementation period while your district monitors progress and collects data. The cycle will end with a one-hour wrap-up virtual conference.
  3. Participate in the National CITES Cohort
    1. Collaborate with other Framework Development Districts during quarterly one-hour virtual conferences by exchanging resources, sharing findings, and solving common problems.
  4. Optional: Help CITES disseminate our findings
    1. As a TA center, CITES will be providing national resources and training on what works in creating and sustaining balanced, inclusive technology ecosystems in school districts. We may invite your district to contribute to this body of work.

Benefits of Being a Framework Development District

Why partner with CITES?

  • Receive high quality TA, at no cost to you. If your district has been grappling with problems caused by AT and EdTech silos, our team will help you. The CITES team is made up of experienced and respected professionals in the field of AT and EdTech. More information is available by following the links below.
  • Collaborate with other districts around the country that are pursuing similar goals. As part of CITES, your district will benefit from quarterly virtual conferences with other districts. The primary purpose is to exchange resources, share findings, and solve common problems.
  • Be recognized as a national change agent for the implementation of inclusive technology ecosystems in school districts. We may ask to use your district in a case study, feature your work in a video, or co-present at a conference.
  • Receive a $1,000 annual stipend to assist your district’s team with professional learning opportunities of your choice, such as books, conferences, or webinars.

Our Criteria for Selecting Framework Development Districts

Have we caught your interest? If so, please consider applying. We’re looking for:

  • A commitment by your district to our shared goal of creating and sustaining balanced, inclusive technology ecosystems.
  • Evidence that your district has experience with establishing and sustaining systems change.
  • Assurance that your district has a sufficient technology infrastructure to support project activities. All communication will be conducted over video conferences, making reliable internet access essential for participation. For practices to be adequately implemented, your district will also need to show that technology is used routinely for teaching and learning across schools.

Our intent is to form a cohort that represents wide-ranging district and student demographics, including population, geographic region, socioeconomic status, race, disability, ethnicity, and English proficiency. Our goal for a diverse cohort will be a factor in the final district selection.

Ready to Apply?

The deadline for applying is November 8, 2019. Your district will be notified of a decision by December 13, 2019. Kick-off virtual conferences are expected to begin in late January 2020. A PDF version of the application is available for reference.

Apply Now!

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