Dive Brief:

  • COVID-19 and virtual learning have created “the perfect combination of catalysts for a rapid conversion to student-centered schooling,” according to a new report from the Christensen Institute.
  • However, the authors write, most K-12 educators aren’t equipped with the skill sets needed to run student-centered schools. For student-centered learning to be adopted, educators must be trained for student-centered competencies, but current approaches to educator development also fall short in this area. 
  • The report suggests school and district leaders should revamp their professional development approaches for student-centered learning.

Dive Insight:

Specifically, the report suggests school and district leaders:

  • Work toward a more modular professional development system, which includes specific, verifiable and predictable microcredentials.
  • Specify competencies needed for student-centered educators.
  • Compensate educators with bonuses for microcredentials to incentivize earning them.
  • Purchase bulk licenses to allow teachers the opportunity to earn microcredentials. 
  • Demand and pay for mastery of skills rather than a one-time workshop.
  • Vet microcredential issuers’ verification processes, like rubrics and evaluation systems.

When schools shifted to remote instruction, some students fell off the grid while others were stressed and faced barriers to to completing schoolwork online, such as the lack of Wi-Fi and unstable home environments. Now that districts across the nation are returning to school with a hodgepodge of reopening plans following COVID-19 closures, educators are preparing for for widened gaps and for students to be at different places in their in their learning.

Testing experts, the U.S. Department of Education, parents and district leaders have all expressed the need for assessments in order to identify gaps that may have grown, as well as achievements, since schools closed in March. Some say testing, if used correctly, can lend itself to personalized learning, which will be key to catching students up after many had vastly different experiences across their peer groups. 

However, NWEA CEO Chris Minnich warned against teaching to only the middle group of students, saying all students, including high-achievers and those who need a little more assistance, will need targeted personalized instruction

“One of the things that could happen is that we could have a regression to the middle,” Minnich said in August, adding it might be easier to target that group of students in an online setting. “[Teachers are] going to need information about how to personalize instruction, and it’s going to be a lot harder to do that in a remote environment.” 

While testing could help with personalized instruction, a report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education stressed the need for professional development so teachers can interpret the resulting data and let it guide instruction this year.

“Educators have to do their best work, on steroids,” Robin Lake, director of CRPE and one of the report’s authors, said when the report was released in July. She added that students “have always been at different levels and have always had different needs.”

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