Five Key Insights in EdTech for K-12 Schools | Winward Academy


Five Key Insights in EdTech for K-12 Schools

The Situation

As reported in a recent study on learning loss published by McKinsey & Company, students are tracking 5 months behind in Math and 4 months behind in Reading. Schools with majority Black students are 6 months behind, and low income schools are 7 months behind. Learning loss is predicted to be worse this fall. And while schools have the money this year with $180B of stimulus funding going to K-12 districts, the ability to spend on the right things is a significant challenge.

Looking Ahead

The ASU+GSV Summit offered a glimpse into the future for online learning as schools in the US begin to open their doors for in-person learning and education technology companies are ready to support accelerated programs. School stimulus spending and 1-1 devices in K-12 classrooms are paving the way for a new hybrid reality with emphasis on social emotional learning and skills for life-long success.

The summit took place on August 9-11, 2021 in San Diego, California. Seven members of the Winward Academy team attended 25 sessions with topics that ranged from learning loss to policy interventions. Following a two-hour debrief session, hundreds of sticky notes, and insightful conversation, Winward Academy synthesized the takeaways from the summit into the following key insights.

1. Summer Programs Matter for Kids Without Access

Summer programs with high quality educational tools offer students growth opportunities that schools are not always able to provide. While colleges may have strong summer programming for high school students, these programs are expensive and cost prohibitive for most families. Community centers and non-profit organizations have the opportunity to lessen the learning gap by providing high quality, free summer programming for all of the students and the families they serve.

“Summer provides a great opportunity for students to access high quality online curriculum to boost Math and English scores while also offering enrichment experiences colleges are looking for on applications.”

– Gaby Millan, Vice President, Impact

Proof Points:

  • EdWeek Market Brief referred to technology that helps with extended and summer learning as “transformational.”
  • Panelists discussing federal interventions agree that blended learning is actually promoting access. Students are able to access classes and credits from other institutions or schools.

2. The Right Tutoring Can Recover Years of Additional Learning

Schools, districts, and government-sponsored educational programs are seeking creative ways to offer intensive tutoring for every student. With the right tools and hands-on training, volunteers, mentors, and coaches have the potential to learn how to implement effective online tutoring to support long-term student growth.

“You don’t have to be an expert to offer quality educational programs. Tutors trained on the right tools supported by a proven study plan will help kids feel invested, maintain motivation, and be rewarded for success.”

– Carlos Alvarado, Director of Student Success and Engagement

Proof Points:

  • Tennessee Education Commissioner, Penny Schwinn, is going big on intensive, high dosage tutoring in Math and Writing for elementary, middle, and high school students. The program is leaning in on creative ways to tap into the community to find great partner support.
  • A panel on learning loss discussed how tutoring approaches that lean in on the community with the right training can recover 1-2 years of additional learning.
  • Institutions that invest in high impact tutoring can provide high quality virtual curriculum and equitable access to technology.

3. A Growth Mindset Relies on Full Support

Providing support and transparency for everyone involved in a child’s learning is critical for students to develop a growth mindset. This support includes personalized training for teachers, accessible reporting for students, and ways for parents to stay involved with their child’s progress.

“The entire education experience in and out of the classroom must be considered. Students are seeking ownership in their learning journeys. Teachers rely on data from technology to make better decisions. And parents are more involved now than ever.”

– Michelle Peck, Chief Experience Officer

Proof Points:

  • Shawn McCusker, Director of Professional Learning at Digital Promise, reinforced the importance of family engagement with his Six Systems for Success.
  • Education Week confirmed the vital role of the teacher and how edtech solutions must include training for teachers.
  • A McKinsey & Company study validates the importance of focusing on the whole child, noting that 35% of parents are very or extremely worried about their child’s mental health.
  • A panel on learning loss and recovery stated that when approaching stimulus spending, it is critical to pay attention not only to students but also to the adults supporting them.

4. Higher Test Scores Lead to More Financial Support

Providing access to financial support for students is critical in addressing the equity gap. With COVID limiting access to ACT and SAT exam administration, test-optional became the standard for many universities. However, many high schools are continuing to recommend students take the ACT or SAT exams. Schools that provide the resources and support to improve test scores are providing more opportunities for students to present more competitive applications. Students with strong test scores are also more likely to receive the financial support many families rely on.

“By providing underserved youth with the same resources as students in private and boarding schools, all students have the opportunity to boost their test scores and have more options for college acceptance and scholarships.”

– Dr. Jennifer Winward, Ph.D, Founder and CEO

Proof Points:

  • Panelists discussing the trend to test-optional described the next step in equity as what happens after the test. Students are being admitted to universities, but then they are on their own to figure out how to pay for it.

5. Life Success is Getting Through College, Not Just to College

It is important to provide the skills for students to be successful in life, not just on tests. The right metrics must be tracked to demonstrate successful student outcomes. A more educated workforce starts by providing teens with the content knowledge and confidence to do well in college and beyond.

“Schools and organizations that prioritize student-centered eLearning interventions will have more insight into growth and progress.”

– William Avery, Vice President, Business Operations

Proof Points:

  • Dr. Darin Browley, Superintendent of Compton Unified School District, clearly stated that KPIs are necessary to justify spending and that without demonstrated success on KPIs, money will be shut off.
  • During the session Reimagining Black & Latinx Student Achievement & Economic Success, panelists stated that people are focused too much on students getting admitted to college and not enough on their finishing.
  • US Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, called for a transformational shift to create community college programs connecting high school students to four year colleges and to jobs.

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About Winward Academy – Winward Academy is one of the world’s leading innovators in the online education space, providing web-based academic support that enhances students’ knowledge, confidence, and competitiveness in middle and high school academics and in college applications. We help thousands of students every year by providing personalized, comprehensive ACT and SAT test preparation and extensive math curriculum support. The Winward Academy learning platform honors over 40 years of education and cognitive psychology research, incorporating proven techniques that promote effective learning.

Winward Academy’s unmatched reputation is wholly attributable to our students’ exceptional success and to the trust earned among students, parents, and schools around the world.

Michelle Peck

As the Chief Experience Officer of Winward Academy, Michelle provides a business-minded leadership approach to the human-centered design process backed by 15 years of experience in design consulting. Specializing in EdTech and student experience, Michelle has collaborated with educational institutions including Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, University of Washington, The Ken Blanchard Companies, MaiaLearning, Art of Problem Solving, and Sally Ride Science. Michelle attended the University of Colorado, Boulder and graduated with a major in Advertising and certificate in Technology, Arts and Media. Recognition has included awards from the American Advertising Awards, Hermes Creative Awards, Creativity International Design Awards, and the Web Marketing Association. Michelle volunteers with the Design Forward Alliance to support community engagement and design education in San Diego.