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Predictions for 2014 in Education

Friday, January 10, 2014 -- Scott Sterling

Although it may just seem like a reach for a blog topic (ahem), making predictions about the coming year is important. It gets us talking about the possibilities.

Nowhere is that more important than in education, where things can change so quickly and affect so many students. So from my view, blissfully above most of the fray, here’s where I see education going in 2014.

It’s time for results

We think it works. It seems like it’s having an effect. Kids seem more engaged. But is blended learning really moving the needle in terms of gains? For a while, it’s simply been too early to tell. That is no longer the case.

Watch for proponents and software providers to make a better case for particular blended learning models and systems—using actual assessment data. Once that happens, perhaps we can start getting some fence-sitting schools and teachers to finally buy in. That helps everyone’s cause.

The rise of big data

You might have seen some advertisements from big name computer companies talking about how analysis of “big data” has led to decreases in crime, better traffic planning, and improved power grid management. It seems as if computing has finally advanced to the point where it can make significant impacts on world problems.

That technology will be coming to education—and for some pioneering districts, it’s already here. Analytics takes student data, mixes it with other municipal data like migration patterns and crime stats, and allows decision makers to be better informed. In education, that means better resource allocation and, hopefully, better educational outcomes district-wide.

More emphasis on writing

Writing has been steadily moving out of the realm of English/language arts and has become a cross-curricular priority. Even the proponents of the STEM subjects recognize that their graduates will need to be able to communicate in order to contribute to the 21st century economy. You can see this in the Common Core math practice standards, where multiple mentions are made of students being able to back up their work with critical thought, both linguistically and through the written word.

Forward-thinking schools and districts began this emphasis on content area writing a couple of years ago. Everyone will start catching up this year, meaning that even math and science teachers will have essays to grades.

Education more politically important

Every House seat, 36 governorships, and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs in the 2014 election cycle and education might be the preeminent issue of the campaign. The hesitancy some electorates are having over the Common Core will finally boil over into campaign politics (the controversy came too late for the last election). Also, No Child Left Behind is up for eventual reauthorization… someday.

The people elected this year can help shape those debates. Whichever side you fall on the issues, get involved, make your voice heard, and—most importantly—go vote!