6 NECESSARY STEPS TO MOVE K-12 EDUCATION FORWARD IN 2021
K-12 education was put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic–now, here’s what it needs to evolve and best serve students and teachers….
Some key K-12 education trends, including teachers and parents becoming more open to new ways to teach and learn, and finding value in technology to stay connected, will be necessary to move education forward in the coming months.
According to new data on how the pandemic impacted K-12 education, student engagement became the leading metric of student success, with 92 percent of educators calling it the most important factor.
Most of the school communities persevered through incredibly challenging dynamics this past year but overall we persisted through it quite successfully, we became more open to new approaches and deeply focused on student engagement. At the same time, there is a lot of hard work ahead. About half of educators and parents feel students have significantly fallen behind due to COVID-19. We know technology will remain pivotal, as the pandemic shifted its role from a nice-to-have to an essential service that connects teachers, parents and students with the entire learning journey.
The research revealed six key trends that parents and educators across the country feel are important to teaching and learning in K-12 education.
- ENABLE TEACHERS = BUILT STUDENT:
Quality teaching continues to be recognized as the leading factor contributing to student success, and investing in immersive professional development is critical to supporting teacher preparedness, building and deepening skill sets, and promoting teacher efficacy. 85% of parents ranked it as the most important factor.
When looking at social-emotional factors, both educators (99%) and parents (91%) rated “the student’s relationship with teachers” as the top factor.
Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for teachers received the most funding in the switch to remote learning, and is expected to remain the top two priorities for future funding.
- PRIORITIZE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT:
Technology is the best tool to provide personalized learning plans, measure student engagement, and recreate core classroom experiences when students are absent will help teachers capitalize on the investments they made last year, and address individual learning needs.
Educators believe student engagement (92%) and attendance (85%) are the most important metrics of student success and are expected to grow more important over the next year (73% and 67%, respectively).
Just one in three parents (33%) says that maintaining engagement has been difficult during the pandemic.
However, low income households were more than twice as likely to report difficulty helping their children remain engaged.
- TIME FOR FOUNDATIONAL SHIFT IN ASSESSMENT PATTERN:
Due to COVID-19 school closures, about half of the educators and parents feel that students have significantly fallen behind. But the irony is students continue to feel pressure around tests which seem to be the decision making criteria, such as semester-end or year-end assessments, the perceived value of those tests have decreased dramatically. To keep every student on track and to reach grade-level standards, the assessment pattern will require an actionable approach as a part of the regular instructional cycle.
To check students’ understanding during the pandemic, 76% of educators delivered formative assessments during remote learning. Nearly 30% of educators report the receipt of assessment data is either somewhat or much later than needed.
- BLENDED LEARNING IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR
The technological support will be essential to scaffold the classroom activities and ensure students stay engaged and parents stay informed, both inside and outside the classrooms.
81% of educators believe that technology will become increasingly important in teaching and learning moving forward. 67% believe that remote learning will impact classroom practices in the future.
Although majorities of both groups report a positive shift in opinion and preference, parents are significantly more likely to report an increased preference for online learning at 74%, as well as a more positive opinion of online learning at 64% (compared to educators who reported 55% to both questions).
- SCATHING IN ACHIEVING EQUITY IN EDUCATION
Access to technological devices and internet connection continues to play a role in teacher preparedness and student engagement. Funding for hardware acquisition remains a top priority for districts, as Hardware acquisition received the most funding in the switch to remote learning and is expected to remain a top priority for future funding.
39% report that insufficient equipment or lack of access to devices is a top challenge or concern following lack of in-person interaction (55% for parents, 65% for educators).
Respondents from high income households were twice as likely to report full satisfaction (52%) compared to low income (28%).
- BRIDGING THE GAP AMONG TEACHERS, STUDENTS, AND PARENTS CONNECTED THROUGH TECHNOLOGY:
Both educators (78%) and parents (79%) agree that student communication is the aspect of the learning experience where tech is most important. Both groups view tech’s next leading benefits to be around improving academic outcomes, including core course performance (75%) and student academic achievement (63%).
Though the abrupt transition to online learning presented many challenges, the adopted tools kept everyone on the same page, and their continued use can positively impact engagement and communication.
Additionally, parent communication ranks high in importance with both educators (78%) and parents (75%).