The struggles in education will continue in 2023, but so will the joy.
What changes we’ve experienced in the last three years!
It feels like waaaaay longer than a year since we wrote and published our article on 2022 education trends.
But time marches on, and although it's still a stressful time to be an educator, there are some silver linings that bring us hope. Sure, low test scores, teacher shortages, and other COVID-related fallout are problems we need to solve. But these challenges give us a chance to make real and lasting changes, especially for students who are, and always have been, at a high risk of falling behind.
With closing opportunity gaps and supporting the whole student at the forefront of educators' minds, it's not surprising that many 2023 education trends focus on improving educational equality and expanding school services. Ready to look at the top five education trends we'll see in 2023?
1. Technology Use and Access
While the digital divide isn’t new, it's been recent news and will continue to be a focus for educators in 2023.
Virtual learning made it obvious that more technological devices and high-speed internet networks are needed to improve academic progress. Our Black and Hispanic students were more likely to have limited access to the technology they needed to do school from home. Another study revealed that a quarter of our country's low-income teens did not have internet access during the pandemic.
The educational impact of digital inequity is clear. Our eighth-grade NAEP scores dropped eight points in math and three in reading compared to 2019, which may not sound dire unless we consider that NAEP scores have been below proficient since the early 1990s—so even minimal drops are troubling.
The good news is that people leading educational initiatives are highly focused on improving student performance and digital equity. Schools in Oakland, California, for example, a city where only 25% of students had a computer pre-pandemic, asked the city to fund an initiative to give every student access to a laptop. Today, 98% of Oakland students have a device!
Similarly, organizations like the Close the Gap Foundation provide grants to schools to help them equip students with technology and seek to expand the reach of high-speed internet access. With efforts like these, we’re hopeful that 2023 will be the year we make significant progress in closing the digital divide.
2. Teaching Reimagined
While we all know that teaching has never been an easy job, more teachers than average have left the profession lately, with even more contemplating a career switch.
Changing the profession so that more teachers want to stay is a discussion for another time, but in the here and now, districts are feeling the shortages and taking steps to remedy the situation. Some are raising pay for teachers and substitutes, while others are changing teacher requirements to encourage those from the military or other industries to become teachers more easily. Tiered teacher licensure is another solution, where new teachers begin working in entry-level roles and receive training, both on and off the job, as they work toward becoming experienced and fully licensed educators.
So, what else have schools done when they simply don't have enough teachers? Some are outsourcing with virtual teachers, especially for hard-to-fill positions in math and science. Others are using technology to helpwith instruction since it allows teachers to do more with less oversight and prep. One-on-one responsive learning software, such as MATHia or Reading Assistant Plus, for example, gives students immediate feedback so they can learn efficiently, at their own pace, without needing a teacher at their side the whole time.
In 2023 more schools and districts will look for tech tools like the ones mentioned above that can accelerate student learning while also improving teacher retention.
3. High-Dosage Tutoring
With the increased need for additional instructional support, tutoring has become a hot topic. And with busy teachers rarely having time to provide tutoring on top of the regular school day, many schools and districts have hired online tutoring services.
While tutoring programs come in all shapes, sizes, and costs, the two dominant types that schools rely on are on-demand and high-dosage tutoring. The on-demand approach pairs students with a tutor when they log in, but it may be a different tutor each time. This type of tutoring is commonly viewed as basic homework help.
High-dosage tutoring pairs students with one tutor, complements classroom instruction, and includes multiple weekly sessions. Early studies show better results with high-dosage tutoring, which makes sense given its frequency, content, and consistency.
Many districts, such as Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland, started implementing high-dosage tutoring programs in response to COVID-related needs, and districts will likely continue to build and expand these programs in 2023.
4. School and Community Resource Initiatives
Every day, I feel a little warmer when I read about more schools adding health, well-being, and social-emotional resources to their campuses. Increasing services makes sense, given the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2021 warning of a youth mental health crisis. After COVID-era reductions, schools are once more able to offer an array of services, and they're partnering with community organizations, businesses, and local governments to give students what they need.
One district in Colorado, for example, partnered with local medical experts to build a mental health treatment center for students. Vancouver Public Schools established 18 Family-Community Resource Centers to help students and families find information about health care, housing assistance, food, transportation, clothing, and school supplies. And Cajon Valley Union School District in California worked with local businesses and community leaders to build the World of Work program, which exposes students to various career opportunities starting in kindergarten.
Other schools work with park boards, community education centers, public health agencies, and nonprofits to provide everything from counseling services to dentistry to family yoga classes. When many of us lost our support networks during COVID, we were reminded that it truly does take a village to raise healthy, successful kids, and schools are calling on all available resources in creative ways to help kids—and their families—get what they need.
5. Playful Learning at All Grade Levels
One of my favorite things is watching children play, and it just so happens that play has well-documented educational benefits, such as encouraging curiosity and building resilience after failure. While it’s long been a mainstay of early childhood education, new research suggests that middle schoolers and high schoolers also benefit from playful learning, especially when it comes to building social skills, exercising creativity, and solving real-world problems.
Don't your students respond enthusiastically to anything that becomes a game? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is an integral part of social-emotional and academic development, specifically in the school environment. Over and above fostering joy, which is no small feat in itself, play can become learning when it connects to what you've been teaching.
Considering the last few years, I'm guessing that play has never been more important in your classroom than it is now. Expect this trend to stay strong in 2023.
What's in Store for Education in 2023?
As we enter 2023, I believe we’ll continue to make learning better for a greater number of students. I know from personal experience that teachers are a determined and resourceful group; if anyone is up to the tasks and challenges ahead, it's you.
Dr. Martha Burns, director of neuroscience education here at Carnegie Learning, often says that teachers change their students' brains every day. And that's just the beginning. You're also changing lives, futures, and the world in 2023—and beyond.
Feeling hopeful yet? I hope so.
Cory Armes has eighteen years’ experience in K-12 education as a general and special education teacher and educational diagnostician, specializing in working with students with learning disabilities and behavioral issues. She has worked in Texas throughout her career and is glad to be on the ELAR team at Carnegie Learning.Explore more related to this author
With closing opportunity gaps and supporting the whole student at the forefront of educators’ minds, it's not surprising that many 2023 education trends focus on improving educational equality and expanding school services.
Cory Armes, Senior Content Specialist, Literacy, Carnegie Learning