This blog series is designed to support school-based administrators in addressing the US Department of Education’s call to action, via the Return to School Roadmap, for federal, state, and local leaders to close the performance gap for students with disabilities during the 2021–2022 school year. Our first post was a quick reference guide providing suggestions for implementing each of the priorities set forth in Landmark 2: Build School Communities and Support Students’ Social, Emotional, and Mental Health. In this post, we’ll examine ways to approach Landmark 3: Accelerate Academic Achievement.
Accelerate Academic Achievement
The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund provides substantial funding to support the reopening of schools and to address the academic, social, emotional, and mental health concerns that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As students and staff return to in-person learning, the US Department of Education has prioritized the acceleration of academic achievement in order to mitigate learning loss brought on by the uniquely challenging circumstances of the pandemic. Students with disabilities were disproportionately impacted by school closures resulting in some students experiencing significant gaps in service provision.
This call to action requires school-based leaders to have an established plan for accelerating academic achievement of students as they return this fall. The purpose of this tool is to provide guidance to school-based leaders in developing a plan to address the priorities identified with Landmark 3: Accelerate Academic Achievement within the Return to School Roadmap.
This quick-guide serves as a snapshot of how states across the country can respond to three of the priorities named in Landmark 3 and how school-based administrators can put these commitments into action. Download your own copy of the quick-guide here!
Accelerating Academic Achievement
- Reengage disconnected youth.
- Action Strategies:
- Conduct personal outreach to students and families.
- Provide stipends to teachers who spend time outside regular working hours to locate and reengage students who have been chronically absent.
- Encourage teachers to implement reconnection strategies such as building fun routines (e.g., choosing a class theme song to mark key moments in the school day to motivate students and ensuring break time for physical movement).
- Seek out resources to ensure students have consistent connections to high-speed broadband in the event of a return to remote or hybrid learning.
- Plan for alternative ways students can access online materials, such as print-outs that can be mailed to a student’s home.
- Identify gaps in academic opportunity.
- Action Strategies:
- Use high-quality diagnostic and formative assessments that provide timely information to help educators pinpoint exactly where to focus for particular students.
- Ensure that curriculum is culturally and linguistically responsive.
- Review existing materials to ensure representation of diverse authors and perspectives.
- Utilize consistent progress monitoring of critical skills to ensure progress is being made and be able to make instructional adjustments in a timely manner.
- Invest in evidence-based strategies to address lost instructional time, especially for students most impacted by the pandemic.
- Action Strategies:
- Provide opportunities for students to learn at grade level rather than through tracking or remediation.
- Prioritize engaging students and supporting peer collaboration, including through project-based learning and opportunities for students to support each other in their learning.
- Arrange for high-quality, high-dosage tutoring opportunities for students.
- Use trained educators as tutors.
- Wherever possible, conduct tutoring during the school day.
In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law, making available $122 billion for the ARP ESSER Fund. These funds are available to support the safe reopening of America’s schools through prioritizing health and safety practices, as well as social, emotional, and mental health. As students and staff return to in-person learning, the US Department of Education has prioritized the acceleration of academic achievement in order to mitigate learning loss brought on by the uniquely challenging circumstances of the pandemic.
By utilizing this checklist as a guide, school-based leaders can be assured they are taking action to address the most critical elements to support accelerated learning and mitigate learning loss, as encouraged by Landmark 3 of the US Department of Education’s Return to School Roadmap. Download the guide here.
How PCG Can Support as the Pandemic Continues to Impact Students, Staff, and Schools
COVID-19 has created significant challenges for school districts across the country. Public Consulting Group (PCG) remains steadfast in our commitment to supporting districts and students. Here’s how we can help:
Special Education Research, Action Planning, and Facilitation. Subject matter experts and consultants can research best practices, inventory resources, guide action planning, and facilitate the development of digital learning instructional continuity plans to help you address emergency situations that result in interrupted education for students with disabilities.
Virtual Instruction Toolkit. This toolkit contains a library of tools and resources to help educators establish Online and Distance Learning instructional models based on best practices.
City year rolls out new resources for teachers during COVID-19. City Year. (2020, September 1). Retrieved October 1, 2021, from https://www.cityyear.org/national/stories/education/city-year-rolls-out-new-resources-for-teachers-during-covid-19.