Ed Tech Trends

K–12 Expanding Services in Response to Pandemic

In the last year, to help its community of students, families, teachers and staff through the pandemic, K-12 districts began offering new services. Those included contract tracing, remote counseling and more. A recent survey by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) found that nearly three-quarters of school systems (74%) have conducted contact tracing; two-thirds (67%) have provided cleaning services for devices; and half (51%) have tested temperatures. Nearly a third (29%) have provided COVID testing.

The "Ed Tech Leadership Survey Report" found that while a majority of schools (53%) offered remote counseling to their students, less than half as many (23%) also offered it to teachers. Some 34% provided telehealth options.

Most districts have also updated their family outreach strategies. Two-thirds (63%) have boosted their frequency of communication, and more than half (52%) have increased the number of outreach channels. Some districts (32%) have enhanced how they use their existing parent portal; and some (37%) have adopted more two-way communication between parents and teachers.

In spite of the emphasis on home schooling during the pandemic, just 61% reported providing families with tips on how to use technology; and 33% offered teaching tips. However, a quarter of districts said they offered "more detailed information" about curriculum and a similar number (27%) tried to provide greater detail about their children's performance.

The survey also asked respondents what systems they have been using to measure the effectiveness of their remote instruction efforts. Eight in 10 (81%) said they have systems to track attendance; two-thirds (65%) could measure participation; and six in 10 could monitor "equitable access." Fewer than half can measure engagement (43%) or the details needed to perform contact tracing (44%).

On the assessment front, a light majority (52%) tracked summative assessments in an enterprise system while a smaller share (42%) did the same with formative assessments. Another 35% said their schools use formative testing but don't have an enterprise system for reporting or monitoring results. A third (33%) used an enterprise system to track interim assessments.

Flexibility was a theme in many of the responses generated by the CoSN survey. As one participant told the organization, "Many of the needs that we actually had to respond to were not the ones that we had anticipated."

This year's CoSN survey and report were conducted with the support of CDW•G and the Ed-Fi Alliance, and in partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, MDR and Forecast5 Analytics. The report is openly available through the CoSN website. The survey collected information from 390 participants between November 12, 2020 and April 1, 2021.

The complete report is openly available on the CoSN website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.