Despite rampant reports of worsening educator burnout, administrators can find hope in the fact that more teachers believe their students will recover academically from the difficulties of the last three school years.
More than 40% share that confidence compared to one-third who don’t, with the rest remaining neutral on this question, according to the latest analysis by the Clayton Christensen Institute, a think tank that studies disruption in education and other sectors of society. Most teachers are continuing to report that their students are lagging behind typical academic progress but those concerns have been shrinking since the beginning of this school year.
Tutoring is among the most popular approaches to recovering and accelerating learning, and most administrators said they had recruited district staff to provide supplementary instruction. And just over 40% of schools are continuing to offer virtual learning options to support student recovery, though administrators have reported declining participation in those programs, according to the Institute.
Student engagement, teacher capacity, family involvement and ed-tech access are the four big themes that should lead schools into the future, according to teachers and parents surveyed for the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s latest oversight report on the CARES Act and K-12 education.
Life-long effects and growing disparities are now starting to emerge from the ongoing disruptions of the pandemic, the agency warns. For example, 45% of teachers said students were half a year behind at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Only about 10% of teachers said they had students who exceeded expectations this school year, according to the GAO report.
For administrations looking for input on the way forward, teachers and parents identified the following priorities for each of the four big themes:
- Provide mental health services for students
- Hold students accountable for attendance or participation
- Allow flexibility around the typical school day or year by, for example, expanding summer school options
- Provide in-person instruction to the extent possible
- Reduce class size or lower student-teacher ratios
- Avoid teachers doing in-person and virtual instruction simultaneously
- Have dedicated teachers for virtual learning or a dedicated academy for virtual students
- Hire staff whose main responsibility is communicating with families
- Support more parent/family involvement through frequent check-ins or home visits and other outreach activities
- Provide resources for parents and families, including workshops on, for example, financial support such as childcare subsidies so older students can focus on school
- Provide adequate access, including a device for each student
- Train students, families, and teachers to use devices and learning platforms
- Provide staff and funding to maintain readiness to transition to virtual learning at any point