At the Center on Reinventing Public Education

In times of crisis, knowledge must flow freely and quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic created just such a crisis in K-12 education.

Research is needed. But fragmented initiatives, conflicting findings, and duplicated efforts will not yield the dividends we need. Without coordination, we risk overlooking major gaps in our evidence base that leave essential questions unanswered.

For these reasons, the Center on Reinventing Public Education has launched a new initiative that will advance solutions-oriented analysis of the K-12 response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.

In a year of educational crisis, fall report cards brought more worrisome news. Failing grades are on the rise across the country, especially for students who are learning online.

The results threaten to exacerbate existing educational inequities: students with failing grades tend to have less access to advanced courses in high school, and a failing grade in even one 9th-grade course can lower a student’s chances of graduating on time.

A national scan of news reports and school district documents, combined with data from educator surveys, shows:

  • Rates of failing grades have increased significantly across the country.

  • Students from low-income households, students who are learning English, and students learning online are often most affected.

  • Many teachers had to navigate a shift in district grading policies with limited support

The pandemic has put unprecedented demands on teachers, who were asked to pivot instruction to the cloud and find new ways of connecting with families and students. Julia Kaufman and Melissa Diliberti offer fresh evidence on how teachers are faring as they navigate these unprecedented times.

Their review of teacher surveys available to date shows:

  • Teachers’ workloads spiked last spring and haven’t let up. On average, teachers are working six more hours per week than before the pandemic.

  • All teachers, but especially those teaching remotely and in high-poverty schools, are struggling to provide instruction, engage students, manage technology, and much more.

  • Morale has fallen sharply and seems to be getting worse as challenges compound and build.

  • According to a survey by RAND, about one-quarter of all teachers reported they were likely to leave the teaching profession by the end of the year.

This year, prospective freshmen and previously enrolled college students faced multiple pressures because of the pandemic—from online learning to increasing financial demands to the desire to remain close to home. For many, those pressures meant changing their college plans.

Georgia Heyward and Sarah McCann looked at college enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and 13 student perception surveys from the spring and summer to understand college-going patterns during the pandemic:

  • While undergraduate enrollment is down by 4 percent in 2020-21, the steepest declines are for young students attending college for the first time, particularly graduating seniors from high-poverty schools and those attending community college.

  • Financial stress and remote learning caused students to reconsider their college plans, with enrollment at primarily online institutions increasing.

  • Students of color were more likely to say they planned to put off or change their college plans. In the fall, freshman enrollment declined most for Native American, Hispanic, and Black students.

  • Students still recognize the value of higher education. Across all ages, enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs holds steady.

In collaboration with several members of the Evidence Project, we are excited to announce a research agenda that we hope will help instigate new work on COVID-19’s impacts on students, families, educators, and school systems.

Brief: Learning As We Go

Robin Lake and Lynn Olson summarize the findings from a panel of assessment experts on diagnostic assessments and their role in helping educators and parents support student learning.


RESEARCH AND SURVEYS

The project currently includes 150 researchers from over 100 different organizations, convened by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell. New researchers are joining nearly every day and we are expanding outreach to international scholars to share knowledge across national boundaries.

If you are a researcher doing work on the K-12 response to COVID-19, we invite you to join us.

EVIDENCE PROJECT NEWSLETTER

Notes from the Evidence Project is a weekly newsletter recapping all of the new research, surveys, and commentaries on K-12 and COVID-19.



GET INVOLVED

The project currently includes 150 researchers from over 100 different organizations, convened by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell. New researchers are joining nearly every day and we are expanding outreach to international scholars to share knowledge across national boundaries.

If you are a researcher doing work on the K-12 response to COVID-19, we invite you to join us.

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