How NC Districts Handle Closures, and Next Steps—New Database From Public Impact and EdNC

by | April 24, 2020

By Public Impact, April 24, 2020

To understand how North Carolina’s 115 school districts are dealing with school closures, Public Impact and EducationNC joined forces to develop the NC District Response to COVID-19 School Closures Database. Read more about the database below, as well as an opinion piece on what the data tell us so far from Public Impact’s co-presidents.

Why a Database?

We decided to do this after seeing the informative database that the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) developed last month, which tracks how the nation’s largest public school districts have shifted instruction, student support, and organizational operations. Our database is just a start, with missing pieces to be filled in and updated as responses change.

Organized by 11 indicators—each falling into one of three categories: curriculum, instruction, and equity/access—our database pulls information from district websites and social media, plus responses from an EducationNC survey sent to all North Carolina superintendents. The database will highlight districts’ creative approaches to disseminating information and implementing at-home learning strategies, as well as challenges, such as technology. We hope education leaders and policymakers can use this information to determine the best ways to support schools, educators, and students.

See the EdNC post about the database for more details, including how to use it, and send your feedback to EdNC’s Molly Osborne as we continue to update it and analyze the trends within districts.

We thank EdNC for the opportunity to work together on this database and for their excellent, ongoing work to provide nonpartisan news, data, and research about the major trends and challenges facing education in North Carolina.

Next Steps for the State and Districts—Opinion

Public Impact’s co-presidents, Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel, took a close look at what the data tell us so far. You can read their full perspective piece here, on EdNC.org.

Their finding in a nutshell: Very few of the state’s 115 districts are ready to provide high-growth student learning with students and teachers at home. How could they be? None of the districts expected this situation, but now that it may be here to stay for a while, it’s time to address some missing elements: technology to connect all students with teachers, protocols for using technology well, and the support teachers need to ensure high-growth learning—especially for our most vulnerable students.

The Hassels looked at the data with the belief that has guided them through two decades of work: All students can make high learning growth, despite enormous challenges—if they and their educators have the right guidance and resources. Both research and the stories of educators who have made it happen in the most difficult of circumstances tell us this.

But the research shows that overall, online-only learning has failed students. As North Carolina districts turn to some form of online learning, the Hassels write, state leaders must provide the guidance, resources, and support to help districts provide technology and support for it; set clear expectations for the frequency, duration, and nature of videoconference learning; and expand small-team leadership by high-growth teachers, or “multi-classroom leaders,” rapidly, so that all teachers are part of a team getting strong instructional guidance and support, and frequent collaboration.

North Carolina districts have a long way to go to meet these goals; read the details in the Hassels’ column, and we’ll have more to come in the next few months. As the Hassels write:

“There’s still a lot to learn about how to make school-at-home as effective as possible. We’ve begun to examine how Opportunity Culture schools with multi-classroom leaders are responding, and we’re very excited to work with EdNC to document what’s happening statewide.

“As we continue to update this database, we hope to also continue together sharing stories, emerging data, and possible next steps needed to achieve that vision: all students making the high-growth learning of which they are capable, even in these challenging times.”

Read their full column here.

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