Publications

We regularly analyze results from American School District Panel surveys, produce in-depth studies of districts' work, and produce reports and commentaries to share our findings. Here are the publications we have produced so far.

March 16, 2022

Report

Whack-A-Mole: School Systems Respond to Disrupted Learning in 2021CRPE

In this report, researchers complement recent ASDP survey research with in-depth interviews of leaders on the ground in five school systems. The researchers found that district efforts to emphasize grade-level instruction and just-in-time supports required them to work in new ways. But district responses to COVID-19 in the fall were complicated by a host of factors that made getting to instruction difficult: challenging student behaviors, staffing shortages, and the politicization of health, safety, and education. School districts across the country are working hard to catch students up. But the Whack-A-Mole experience of leading during the pandemic raises questions about how these pressures will affect system leaders and leadership and whether, in the future, schools alone will be able to do enough to help all students get the help they need to recover.

March 14, 2022

Commentary

What Is Really Polarizing Schools Right Now?RAND Corporation

Results from a recent RAND survey of a nationally representative group of district leaders reveal how widespread political polarization has become inside school districts. And the implications for the future of public education are worrisome. So-called “critical race theory” instruction has become a common flashpoint—but it’s the particular polarization about COVID-19 vaccines and school safety practices that a majority of district leaders viewed as disruptive this school year.

Feb. 15, 2022

Survey analysis

Flux in the Educator Labor Market: Acute Staff Shortages and Projected Superintendent Departures: Selected Findings from the Fourth American School District Panel SurveyRAND Corporation

Has the COVID-19 pandemic caused shortages among school staff? To obtain a national picture of the various types of staffing challenges that districts are facing in the 2021–2022 school year, RAND researchers surveyed 359 district and charter network leaders in the American School District Panel between October 25, 2021, and December 10, 2021.

Feb. 8, 2022

Survey analysis

District Leaders’ Concerns About Mental Health and Political Polarization in Schools: Selected Findings from the Fourth American School District Panel SurveyRAND Corporation

Survey results suggest that districts are confronting serious challenges in the 2021–2022 school year that might be getting in the way of student learning. Although some challenges, such as student and staff mental health, are nearly universal across districts, other challenges are more localized. Historically marginalized districts are confronting extra challenges this school year, such as getting students back in school and low teacher attendance, while a higher percentage of historically advantaged districts are encountering political polarization about COVID-19.

Dec. 22, 2021

Summary

The State of the American School District: Policy Recommendations for the Road AheadCRPE

How are public schools navigating the COVID-19 landscape and planning for pandemic recovery? ASDP surveys have tracked some significant shifts already, including dramatic increases in technology deployment and mental health services. However, concerns about future funding could jeopardize these gains. This summary highlights five takeaways from ASDP research that have implications for state policies and practices.

Oct. 28, 2021

White paper

The State of the American District: Refocusing Our State and Local Agendas on Teaching, Learning, and EngagementCRPE

Past American School District Panel surveys revealed that many districts are expanding nonacademic services, navigating a staffing crunch and longer-range fiscal uncertainty, and expanding virtual schools. How can state leaders can ensure these shifts lead to better teaching, learning, engagement, and well-being for students? These three policy memos provide recommendations.

Aug. 30, 2021

Survey analysis

The Rise of Virtual Schools: Selected Findings from the Third American School District Panel SurveyRAND Corporation

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted school districts in the United States to offer remote schooling options for their K–12 students. Results from the June 2021 ASDP survey suggest that K–12 remote instruction will outlast the pandemic. This report explores differences in districts' pre-pandemic offerings and plans to offer multiple remote instructional modes in the 2021–2022 school year by district type.

Aug. 23, 2021

Survey analysis

School Districts Have Expanded Their Nonacademic Services for 2021–2022, While Academic Offerings Remain Much the SameRAND Corporation

In this report, researchers present some of the changes districts are making to their academic and nonacademic offerings for the upcoming 2021–2022 school year, and whether parental demand has played any role in prompting districts to make these changes. Survey results suggest that while public schools are expanding their nonacademic offerings, much of their academic offerings for 2021–2022 remain the same.

Aug. 16, 2021

Survey analysis

The K–12 Pandemic Budget and Staffing Crises Have Not Panned Out—YetRAND Corporation

In this report, researchers present school district leaders' views about staff turnover, hiring, and districts' financial outlooks at the end of the 2020–2021 school year. Based on the survey responses of 292 district leaders from the ASDP, the authors found that teacher and principal turnover had not increased substantially beyond pre-pandemic rates in most districts.

May 25, 2021

Report

How Six School Systems are Responding to Disrupted Schooling: Will It Be Enough?CRPE

In this report, researchers complement their recent survey research with in-depth interviews of leaders on the ground in six school systems. The researchers' goal was to learn how these system leaders approached and managed student learning during this difficult year and to gauge what it means for the future. What happens next will depend not only on district actions but on the nature and depth of students' academic and social needs, which will only become clear over time.

May 11, 2021

Survey analysis

“Urban and Rural Districts Showed a Strong Divide During the COVID-19 PandemicRAND Corporation

In this report, researchers summarize results from the second survey of district leaders by the RAND Corporation's American School District Panel. The survey covered 2020–2021 school year instruction and scheduling, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing and vaccines, enrollments, budget, and staffing. The results are intended to inform policy and education practices related to educators' and students' needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feb. 5, 2021

Brief

“Public Education Will Never Be the Same”: How COVID-19 Forced School District Leaders to Innovate on the FlyCRPE

A recent report found that one in five districts planned to create, expand, or maintain online learning after the pandemic is over. A deeper dive into the open-ended responses from district and charter network leaders reveals more detail about what district leaders have discovered in this crisis that they want to keep. In this brief, we summarize themes from the 218 total open-response items to the question, “Did your district adopt any innovative practices in response to COVID-19 that you anticipate continuing in future years, even after the pandemic has passed?”

Jan. 25, 2021

Commentary

Analysis: Survey of District Leaders Shows Online Learning Is Here to Stay. Some Ways of Making It Work for Students Beyond the PandemicThe 74

Many teachers and students are struggling with online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. And with a new, nationally representative survey of school district leaders confirming that remote coursework is likely here to stay, school systems are going to need to apply the lessons from their forced experiments with remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic to better adapt.

Dec. 15, 2020

Survey analysis

Remote Learning Is Here to Stay: Results from the First American School District Panel SurveyRAND Corporation

School district leaders are concerned about students' unequal opportunities to learn during the pandemic, students' social and emotional learning needs, and insufficient funding to cover staff. About two in ten still anticipate that a fully remote learning option will become a permanent public school offering.

Oct. 1, 2020

Case study

The Shock of Last Spring Suppresses Conflicts and Complexity that Surface Later: Lessons from Aurora Public Schools' COVID-19 Response Spring 2020 CRPE

A suburban Colorado district's experience last spring and planning for the fall shows the benefits and limits of crisis management in dealing with COVID-19. Leaders must navigate interest group politics and intergovernmental relations, not just technical and instructional challenges.

Oct. 1, 2020

Case study

Charm City Leaders Adapt as They Tackle Equity Gaps: Lessons from Baltimore City Public Schools' COVID-19 Response Spring 2020CRPE

A long-suffering district in a long-suffering city has its fragile progress threatened by the virus amid a mounting reckoning with race and inequality. Rather than succumb to the threat or try to wrest control from a decentralized system, leaders moved boldly and swiftly to control what they could (food, devices) and became an organization set on learning and adapting quickly.

Oct. 1, 2020

Case study

Chicago Schools Grind into Action: Lessons from Chicago Public Schools' COVID-19 Response Spring 2020CRPE

One of the nation's largest districts serves millions of meals and launches an initiative to connect 100,000 students to high-speed internet while improving remote learning throughout the spring.

Oct. 1, 2020

Case study

Doing Something Together: Lessons from Green Dot Public Schools' COVID-19 Response Spring 2020CRPE

A big-city charter network helps students and teachers in Los Angeles navigate the crisis by creating consistency and coherence across schools.

Oct. 1, 2020

Case study

Our Families Need Us. This is What We Do: Lessons from LEARN Charter School Network's COVID-19 Response Spring 2020CRPE

A charter school network serving the Chicago area finds social support and improved communication are crucial to connecting with families during remote learning.

Oct. 1, 2020

Case study

Keeping Learning on Track in a Crisis: Lessons from Roaring Fork School District's COVID-19 Response Spring 2020CRPE

A diverse rural district high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains took care of families first, then focused instruction on a common curriculum of essentials.