Educators share their evolving perspectives on their experiences, and the experiences of their students, during the period of school disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and their priorities and concerns ahead of the new academic year. References data collected in Summer 2020 and Winter 2020.
Programs & Services Provided During COVID-19
- Educators report that during the COVID-19 school closures, food was provided to students outside of the school day (99%, up from 58% over the winter). Access to technology or the internet outside of school (85%, up from 48%), providing books for home libraries (54%, up from 44%), and mental health services for teachers (47%, up from 41%) also saw notable increases.
- Also during this time, educators report that the availability of other support systems decreased: early childhood programs (64%, down from 78% over the winter); mental health services for students (69%, down from 80%); SEL programs (64%, down from 71%); and healthcare services for students (51%, down from 58%).
- Even among programs that show an increase in reported availability, educators report that more is still needed to support students and families. They point to a need for more services that provide access to technology and the internet outside of school (63%), books for home libraries (44%), and food (31%).
- During the COVID-19 school closures, community partners were more likely to provide assistance with access to technology and the internet outside of school (59%, up from 31% in the winter) and books for home use (37%, up from 23%). They were less likely to provide students with healthcare (34%, down from 55%) and mental health services (39%, down from 54%).
Encouraging Reading at Home During COVID-19
- When asked in summer 2020, 55% of teachers reported that their students’ families understood the importance of reading to support achievement.
- Nearly two-thirds of teachers (64%), said they encouraged or assigned reading more often than during a typical year during the COVID-19 school closures.
- While 44% of teachers say they increased their efforts compared to pre-COVID to encourage students to read independently, only 14% of teachers believe independent reading happened more often during the COVID school disruption. More than one-quarter (26%) reported not knowing the degree to which this happened.
- Similarly, while 27% of teachers report that they more often encouraged their students and their families to participate in read-aloud time at home, only 5% of teachers believe read-aloud time happened more often during the COVID-19 school disruption. Half of teachers reported not knowing the degree to which this happened.
Preparing for an Unprecedented Back-to-School
- More than 7 in 10 educators (78%) say they expect to have fewer students starting the 2020–21 academic year ready for grade-level work than in years past.
- The spring experience with distance learning brought to light a greater need for access to the internet and other learning resources outside of school (84%), to have families involved in student learning (73%), and to create strong connections with students (67%).
Implementing Distance Learning
- In winter 2020, only 39% of literacy teachers pointed to digital programs for student learning as a resource need to provide literacy instruction to students at various skill levels.
- Later in summer 2020, literacy teachers point to the need for digital resources and flexibility to support literacy instruction in distance learning. Specifically, they want programs that blend teacher instruction with digital resources (78%), digital texts that can be used for whole or small group instruction (74%), and programs that combine multiple types of formats and activities (72%).
- The key things teachers need to know to support their students during distance learning include physical logistics such as internet connectivity (80%), how involved parents/caregivers can be (76%) in distance learning, and access to devices (66%). They also need to know how students handled distance learning from a social-emotional standpoint (60%), and how much autonomy they were able to handle (56%).
- When asked about their school or district’s planning for distance learning in the 2020–21 academic year, only 35% of teachers agree that teacher voices and views are being listened to. Only 33% of teachers agree that teacher voices and views are being listened to in planning for the 2020–21 academic year overall.
Funding Priorities Shift to Reflect Distance Learning Needs
- Teachers’ top five funding priories in winter 2020 were: overall teacher compensation (60%), additional high-quality staff to reduce student-to-teacher ratio (52%), social-emotional initiatives and programs (47%), high-quality instructional materials and textbooks (38%), and academic intervention initiatives and programs (38%).
- Teachers’ top five funding priorities in summer 2020 shifted slightly, reflecting an increased need for digital programs and wrap-around services for students: overall teacher compensation (56%), technology devices and digital resources in school (51%, up from 24% in winter), additional high-quality staff to reduce student-to-teacher ratio (50%), social-emotional initiatives and programs (40%), and student access to wrap-around services, including healthcare, mental health care, etc. (38%).
Recognizing Students’ Social-Emotional Needs
- The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on things educators have long known to be true: the importance of schools in providing social-emotional stability for students (68%), the importance of close student-teacher relationships (72%), and the importance of partnering with families for student success (70%).
- Educators’ top COVID-19-related concerns are the impact on students’ social-emotional wellness (86%), students’ academic achievement (83%), and the health of students and their families (81%).
- Nearly all (99%) of educators agree that for students to reach their highest academic potential, their social-emotional needs must be met. But, 86% of educators say they need help meeting those needs.
- Only 11% of educators report that their schools were extremely or very effective in supporting students’ social-emotional needs during the COVID-19 school disruption, and only 12% say their schools are extremely or very prepared to do so in the 2020–21 academic year.
Teachers’ Outlook on the Profession
- In spite of the many challenges they’ve faced in 2020, nearly all teachers (97%) continue to feel their careers are challenging, yet rewarding.
- Overall teacher job satisfaction is down about 10% between the winter and summer months, with only 51% of teachers saying they are extremely or very satisfied with their jobs, down from 56% in the winter.