Instructure Explores Pandemic’s Impact on U.S. Schools with New Research On the State of K-12 Education

Instructure, the makers of Canvas, have released new data that explores how the pandemic has impacted K-12 education and identifies six key trends moving forward for U.S. schools. Positive shifts include teachers and parents becoming more open to new ways to teach and learn, and finding value in technology to stay connected.

Student engagement became the leading metric of student success, with 92% of educators calling it the most important factor. The data also underscores challenges in areas like equity, with low-income households more than twice as likely to report difficulty in helping their children remain engaged.

“Our school communities persevered through incredibly challenging dynamics this past year, but overall we came through it more adaptive, open to new approaches and deeply focused on student engagement,” said Trenton Goble, VP of K-12 Strategy at Instructure. ”At the same time, there is a lot of hard work ahead. About half of educators and parents feel students have significantly fallen behind due to COVID-19. We know technology will remain pivotal, as the pandemic shifted its role from a nice-to-have to an essential service that connects teachers, parents and students with the entire learning journey.”

The research revealed six key trends that parents and educators across the country feel are important to teaching and learning in K-12 education.

  1. Investing in teachers = investing in student success.

High-quality teaching continues to be recognized as the leading factor contributing to student success, and investing in immersive professional development is critical to supporting teacher preparedness, building and deepening skill sets, and promoting teacher efficacy.

  1. The #1 priority for teachers is student engagement.

Using technology to provide personalized learning plans, measure student engagement, and recreate core classroom experiences when students are absent will help teachers capitalize on the investments they made last year, and address individual learning needs.

  1. It’s time for a fundamental shift in assessment.

While students continue to feel pressure around high-stakes tests, such as semester-end or year-end assessments, the perceived value of those tests has decreased dramatically. Keeping every student on track to reach grade-level standards will require an actionable approach to assessment that’s part of the regular instructional cycle.

  1. Hybrid teaching and learning is here to stay.

Ongoing technology use will be essential to supporting classroom activities and ensuring students stay engaged and parents stay informed, both in and outside the classroom.

  1. Equitable access is critical to achieving equity in education.

Funding for hardware acquisition remains a top priority for districts, as access to technology devices and internet connection continues to play a role in teacher preparedness and student engagement.

  1. Technology is essential in keeping teachers, students, and parents connected.

Though the abrupt transition to online learning presented many challenges, the adopted tools kept everyone on the same page, and their continued use can positively impact engagement and communication.

Survey Methodology

To collect the research for “The State of Teaching & Learning in K-12 Education,” Instructure partnered with Hanover Research to survey parents and teachers from March to May 2021 through MarketSight. After fielding and data cleansing, this study consisted of 664 qualified responses with 464 parents and 200 teachers/administrators. The data was cut into crosstabs by region and role, along with various additional subsegments, such as socio-economic status. Statistical significance testing was performed across segments with a 95% confidence level using a Z-Test with p = less than 0.05.

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