As the school year draws to a close, state and education leaders are looking at how they can accelerate student learning over the summer and 2021-2022 school year to make up for learning deficits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released an analysis outlining state efforts to accelerate student learning over the summer and the new school year.
The analysis focuses on trends and strategies that states are using to reopen schools safely while creating new student supports, as well as making both short- and long-term investments to accelerate student learning and addressing well-being. The report also provides opportunities for “enhanced learning” that use funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The report found that at this point in the pandemic, many states are taking four key steps.
NGA and CCSSO said that states are:
- Getting organized and understanding what needs to happen: State leaders are using a variety of ways to communicate proactively and engage key stakeholders about emerging plans. When possible, state leaders are leveraging existing advisory groups or task forces or are creating new advisory committees to provide expertise and input, reflect stakeholder perspectives, and support implementation. The report found that state leaders also are providing districts with planning frameworks and tools to streamline the process and ensure critical issues are considered.
- Using summer 2021 to accelerate learning: State leaders see summertime as a strong opportunity to offer special programs and supports that can accelerate student learning. The range of activities being planned include tutoring programs, learning and enrichment camps, community service and apprenticeships, and more traditional summer schooling. State leaders are moving quickly to formalize these plans and use new Federal funds to help underwrite the additional staff, preparation, materials, and programming needed.
- Supporting more students to be successful learners: State leaders are working to ensure students have access to targeted help for both their academic needs and overall well-being. Over the past months of the pandemic, states have strengthened their multi-tiered systems of support and they are now examining potential partnerships to address specific academic needs, including efforts to provide more learning time during or after school. State leaders are using Federal funding to scale existing successful programs, launch new grant opportunities, or jumpstart new efforts.
- Future considerations: State leaders recognize that after addressing immediate academic and non-academic student needs, there will still be longer-term issues to address. The report identified important issues for state leaders to continue working on moving forward, including how to use one-time Federal funds smartly and strategically; how best to target resources and programs for the students who need them most; finding creative and effective ways to support educators as they are asked to continue to do more; aligning state policymakers and agencies on a common plan; and taking stock of lessons from the pandemic to re-evaluate long-standing structures and approaches in the K12 system.