Pandemic-era innovations in K-12 education identified by new performance audit

Nov 7, 2023

Amid the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Washington school districts developed new approaches to education that should be explored more, according to a new performance audit by the Office of the Washington State Auditor.

Beginning in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of public schools and a rapid shift to online education across the nation. While the change was a major disruption for students, parents and educators, it also allowed school districts to innovate as they navigated the pandemic.

The performance audit published today produced a list of 25 creative and nontraditional teaching practices applied over the past three years that might be useful for other educators. It also considered how other schools might incorporate similar practices.

“While I know most students and families welcomed the return of in-person instruction, online learning worked well for others,” said State Auditor Pat McCarthy. “Giving the novel approaches we identified some consideration ensures that Washington will gain the most benefit from positive advances made in a very challenging time.”

The audit identified 25 educational practices in five broad categories:

  • Individualized instruction

  • Access

  • Student and family engagement

  • Teacher training

  • Social-emotional needs

For example, when buildings were closed, some school districts ensured students had access to online classes by providing both internet service and information technology equipment. Others took steps to tailor instructional methods to students’ needs and engage students and families to ensure new practices succeeded.

The full report and summary material can be found online on the State Auditor’s Office website: K-12 Education During and After the Pandemic.