The Power of Now
Embracing the Moment to Face Education's Essential Challenges
With nearly half of K-12 students fully online for school this fall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire school experience has brought with it challenges—and opportunities. This sudden shift in environment has only amplified the need to value all teachers and all students, without exceptions. Educators, administrators and vendors alike are now at a pivotal decision point—continue down the path or reject the mindset of preparing students for a distant future, and instead do all we can, in this moment, to address these challenges now. After all, the future of each student is only a succession of todays—and we must collectively focus on strategies and solutions designed to help teachers make a difference with every student, every day.
One way to begin embracing the power of now in education is by pushing the envelope on student assessments. More school districts—particularly in the context of the pandemic—are looking for actionable, real-time data about their students’ performance. With students learning in hybrid or fully remote settings, this formative approach can arm teachers and administrators with the information they need to drive students toward success.
That said, with academic standards in place, there is an important role for summative assessments to play. The challenge is how best to evolve these assessments so they do even more to help educators impact student learning and well-being in the moment. Sophisticated real-time testing solutions can provide deeper and more actionable insights for summative tests, making it possible for teachers to take immediate action. It's not just about testing students—it's about identifying how they're struggling, when they're struggling—and then doing something about it. By leveraging digital, machine learning-driven testing platforms that deliver real-time data, educators can help students, not just later, but in the moment.
Beyond assessments, investing in high-quality professional learning for teachers is essential. Our teachers are in an incredibly challenging position, with many being required to be in the classroom, managing students both in person and virtually. Time and again, research has shown that teachers are the most pivotal factor in student success. This moment is an opportunity to empower teachers with professional learning experiences that are engaging, flexible and easy-to-use. Hybrid training resources that are rooted in science and feature both on-demand instruction as well as virtual and in-person training ensures that teachers will be prepared to help struggling students, no matter where they are.
If the curricular solutions teachers are being asked to use aren’t helping them achieve student learning goals, they don’t have a place in the classroom. At Cambium Learning, we see that student-focused, research-proven solutions like Lexia Learning enable educators to improve performance without impeding their teaching style. When Marietta City Schools in Georgia implemented Lexia to support its growing population of English language learners, it saw that 90% of ESOL students advanced at least one grade level of material in the program during the 2019 school year. Flexible, evidence-based, digital curriculum gives educators confidence in an uncertain environment. We’re seeing usage of these solutions surge during the pandemic, with more than 550,000 educators taking advantage of our free student-centric literacy, math and science resources between mid-March and June.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and brings with it not just challenges, but opportunities to accelerate positive change in education. Rather than continuing to focus on a distant and intangible future, we can solve real learning challenges now, one day at a time. If we embrace only solutions and approaches that work how they are designed to work, we can help pave a more certain path for teachers as they navigate what is quickly becoming a very new normal.