THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Office of Curriculum, Instruction, Early Learning and Ed Tech (Marybeth Casey, Assistant Commissioner)
Office of Information and Reporting Services (Rose M. LeRoy, Director of Educational Data and Research)
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234
This memo provides information on the new collection of student digital equity data in the Student Information Repository System (SIRS) for public school districts, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and charter schools for the 2021-22 school year.
In June 2020, and again in October 2020, the New York State Education Department (Department) released a Digital Equity Survey that asked schools to provide data on computing devices and broadband access in students’ and teachers’ locations of residence. The data, particularly from the Fall 2020 Digital Equity Survey, show that considerable progress has been made to address the digital divide, thanks in large part to the efforts of our schools, districts, and BOCES. Even so, hundreds of thousands of New York State students still do not have access to a device appropriate for learning, or to sufficient broadband access.
The importance of access to devices and broadband has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this access will remain necessary in the future. Digital equity is essential for educational equity. To serve our students, families, and educators, it is imperative that districts, BOCES, charter schools, and the Department have, and maintain, an updated, accurate, complete picture of the state of digital equity for each individual student.
Beginning in the Fall of 2021, schools and BOCES will report data on students’ access to devices and broadband in their places of residence to the Department via SIRS. This information will replace the Technology questions 8B and 8D currently collected as part of the Basic Education Data System (BEDS) Institutional Master File (IMF) public school form.
The new Student Digital Access data elements provided as an attachment to this memo will be added to the data collection for every student in SIRS. The attachment details each element’s name, definition, response options, and clarifications, as well as sample questions to provide to parents and guardians to ascertain the device and internet access students have at their places of residence. Likewise, this information will be included in the SIRS Manual and be updated as needed to assist the field with reporting requirements. This data will provide the most accurate picture of digital access and informing State Policy and providing Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) with programmatic and instructional information and needed supports to further outcomes in teaching and learning.
This data will be used on an ongoing basis throughout the year to help identify specific needs and target resources and funding opportunities when they become available. In addition to identifying funding opportunities, the data are also used to inform legislature and senate initiatives in addition to informing Department policy.
The Digital Equity data collection in SIRS will require schools and districts to report Student Digital Access data from all students enrolled in the district in grades K-12 and ungraded students. At this time, data on Pre-K students will not be required. The home district is responsible for reporting this data for all students enrolled in their schools and for students who are enrolled in a BOCES program part-time but still attend their home district for part of the day. BOCES should only report data for Out-of-District placed students to whom they provide full-time instruction. Data would be reported using the main BOCES BEDSCODE.
Students’ parents/guardians will only need to be canvassed once at the beginning of each school year unless a student’s enrollment changes to a new school building or the student moves to a new residence and their internet connectivity changes. Schools are greatly encouraged to keep all Digital Equity data on students updated in their student management systems (SMS) and to push that data to the Level 2 Data Warehouse (L2DW) throughout the year to indicate student changes and any school-initiated changes, for example, the deployment of new district- or school-owned devices to students for use in their places of residence.
Districts, BOCES, and charter schools can implement their own processes and tools for surveying students’ parents/guardians to collect the data needed to report to SIRS. A resource that may be helpful is the Digital Bridge K-12 Home Access Needs Assessment Playbook, a step-by-step guide created by national nonprofit Education Super Highway to help school districts identify students who lack a home Internet connection or a dedicated learning device.
For the 2021-22 school year (SY), data can begin to be entered into your SMS and flow to the L2DW when the SIRS 2021-22SY collection opens in September. The first data extract by the Department is planned for Monday, December 6, 2021. The finalized data will be due at the close of the warehouse in August 2022. The collection extracts will be reviewed to provide information regarding disparate access to devices and internet in students places of residence and inform State policy and initiatives to address gaps at the State level. Moving forward, in the 22-23SY and beyond, changes to the dates when extracts are pulled may occur and will be updated in our SIRS Manual (guidance). For all practical purposes, schools and districts should update and push data to the L2DW as often as practicable to provide the best picture of their digital access and equity at any given moment to assist the Department with providing resources to those entities who meet the qualifications of various funding sources.
The NYSED Office of Information and reporting Services has apprised Student Management System vendors of this new SIRS reporting requirement. Collection requirements for student management vendors will continue to be available on the Vendor Support for School Districts and BOCES.