Top 10 Issues Education Leaders Are Using to Leverage COVID-19 for a Transformed K-12 Education System

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Aurora Institute (@Aurora_Inst) today released a new K-12 education policy report highlighting the top 10 issues surfaced by the COVID-19 pandemic to effect high-level, systematic change for the future of teaching and learning.

Education Policy Issues for the COVID-19 Era: Policy Actions and Responses to Leverage the Moment for Future Readiness is available for download here.

“Calls for a redesigned education system are growing in number and volume,” said Susan Patrick, Aurora Institute President and CEO and report co-author. “In this unprecedented time, we will do well to acknowledge that our long and firmly held beliefs about school, teaching, and learning will never be the same again. Our educators and students have a daunting year ahead as the pandemic persists. We are fortunate to have the liberty to seize the moment, share strategic guidance on education policy issues to rewrite the narrative, and fundamentally reshape this public good.”

K-12 system leaders report that they are both contending with and leveraging the following 10 issues to transform schooling:

  1. Using Blended, Competency-Based Learning as an Entry Point for Innovation
  2. Moving Away from Seat Time Credits to Awarding Credit Based on Demonstrated Mastery
  3. Re-Examining Grading Policies 
  4. Rethinking Assessment and Addressing the Need for Balanced Systems of Assessments to Measure Student Learning
  5. Examining the Purpose of Accountability
  6. Creating Flexibility and Multiple Pathways for Graduation Requirements
  7. Ensuring All Communities Have the Necessary Technology Infrastructure and Internet Access
  8. Supporting Students with Disabilities
  9. Ensuring Students Have Continued Access to Meals during School Closures
  10. Prioritizing Future Readiness for Pandemic Preparedness and Continuity of Learning

Education Policy Issues for the COVID-19 Era examines each of these issues and offers actionable recommendations to move from our current one-size-fits-all system to a future-focused system that exists to equitably support all learners toward success. It also offers a 10-step program with options to build capacity for a more personalized, competency-based education system. 

K-12 needs a re-alignment of systems and structures toward every learner’s growth, as opposed to a system that ranks and sorts students and moves them along an impersonal, invariable learning continuum. A re-imagined education system requires meeting students where they are, with culturally responsive, inclusive, and personalized learning approaches to ensure every student is on a path toward their goals. Such a system will also take into account community and workforce needs by making a series of changes led locally by the leadership of empowered educators, working closely with communities, and in partnership with students and families with competency-based pathways. 

There is optimism among schools, districts, communities, and states, including those we surveyed for this report, that together we can overcome these challenges to make our education system better than it was before.

About Aurora Institute

Aurora’s mission is to drive the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all. Aurora is shaping the future of teaching and learning for more than 14 million students through its work in policy advocacy, research, and field-building/convening. We work on systems change in K-12 education, identify root causes in structures, promote best practices, examine policy barriers, and make recommendations for change. Aurora has a national and global view of education innovation and lifts up promising policies and practices that yield improved outcomes for students. Aurora envisions a world where all people are empowered to attain the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to achieve success, contribute to their communities, and advance society.


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