Our annual look back at the year’s most popular Education Next articles is itself a popular article with readers. It’s useful as an indicator of what issues are at the top of the education policy conversation.
In both the Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2021 and the Top 20 Education Next Articles of 2020, race and the pandemic dominated the discussion. This year, as President Biden declared the pandemic over (while still using the emergency as a reason to pause student loan repayments), readers seem to have moved on to a new set of topics.
For years, too, technology has been seen as an educational cure-all. This year, the pendulum swung back, as readers focused on the downsides of new technology. Our most-read article of the year was a piece by Doug Lemov, “Take Away Their Cellphones,” about the negative effects of cellphones and social media on student mental health, and how schools can adjust their policies to respond. It was a pandemic response and recovery article, too, in a way, but as Lemov traced, “The pandemic occurred amid a broader epidemic. Long before Covid-19, the psychologist Jean Twenge had found spiraling levels of depression, anxiety, and isolation among teens…. This historic downturn in the well-being of young people coincided almost exactly with the dramatic rise of the smartphone and social media.”
Technology also exposed schools to cyberattacks, a phenomenon explored by Eileen Belastock in another well-read article, “Our Biggest Nightmare Is Here.”
Not all the tech coverage was negative. Our executive editor Michael B. Horn’s exploration of how the metaverse might “create educational experiences that are otherwise impossible in a traditional environment,” “Meet the Metaverse,” also made the top 20 list. The company that owns Facebook announced its name-change to Meta in late 2021.
While technology trends shape student and teacher experiences over the long run, the school environment in America is also shaped by elected or appointed representatives serving on school boards. Parent frustration over pandemic closures and controversy over race-related and gender-related education was often directed at school boards. Two articles probing those issues, “Schoolboard Shakeup in San Francisco” and “Locally Elected School Boards Are Failing” also made the top 20 list.
Education Next senior editor Paul E. Peterson had three articles on the top 20 list, narrowly edging out Robert Pondiscio and executive editor Michael J. Petrilli, who had two each. Congratulations to them and to all of our authors, and best wishes to all of our readers for the year ahead.
1. Take Away Their Cellphones
… So we can rewire schools for belonging and achievement
By Doug Lemov
2. Homeschooling Skyrocketed During the Pandemic, but What Does the Future Hold?
It may be less of an either-or option, as homeschooling is combined with online experiences, neighborhood pods, cooperatives, or joint undertakings with public and private schools
By Daniel Hamlin and Paul E. Peterson
3. Every Student Needs 21st-Century Data-Literacy Skills
Forum: Rethinking Math Education
By Steven D. Levitt and Jeffrey Severts
4. Deadline Looms for Borrowers Seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness
As the Biden administration debates loan forgiveness, some 3 million student borrowers—many of them teachers—are eligible for more than $100 billion in debt relief. But do they know?
By Sarah Turner
5. School Board Shakeup in San Francisco
Arrogance, incompetence, and woke rhetoric trigger successful recall effort
By Joanne Jacobs
6. A Half Century of Student Progress Nationwide
First comprehensive analysis finds broad gains in test scores, with larger gains for students of color than white students
By M. Danish Shakeel and Paul E. Peterson
7. What I Learned Leading America’s First Public School
A culture of urgency, grounded in love, is essential, at “high-performing” and “underperforming” schools alike. And try to find a way to refill your cup.
By Rachel Skerritt
8. Time to Pull the Plug on Traditional Grading?
Supporters of mastery-based grading say it could promote equity
By Patricia Alex
9. Bringing College into High Schools
Bard’s High School Early Colleges offer a model for students to earn an associate degree by the end of 12th grade
By Wayne D’Orio
10. Meet the Metaverse
A New Frontier in Virtual Learning
By Michael B. Horn
11. Locally Elected School Boards Are Failing
Pandemic stress-tested school governance, revealing many flaws
By Vladimir Kogan
12. “How’d You Do It?” Mississippi’s Superintendent of Education Explains State’s Learning Gains
“Data and accountability will drive the behaviors that you want to see,” Carey Wright says in exit interview
By Robert Pondiscio
13. “Our Biggest Nightmare Is Here”
Cyberattacks are targeting school districts. How can schools respond to keep data and systems secure?
By Eileen Belastock
14. The Costs of Canceling Darwin
Fewer scientists, more skepticism of science in states that limit evolution instruction
By Benjamin W. Arold
15. What Next for New York Charter Schools?
The era of explosive growth of network-run, “no excuses” charter schools is over. Tentatively emerging: “community-based” charter schools.
By Robert Pondiscio
16. School Superintendents Head for the Exits
In big districts, brand-new leaders fill vacancies
By Greg Toppo
17. First, Know Thyself. Then, Pick a Career Path
The potential of helping students see their potential
By Michael J. Petrilli
18. The Case for Kindergarten Tests
Starting NAEP in 4th grade is much too late
By Michael J. Petrilli
19. The Bigger Picture of Charter School Results
A National Analysis of System-Level Effects on Test Scores and Graduation Rates
By Douglas N. Harris and Feng Chen
20. Partisan Rifts Widen, Perceptions of School Quality Decline
Results of the 2022 Education Next Survey of Public Opinion
By David M. Houston, Paul E. Peterson, and Martin R. West