6 elements teachers and parents say are essential to student success

Here's how administrators can approach each one–including high-quality teaching and student engagement–effectively, according to a recent survey.

Administrators, if you haven’t asked your teachers or families what they think are the essential components of student success, that information is being gathered for you. These most crucial of stakeholders named six key trends as the most critical elements of instruction and student success for the coming years, according to a recent survey by the company that makes the Canvas learning management system.

Here’s what each of those trends means for administrators:

  1. High-quality teaching is the key ingredient to high-quality learning. This puts the onus on administrators to continue to invest in immersive and ongoing professional development.
  2. Student engagement is (still) the No. 1 measure of success. Educators must use technology to provide personalized learning and to recreate core classroom experiences when students are absent or learning remotely.
  3. We need to change the way we approach assessment. With high-stakes assessments continuing to place a heavy burden on teachers and students, educators are increasingly relying on a more actionable assessment approach that’s embeddded in the regular instructional cycle.
  4. Both hybrid and digital teaching and learning are here to stay. Students, parents, and teachers have experienced the benefits of staying connected outside of the classroom, and there’s no going back.
  5. There’s still work to do on equity. Providing equitable access to essential technologies–such as web-enabled devices–is expected to remain a top priority for future K-12 funding.
  6. Technology is now essential to teaching and learning. Ed-tech’s most important role is its ability to provide a familiar and consistent foundation for all teaching and learning, allowing educators to build upon the advancements made during the transition to remote learning.

Student engagement and attendance–cited as the best indicators of student success–will only grow in importance in the coming school year, according to Instructure’s survey. There will also be renewed focus on academic achievement, which ranked third but was also cited as an increasingly urgent measure of success. More specifically, 94% of teachers said student engagement was most important, compared to the 91% who cited attendance and 83% who picked academic achievement. These three components landed in the same order in Instructure’s 2021 “State of Education” survey.

In a parallel poll, parents in 2022 ranked high-quality teachers (83%) and core course performance (76%) as the most critical elements of student success. Almost all the teachers and administrators surveyed agreed that high-quality staff and engaging instruction have the biggest impacts on student success.

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On the social-emotional side, there is nearly universal and unanimous consensus among administrators, teachers and parents that student-teacher relationships are among the biggest drivers of student success.

“This collective recognition of the value teachers provide to the learning experience, paired with the fact that nearly three-quarters of parents are satisfied with the quality of their child’s teachers, offers hope for a promising future–one that lends itself to supporting teachers in ongoing professional development to foster growth,” Instructure’s report says.

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The survey also tracked how perspectives around assessment have changed during the pandemic. The cancellation of spring 2020 state assessments forced educators to examine better ways to measure student learning. Nearly three-quarters of educators responded by using formative assessments to monitor academic progress. In 2021, the perceived value of high-stakes exams “decreased dramatically” the annual surveys have found, with respondents placing standardized test scores last among 14 student success factors.

But in 2022, the perception of standardized tests improved slightly, though it still ranked last for student success. Instructure’s polls have also identified a growing reliance on formative and interim assessments

Finally, the survey identified the “pillars” of K-12’s technology ecosystem. About 80% of teachers and administrators are using video communication platforms in 2022, a slight drop from last year’s survey. At the same time, the use of learning management and assessment management systems has surged, from about 60% in 2021 to around 70% for the former. Parents are also increasingly open to the use of ed-tech tools that give them a clearer view of their student’s progress and allow them to better connect with teachers. Parents said ed-tech tools were especially effective for student communication, getting feedback on assignments and student collaboration.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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