School House Rocked: How Covid-19 Could Change the Way We Teach and Test

School curriculums haven't matched the needs of the workforce. With disruptions to the way we educate in light of Covid-19, now is the time to ensure curriculums better prepare students for the workforce.

School curriculums haven't matched the needs of the workforce. With disruptions to the way we educate in light of Covid-19, now is the time to ensure curriculums better prepare students for the workforce. SHUTTERSTOCK

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

COMMENTARY | If we want to prevent long-term economic suffering, we should rethink our K-12 education system.

The usual hustle and bustle of daily life has come to a screeching halt due to Covid-19, giving us the opportunity to press pause, assess the way things currently are, and think about what should or will change when we regain some of our usual routines. 

One of the most obvious changes coming to American life is the way we work. Already, some employers are considering making the coronavirus-inspired shift to remote work a permanent change, having seen little disruption to daily productivity. But many American businesses that depend on in-person employees and in-person patrons are facing an uncertain and difficult future given social distancing measures that will continue to be in place until a vaccine is available. That coupled with the signs of continued instability in the economy, it’s quite possible that this could be the most difficult job market the country has ever faced. 

As the job market changes, so too must our approach to preparing the future workforce through our K-12 education system. Even before coronavirus swept the nation, school curriculum wasn’t aligning with the greater needs of the workforce. For instance, the manufacturing industry had a record high of 522,000 jobs remain open last year. Similarly, the IT sector had 918,000 jobs go unfilled. This doesn’t even  mention the extreme shortage of nurses that have been highlighted during Covid-19.

Employers have long waited for the education system to catch up. One survey found that 66% of HR decision makers think high schools aren’t doing enough to prepare students for a career after graduation. But there was little push for schools to change since graduates were still going to college and overall unemployment remained low. 

Now, with millions of Americans unemployed—and some likely to stay that way even after communities start to reopen—businesses that are hiring will have the ability to pick and choose the most prepared job candidates.This means schools will have to do a better job making sure their students are among them.  

While schools are scrambling to rethink how they educate kids during Covid-19, they might want to consider implementing the instructional method called Career Readiness Education (CRE). In a CRE, electives are reimagined to help students explore an industry of interest, then get an early jump on gaining relevant skills through Career Technical Education (CTE). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the unemployment rate among high school graduates who earn at least 3.00 CTE credits is lower than the unemployment rate of those that earn fewer CTE credits. 

CRE students work in teams, to complete industry-specific certifications at many of the country’s Destinations Career Academies. For example, healthcare students get prepared to take the pharmacy technician certification exam and develop professional skills through work-based learning opportunities like job shadow experiences, internships and externships. And rather than learning from a teacher who doesn’t have any personal familiarity with that particular industry, schools with the strongest CRE programs partner with organizations that have former industry professionals serving as certified instructors. 

Stronger CRE options might also result in a greater push for stronger online K-12 learning options. If a large part of the workforce remains remote, experience working in an online environment will be something employers are looking for in job candidates. Compared to an in-person office environment, a virtual one requires even stronger time management, accountability and self-starting skills. Employers will be on the lookout for candidates with these attributes, and parents will want their children to gain those skills, either by enrolling them in a virtual program, or demanding that their district provide a thoughtful blend of in-person and virtual instruction. 

A shift in the nation’s approach to K-12 instruction will also initiate a much-needed change in the way we measure student success. Long before Covid-19, critics of standardized testing have argued that those assessments don’t adequately meet the unique needs and abilities of all students, and that they rely too heavily on recall, which isn’t high on employer’s list of desired skills, rather than application. 

The same survey of HR decision-makers found that “soft” skills like work ethic, communication and teamwork are among the most highly desirable. But those aren’t the kinds of skills that get measured on standardized tests. Rather, those skills are assessed through interviews and internships, which a K-12 education paired with a robust CRE program provides students with opportunities to experience. 

A reform of American education has been sorely needed for decades. Could Covid-19 pave the way for us to finally ensure we have the skilled workforce ready to compete for the jobs of tomorrow? That should certainly be our aim.   

Dr. Shaun McAlmont is president of career learning solutions at K12 Inc.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
MN Water District and High School Collaborate on Stormwater and Education
Forest Lake, MN, USA
New Parking Plaza Adds Capacity & Embraces Sustainability at San Diego Airport
San Diego, CA, USA
Chula Vista creates a Digital Equity and Inclusion Plan
Chula Vista, CA, USA

NEXT STORY: Preparing Your Mind for Uncertain Times

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.