As states kick off a new school year that looks different than any school year that preceded it, leaders are still searching for the best way to support students who may be learning online, in person, or both. Recently, states could choose to apply for microgrants to “Rethink K-12 Education Models,” a program created through the CARES Act. Most states applied for grants and data is an integral part of states’ innovative ideas for providing online and hybrid learning. While only a few of the applications submitted were ultimately funded through this program, strategies raised across all applications provide ideas for how states can use data to improve student learning experiences and outcomes, particularly when provided with additional federal support. In our review of state applications, proposed recovery efforts were focused on the following two themes:
1. Those closest to students need access to data and support to use it so they can understand student academic progress.
- Texas proposed a home-learning program that will be accessible to all students in the state. Part of their strategy includes providing relevant, real-time progress data from the platform to teachers for making instructional decisions so that learning opportunities can be designed based on information from this system.
- New York focused on building the capacity of teachers and leaders to effectively implement remote learning for all students. As part of this, leaders proposed improving teacher data literacy by using facilitators to gather information from current learning environments and interpret the data with their peers through professional learning committees.
- South Dakota proposed developing a roadmap for learning that supports student learning whether online or in person, and puts families in the driver’s seat. This work includes supporting a team of educators, school board members, and parents at each school that will review data to identify the most promising strategies.
2. Data can be used not just for accountability, but also to improve practice, encourage continuous improvement, and provide interventions that support students.
- Rhode Island proposed expanding access to meaningful coursework online for students in all grades. Leaders are planning to use their data to ensure all students are able to engage in online learning.
- Tennessee proposed providing early literacy support to those who were most impacted by COVID-19 school closures. Leaders expect to send early literacy providers data—including student pre- and post-test data, family satisfaction data from surveys, and attendance/engage trends—that the providers must use to reflect on and improve their programs.
- North Carolina proposed implementing a blended instructional model and will collect data from stakeholders to assess satisfaction, usage of resources, and level of engagement. The information will be used to inform ongoing improvement and assess the degree to which outcomes are being achieved.
For more information on how the CARES Act can strengthen data collection and use, read our resource.