Easing the Burden on Schools: Five Quality Indicators for Edtech & AI Products

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This article was written and Published by InnovateEDU on June 23, 2024 

Today, it is far too challenging for schools to determine if an edtech product is of sufficient quality to be used by teachers and students. Every school system must independently conduct a detailed review process for any app before it can be approved for use. This is a massive duplication of effort that wastes time for school leaders who are already overwhelmed with other critical responsibilities. This burden is only increasing with the surge of new AI tools hitting the market. The 2024 National Educational Technology Planhighlights the need for intentional and critical decision-making to harness the power of edtech in teaching and learning. To fulfill this vision, we must urgently seek strategies to reduce the lift for school systems to identify quality digital learning tools.

This review process restricts edtech product developers as well. Companies that have taken the steps to create safe and effective products should be able to demonstrate their commitment without a lengthy evaluation performed by each school. Edtech industry leaders agree that the industry as a whole benefits when it is easier to distinguish between products that have met quality requirements and those that have not.

To address this issue, seven leading edtech organizations—1EdTech Consortium CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology), Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Digital Promise, InnovateEDU, ISTE, and SETDA—have pledged to work together on behalf of educators, product developers, students, and their families.

We believe two critical steps must take place to reduce the burden on educators, school and school system leaders. The first step is agreeing on a set of common edtech quality indicators. Based on years of research and input from education leaders, policymakers, and industry experts, we agree on Five Edtech Quality Indicators that should be used to evaluate effective edtech products. The second step is providing validations (by qualified experts) that products have met these indicators. For example, one of the Quality Indicators requires apps to be accessible to all students. An app that claims to be accessible would need to have its claim validated by an independent reviewer with expertise in the area of accessibility, such as CAST. The combination of these two steps–common quality indicators, and independent quality validations–promises to identify high-quality edtech tools at a fraction of the time and cost the current review process requires. Educators will still make the final decisions of what product is right for their needs but our organizations are committed to providing the information to help them make that determination.

Five Edtech Quality Indicators


Edtech products must establish robust data privacy and security measures to protect student and educator data and safeguard against unauthorized access or data breaches. This includes adhering to industry standards and laws to create a secure learning environment and adopting principles of data minimization (only collecting necessary data), and data transparency (users understand which data are collected for what purpose).


Edtech product design, implementation, and claims of effectiveness need to be grounded in rigorous research and evidence-based practices as specified by the ESSA Tiers of Evidence. Providers should engage in research-driven design, empirical validation, demonstrated effectiveness, and alignment with established educational standards.


Edtech products must prioritize accessibility, inclusivity, and equitable design to ensure they are acceptable to learners from diverse backgrounds and with a broad range of learner variability. This includes ensuring edtech products are accessible for all learners, do not promote existing stereotypes, create new ones, or prevent students from acquiring accurate information because of biased algorithms.


Edtech products must be designed to be easily usable by educators and students to ensure a seamless digital experience. If the product is not easy to use, it creates an unnecessary barrier and educators and students will struggle to use the tool.


Edtech products must seamlessly connect to other technologies within a school’s digital ecosystem. This is accomplished by adhering to established interoperability standards that ensure secure exchange and allow for the beneficial aggregation of data to inform instruction and personalize learning.

Trusted Validators

As part of this collaborative effort, we have identified organizations that provide validations for the elements of the Five Edtech Quality Indicators. These organizations have expertise in reviewing specific aspects of edtech products. Each organization solicits evidence from edtech companies to demonstrate that the product meets their established requirements. Currently there is no single location to find all validations a given product has received. We commit to creating a comprehensive directorywhere credible validations a product has obtained can be readily displayed. Decision-makers can use these details to make informed decisions without having to conduct their own review process in areas where a product has been validated. We will include any credible validation aligned to one or more of the Five Edtech Quality Indicators.

Below you will find the specific actions our organizations have committed to take, collectively and individually, to make it easier for schools to identify high-quality edtech products.

Joint Commitments:

  • Provide a jointly-branded Edtech Index that makes it simple for educators to see what products have received validations.
  • Promote the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and available validations at each of our conferences.
  • Provide training webinars to 1EdTech, CAST, CoSN, Digital Promise, InnovateEDU, ISTE, SETDA providers, and sponsors on how to meet the Edtech Quality Indicators and receive validations.
  • Help edtech developers navigate qualifying for validations.

1EdTech Commitments:

  • Include Highlight partner validators in TrustEd Apps Directory and TrustEd Apps Management Suite (TAMS).
  • Promote the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and partner validators into 1EdTech’s TACL professional development.
  • Drive the adoption of the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and partner validators in the  procurement process by district and state leaders.
  • Assist providers in achieving certification in interoperability and privacy standards.

CAST Commitments:

  • Promote the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and Edtech Index into CAST 3.0 and UDL Guidelines launch messaging.
  • Incorporate messaging about the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and Edtech Index into K-12 facing trainings.
  • Promote the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and Edtech Index to all CAST annual and UDLCon International Conference partner organizations/companies.

COSN Commitments:

  • In collaboration with SETDA, collect input and feedback from school districts and companies regarding how to improve edtech purchasing.
  • Integrate relevant aspects of the Five Edtech Quality Indicators into the K-12 Community Vendor Assessment Tool (K-12 CVAT).
  • Promote the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and Edtech Index at CoSN events throughout the year.

SETDA Commitments:

  • Increase awareness of the and Product Index and equip state leaders to effectively implement edtech solutions aligned with the Five Edtech Quality Indicators.
  • In collaboration with CoSN, collect input and feedback from state education systems and companies regarding how to improve edtech purchasing (through state-sponsored or cooperative service models or purchasing agreements).
  • Develop sample RFP language for state procurement processes that includes recommended validations aligned to the Five Edtech Quality Indicators.

Digital Promise Commitments:

  • Collaborate with district leaders to co-develop templates and resources that support district contract negotiations and renewals to award points for validations.
  • Provide training on the Five Edtech Quality Indicators to League of Innovative Schools members and highlight the Edtech Index.
  • Partner with purchasing cooperatives to include validators in cooperative purchasing agreements.

InnovateEDU Commitments:

  • Work with districts who are implementing outcomes-based contracting, edtech purchasing agreements and model RFPs to include the Five Edtech Quality Indicators.
  • Provide an annual report of how the market is utilizing the Five Edtech Quality Indicators in their buying decisions.
  • Promote the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and Edtech Index into InnovateEDU events throughout the year.

ISTE Commitments:

  • Promote the Five Edtech Quality Indicators and Edtech Index at events throughout the year.
  • Implement signage on ISTELive Solutions Hub (expo hall) booths to show validations companies have received as well as signage throughout the Hub to prompt attendees to ask companies about their validations.
  • Give priority to exhibitors applying to participate in ISTE+ASCD Solutions Hub (expo hall) who have received validations aligned to the Five Edtech Quality Indicators.
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