Benton, AR, Feb. 5, 2024 – The Learning Counsel, a pioneering organization at the forefront of educational transformation, successfully concluded its 10th Annual Digital Transitions Survey Results & Awards event virtually, held for a national audience of participating schools, districts and edtech companies on January 31, 2024. This annual recognition awards and briefing event provided an in-depth analysis of the national 2023 K-12 School and District Administrator Survey on strategies, models, and technology, alongside the concurrent 2023 K-12 Teacher Survey on pedagogy, models, and technology.
Learning Counsel Research gathered an extensive dataset with 4,912 survey responses from sends to 1,104,455 administrators and teachers nationwide. The event also celebrated the outstanding achievements of thirty-six schools and districts through recognition awards, highlighting their exemplary efforts in advancing education through innovative strategies and technology adoption.
Key Findings from the Survey included:
The schooling landscape is shifting rapidly. The briefing highlighted the shifting school landscape, with the largest growth category being homeschooling which is growing at over 51% annually, down slightly in growth from the pandemic years. Additionally, Learning Counsel reported a decline in the "off-grid" category of the K-12 aged population due to a large percentage of them showing up as registered in traditional public schools now in the past year. The “off-grid” enrollment helped replace the massive loss to charters, private schools and homeschooling but has caused other issues such as the need for more language translation than ever before. “Consumerized learning,” or direct purchase of learning apps, courses, courseware and discrete digital materials is now over $11 B more in spend than all schools put together. A percentage of this spend appears as pertaining to students already in traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools and online schools. It is not only the homeschoolers, indicating there is a gap schools are not filling that is causing online search and spend directly.
School Choice legislation will cause a huge disruption by 2025. The rise of school choice and vouchers in nineteen states is expected to put into play anywhere between $23 and $114 billion in potential voucher money by the end of 2024. With eleven more states likely to pass Choice laws in 2025, the potential disruption would achieve as high as $300 billion in play and 51% of the American student population.
Attrition away from traditional public schools is extreme. Most major cities have lost at least 20% of their student population whether they are a wealthy and high-achieving school or in a poorer area. The survey indicated that 41% of school and district administrators have a mindset to effect some transformation to move away from the traditional model. While details of which model were not asked, Learning Counsel included future analysis of schooling forms to go beyond the on-campus variations of blended, flipped or hybrid, online or virtual versions of the same, charters or micro-schooling, to discuss spatial-temporal AI enabling pace-based learning and overhauled master schedules and schooling spaces such that the “whole group” manufacturing-line motion by grade and class and course completely shifts to homerooms or remote learning coupled with classrooms or virtual teaching as meetings held only upon the AI for school calendaring scheduling a cohort with teachers on-demand. Notions of managing attrition to have far more personalization are aligned with this new hybrid logistics schooling form which uses AI.
The teacher shortage is worsening and has no real remedy in sight until 2030. The survey indicated the severe teacher shortage continues, with over a million teaching positions unfilled out of the over three million needed, creating a significant challenge for the education system and cascading issues with teacher overwhelm, inability to deliver some subjects, class sizes exceeding legal limits by figures like 250% and more.
Students are absent – a lot. Learning Counsel cited research showing absenteeism above twenty-five percent of the student body nationally and continuing to climb unabated. The briefing noted that some of this is due to a growing population of foreign students not understanding the nature of education being compulsory as well as citizen students since the pandemic considering schooling as antiquated and optional – with their parents in agreement.
Generative AI use needs some policy bracketing in schools. The survey explored opinions on generative AI use in educational institutions, revealing a split between administrators and teachers. Approximately 34% expressed the view that teachers and administrators may use it, while 30 to 32% reported having no policy. Only 7% of administrators and 8% of teachers felt that students should use generative AI at will. Twenty percent of teachers felt generative AI should be blocked from school networks.
Schools are under heavy pressure. The top pressures administrators cited were recruiting teachers, losing students to alternatives, and an increased number of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) as their highest pressures. This last indicates that not only has the student body shifted to need more personalized plans, but also that it is an expectation of families and students. On the teacher side, social and emotional wellness, recruiting teachers, and recruiting other staff were identified as the top-most challenges.
Learning Counsel is committed to disseminating these valuable insights to the education community through its annual virtual conference and a subsequent tour to twenty cities, offering one-day briefings to help K-12 schools stay informed and adapt to emerging trends in education.
Past survey reports are available here. 2023’s final survey reports are now available to attendees and upon request until formally posted to the Learning Counsel site with all stories.
Upcoming briefings will include analysis on the future direction of schooling in America at all of these events in 2023:
Learning Logistics & Tech Tour 2024
Feb. 20th Phoenix, AZ Host: Phoenix Union High School District
Feb. 22nd San Diego, CA Host: Cajon Valley Union School District
Feb. 27th San Antonio, TX Host: Southside Independent School District
Feb. 29th Houston, TX Host: Klein ISD
March 5th Nashville, TN Host: Metro Nashville Public Schools
March 14th Orlando, FL
March 12th Atlanta, GA Host: Gwinnett County Public Schools
March 19th Riverside, CA Host: Riverside County Office of Education
Sept. TBD Detroit, MI
Sept. TBD St. Louis, MO
Sept. TBD Philadelphia, PA
Sept. TBD New York, NY
Sept. TBD Mankato & Minneapolis, MN
Sept. TBD Cincinnati, OH
Oct. TBD Dallas – Fort Worth, TX
Oct. TBD Austin, TX
Oct. TBD Miami, FL
Oct. TBD Charlotte, NC
Oct. TBD Denver, CO
Oct. TBD San Francisco Bay Area – Fremont
Learning Counsel News Media & Research is a research institute and news media hub that provides context for educators from ongoing analysis of trends and a deep understanding of new dynamics in technology, systems, school administration and models. Our mission-based organization was the first to develop a thesis of education’s future based on tech and cultural evolution -- and start helping schools advance systematically with live field events and the direct work of the Learning Counsel Innovation Services division.
For media inquiries or to schedule an interview, please contact:
Doug Cauthen, COO