Teaching and Leading Through a Pandemic: Key Findings from the American Educator Panels Spring 2020 COVID-19 Surveys

Research Rundown Issue: July '20
Publisher: Rand Corporation
Date Published: June '20


RAND surveyed a nationally representative sample of teachers and administrators on a variety of topics related to distance learning, including curriculum coverage, contact with families and students, teacher training on remote instruction, and priorities for the upcoming school year. Overall, RAND found that while educators provided a variety of supports during distance learning, existing inequities were likely exacerbated.

Only 31% of teachers reported that they mainly covered new content, with 46% reporting that they did mostly or all review. Also, only 49% of teachers in schools with higher concentrations of low-income students said they were able to get in touch with their students and families, as compared to 62% of teachers in schools with more affluent families. About one-third of teachers reported that they did not receive adequate guidance on how to support students with special needs. Principals echoed some of these concerns, with 85% citing concerns about providing equitable instruction and 74% concerned about their ability to communicate with families and students. Principals also noted that a major limitation to distance learning was students’ lack of internet access and devices.

Looking ahead, the three biggest things teachers reported needing support in were:

  • Learning strategies to keep students engaged and motivated,
  • Strategies for mitigating learning loss, and
  • Guidance and tools for assessing students’ social-emotional well-being.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

Understanding the experiences of educators and principals during distance learning is important as we plan for the 2020-21 school year. The findings from RAND’s survey are consistent with findings from other teacher surveys. To make sure teachers are best prepared for the unknowns in the fall, districts and state leaders should listen to their needs and provide training that equips them with strategies for providing equitable learning opportunities, how to address learning loss, and supporting students’ social-emotional needs. Schools should also be working to get in contact with their students and families, while also making sure their learning plan—whether it’s in-person, hybrid, or distance—provides clear support and expectations to families, and is also translated into languages that reflect the communities they serve.

Read the report