Beginning in the fall of 2020, the Christensen Institute undertook a two-year series of nationally representative surveys to make sense of online learning adoption and practice during COVID-19. By now, American students have experienced over a year of pandemic schooling. What role has online learning played during that period? How will the pandemic impact online learning adoption and practice in the future? And what should education leaders do to ensure that online learning, where it takes root, ushers in a more student-centered future?

This report shares insights from our most recent round of surveys, which collected responses from 872 K–12 administrators (representing 841 districts from 49 states plus the District of Columbia) and 1,042 K–12 teachers (representing 821 schools from 48 states plus the District
of Columbia) in April and May of 2021. We also conducted follow-up interviews with 15 of our survey respondents to get a more nuanced understanding of their teaching arrangements and experiences over the course of the year.

In Part 1 of the report, we describe what instruction looked like for teachers and across school systems during the 2020-21 school year. In Part 2, we share what survey respondents reported about their future plans for online learning and online-enabled instructional models. Finally, in Part 3, we make sense of the trends that surfaced in the survey data and offer insights for steering pandemic-induced emergency online learning toward student-centered learning across K–12 education.

Discover more stunning insights from our other surveys:


  • Thomas Arnett
    Thomas Arnett

    Thomas Arnett is a senior research fellow for the Clayton Christensen Institute. His work focuses on using the Theory of Disruptive Innovation to study innovative instructional models and their potential to scale student-centered learning in K–12 education. He also studies demand for innovative resources and practices across the K–12 education system using the Jobs to Be Done Theory.