The Urban Education Institute at UTSA surveyed students and families in select school districts across Bexar County and CAST Schools to document how COVID-19 affected teaching and learning, and what lessons we can learn from this experience.
Learning at CAST has always extended beyond the four walls of the classroom. The research showed how leveraging our CAST pillars of co-creation, equity, student-led and real-world learning better prepared both students and teachers to effectively pivot to distance learning. Because of our small size and strong relationships between students and caring adults, our emphasis on technology, focus on customizable teaching and project-based lessons allowed for students to better connect, engage and learn when compared to other participating school districts during the 3-month period of virtual learning.
From these lessons, CAST launched the following programs to continue engaging students and educators throughout the summer:
- CAST Schools launched a comprehensive summer paid internship program where students co-created future project-based lessons with CAST educators, ensuring effective, engaging lessons in the coming school year.
- CAST Summer Studio, in partnership with Say Sí and S.M.A.R.T. Theatre and art teachers from across the CAST Network guided incoming freshmen through a process of self-identity and artistic expression culminating with a live showcase.
- CAST Taking a Stand Initiative, where students and educators connected to discuss and develop an outline for how the CAST network will tackle racial injustice and inequities in San Antonio
Here are the findings:
1) 13% of surveyed educators from CAST Schools had prior experience teaching online. More than any other school system.
2) While the average age of teachers across all school systems is 43, the average age of teachers at CAST Schools is 40. However, the average years of teaching experience of CAST School educators is 13.
3) Of high schools within the participating school systems, 34% of CAST educators experienced early challenges, the least among surveyed school systems.
4) 48% of CAST surveyed educators stated that their ability to perform differentiation was better compared to before, most of any other participating school system.
5) 34% of surveyed students and parents from CAST Schools reported learning a lot or a great deal during the 3-month distance learning timeframe. More than any other school system.
6) 55% of students and parents surveyed from CAST schools reported spending 3 or more hours daily on schoolwork during distance learning. More than any other school system.