As we close the door on 2022, we approach 2023 with clear-cut priorities for edtech and education as a whole. Education and student well-being are stretched thin, and lingering learning gaps, exacerbated by the pandemic, present hurdles for all students–especially underrepresented students groups who were already at a disadvantage.
Digital learning cemented itself as a “must have” in schools this year, and equity remained front and center, too, continuing conversations around inequitable technology access, along with racial and socioeconomic disparities and discrimination.
We’re headed into a fourth year of learning in the pandemic’s shadow. While massive COVID quarantines and school closures have diminished, we’re still grappling with the impact of learning during a global pandemic. This begs the question: What’s next for education?
We asked edtech executives, stakeholders, and experts to share some of their thoughts and predictions about where they think edtech is headed in 2023.
Here’s what they had to say:
In the coming year, K-12 leaders will begin finalizing how they can maximize any remaining ESSER funds ahead of the deadline in 2024 and we can expect clean air solutions to be represented in those obligations. We will see a shift in priorities for school leaders with a focus on protecting against further learning loss – the projects they invest in should help reach this outcome long-term.
–Cheryl Aquadro, K-12 Vertical Market Director, Johnson Controls
From cafeteria support, bus drivers, and clerical staff, to teachers, administrators and superintendents, the staffing shortage across the board is real, but not new. Speak to those who have spent a lifetime in and out of education. Moving beyond the tradition of looking for employees at university graduation days may provide a glimpse into how we can simplify job transfers between private industry and public education and provide more opportunities for non-traditional paths into education careers. Oftentimes, when a person reaches their forties, a big life question ensues. “Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life or can I do something more impactful for humanity and the good of our society, how can I engage in a more fulfilling life?” I predict that in the coming year there will be an increased emphasis on innovative ways to address the staff shortage in education and we will see focused research and development around how degrees, expertise and/or experience can be used as qualifiers toward an education degree or certificate. Doing so will expand options for long-term career planning and will truly be seen as an investment for both the education industry, and for private industries. After all, education and the economy are inextricably linked.
–Dr. Maria Armstrong, Executive Director, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS)
Looking ahead, I think we will see more educators helping students get a better understanding of clean energy and its connections to climate change and the wider economy. Educators will seek out content that better supports them to successfully bring clean energy content to their students in meaningful ways and, as the job market in clean energy continues to grow, it is important for schools to help meet this demand for an educated workforce by helping students see themselves in clean energy careers.
–Michael Arquin, Founder, KidWind
School districts will begin to offer microschool options. With 65% of K-12 parents backing school choice, school districts will realize that in order to stay competitive and meet the needs of students and parents, adopting and offering innovative learning models is key. One of the shifts the industry can expect to see in the coming years is school districts offering mircoschool options within the district itself. While historically independent learning institutions, microschools will be adopted within school districts that are responsive to this need for choice and evolving learning needs of students.
—Carlos Bortoni, Principal, Industry Advisor, K-12 Education, Qualtrics
Parents will step up to address the student mental health crisis. Predictions about the state of youth mental health in America have been realized. Teachers, parents, counselors, administrators, coaches, and other loved ones have faced an unprecedented challenge in this regard. They will continue to step up in 2023 to meet the challenge. Parents will take on an even greater role in the mental health of children in the coming year. Schools will continue to invest in mental health resources, and the solutions that gain the most traction will be those that honor the central role that parents play. In 2023, the shortage of therapists, school counselors, and other mental health care workers will result in parents seeking resources that they can implement. It will be up to school leaders to guide them to the best resources that have already demonstrated efficacy.
—Anne Brown, President and CEO, Cook Center for Human Connection
Students’ mental health and social and emotional wellness continue to be pressing concerns for school districts. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma continue to rise among students, impacting their learning, engagement, and relationships. At the same time, a shortage of mental health resources in schools places additional strain on already overburdened teachers and administrators. In the coming year I expect to see many districts taking advantage of an influx in federal grant money to bolster their mental health teams and to provide additional resources and professional development around these important issues to better support student well-being.
–Rob Buelow, Head of Product for Education, Vector Solutions
In 2023, educators nationwide will benefit from the most recent wave of edtech consolidation. The various services and products acquired by consolidators over the last year or two will be integrated into increasingly comprehensive platforms offering instructional content, assessments, and classroom tools all in one place. As this occurs, the power and effectiveness of those edtech resources will grow as they begin to work in concert with each other seamlessly. The combination of these resources will empower administrators, teachers, families, and students to better leverage edtech’s ability to improve learning.
–Kelli Campbell, President, Discovery Education
Educators will increasingly be looking for–and needing–educational resources and technologies that authentically represent and support today’s growing number of multilingual learners. As such, from the characters portrayed in online programs to reading excerpts included in curricular products, it is important for all education companies to provide, and educators to seek out, more culturally relevant, modifiable, and accessible resources to effectively meet the varying learning needs of all students.
–David Cisneros, National Director for Content and Implementation, Curriculum Associates
Schools will prioritize parent engagement as school-home collaboration will be needed to help students impacted by the pandemic. As we continue to recover from the impacts of COVID learning disruptions, parent communication and engagement will continue to be a strategic imperative for all schools. Parent-school relationships have always been a vital part of student success, but during the pandemic, when schools moved to remote instruction, communication between parents and educators soared. Teachers and administrators worked with students’ families to try to establish stability and continuity. Priorities such as setting up remote learning structures, developing a distance curriculum, and offering social and emotional support required increased collaboration with home. Parents have become used to increased information and communication from schools. Now, schools have an opportunity to build on this uptick in parent engagement and establish long-term processes that increase meaningful, two-way communication with students’ families and support student success. Over the next year, we will see this momentum continue, as more schools realize the benefits and implement solutions to enable this.
—Russ Davis, Founder and CEO, SchoolStatus
Districts will see the value in data-driven instructional coaching. As we begin the fourth straight year impacted by COVID pandemic learning disruptions, the challenge of retaining high quality teachers is a critical issue in U.S. public schools. Staff shortages, ongoing pandemic fallout, and more demands on their time has made teacher burnout and job dissatisfaction a serious issue. Implementing strategies for creating a collaborative and supportive environment for teachers is more important than ever. In the coming school year, we will start to see a much larger focus on investments in educators – particularly on retaining and supporting current faculty. One practice that we will see gaining popularity is instructional coaching. Over the past year, we have seen a trend in districts using ESSER funds to create coaching programs to support their educators. We anticipate this will continue as more districts realize the benefits to both teachers and students of a data-driven coaching program.
–Jason DeRoner, CEO and Co-Founder, TeachBoost
As we enter 2023, we need to be looking for opportunities to find balance. Like a pendulum, the pandemic forced us to increase our use of technology and upon return to the classroom, we swung the opposite way with some educators avoiding technology at all costs. It is time to find the balance again. To be intentional and thoughtful to what technology can provide for teachers and students. Technology can help us to find solutions and support for accessibility, differentiation, agency, and voice in the classroom. It is all about the balance.
–Michele Dick, Education Specialist, Wacom
With the release of the Nation’s Report Card and ongoing school staffing shortages, states and professional organizations will need to rethink the benefits of technology in supporting students in special education programs. Decision-makers rose to the challenge in the initial waves of the pandemic, enacting temporary policies to permit and reimburse for online education services. Though these policies made a big impact, many have expired in favor of returning to the status quo. Permanent legislation giving schools the ability to leverage online services to support their students will be critical to address persistent challenges and ensure every student receives the services that they need to thrive in this new normal.
–Kate Eberle Walker, CEO, Presence
A continued decline in college enrollment is bringing greater interest in non-degree postsecondary pathways. Despite the pressure to attend, reports suggest 53 percent of high school students are unlikely to pursue a college degree. And unfortunately, we know
that for those who do attend college, many fail to complete, leaving millions of young people without the education and training necessary for career success. College is not the only viable path to success. While we undoubtedly need to do more to support those students whose interests are well aligned with a degree program to transition and complete college, many young people are looking for paths that better suit their needs and aspirations. In fact, our collaborative and extensive research on non-degree pathways has covered innovative training and education opportunities for young people ages 18-25, based on data gathered on more than 400 education-to-career pathways across the country. Skills matter most to both Gen Z and employers. Research shows that employers and Gen Z rank skills as the most important consideration in choosing an education or training program: 74 percent of Gen Z want to earn skills that will lead to a good job and 81 percent of employers believe they should look at skills rather than degrees when hiring.
–Jean Eddy, CEO and President, American Student Assistance
The term “science of reading” has become shorthand for phonics in many cases. And phonics—and all foundational reading skills—are very important. That piece is critical, and we need research-backed methods for teaching kids how to read and decode. However, getting lost in that discussion is the recognition that the science of reading encompasses all scientifically-based reading research. It extends to the skills needed to improve comprehension. Once students have “the code,” we can tap into another body of research on best practices for developing reading comprehension skills. In 2023, the science of reading discussion will grow to encompass reading skills beyond foundational skills.
—Laura Fischer, VP of Content Development, Learning A-Z
Looking ahead, it is important for educators to help students develop 21st century skills, especially as more industries need STEM-focused employees. One way to do this is to provide more opportunities for students to learn and engage in hands-on STEAM education by incorporating STEAM across the curriculum. One way education is doing this is by offering CTE, even in the elementary grades. This is growing due to the demand for a low to mid-skilled engineering/IT workforce needed to support an increasing number of companies that are focusing on local production. Helping students understand that they can get a well-paid and engaging job through CTE can play an important role in the modernized school system and create great business opportunities and positive impact on society.
–Karol Górnowicz, CEO, Skriware
Innovative technology will increasingly help accelerate professional learning for teachers and coaches alike. In St. Vrain, for example, we recently implemented the AI Coach by Edthena platform which uses artificial intelligence for instructional coaching. The platform provides teachers with on-demand guidance from a computerized coach as they self-reflect and comment on videos of their teaching. In addition to helping teachers become more reflective practitioners, this supports the in-person coaching already taking place. We are now able to have more data-driven conversations around specific teaching practices and the impact these practices have on student growth.
–Patty Hagan, Teaching and Learning Coach, St. Vrain Valley Schools
2021 and 2022 were the years of urgency and near-term decisions to ensure learning continued through the pandemic. In 2023, district leaders will have the data they need to make more long-term strategic decisions for their schools. This includes investing in personalized learning supports, including scalable instructional technology solutions, that have proven to accelerate learning achievement for students, increase student confidence, and complement educators’ instruction. With the troubling results of the recent Nation’s Report Card, the need to focus on what works is more important than ever. We can also expect new and creative solutions to increase support for teachers in the year ahead, especially given staffing shortages in schools. Next year, I hope to see districts invest in more job-embedded and on-demand professional development opportunities for teachers that meet them where they are and on a schedule that works for them. Ultimately, what matters is what works for improving achievement. Educational technology solutions that are engaging, effective, and easy-to-use for students, teachers, and chief academic officers will continue to play a crucial role in the year ahead.
–Dr. Tim Hudson, Chief Learning Officer, DreamBox Learning
Building literacy skills in young readers must continue beyond third grade. We’ve seen in the most recent research on Covid recovery that our youngest readers–those who were in kindergarten when the pandemic hit–are rebounding least quickly. This is not surprising as the first few years of school are when learners build the foundations for literacy. Teaching kids to read with good accuracy in English takes several years. We have a complex language where one letter pattern can stand for different sounds (COW and SNOW), and where similar sounds can be spelled in different ways (WAIT and WEIGHT). It should not be surprising that when good systematic teaching about this complex code was challenged, our current third graders turned out to be still working toward solid word recognition. As such, educators will need to focus intently on building these skills in young readers. First, we need to ensure that we are offering strong, evidence-based code instruction beyond the grades where those skills used to be actively taught. Phonics and fluency instruction need to extend, to meet students’ needs regardless of grade. Second, we need to acknowledge and allow for the time it takes students to move toward fluent reading of a complex language, even when our instruction is excellent.
–Cindy Jiban, PhD, Principal Academic Lead, NWEA
Teachers experienced greater anxiety during the pandemic, reporting significantly higher rates of anxiety than healthcare workers. This emphasizes the need for tools and programs to support their well-being. In the coming year, we will see a continued emphasis on providing resources to teachers that support their social and emotional well-being and help them create positive learning environments. Tools that allow teachers to collaborate, develop strong relationships with students and families, and feel supported by school leaders are especially needed. Supporting teachers to create positive learning environments promotes teacher well-being, self-efficacy, and job satisfaction, while also improving students’ learning.
–Dr. Evelyn Johnson, Vice President, Research and Development, Aperture Education
Families will continue to seek alternatives for their children’s education. It will be important in the coming year for schools and districts to look for trends in their communities and take steps to ensure they can meet the needs of their families and future workforce. Data should drive these decisions. Having strong data about student transfers, enrollment, and choice programs helps education leaders in making better decisions for their students.
–Dr. Bridget Jones, Director of Client Support & Success, Scribbles Software
With the combination of federal grants that came about due to the pandemic and the supply chain delays for equipment, many districts are just now getting the needed equipment, including here at Livonia Public Schools. We are currently in the process of handing out 8,000 Chromebooks and hotspots for students to use at home. Deploying these technologies to families is a major undertaking, but this will mean we are ready for the next event that requires our students to learn remotely. Deploying this technology to students and helping teachers adjust to this new way of teaching is the new norm. We need to ensure teachers are confident using technology in the classroom and they are also ready to change to online at a moment’s notice. How or if we are able to continue to provide this level of technology to families into the future is another question, but we are providing what we can while we have the funds.
–Tim Klan, Administrator of Information and Instructional Technology, Livonia Public Schools
The familiar phrase “Students as Creators” is coming back around, but this time there are new, low-cost tools that let students create in a virtual world. Students are able to build resources in the education metaverse for their courses and for other teacher’s courses as well. The digital version of “working with your hands” leads students to create content, often to show their knowledge, rather than just being consumers of content provided by expensive development houses using high-cost software. In the coming year we will see more schools taking advantage of free or almost-free software to help students quickly and easily create great virtual content to enhance their instructional environment with the added benefit of “learning by doing.”
–Chris Klein, Head of Education, USA, Avantis Education
In recent years, the education sector has had no choice but to adopt technology to ensure continuity and the impact of technology has proven to be integral. As higher education moves into a post-pandemic world, the sector will invest in new student success systems that will help students progress through their various stages by leveraging real-time information and feedback. Simultaneously, investments will also be made in cybersecurity to ensure that this wealth of sensitive student information is kept secure at all times.
—Noel Loughrin, Strategic Solutions Manager, Laserfiche
We are seeing the focus on and importance of evidence in edtech more strongly than ever. Technology investments must have documented plans for impacting teaching and learning outcomes, and companies that cannot provide evidence and support with documenting impact will get left behind. Further to that, tech that can do many things – from assessment to collaboration to scaffolded lessons and everything in between – will be the top choice for educators as they look to simplify workflows. This tech must support all students so that everyone can learn not only WITH technology, but about it, too. Edtech provides unique opportunities to personalize and democratize learning and the importance of this will only grow in 2023.
–Jeff Lowe, Chief Commercial Officer at SMART Technologies
With the learning loss that has transpired because of COVID-19, especially in mathematics, I believe educators will move toward an individualized, standards-based approach to teaching, learning, and grading. Data and formative assessment will be a key factor in targeting individual student needs, and impactful technology will help teachers understand what students missed during the pandemic. Meaningful small group and individual instruction will be important in combating the deficit in student achievement.
–Jessica Medley, 8th Grade Math Teacher, Phenix City Schools (AL) & a Curriculum Associates’ 2022 Extraordinary Educator
Assessments should create opportunity – not squash it. On the heels of three years of impact from COVID interruptions, states and districts are taking a closer look at the types of evidence of learning they gather on each student, and how that information is used to move the needle for every child. In 2023, , we will see a movement toward more thoughtful and innovative approaches in how we assess students and use the data to accelerate academic growth for kids. Data only matters if it leads to effective action. There are too many kids who have been left out of good instructional practices. They get to the end of their academic career, and we all wonder why they aren’t achieving at the same level. It’s not enough just to assess students; we actually have to do something about what’s going on. That means investments need to follow. We need to start by asking, what information do I need about my students to know we’re being successful? We need to create an environment where assessments are creating more opportunities, not limiting opportunities for the student. They need to be answering questions like, “What’s the next step for this student?” This is more important now than ever as we look for ways to help students recover from the pandemic’s immense impact. This trend toward innovation is critical to creating equity in both opportunity and outcomes for all students – so every young person leaves school ready to succeed.
—Chris Minnich, CEO, NWEA
With 2023 on the horizon, I am hopeful that the education community resolves to move forward after years of being stifled by the pandemic and learning disruptions. The coming year is the time to work on meeting kids where they are, including making sure we’re supporting their mental health needs. I believe we’ll see increased attention to students’ mental health and, with it, an increase in the attention paid to the mental health crisis and severely limited resources in our schools. In fall 2022, an online survey, conducted from a parents’ perspective, found that many parents are realizing or have concerns regarding the pandemic’s impact on their children’s mental, academic and social well-being. In fact, more than four in five parents believe it would be beneficial for schools to provide mental health services for students as a part of the school day and 84% of parents would be open to their children receiving mental health counseling and emotional support services if offered in school. I think administrators at more schools across the county will lean into non-traditional supports for students including mentoring, behavioral counseling and socialization exercises for students. I’m also hopeful we’ll see more schools providing comprehensive mental health supports – for both students and staff members.
–Diane Myers, Ph. D, SVP, Special Education – Behavior, Specialized Education Services, Inc.
In 2023, educators should anticipate deeper support from corporations looking to impact teaching and learning. In the coming year I believe corporate social impact investments will include large scale, systemic commitments combined with localized, equity-focused approaches. We are hearing corporate strategies are shifting to include geographically targeted approaches that allow companies to more directly support school leaders, teachers, and students with both learning and human resources aligned to college and career readiness, student engagement, and overall well-being.
–Amy Nakamoto, General Manager of Social Impact, Discovery Education
The American education system has faced unprecedented change over the past few years, with fundamental aspects of the classroom undergoing a massive transformation. However, one thing remains true: the relationship between the teacher and the student is the quintessential element of a classroom. At the end of the day, a teacher connecting with and believing in a student is what’s going to change the world, and this relationship will continue to be the case in 2023 and well beyond.
—Lisa O’Masta, President, Learning A-Z
I believe 2023 will bring a shift in professional development (PD) for K-12 educators, with increased focus on inclusive practices. With this focus, PD and coaching will address the unique needs of every student, whether general or special education. General and special education teachers must meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population, which warrants a deeper understanding of learner variability. With more students with special needs in general education settings, teachers must be equipped with key strategies, practices, and tools to support each learner’s individual needs. In recent decades, the number of students with disabilities who spend more than 80% of their time in general education classrooms has more than doubled, equating to nearly 65% of those students (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020). By design, educational programs increase the amount of time students with disabilities spend learning alongside their general education peers and increase their exposure to grade-level standards and instruction. Unfortunately, academic outcomes for students with special needs have remained low year after year. It is my hope that district administrators will seek out PD offerings that support inclusive practices and empower educators to explore the common attributes of various disabilities, while also learning how to provide instructional support in general education classrooms. It’s vital for schools and districts to ensure their educators are sufficiently prepared to create classroom learning environments and opportunities that meet the needs of all students, including those with special needs.
–Jessica Petersen, General Manager of Professional Development Services, Catapult Learning
We’re seeing the pendulum swinging back to reintroducing career and technical exploration (CTE) in middle schools. While students are suffering from learning loss due to COVID, their parents see record level student debt, a growing shortage of skilled workers, and a 20% graduation rate when comparing all 9th graders to those who graduate from a 4-year college. Combined with promising results from middle schools with renewed CTE, more schools, both rural and urban, are realizing there are many successful paths for their students beyond a 4-year degree. We are proud to help schools which lack space or a certified CTE teacher help students discover the intelligence in their students’ hands.
–Mike Schloff, CEO, Maplewoodshop
Educators will need a new platform for knowledge sharing. For many years, educators like myself have turned to the education community on Twitter and other social media platforms to network, find inspiration and share fresh ideas for how to spark active learning in our classrooms. However, recent developments with various social media platforms have led some long-time users to consider leaving them altogether. I believe that in the year ahead, more educators will seek a new place where they can create an online community—for teachers, by teachers. On a new platform completely dedicated to education, teachers can go beyond the conversations from Twitter and create new opportunities for professional discourse and development that all goes back to inspiring better learning outcomes for students. Integration and connectivity between edtech tools will give rise to more smart schools. In 2023 and beyond, we can expect to see more integration and seamless connectivity between technologies used in classrooms and around campuses. For example, some schools are already integrating bi-directional casting between student tablets and interactive displays at the front of the classroom. Rather than a monologue by the teacher, it creates an engaging dialogue between learners that is far more productive in knowledge retention and problem-solving skills development. Displays in the classroom can also integrate with digital signage installed around campus—from the front office to the sports field. The role of schools in providing accessible and equitable education will come into focus. When classrooms went online in 2020, the digital divide was amplified showing the gap between students who had, did not have, access to broadband internet and digital tools at home. Those without access, unfortunately, fell behind and educators are now working to help them catch up to their peers. In much the same way that libraries have historically provided people with equal access to information, it will be up to schools to provide students with equal access and opportunities to education and emerging technologies. This goes beyond just providing 1:1 tablets or laptops; it’s giving students guidance on how to use classroom tools in meaningful ways that work with how they learn best.
–Dr. Micah Shippee, Director of Education Technology Consulting and Solutions, Samsung
Leveraging data will be critical to supporting academic recovery efforts and helping historically marginalized students. According to the most recent research on COVID impact, while there are initial signs of academic rebounding, historically marginalized students and students in high-poverty schools remain disproportionately impacted. Kuhfeld and Lewis (2022) call for sustained urgency in addressing interrupted learning, anticipating it will take several years to fully recover pre-pandemic achievement levels. It will be imperative that districts prioritize data and strategic communication to support their most at-risk students. Comprehensive data on the student, classroom, and school will be critical to developing right-size interventions, proportional to students’ needs, and avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach. Having a holistic picture of each student – including academic, behavioral, attendance, and disciplinary data – will be essential to targeting interventions and resources to the students who need them most. Most importantly, ongoing, meaningful school-home communication is paramount.
–Joy Smithson, Ph.D., Data Scientist, SchoolStatus
When we returned to the classroom after the challenges of navigating distance learning during COVID, many students had built a wall up as distance learners. For many, the one-size-fits-all learning opportunity was not successful due to limited resources in addition to not being able to offer individualized and adaptive-learning based learning opportunities. Being back in the classroom has given us the opportunity to build the relationships we may have lost during distance learning, allowing teachers to re-focus on the skills students need to be successful as lifelong learners and members of the workforce. Pivoting the focus of education to a competency-based teaching model and using both PBL and hands-on activities in the science classroom will allow students to gain meaning in their learning experiences and create the buy-in they are looking for. Using our current standards with real-world applications, vocational opportunities, and relevant technology in the classroom will allow for engagement as well as the skills students need to be successful in our current workforce and post-secondary education experiences.
–Kristy Topalovich, Science Teacher at Roosevelt Community Education Center and a Vernier Science Education 40th Anniversary Grant recipient
Educators will embrace brain science and screen time in early learning. Journeying right along with you through the early education space, the view from my seat offers a clear look at the gap between brain science and learning. We have to spend time in 2023 understanding the correlation there. As we acquire that insight, let’s share it with caregivers so they, too, are empowered by understanding, for example, why reading on grade level by age 8 is so critical. And in the spirit of the New Year’s Eve ditty “Auld Lang Syne,” let’s agree that embracing screen time is not something we ought to leave in 2022. We absolutely should leverage technology as a learning partner in 2023. Young learners are digital natives who just need guidance about balancing on- and off-screen activities, with those on-screen moments aligning with screen-time recommendations in terms of time and content.
—Jenni Torres, Ed.D., Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction, Waterford.org
Since the pandemic families have become more in tune to students’ plans for the future. The era of “everyone goes to college” has seemed to subside a bit and been replaced with a new push to programs that tailor to the trades. Families want opportunities where their students can enter the workforce immediately, with industry certifications and transferable skills. As families are exploring these options, they are also asking schools to create programs that offer flexibility so students have opportunities to pursue a trade while also being college-ready. In order to do both within the confines of a “normal school year” we have had families request options for our programs to be hybrid and offer students the opportunity to participate in-person, synchronously and asynchronously. In the coming year I expect we will see more school districts working to meet this new demand by providing flexible options for students who are interested in exploring both technical education and college-preparatory programs.
–Karima Wesselhoft, Supervisor, Advanced Academics and Specialty Programs, Prince William County Public Schools
In 2022, many schools, districts and states developed their Portrait of a Learner, defining the competencies and mindsets their communities value and want students to develop during their academic journey. This is a very positive development, particularly the recognition of the value of essential academic and career skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and written communication. In 2023, I believe we will see the focus shift toward measuring students’ Portrait of Learner skills and competencies and providing instruction to further develop these skills. It is clear that students are not leaving high school with these essential skills. Our research shows that 60% of our sample of 120,000 students entering higher education do not have proficiency in the skills of critical thinking, problem solving, and written communication. Our research also shows that these skills are predictive of positive higher education and career outcomes. I also believe that 2023 will see a continued movement from content-based summative assessments to formative and interim performance-based assessments that challenge students to apply content knowledge, critical thinking skills and written communication skills. CAE has been developing these types of assessments for innovative school districts who want to use assessment to help students improve. Not every assessment needs to be a test. As schools, districts and states implement their Portrait of a Learner, 2023 should be the year in which a concerted effort is made to measure and improve students’ proficiency in these essential skills, improving their future outcomes no matter what path they pursue.
–Bob Yayac, President and CEO, CAE
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