This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. This week, as the state continues to tackle remote learning in response to COVID-19, we’re focused on goals for an effective CT education recovery plan.
Miss Our Phone Forum Last Week?
We hosted our second ERN CT Phone Forum, featuring Bridgeport Superintendent Michael Testani, Hartford Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Nick Simmons from the Office of the Governor, and ERN Chief Policy Officer Charles Barone in a discussion about federal, state and local efforts to address students’ remote learning needs.
Listen to the audio here.
Our Goals for a 2020 CT Education Recovery Plan
Planning now is the best way to give districts an opportunity to prepare for when it’s finally time to head back to school. That’s why our affiliate, Education Reform Now CT, published a "Goals for a 2020 CT Education Recovery Plan" this week—with an eye toward building a state-level strategy for when classes reconvene. Connecticut's education recovery strategy should prioritize: (a) meeting the needs of vulnerable student populations that will be disproportionately impacted by this crisis; and (b) establishing appropriate guidelines for use of recovery funds so that they aren’t used to supplant pre-crisis budget deficits. With that premise in mind, we recommend the following four goals for an education recovery plan:
Provide Ongoing Professional Development for Online and Remote Learning for Educators. Teachers need and want additional professional development on the pedagogy of effective online learning. The state should ramp up and maintain updated training on this topic to meet student needs during this pandemic, prepare for the possibility of future extended closures, and also leverage this crisis as an ongoing academic opportunity. We can increase engagement rates and create effective learning environments for all students by expanding strategies like blended learning, flipped classrooms, and project-based learning activities.
Use Funds to Help Students Recover from Learning Loss with Extra Instructional Time. Students have lost months of school, and the state should provide extra learning time for make-up instruction through summer learning, weekend academies, extended school days, or extended school year schedules.
Address Students’ Social and Emotional Well-Being from the Start. This pandemic has drastically changed students’ lives, not only academically, but also emotionally. The state should ask districts to expand student access to school counselors—who will give students a school-based support system, help schools to intervene when students exhibit signs of trauma, and allow educators to strategize when resultant behaviors impede academic progress.
Use a Diagnostic Tool to Understand Where Student Learning Left Off When Classes Reconvene. Given the inevitability of a “COVID-19 slide”—the state should repurpose funds that would have been spent on the (waived) 2020 SBAC and identify a formative assessment that will produce quick results. Instead of using this data for purposes of accountability, it should be used to inform educators, parents, and policymakers about student achievement after the pandemic.