Schools Develop Models for Distance Learning

April 3, 2020: Volume 27, Number 7

More than 80% of the districts trying to move to distance learning after being disrupted by COVID-19 are providing access to some general resources or formal curriculum, but only 5% are delivering curriculum, instruction and progress monitoring to students as of the last week of March. That is a finding of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (Seattle) which has built a database of district responses to COVID-19. The CRPE data currently reflects 82 districts serving 9 million students.

“The bottom line is that districts are trying, but have a long way to go,” CRPE director Robin Lake wrote in a blog post. “Of those providing instruction, few provide something akin to a comprehensive educational experience.”

Models Seen; Models Planned

Most districts initially provided links to resources without direction on how to use them, now some districts are rolling out plans with the expectation they will be able to provide some type of instruction.

For many districts, the early model is hybrid remote learning, where students view daily instructional videos from their teachers, or receive daily assignments and feedback. Lake highlighted work being done in Cobb County (GA) where educators are connecting with each other and students via Microsoft Teams.

Most learning plans to-date skimp on student diagnostics, remediation planning, and general progress monitoring, although tracking student progress, either informally through teacher check-ins and feedback or formally through assignments and grading, is a critical part of distance learning. Districts using online platforms like Google Docs or digital learning software can monitor student learning more effectively while remote than those relying on paper-based work packets.

Connectivity and demands on parents remain nagging questions, as does meeting the needs of students with disabilities. The New York City Department of Education, Houston Independent School District, and Anchorage Public Schools plan to provide special education direct instruction and IEP-related services for individual students by video or phone.

As April began, MCH Strategic Data reported 95% of U.S. K-12 schools are closed, with 56.7 million students—98% of the total K-12 population—impacted by closures.




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