How leaders can support the ‘big changes’ coming to K12 in 2024

That's according to Tripod Education's new market study, a survey of nearly 800 educators and district administrators, unveiling significant shifts in instructional approaches, curricula and district strategies.

What changes did superintendents implement before the current school year? What changed during the school year, and what changes are expected beyond 2023-24? These are the questions Tripod Education, a leading provider of classroom-level student survey assessments, sought to answer in its new report titled “Big Changes in 2023-2024: Tripod’s K-12 Market Study.” As expected, educators reported having lots in the works surrounding changes to their instructional approaches, curricula and district strategies.

The survey highlights the responses of nearly 800 teachers and district administrators, which include the need for comprehensive professional learning, enhanced support in incorporating new programs and initiatives as well as the effects of sociopolitical trends on education policies and spending.

Sweeping changes

Ahead of the 2023-24 school year, educators reported implementing new policies surrounding wellness, enrollment and behavioral programs (69%), which may have been influenced by the pandemic. Now, survey respondents say they’re currently implementing new curriculum programs, mainly in the Science of Reading, math and English language arts (ELA), with nearly one-third of educators reporting changes to their Science of Reading programs.

Necessary for these changes, however, is effective professional learning for educators responsible for seeing these policies through. When asked what was needed to better support teachers—beyond time and money—56% said that “better professional learning” is needed, followed by “ensuring that teachers and students can design/influence the implementation plan” and “more clearly [communicating] the vision of a new program.”

Those who reported being involved in school improvement/transformation work cited facing several challenges in the process that district leaders ought to address:

  • Too many demands or changes: 55%
  • Limited time to learn and collaborate: 52%
  • Poor professional learning support: 38%
  • Limited project management support: 37%
  • Institutional inertia: 34%
  • Limited onsite support: 31%
  • Staff reluctance: 28%
  • Weak/unfocused process for updating plans: 25%
  • Limited pedagogical knowledge: 18%

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Additionally, respondents were asked to identify what types of data they want school leaders to leverage more to assess whether or not students are successful. Here’s what they said:

  • Behavioral data: 60%
  • Student progress data: 55%
  • Classroom observations: 53%
  • Anecdotal data from teachers: 48%
  • Attendance data: 43%
  • One-on-one conversations with students: 41%
  • Student voice surveys: 37%
  • District benchmark results: 29%

Lastly, survey respondents were asked to identify what social or political trends currently have the greatest influences on the policies and financial spending in their districts.

In terms of school spending, educators said the need to build new schools, provide security, recruit new teachers, and expand support and services for counseling and tutoring were the greatest influences on school spending. As far as school policy goes, leaders identified the following as the greatest influences: political activism, gender identity-related concerns, book bans and student behavioral issues.

“This report is not just a collection of data; it’s a reflection of Tripod Education’s commitment to enhancing educational practices, student engagement and school climate,” Tripod Education’s Vice President Byron Adams said in a statement. “We invite school and district leaders across the nation to explore the detailed findings and recommendations of this report to identify where educators are seeking change and support.”

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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