Edtech News Round Up: Solving The Teacher Shortage, And Technology In Testing

edtech news round up

Mounting student debt, technology and testing, and teacher shortages: it’s this week’s edtech news round-up.


DeVos Team Considering Reshuffling of Education Department’s Main K-12 Office

US Secretary Betsy DeVos and her team plan to merge the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) with the Office of Administration. This change comes with a push from the Trump administration to streamline government.

The merger will group employees within each of the offices based on their roles and skills. The idea is that this will provide a more holistic view of programs and will enable the two offices to work more collaboratively.

Employees with similar job functions will be grouped into three broader offices: one team would be administrative, with another focused on grant management.

The final team will be in charge of effective practices, building relationships with state officials and grantees. In addition, this team will also be responsible for Migrant Education and Indian Education, both of which are mandated by law.

Re-envisioning NAPLAN: Use Technology to Make Tests More Authentic and Relevant

NAPLAN online assessments provide students with different pathways within an assessment by using tailored testing. Students responses affect adjustments in the difficulty level.

However, the NAPLAN questions and tasks have yet to take advantage of the online environment. Tailored testing may provide quick access to scores but it lacks the ability to provide additional student information.

Australian state authorities and principal associations have called for a review of NAPLAN. They are now considering alternatives to meet the needs of a more complex skill set to better prepare students for their futures.

The proposed solution for the future of NAPLAN is to create more engaging and relevant assessments that utilize the online environment. The hope is that this will help broaden the complex skills being assessed and allow a more reliable source for predicting competency, literacy, and teaching than is currently available with NAPLAN.

Why Solving the Teacher Shortage Is Critical for Edtech

At the moment there is a critical teacher shortage. This lack of qualified instructors is having an enormous impact on schools’ ability to implement technology effectively.

The number of qualified teachers is shrinking due to several factors. These include the high turnover rates, the retirement of the baby boomer generation, and the decrease in the number of students opting to pursue a career in teaching.

Recent reports have shown that every year nearly 8% of teachers in the US leave the profession. In addition, from 2009–2014 enrollment in teacher education programs decreased by 35%.

This has seen an increase in substitute teachers, which can often contribute to inconsistent teaching styles and disrupted learning.

There is a strong relationship between learning and student achievement. Learning suffers when students are not taught in a consistent manner by one teacher. Inconsistency also creates problems with implementing technology systems.

If technology is not used effectively across a school district it reflects poorly on edtech providers. Thus, edtech vendor and schools both have a vested interest in addressing the teacher shortage.

There’s No Denying it – A Student Loan Crisis is Coming

Graduation is normally a time of celebration and transition from education into the workforce. However, today’s graduates are facing this new world with huge financial burdens resulting from student loans, some of which may take an entire lifetime to pay off.

A 2016 report showed that 61% of students graduate from college with an average debt of $28,100. In addition, it’s estimated that 40% of these graduates will default on their loans by 2023. Overall college loan balances are at an all-time high at $1.4 trillion.

Another report showed that 1 in 10 college graduates are categorized as “underemployed”. This means that graduates are employed in jobs that do not fully utilize their skills, which can delay career development.

In a 2018 report, the General Accountability Office (GAO) found that forbearance may help avoid default. However, this forbearance increases the ultimate repayment costs and doesn’t necessarily set borrowers on a path toward repayment.

The GAO calls for congressional action to gain a better understanding of the student debt crisis and the necessary steps for avoiding student defaults.

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