Special Report
School & District Management From Our Research Center

What It Will Take to Transform Public Education (in 4 Charts)

By Elizabeth Rich — September 06, 2022 1 min read
Conceptual Illustration
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The EdWeek Research Center heard this summer from more than 1,000 educators in a nationally representative survey on their ideas about whether the pandemic transformed public education. Remarkably, 95 percent of respondents saw the pandemic as inciting some kind of change—and half of them said that the pandemic was transformative. (For a more in-depth look at this, see my colleague Madeline Will’s Big Ideas reported essay on how teachers view the pandemic’s impact on education.)

But the devil’s in the details: Respondents were clear about what they feel is standing in the way of major transformation. Aside from funding issues, 42 percent of educators said that either state, local, or federal officials and state, local, or federal policy and laws are among the biggest obstacles to change.

When it comes to the lasting impact of the pandemic 10 years down the line, educators care most about the human dimension of schooling: Almost a third want to see more attention paid to student well-being—and that includes student mental health. One in 5 said they would like to see less attention paid to standardized testing.

And who or what is the biggest force for change or transformation when it comes to education? Teachers, 35 percent said. One out of 10 respondents said it was administrators, and 13 percent cited funding. And even though survey respondents believe policymakers and their laws are obstacles to change, only 16 percent think policymakers’ efforts could be transformative.

What does it say about the field that only 1 percent of educators think that elected federal officials could bring about education transformation? At the very least, it tells us that educators believe agency for change rests in their own hands, provided they have the support—at every level—to do their jobs.

education week logo subbrand logo RC RGB

Data analysis for this article was provided by the EdWeek Research Center. Learn more about the center’s work.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 13, 2023 edition of Education Week as What It Will Take to Transform Public Education


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management 5 Mistakes Schools Make When Building SEL Programs
Experts weigh in on how to avoid parental and community backlash against social-emotional learning initiatives.
5 min read
Woman finding her way to a happy smile icon in the middle of labyrinth like maze with school subject icons ghosted over a cloudy sky textured background.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management 3 Questions to Help Districts Find the Right Superintendent
A superintendent sets a district's tone for, potentially, years to come. Making sure the right person takes the job is no small task.
4 min read
Human icon print screen on wooden cube block with space for Human Resource Management and Recruitment hiring concept.
Dilok Klaisataporn/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Should School Boards Go Local or Look Afar for the Next Superintendent? That Depends
Rising turnover at the top is forcing more school districts to undertake the daunting task of finding a new superintendent.
5 min read
Illustration concept of hiring choices showing a scale with professionals on one end and a dollar sign on the other side.
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty
School & District Management The State of Rural Schools, in Charts: Funding, Graduation Rates, Performance, and More
Rural schools receive less funding on average from states, but they still deal with the mental health and academic crises facing all schools.
5 min read
In this Aug. 13, 2014, file photo, a student prepares to leave the Enterprise Attendance Center school southeast of Brookhaven Miss. The federal government has decided to delay changing the way it determines funding for rural education after a bipartisan group of lawmakers said the move would hurt hundreds of schools.
A student prepares to leave the Enterprise Attendance Center school southeast of Brookhaven, Miss., on Aug. 13, 2014.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP