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Education thought leaders forecast 2016 trends

Superintendents and other education experts look ahead on assessments, equity and PD
Superintendent Klint W. Willert, of Brookings School District in South Dakota, says schools will move away from high-stakes tests in 2016.
Superintendent Klint W. Willert, of Brookings School District in South Dakota, says schools will move away from high-stakes tests in 2016.

Klint W. Willert

Superintendent, Brookings School District, South Dakota

Topic: Testing & assessment

Trend: Student achievement is measured by more than a single assessment score. The trend of moving toward multiple measures, not just a test score, to determine the quality of a teacher, a school, and district will continue to resound with the voting public. People are joining a new TEA Party - Tested Enough Already.

Tracy Davison

Superintendent, Edmeston Central School, New York

Topic: Professional development

Trend: PLCs will be instituted to create a collaborative approach to increase student achievement.

Erica Goldstone

Director of equity & diversity, Davenport Community Schools, Iowa

Topic: Achievement gap

Trend: As a nation we must reverse the widening gap caused by poverty and innate bias to improve student achievement. We cannot afford to have ever increasing numbers of students who are ill prepared, illiterate and hopeless concerning their future. We need our "brain trust" to truly mean every student devoid of one's race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation and economic background.

David Thompson

Director of student services, Buncombe County Schools, North Carolina

Topic: Testing & assessment

Trend: Research proves strong social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen and worker. I predict that the number of school districts adopting policies and programs to promote social and emotional learning (SEL) will increase. I also predict more districts will begin using data-driven SEL assessments as part of their comprehensive approach to serve the whole child.

Leighangela Brady

Assistant superintendent for educational services, Encinitas USD/Author of Transforming Ice Age Schools: A Practical Guide for School Leaders

Topic: Professional development

Trend: Our rapidly changing educational landscape necessitates a strong investment in professional development. Traditional methods have been largely criticized as a colossal waste of time and money. In 2016 we will see a shift in approach to adult learner engagement. New professional development methods will include teacher choice, blended approaches and individualized pathways. Make way for personalized professional development arriving in 2016.

Steven Korte

CEO, PASCO Scientific

Topic: Technology

Trend: As technology becomes ubiquitous in K-12 classrooms and students are exposed to the tools and practices of modern STEM careers, educators will wonder, “How did we teach without this before?” Even better, students will wonder, “Can I do more of this? What do I need to do to pursue this in college or as a career?”

Jennifer Medbery

CEO, Kickboard

Topic: School culture

Trend: For decades, school culture has been the elephant in the room, going unaddressed or simply being ignored in many schools and districts. Finally, K12 leaders will realize that a culture that’s consistently positive and measurable can have a profound impact on student learning and academic achievement.

Robert C. Bowen

CEO, Scientific Learning

Topic: Neuroscience

Trend: Almost every school has students who struggle, despite repeated intervention. 2016 is the year neuroscience-based interventions will be more broadly adopted to address the root causes of students’ difficulty. By building students’ foundational language and cognitive skills, K12 schools can help struggling learners make fast, enduring gains, and begin to meaningfully close socioeconomic and language-based achievement gaps.

Jay Bhatt

CEO, Blackboard

Topic: Technology

Trend: In the K12 space, we will see more districts moving to completely digital communications workflows. This is in response to demand from parents for increased interaction and multilingual dialogue with schools.

One obvious way for a school to boost engagement with parents is through a website. We are in the early days of the digitization of education content, but the exciting piece is that everyone already has a mobile device.

Our goal is to connect the entire community, including parents, such that people of all backgrounds will have equal access to school resources and more knowledge of a child’s progress. The more fully we can engage the parents and the community, we know the more successful the child will be. The stage is set for a revolution.

Robert Bush

CEO, Mentoring Minds

Topic: Blended and online learning

Trend: As technology integration mandates continue to become more and more widespread, we’ll see enthusiasm for ed tech tempered by the realities of student needs and school resources. Classrooms will embrace a hybrid model integrating both print and online—not as a stop-gap but as a solution—giving teachers flexibility based on device availability and student learning modalities. 

Aurora Martinez

Executive director, Curriculum Associates

Topic: Testing & assessment

Trend: As new state and Common Core assessment results are released and gaps in curriculum are identified, there will be a growing and critical need for schools to focus on interventions that efficiently address areas in need of improvement. Effective, technology-enabled interventions will help address issues of student equity by allowing teachers to accelerate learning to meet the needs of all. 

Jeff Patterson

Founder and CEO, Gaggle

Topic: Safety & security

Trend: Schools that use great technology, such as Google Apps for Education or Office 365, will continue to need a way to assure that students are safe using these educational tools. The inherent safety controls provided by Google and Microsoft often are not enough, requiring teachers and administrators to monitor email queues and logs and spending time they simply don't have.

John Wheeler

CEO, Vernier Software & Technology

Topic: Technology

Trend: In the past wireless technologies used for data collection have been expensive or difficult to use. Today, however, schools have access to lower cost wireless technologies that are easy to use. This opens up new possibilities for hands on science experiments, science exploration and and data sharing. This exposes students to the science skills they will need to work in a STEM field.

Woody Dillaha

CEO and co-founder, Performance Matters

Topic: Testing & assessment

Trend: "The assessment content needed to prepare K-12 students in all course areas is in short supply and costly. In 2016, there will be a sizable shift toward collaboration, within and across school districts and states. Educators will use social platforms to pool their resources and work together to author and review high-quality items and assessments, anytime, anywhere." 

Vibhu Mittal

CEO, Edmodo

Topic: Technology

Trend: Students and teachers will move towards handheld ubiquitous computing devices as a portal to instructional content and an augmentation of their own capabilities. The ability to do factual retrieval and manipulation will decrease in importance, and education will shift towards more analytical skills. As part of an always connected, seemingly infinite network, we'll see more peer-based learning and collaboration.

Adam Blum 

CEO and co-founder, OpenEd Inc.

Topic: Blended and online learning

Trend: New rigorous standards, the transition to digital and waning school resource budgets have created a perfect storm for the acceleration of the use of open educational resources (OERs) in schools around the country. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education recently appointed a special adviser to expand access to open digital resources in schools.

Alfred Binford

Managing director, Pearson North America

Topic: Blended and online learning

Trend: We’ve been talking about personalized learning for a long time. The combination of today’s technologies – particularly online and blended learning – and increased connectivity create the perfect storm for realizing the vision. Schools are evolving into environments where students explore, collaborate and work with parents and teachers to design personalized paths based on their skills, abilities and passions.

Elijah Mayfield

Vice president, new technologies at Turnitin

Topic: Technology

Trend: So far, most personalized learning apps have struggled to live up to their promise to move classrooms from rigid, static content to intelligent agents that help students learn at their own pace. Soon, ed-tech companies will start learning from these first attempts, and do a better job focusing on student empowerment instead of the cleverness of the technology itself. Photo: elijah_mayfield1024x1024

Dan Winkler

Chief technology officer, Mimio

Topic: Technology

Trend: Mobile devices will become as prevalent, accepted and necessary in every field as calculators have become in math education. Mobile devices will be the primary tool for collaboration, research, interactivity and communication. Topic: Technology Trend: Testing and assessment will become an ongoing process that provides continuous and real-time guidance to teachers, administrators, support staff, students and parents/guardians.

Paul Gazzolo

Senior vice president and general manager, Gale

Topic: Blended and online learning

Trend: Digital usage in K-12 over takes print as demand for online curriculum portals, ebooks and the need to access learning materials on-the-go increases. Students will expect learning content to find them – on their mobile devices, tablets or computers – not the other way around. Photo: Paul Gazzolo.jpg

Declan Fox

Director of strategy and product marketing, Teachscape

Topic: Professional development

Trend: While using video to show best practices in teaching has been around for several years, using video as a tool for teacher evaluations is starting to grow. Capturing video of authentic classroom teaching benefits both evaluators and teachers. It allows teachers to reflect on their own teaching, and engage with evaluators in meaningful data-driven feedback and instructional improvement.

Gregg Levin

General manager, Fuel Education

Topic: Blended and online learning

Trend: Organizations offering educational content online, both free and subscription-based, have exploded almost as quickly as the internet itself. With this, schools are tasked with managing all of this content, while helping educators use it to improve learning. Today, companies are working to solve this issue by creating tools to combine content and data to better personalize the learning experience.

Kenneth Tam

Executive director of personalized learning, Curriculum Associates

Topic: Testing & assessment

Trend: To provide a comprehensive overview of student achievement, districts, schools and teachers must focus on creating and utilizing a holistic system of assessments, which combines diagnostic and mastery measures. By using this type of system, educators are provided with a wealth of student data to form instructional groups and differentiate and personalize learning while at the same time reducing the number of assessments given to students. 

Nick Mirisis

Director of marketing, SchoolDude

Topic: Safety & security

Trend: Mobile technology will play a crucial role in helping school districts maintain safe learning environments and communicating information to teachers, staff and parents. Additionally, emergency mobile apps will be leveraged more for non-crisis situations, e.g., helping teachers find first aid instructions or fire drill protocols. Mobile apps can also be used as a communication tool for chaperones handling extracurricular events.

Stephanie Dahlke

Clinical innovations manager, PresenceLearning

Topic: Technology

Trend: Teletherapy and teleteaching provide access to credentialed clinicians and teachers who deliver live, online services individualized with IEPs, 504s or BIPs in 1-on-1 settings, small groups or the whole class. Online clinicians/teachers have the same responsibilities as on-site staff: administering assessments, writing evaluations, preparing IEPs, attending meetings, tracking progress and communicating with caregivers/staff.

Tom Strasburger

Vice president, PublicSchoolWORKS

Topic: Technology

Trend: Districts recognize they tend to focus their energies on education initiatives at the risk of safety and compliance requirements. As a result, they are looking for smarter technologies built with an understanding of the needs and challenges of the education environment that deliver the results districts need while minimizing the typical oversight required of district administrators and staff.

Tom Piche

Product manager for K12 interactive projectors at Epson America, Inc.

Topic: Technology

Trend: As AV technology continues to advance and impact the teaching and learning experience, it is important for AV manufacturers to create technologies that are conducive to personalized learning as well as collaboration at the classroom level. By implementing such technologies, educators can better individualize instruction, engage students, and increase classroom participation through interactive, media-rich lessons.

Trend: As the AV industry continues to mature, new technologies have allowed for more advanced specifications that better define nuances in AV equipment. New specifications, such as color brightness which should be considered when using multimedia-rich content, set industry standards that help schools make decisions on AV that best meets the needs of the classroom.

Adam Newman

Founder & managing partner at Tyton Partners

Topic: College & career readiness 

Trend: A wealth of tools and practices has emerged to facilitate project-based learning (PBL), in which students learn through creation rather than strictly consumption of content. PBL provides an opportunity for personalized learning of content and key 21st century skills, enabling students to develop the interpersonal, creative and critical thinking skills necessary for success in their college and career endeavors. 

Topic: Safety & security 

Trend: Concerns over data security in K12 education are mounting as a combined impact of three trends: increased data collection and analytics, greater reliance on cloud-based platforms for instructional and administrative purposes, and growing rates of cyber crime across industries. As a result, data safety is top of mind for parents, administrators and regulators looking to protect today’s students.

David Craig

President, Excent Corporation

Topic: Technology

Trend: State special education agencies will become increasingly involved in playing “the data game”’ as they work to develop improvement plans addressing results driven accountability requirements from the office of special education programs.

Michael Bronder

Vice president and managing director, Computer Resources, LLC

Topic: Technology

Trend: The volume of data getting collected regarding student performance is seldom effective in identifying student needs and appropriate interventions. Over 2016, we'll see examples of data being used to identify at-risk students before it's too late. As was the case recently in Albert Gallatin, PA, we'll see specific data driven programs that ensure high-risk students stay on track for graduation.

Dan Rivera

Product marketing manager and e-rate expert, Aruba Networks

Topic: Technology

Trend: The demand by students and teachers for anytime/anywhere access to educational resources will continue to grow. New 802.11ac technologies permit robust, secure networks capable of handling increasing mobile device densities and bandwidth-intensive applications across the campus, enabling personalized learning. In 2016, the trend will expand beyond ensuring campus-wide access to providing out-of-school access to digital resources to increase student engagement.

Dorothy Mikuska

Former English teacher and the creator of PaperToolsPro

Topic: Technology

Trend: As electronic devices dominate students’ lives and their education, they are losing opportunities to develop the skills to communicate and establish relationships in person. Therefore, teachers will employ individualized personal conferencing as a format for formative assessment in order to develop interpersonal communication skills as well as enhance metacognitive and self-assessment strategies so that students become mindful learners and communicators.

Lee Drury

Educational choice and technology innovation expert

Topic: Blended and online learning

Trend: 2016 will be 'The Year of Personalization.' Schools and classes will adopt technology that allows ever-increasing customized educational experiences. This will be from both websites and apps. Students will have more autonomy to 'drive' the content and the methods used to demonstrate knowledge, complete classes, monitor homework and grades, communicate with peers/adults from around the world.