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9 Education Trends to Watch in 2023

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Is better EdTech for reading and writing on the horizon? How will districts across the country address enrollment dips? Will more states offer mental health days for students? We spoke with education leaders from across the country, including experts in EdTech, school design, curriculum, mental health, and more. They share their ideas on the education trends in 2023 that are worth watching.

Read on for more trends in K–12 education to watch in the year ahead. If you're curious to see how our education predictions panned out in previous years, check out 8 Education Trends to Watch in 2021 and 11 Education Trends to Watch in 2022.

Trends in Education in 2023

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Francie Alexander, Chief Research Officer, HMH

Prediction #1: EdTech Companies Will Find New Ways to Support Teachers

"According to HMH's latest Educator Confidence Report, 78% of teachers have a negative view of the profession, and 41% are open to the possibility of leaving. They need support and I think you’ll see EdTech companies doing more to provide that support in a way that honors teachers’ expertise. At HMH, we’re always focused on making all of our programs seamless and easy to use. This way, teachers feel empowered by technology, and can concentrate on what they do best: building student relationships, supporting students as they explore interests, and ensuring they gain the skills needed for future success. We also built Teacher’s Corner to provide a space for educators to collaborate, share ideas, and support one another."

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Dr. Tyrone Howard, UCLA Professor and ICLE Senior Fellow

Prediction #2: Districts Will Address Enrollment Dips

"Los Angeles Unified, and other large school districts across the country, are seeing enrollment declines. The reasons are manifold: more parents are homeschooling, birthrates are declining, immigration has slowed, and more than a million students stopped showing up when the pandemic started. Enrollment is tied to funding, so school budgets will be affected. My concern is that we may be moving into the perfect storm: declining enrollment, coupled with reduced budgets, at a time when COVID dollars will be drying up, and an economic downturn may be on the way. The student needs that emerged due to COVID aren’t going away any time soon. A lot of districts hired extra counselors, social workers, and support staff. What will schools do when the COVID money is gone in a year or two? We’re going to see principals and administrators doing some significant outreach to try to turn this around."

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Dr. Josh Starr, ICLE Managing Partner

Prediction #3: Expect More Efforts to Retain Educators

"The educator shortage has created a lot of consternation in the media, our collective consciousness, and within schools and districts. Much of the focus has been on the pipeline, which is a necessary, but insufficient, aspect of ensuring that every student has a high-quality teacher. Great leaders in schools, central administration, superintendent offices, and board rooms know that a commensurate effort must be made to retain educators by providing ongoing support, deep development that helps them improve their practice, opportunities to advance in their careers, and the prospect of exercising leadership in new ways. Yes, we need to pay attention to the conditions that are causing young people to dismiss teaching as a viable career, and causing masterful teachers to dismiss leadership positions. But a leaky bucket will never be filled, and I expect in 2023 more attention to be paid to retaining and supporting our educators so that they will continue to help students thrive."

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Dr. Ivannia Soto, Education Professor at Whittier College, specializing in second language acquisition and systemic reform for English language learners (ELLs)

Prediction #4: Look for a Greater Emphasis on Speaking in ELL Classrooms

"More districts are aiming to ensure that English language learners practice academic language for 30 percent of the school day. That’s the amount of practice multilingual learners need to become proficient in English within 5 to 7 years. Not many schools are meeting that requirement, which is not surprising, since we haven’t done a great job in teacher ed in addressing the needs of these learners. Some states don’t even have a certification process for teaching multilingual learners. Those districts that emphasize strategic and ongoing PD to emphasize best practices, such as creating opportunities for students to speak in a variety of settings, have been able to get closer to that 30 percent goal."

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Dr. Robert Dillon, School Designer, Author, Educator

Prediction #5: Optimized Learning Spaces Are in the Works

"The scheduling matrix for our high school students continues to grow more complex as students learn beyond the walls of the school. We see more students taking courses virtually, or at higher education institutions and trade schools. These options, coupled with internships, job shadowing, and other off-campus experiences, have more students moving through their high school day asynchronous to the bell schedule. This reality is creating an emerging trend in learning spaces. Now, more than ever, students need space to work on projects for classes they're taking outside of the school. They need quiet spaces to join synchronous virtual class meetings. For some schools, this space is the library, but the volume and support needed is outstripping the personnel in the learning and physical space available. Look for more learning lounges, "we-learn" spaces, and supervised tutoring and support centers to emerge in new school buildings and retrofitted in existing buildings."

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Dr. Emma Humphries, iCivics Chief Education Officer

Prediction #6: More Districts Will Adopt EAD-Aligned, Inquiry-Based Curriculum

"The need for better civic education was made clear in 2022. I expect a growing number of districts to turn to the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy (EAD) as it enters its third year of implementation. The EAD Roadmap provides a framework for K–12 history and civics instruction that tells a complete narrative of America’s plural yet shared story, cultivates civic honesty and patriotism, and inspires students to become involved in their constitutional democracy. When paired with robust, ongoing, and job-embedded professional learning and coaching, a high-quality, EAD-aligned curriculum transforms the teaching of history and civics by encouraging students to learn by asking difficult questions, then seeking answers in the classroom through discussion. Districts in 10 states across the country have already embraced the EAD framework, with many more looking to sign on this year."

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Jennifer Rothman, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Senior Manager, Youth and Young Adult Initiatives

Prediction #7: More States Will Offer Students Mental Health Days

"Some states are providing mental health days to K–12 students. The idea is slowly spreading across the country, although there has been some pushback from people who say it stigmatizes mental health by making it out to be something separate from physical health. At the same time, offering mental health days to students shines a light on mental health. It allows young people to open up about their feelings rather than hiding them behind a sick day. If students can be honest about why they might need to stay home and rest, then it starts that conversation in the family about what’s happening and the steps young people can do to make things better."

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Dr. Almudena Abeyta, Superintendent of Chelsea Public Schools in Massachusetts

Prediction #8: Expect Renewed Emphasis on Data

"Over the past school year, the focus has been on getting back to in-person learning, and emphasizing students' mental health and well-being. And now we're thinking, "Let’s not forget about using data to improve instruction!" It’s time to get back to basics. Districts across the country are looking at the data and seeing the learning loss caused by the pandemic. Students are one, sometimes two years behind. So, we’re thinking about how to use our stimulus dollars to accelerate instruction for these students, by providing more opportunities for learning, such as after-school tutoring. It used to be hard to get data in time to support struggling students. But now, everyone, including teachers and administrators, has access to data, including state testing data and formative-assessment data. And increasingly, that data is available in one place, making it easy to access, so that we can more quickly intervene to help students."

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Amit Patel, managing director at Owl, an EdTech venture capital firm

Prediction #9: Better EdTech for Reading and Writing Is on the Way

"For a long time, it was difficult to create EdTech for reading and writing, because these subjects are complicated to assess. But over the last few years, there have been advancements in EdTech that are going to be game changers. With advances in natural-language processing and AI, for instance, we don't need to train an EdTech solution with thousands of writing samples before we can start assessing student writing. We also have access to certain algorithms, machine learning, and natural-language processing technology, that are making it more attractive for entrepreneurs and new companies to develop new EdTech. And with school back in session, we can get feedback from students on how products for teaching reading and writing, like Amira or Writable, can better meet their needs."

More Education Trends to Watch

With the help of education experts, we've highlighted some of the hot topics in education right now. Let us know what we've missed. Share with us your ideas for the current trends in education to watch. You can reach us on Twitter (@HMHCo) or Facebook, or email us at shaped@hmhco.com.

The views expressed in this article are those of the education leaders highlighted and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

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