Article originally published by EducationDive
To an outsider looking in, the K12 space appears to be one that avoids change and sticks to what is tried and true. Little do they know how dynamic this sector is and the large scale changes that may be coming its way. A number of issues are on the horizon ready to shape K12 over 2016. From intense budget crunches to unique changes in learning plans for individual students, here are a few of the trends affecting K12:
Budget Crises in Urban Districts
Across the United States there are school boards in urban districts that are looking down the barrel at severe lacks of funding, and there seems to be no clear solution to the problem. In Pennsylvania, a state budget impasse (which many generous teachers reacted to by offering to work for free) is moving towards a more extreme situation where Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite predicts that some schools will have to shut down due to lack of funding. Through this impasse there has been approximately $900 million in borrowing by Pennsylvania school districts to allow them to get by, and Philadelphia isn’t the only one in trouble unfortunately. Chicago faces a potential teacher walkout over unresolved contract negotiations from last summer. In Washington, legislators’ education fines totaled $5.2 million this past October, and continue to add up due to $100,000 in daily fines imposed by order of the state’s Supreme Court. These issues don’t currently have an end in sight and without action, can only become worse.
Personalized Learning Plans
The state of Vermont is currently a leader in the movement for personalized learning plans (PLPs), and they have recently mandated the creation of PLPs for all public school students in grades 7-12. The idea behind PLPs is to put students at the centre of the construction of their own learning experience—which has been shown to lead to better engagement and better outcomes. A study done by the Melinda Gates Foundation found that students from 62 different public charter and district schools “made gains in mathematics and reading over the past two years that were significantly greater than a comparison group made up of similar students selected from comparable schools.” Through programs like Big Picture Learning, digital learning platforms, and the advent of 1:1 device-to-student-ratios there has been increased promotion of individualized learning. A major advocate for this form of teaching is Mark Zuckerberg. He writes, “In a personalized learning classroom, technology frees up time for teachers to do what they do best: teach students in small groups and customize instruction.”
Holistic Approaches to Learning
If a child has to deal with the burden of trauma and stress from their personal lives, their ability to live up to their true academic potential will obviously be affected. That’s where a new approach to education in K12 seems to be gaining momentum. In California, therapeutic schools are helping low-income children and those who have experienced domestic violence bounce back personally while being able to make impressive academic progress. Another feature that is cropping up in these types of schools is the blending of education with services like healthcare. Schools are becoming more than just a physical representation of education, and transforming into a central hub for communities.
As 2016 progresses it will be interesting to see how these trends develop - some of which we are already seeing. It just goes to show you how the environment in K12 is always changing, from severe issues regarding quantitative items, to changes on a more human level, that will hopefully lead to positive outcomes for the students involved.