How Outdated Technology’s Impacting K-12 Teachers, Administrators: New Study

Today’s post comes to us from the executive director of The Workforce Institute, Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR.

Turns out COVID-19 isn’t the only reason public school teachers are increasingly absent from class. It’s also outdated technology, according to a new report out this week, just in time for back-to-school season around the United States.

The study finds nearly two in three (63%) K-12 districts across the country lost teachers to other school systems in the past year because employees sought a more advanced technology experience. At the same time, K-12 staffing challenges intensified during the 2020-21 school year as the pandemic pushed teachers to other districts, out of careers in education, or out of the workforce altogether.

Some key findings from the study include:

  • Nearly four in five districts (77%) tracked an unexpected increase in teacher retirements.
  • Two-thirds (65%) of districts struggled to retain educators, many of whom decamped for other districts offering a more sophisticated technology experience.
  • K-12 central office administrators agree — almost unanimously (94%) — that teachers’ technology expectations at work have peaked as a result of the pandemic.
  • Moreover, 71% of administrators said they struggled to hire new teachers in the past year.

Clearly, it’s time for an upgrade. But not just the one we’re usually debating.

While we often focus on ensuring our students have access to the most advanced technology, tools, and resources inside (and outside) the classroom, it’s just as crucial to provide top HR and workforce management technology to our teachers and central office administrators to help improve the employee experience and drive back-office efficiencies.

Though, as this research reveals, public schools are quickly falling behind and in danger of failing. And, these antiquated practices, manual processes, and other technology-related shortcomings are costing schools more money.

According to the survey: Nearly two in three districts (64%) relied heavily on overtime to cover unplanned absences in the 2020-21 school year, half are potentially overcompensating substitute teachers, and just 44% are using labor data to maximize funding across their districts.

There’s a seemingly never-ending list of stressors for our public school teachers and administrators. Outdated technology shouldn’t be another one on the list.

Today’s lesson: For schools looking to attract and keep their gold-star educators, consider the critical role technology plays in that success.

Check out the complete executive report for a full analysis: Technology Cultivates K-12 Success: Creating a Better Work Experience for School Staff in 2021-22

One thought on “How Outdated Technology’s Impacting K-12 Teachers, Administrators: New Study

  1. Chris – this is a very timely article highlighting a key strategic issue that must be resolved if K-12 institutions want to remain relevant. In my view, the article highlights a ley set of symptoms related to long-standing cultural challenges where so often the priorities of decision makers tends to focus on real estate and/or buildings, and perhaps other less obvious items, instead of focusing on initiatives that support those who do the work (i.e.: teachers), which directly impacts student outcomes and teacher retention. These people based initiatives seem to frequently experience a low priority level. I have witnessed a similar scenario in higher education environments where a campus is willing to spend tens of millions (or more) on one or more new buildings, and yet things like having current technology based systems that support faculty scaling their workloads up/down, or faculty pay, or those systems that allow HR and payroll functions to scale their workloads up or down, often experience a lower priority than a new building. Even though financial resources are often constrained, it seems this situation is more of a cultural challenge and not necessarily a budgeting challenge. Perhaps when teacher retention becomes an obvious long term problem, decision makers will place a higher priority on the core issue(s). Thank you for this article!

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