Columnists

Helping Schools And Students Recover From Pandemic Challenges

(StatePoint) Over the past two years, public schools have faced continual disruptions brought about by COVID-19. Experts say that federal relief funds have given the nation a one-time opportunity to learn from the experience and to focus recovery efforts and resources on delivering high-quality instruction and support for students in ways that will accelerate their learning and meet their social and emotional needs.

“The federal government has provided $189 billion in resources for states and localities targeted at education recovery. If unchecked and unsupported, states risk bending to the pressure of forces more concerned with political expediency and ideology than sound policy that helps students,” says Jim Cowen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success. “Parents, educators, administrators and policymakers deserve credible information about effective policies and practices that are using these funds to accelerate student learning.”

According to Cowen, this is why the Collaborative for Student Success, in partnership with The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, launched EduRecoveryHub.org, a one-stop resource that showcases emerging practices in schools supported with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding (ESSER) and other federal recovery funds that can be replicated nationwide.

From improving school facilities to easing teacher shortages, the site provides insights into the smart investments that best ensure schools recover stronger and every student benefits. Parents and families can use this site to advocate for their students and point to good ideas that meet specific needs as they talk to teachers, principals, and school board members. Educators and district staff can learn from their colleagues about ways in which they are overcoming the lingering challenges of the pandemic. The site also allows policymakers to reference and compare state-by-state recovery information and access expert analysis from diverse viewpoints. A panel of national and state-based organizations and experts serving or representing parents, school and district leaders, classroom educators, and the civil rights community review and comment on specific practices they support.

“As difficult as pandemic learning has been, our research has shown many bright spots: schools and educators who have gone above and beyond by making powerful connections with students, finding creative ways to deliver personalized learning, and working with community partners to ensure students are healthy and ready to learn,” says Robin Lake, director of CRPE. “But many of these efforts are ad hoc. The unprecedented federal investment will allow school systems to implement effective approaches — if they pay attention to what we know has worked.”

“The federal investment represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for school districts to help students re-engage in school, get back on track in reading and math, and earn sufficient credits to graduate ready for college or a career,” says Chad Aldeman, policy director of Edunomics Lab. “In the wake of the pandemic, we are seeing districts use funds in new ways to address challenges and improve student outcomes. These savvy, nimble investments may catch on in other communities and help propel students forward.”

Interactive and easy-to-use, the EduRecoveryHub is updated frequently. Individuals or organizations can reference these evolving resources or share their own examples of innovative programs in education by visiting edurecoveryhub.org. From innovative ways to address student mental health needs to work being done to accelerate academic learning, spotlighting education recovery efforts across America can spark progress and improvements in other communities.