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David Couch

K-12 CIO and Associate Commissioner, Office of KIDS, Kentucky

David Couch
It may seem like common sense now, but eight years ago, Associate Commissioner of the Kentucky Office of Knowledge, Information and Data Services David Couch put his job on the line, convinced that moving the state’s education systems to the cloud was the right choice.

“In retrospect, [the decision] is obvious,” Couch said, but at the time, cloud technology had far more skeptics than believers. The move eliminated nearly $10 million in server maintenance. And that’s just the beginning. In fact, Kentucky has a lot to boast about in K-12 education. In large part, Couch’s leadership and his “rock star team” deserve the credit.

Kentucky’s K-12 program is a leader in tech integration — it was the first state to deliver Internet in all schools and is currently working on a plan to upgrade to a broadband network, promising even faster connectivity. Being a father of four, according to Couch, has allowed him to more effectively pursue programs that add value for students. Too often, planners think about what makes sense in the abstract or for their bottom line, Couch said, but his focus remains steadfast on the students’ best interests.

He points with pride to the creation of a mobile platform for parents and students to see grades, attendance and assignments. And the results followed: The program was one of the most downloaded in department history. Just 5 percent of parents participated in the previous program, while the upgrade registered an impressive 80 percent.

Although substantial progress has been made, Couch is looking toward the future. He is a driving force behind the Council of Chief State School Officers’ CIO Network, a collaborative effort of more than 30 states working in partnership to maximize the impact of technology in the classroom.

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Ryan McCauley was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine from October 2016 through July 2017, and previously served as the publication's editorial assistant.