When the pandemic disrupted our country, 100% of our schools became virtual, not by choice, which made the process very interesting. Teachers had to rely on technology, some for the first time, to continue instruction.
The educators in our country did an amazing job building the plane while flying it. Whether it was Google Suite, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, teachers quickly developed a knack for using the software they had at hand or were able to quickly learn and implement.
While having various tools at their disposal was great for the time being, teachers quickly began to realize what tools worked best for their classroom.
Since March 2020, we have seen districts drown in apps and technology tools in an effort to quickly assemble a virtual learning strategy. In 2022, it is likely that we will see districts working to identify which tools are going to support their teachers and students moving forward. Institutions will start to commit to specific programs and delve into competency-based or comprehensive learning management ecosystems.
We will see schools pull in the reins on what was the proverbial “Wild West” of technology. We will never be the same, and that is a good thing.
How the right tools prepare students for the future
I previously worked with a school district in Nashville that provided devices for all of their students once the COVID-19 lockdowns happened. Approximately 10% of the students did not engage despite having been provided a device.
The students who chose to not participate are not unique. In fact, many students throughout the U.S. didn’t participate in online school—for a number of reasons. Students who didn’t engage are noq likely two years behind compared to their peers. While we are still in the midst of the pandemic, we must begin to identify these students, determine how far behind they are, and figure out what to do about it.
As districts identify which tools can assist with math, writing, and reading instruction, it is also important that districts identify tools that can track students’ current level of knowledge and skills. The social-emotional Competencies of the students and their post-secondary or employability skills cannot be left to chance. A Comprehensive Learner Record provides districts ready access to the skills individual students have in every aspect that makes up that students’ profile.
When teachers begin tracking student progress, they can identify what is happening with student learning. They can see which students are suffering, in which subject, and which students are excelling. Traditionally, tracking student progress is done through homework and tests. But it has been said, and I agree, that most of the data schools use is autopsy data.
We are now seeing the importance of tracking students’ skills come to the front of the conversation. Tracking students’ skills can be a tedious job but the right CLR tool can track hundreds and thousands of students’ skills in core subjects, social-emotional learning and employability skills in an instant; then,it can display them for the student, teacher, and parents to intervene or extend before the summative assessments.
Giving students ownership
Another great feature about CLRs is that you do not have to be a data expert. The right CLR tool will present the information in a way that is digestible and easy to comprehend. This will help teachers and districts understand how they can support students, especially now that we are two years into the pandemic and frankly struggling to determine what to do now.
Tracking students’ skills can also change the narrative from trying to understand why a student received a certain grade on a test to identifying what skills they are lacking, which could be more beneficial for student progress and success in the long run.
CLRs are designed to capture all aspects of learning and activities into a complete competencies and skills transcript. Introducing a CLR into your district’s tool kit can empower students to optimize their education while giving parents and teachers ready access to what students know and what they don’t know. These tools can provide students access to their own data, which allows them to feel ownership over their education and track their progress.
Despite the obstacles COVID-19 has created, the right type of technology tool will assist students in continuing to make progress. As we begin the new year, it is important to focus on supporting our students in different ways.
Terry Shrader is vice president for K-12 growth at Territorium, a global ed-tech company.