More than three years after the pandemic began, a crisis in teaching quality may be stalling academic recovery, new research shows.

Faced with exhaustion, staffing shortages, and frequent student disruptions, many educators are using “outdated and ineffective” methods and content below grade level, according to a report released last week by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at Arizona State University, part of a research project done in conjunction with the RAND Corporation.

Researchers analyzed interviews from 30 leaders, predominantly superintendents and chief academic officers, across five traditional districts and charter systems.

To cover extra classes amid shortages, teachers lost prep periods and opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, the report found. Many went years without feedback from principal observations, and are managing higher rates of challenging student behavior. These challenges, and a tight labor market that leans on early career educators who don’t yet have the experience to weather them, are all contributing to the crisis.

As a result, educators reverted to older, more basic strategies. For instance, students were asked to work in groups without further direct instruction from the teacher; prompted to use screens or technology unnecessarily; and were frequently disengaged.

“Just like we’re hearing about student learning loss, these leaders were seeing that their teachers were also experiencing teaching loss,” said Lydia Rainey, who co-authored the last of four American School District Panel reports that explored how school leaders were responding to the pandemic with Paul Hill and Robin Lake.

Teaching quality is not solely responsible for the stall in academic progress — high dosage tutoring and technology supports, baked into recovery plans to help fill academic gaps, were ideals difficult to obtain in practice.

Read the full article about crisis in teaching quality by Marianna McMurdock at The 74.