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K12 Outlook 2018

DA’s annual year-ahead issue forecasts key education trends for 2018
DA's annual Outlook issue features snapshots from superintendents, curriculum directors, principals, teachers and other educators who weigh in on how their day-to-day roles and responsibilities are evolving. (Gettyimages.com: exdez).
DA's annual Outlook issue features snapshots from superintendents, curriculum directors, principals, teachers and other educators who weigh in on how their day-to-day roles and responsibilities are evolving. (Gettyimages.com: exdez).

Many things threaten to keep a public education leader up at night. With some issues, it’s because they stir excitement and inspiration; but with others, not so much.

To bring the persistent, insomnia-inducing challenges into clearer focus, the 2018 installment of DA’s annual Outlook issue gives prominence to the voices of educators and experts who share the solutions that are emerging across the country.

Throughout this issue, you will also find snapshots from superintendents, curriculum directors, principals, teachers and other educators who weigh in on how their day-to-day roles and responsibilities are evolving.

What should happen, what will happen

In our main feature, educators and experts offer two forecasts: what they hope will happen and what they believe will happen in areas such as assessment, social-emotional learning and teaching with technology.

In some cases, the optimism matches the expectations. In other cases, there are concerns that policymakers may continue to head in the wrong direction, particularly on issues such as teacher certification and English language learners.

Artificial intelligence impacts instruction

The teacher’s aides of the near future won’t be robots, but they may be machines that can help educators respond more quickly and accurately to students’ needs for enrichment and intervention. AI software can already help students find assignments in online platforms and can answer many other routine questions.

But that’s just the tip of the digital iceberg.

An online high school in Virginia has deployed AI software that simulates real conversations for students learning foreign languages. In Texas, the same technology that has beat humans on the game show Jeopardy! helps teachers crunch data to map out highly personalized learning plans for individual students.

Surveying the road ahead

Nearly 350 education leaders responded to a survey about their biggest priorities for the coming year in areas such as federal policy, health and wellness, and security and facilities.  

When it comes to instruction, the responses show a more concerted focus on STEM subjects and on career and technical education in 2018.

On the social-emotional side, districts will work more to support the growing number of students—particularly younger children—who struggle with stress and anxiety.

Top stories of 2017

Finally, will fidget spinners still be cool in 2018? How will districts collect unpaid lunch debt? Well, see if you agree with our picks for the top headlines of the past year. Yes, Betsy DeVos and undocumented dreamers are there, but you’ll have to read on to see what else we chose.