From shifts in school choice to student assessments to online learning, the educational landscape is constantly evolving. This coming year districts will continue to face many challenges and opportunities that will impact students, staff and school systems as a whole.
Below, experts from various areas of the education industry share trends that will help shape K-12 education in 2018.
1. Strategic enrollment management
Jinal Jhaveri, Founder and CEO of SchoolMint
One of the more prominent shifts in Pre-K12 public education is the policies and attitudes around student enrollment in a landscape of growing school options. The era of students defaulting to one assigned neighborhood school is on the decline as parents are granted the empowerment and responsibility to choose a school for their child from multiple school options. An increasing number of districts allow students to attend any public school that has space available, regardless of where they live.
As a result of this paradigm shift, communities around the country are demanding a more transparent, equitable, and accessible enrollment process for all families. The high stakes associated with the enrollment experience are rising and districts are responding by taking a more expansive, strategic approach to enrollment management, similar to what their higher education counterparts have done.
In the coming year and beyond, district leaders will offer parents a more holistic, inclusive experience for enrollment and school selection that extends way beyond student applications and registrations. They will augment their marketing and outreach efforts before the enrollment window even opens and they will simplify and transform their application and registration systems to improve the equity and access in school selection. They will also nurture and cultivate family relationships beyond the registration process to increase engagement and retention throughout the entire time a student is attending school in the district.
2. Personalized professional development for teachers
Adam Geller, Founder and CEO of Edthena
Districts are increasingly tasked with giving teachers more individualized support while not being stretched too thin from a capacity or budgetary standpoint. This is causing districts to make more strategic decisions about their professional development investments. Teachers who feel supported in their roles are more likely to stay teaching in the same location.
The right research-based strategies and technology – like observation and feedback using video – can help districts scale PD efforts. St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont, Colo., for example, began using peer coaching to address its teacher and substitute shortage. Instead of hiring substitutes to cover for teachers to attend professional development sessions, the district’s teachers began using video to receive instructional coaching and support. Teachers record and upload portions of their lessons and then share it with the district’s mentor teachers, who act as peer coaches, to receive targeted feedback.
3. Assessing less to learn more
Kenneth Tam, Executive Director of Personalized Learning and Assessment at Curriculum Associates
School districts realize the need to streamline assessments. Currently, the average student completes 112 mandatory standardized assessments between grades Pre-K to 12, which equates to 20 to 25 hours of standardized testing each year, according to a report from the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS). This represents a significant amount of time that could be better dedicated to actual teaching and instruction.
While there are many state and local efforts to reduce testing time and the number of assessments given, conducting an assessment audit is one way districts can pro-actively and effectively streamline their assessments. Assessment audits, which are multi-phase and multi-week processes, can help districts rationalize and streamline the assessments administered to students.
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