SpeakUp 2021 Virtual Congressional Briefing

For almost two decades, Project Tomorrow has hosted a Congressional Briefing bringing the voices of K12 students, parents, educators, and administrators to Capitol Hill and sharing the findings of their research. The goal is to provide information critical to the development of sound education policy. This year the tradition continued with a virtual briefing enabling participation from around the U.S and globally.

The changes in American education over the past two years have been profound with enormous impact on students and educators.  At the Congressional Briefing, speakers highlighted the latest research from 2020-2021 surveys reflecting the authentic voices of almost 50,000 students, teachers, parents, and administrators. They shared information on empowering the student learning experience, engaging teachers and parents, and addressing educational inequities. The research data came to life with a panel of K-12 students from around the country who told their own stories and offered insights on their experiences. 

Key findings from the 2020-21 Speak Up Research Project include: 

  • While two-thirds of students grades 6-12 said the top benefit of virtual learning was learning at their own pace, less than half of school principals saw it as an important benefit.
  • Overall, just half of students say they’re engaged. At schools where the majority of the 6-12 grade population are students of color, just 43% agree they are engaged with what they are learning, 8 points lower than schools where the majority of the student population is white (51%).
  • Self-directed learning emerged as a critical engagement tool. Surveyed students’ preference for a school culture where self-directed learning is the norm is valued by 55% of high school students. Among students who say that they wish their classes were more interesting at school, 60% identify this learning preference.
  • Teachers have also become more comfortable using technology to personalize experiences for students. For example, 37% of teachers this year said they were very comfortable using technology to personalize experiences for students in their class; only 21% of teachers said the same in the 2019-20 school year.
  • Additionally, 44% of teachers report that, as a result of remote learning experiences, they now understand how to engage students effectively in learning when that learning modality is online. Email (67%), mobile apps with conversational capabilities (61%), and text messaging (54%) remain the most effective way for high schoolers to communicate with teachers.

For more, see: https://tomorrow.org/speakup/speakup_congress.html