Without decisive state expectations and action on remote learning, student learning will suffer: That’s the message from a new analysis of state reopening plans by CRPE (the Center for Reinventing Public Education) and Public Impact. Our just-released database of state reopening plans and accompanying blog post highlight the need for state action now, before it’s too late.
As CRPE’s Ashley Jochim and Public Impact’s Bryan C. Hassel and Beth Clifford detail, state recommendations focus more on the logistics of reopening than on what matters most—student learning. As the authors write, the “absence of clear expectations is certain to contribute to inequities across school and district responses.”
They call for states to address the gaps in learning caused by school closures in the spring, avert a worsening educational crisis, and help districts manage their pandemic-created challenges.
The database shows that:
- Only 15 states require districts to plan for remote learning, even though increasing numbers of districts plan to start the year online. State plans generally lack both clear expectations for implementation and schedules for monitoring progress and closing gaps.
- Less than half of states require districts to submit a plan for in-person or hybrid reopening, and only one in four states outline a clear process to review the plans.
- Despite a few promising examples, many states are failing to lead the way on closing the digital divide. Based on rapidly changing data, approximately 38 states’ written plans address device access and connectivity, but more than half of those plans leave responsibility for digital access to districts.
- Only five states require districts to assess student learning needs this fall, and only seven require them to implement strategies for accelerating learning or addressing learning loss.
- Of states requiring remote learning plans, only 11 states require specific practices to support students with disabilities and only seven do so for English language learners.
How does your state stack up? Check the database.
At a minimum, the authors say, states must establish ambitious expectations for teaching and student learning in all settings, clarify how those expectations can be met with remote learning, work rapidly to close gaps in access to devices and internet connectivity, and monitor local efforts in these areas so states can step in when districts are falling short.
States can set expectations for districts, they note, without encroaching on local control. Rhode Island, for example, requires districts to show comparable rigor for online and in-person instruction, while California’s legislature enacted remote learning requirements to address gaps during the spring at-home instruction.
“If states don’t quickly provide more direction on the core work of schools—teaching and learning—the most vulnerable students will pay the price in lost learning,” said Bryan C. Hassel, co-president of Public Impact. “But it’s not too late. Decisive action now could change the trajectory of millions of students.”
CRPE and Public Impact will release more analyses in the coming weeks, including in-depth looks at state virtual instructional platforms, how states are tapping stimulus dollars, statewide supports for teachers, and statewide instructional policies.