Pay Theory Blog
May 3, 2022

Reflect, Relearn, Refocus: Strength and Weaknesses for School Districts in 2022

What are some of the crucial highs and lows our district administrators have seen in 2022?  

For the first year since 2020, we are seeing the aftermath of rapid school closures and elearning shifts. A lot of what is left behind is the reintegration of students and staff into a new learning routine.

This creates an opportunity to take advantage of the sudden revaluation of finances and classroom delivery with new online opportunities. We invite you to keep reading to reflect on the processes of the school year, relearn the positives of past practices before COVID, and refocus on new goals to be more inclusive and maximize the academic potential of all students.

Key Weaknesses

Staff Shortages

Among cuts in funding during the pandemic, many school staff members resigned to be with their families or explore other job opportunities:  “Principals are doing custodial chores, and bus service has been severely cut because of a lack of drivers. In one Connecticut school district, disrupted bus service forced schools to close for two days.”  

In the aftermath of the “great resignation”, private companies are able to offer higher salaries than those in the public sector, making it difficult for schools to catch up. This year, school boards are going to have to find innovative ways to find staff and support their students.

Mental Health Support

Over the last 3 years, teachers are facing rising behavioral problems in the classroom. Many students are still re-adapting to an in-person classroom after virtual social isolation. A lack of socio-emotional development amplifies classroom distractions for younger students, while older students have to re-adapt to in-person studying and test-taking.

2022 National Superintendent of the Year, Curtis Cain, identified mental health support as being the most crucial resource for both students and teachers to help address these issues.

Key Strengths

Funding for Tutoring

In 2022, standardized test results indicated learning gaps, especially for students of color, in reading and math. Fortunately, “federal relief funds have launched tutoring and other programs” to help close these gaps for schools.

This offers a unique opportunity for schools to implement district-wide tutoring support for families, by accelerating student learning with supplemental out-of-class instruction. For the first time in years, schools can work with tutoring partners to create affordable tutoring options not available before the start of the pandemic.

Accessible Education

Today, 86.6% of households have reliable internet access, although this number is much lower for rural or low-income areas. The pandemic has opened up public-access internet programs and created funding opportunities forK-12  laptop programs, giving students access to virtual instruction and online assignments.

Some solutions have included “ broadcasting lessons on TV for pre-K to 8th graders… and some libraries offering curbside book deliveries.”  Recent developments in EdTech suggest that the future is bright for online student education, and only continues to improve in 2022.