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Axios Assessment of Pandemic Impact and Potential Changes is Thoughtful and On Target

May 10, 2020

Axios writers Kim Hart and Alison Snyder assessment of the impact of the pandemic on public education and the possible changes is thoughtful and on target. Hot and Snyder force the possibility of major changes given the findings of a recent survey conducted by the National Parents union indicate that “32% of parents want schools to revert to the way things were before the pandemic began” and an astonishing “61% said schools should focus on rethinking how to educate students and should come up with new teaching methods as a result of the COVID-19 crisis”. That astonishing opportunity cannot be wasted! The article then highlights four broad changes that “experts” foresee:

  • A redefinition of assessment, moving away from standardized tests and toward mastery learning
  • More power in the hands of students and parents, as they realize that aspiring to college may not be the best direction for all children. At the same time, public schools are seeking input from parents on what schools should look like when they DO reopen.
  • More personalization, meaning using CAI to pace student learning and the curriculum itself as opposed to relying on a fixed curriculum
  • A deeper appreciation of the inequities that exist, which Hart and Snyder note are not limited to internet access but also include “the availability of a parent to steer at-home learning“.

Each of these changes are interconnected and, if taken together, would move schools away from the outdated factory model that persisted for nearly a century. There is, however, one caveat that Hart and Snyder do not downplay:

Despite the opportunities to make changes, there will be a strong pull toward the status quo because people are longing for a return to pre-pandemic life, especially for parents of K-12 students.

And they followed this caveat with this quote from Todd Rose of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-founder of Populace, a think tank: “People are craving normalcy — the last thing they want is disruption even if that would be good for them.”

As noted in many earlier posts, normalcy is undesirable in the case of public education and unattainable in the future given the fiscal and medical challenges schools will face. Here’s hoping the changes Mss. Hart and Snyder describe come to pass.

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