Driving assessment

Analysis: Expert panel says Connecticut’s strategy for tracking and reporting how COVID funds are spent is one to watch. here’s why


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This is part of a series of essays reflecting state and district school recovery practices presented by EduRecoveryHub.org – an online platform highlighting innovative and promising actions to recover lost learning and improve student outcomes using federal COVID-19 relief funds. EduRecoveryHub is a project of Collaborative for Student Success, in partnership with researchers from the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. To learn more about promising state and district recovery strategies, including analysis from a panel of national experts in education, parent and student advocacy, and civil rights, visit EduRecoveryHub.org.

Connecticut received $110 million in federal COVID relief funding for education, a relatively small amount compared to other states. But it is offered COVID-19 Education Research Collaborative stands out for its potential for monitoring the proper functioning of federally funded programs. This investment puts a critical flag in the ground that signals to communities that the state is committed to studying and evaluating its K-12 recovery investments and publicly reporting the results so that educators, leaders , parents and communities gain a better understanding of how recovery funds have been put to use in their schools.

The collaboration cleverly brings together bright minds from universities across the state, including the University of Connecticut and Yale, as research partners to evaluate the use of federal stimulus funds for education. This statewide research partnership is one of the few of its kind to emerge as states allocate and use pandemic relief funds. By expanding the research and evaluation capabilities of the state Department of Education, the collaboration will provide state leaders, policy makers, and community members with timely and nuanced reporting on the influence of funds federal government on student progress.

Recently, the collaboration released an assessment of the state’s expansion of summer learning opportunities in 2021 that includes lessons learned to help local leaders make decisions to improve planning for summer 2022. Additionally, this spring, the partnership is expected to release a comprehensive analysis of the influence of remote learning on student access to key services and outcomes, such as graduation and post-secondary opportunities like college programs. or professional skills.

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The Connecticut collaboration stands out because it provides an important structure for data and research on state investments in K-12 recovery, while creating a method for observing and evaluating strategies rooms used by schools emerging from the pandemic.

For this reason, it has been designated as an emerging practice to watch. EduRecoveryHub.orga partnership between the Center on Reinventing Public Education, the Student Success Collaborative and Education Lab at Georgetown University. To find emerging practices, we scoured state and district sites, analyzed 51 state plans, and reviewed planning documents from 100 large urban school districts.

With an unprecedented $180 billion in federal relief pouring into schools, districts and states across the country have a similar opportunity to stand out as they consider how they plan to allocate historic amounts of K-12 funding and how they will measure impact. of these investments.

While it has been encouraging to see that some districts are basing their spending on evidence-based practices, community feedback, and student and family needs, many still lack clear plans for how where their federal funds should be spent, not to mention whether those investments are working. Granted, it’s still early days, but that’s why we’re featuring what Connecticut is doing.

Nine of 14 EduRecoveryHub expert reviewers gave Connecticut’s investment plan more thumbs up than any of the 31 other practices highlighted on the site. This includes praise from leading organizations such as the Education Trust, National Parents Union and Data Quality Campaign, which have described Connecticut’s efforts to improve research and evaluation as “essential” and “hugely encouraging”.

As former Louisiana head of state John White said, “the impetus to evaluate has sorely missed the stimulus discussion,” making Connecticut a unique example of how evaluation in the statewide can be piloted locally.

Far too many states or districts may find this type of research frightening or overwhelming. But according to Denise Forte, acting CEO of the Education Trust, “Connecticut’s approach…is critical to ensuring that funds are used in an evidence-based and effective way,” and other states can follow suit.

Our research highlighted a few more examples of states or districts using data in a transparent and results-oriented way:

  • Schools in Boston and Chicago are targeting their federal funding based on planning tools that direct aid to where the need is greatest.
  • The State of Texas requires school districts to provide individualized and accelerated learning plans for students who are not well versed in reading and math, also ensuring that they are paired with a highly effective teacher and that they have access to additional teaching hours and opportunities.
  • The Alabama Department of Education awards “Assessment Awards” to districts that provide dedicated resources to improve early reading and math assessment systems.

We know there are more promising practices in schools today, and we invite everyone to share examples of targeted and comprehensive actions taken with federal stimulus funding to EduRecoveryHub.

It will be essential for the future of public education and this generation of K-12 students to monitor and evaluate the investments made in schools with this unprecedented influx of money and resources. State and district transparency about the goals and direction of these investments will be key to ensuring that families and lawmakers can be sure the money is not wasted. More importantly, the education sector needs innovative and successful programs emerging from this moment to be supported.

Christine Pitts is Resident Policy Scholar at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Bree Dusseault is director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, supporting her analysis of district and charter responses to COVID-19. Previously, she served as Executive Director of Green Dot Public Schools in Washington, Executive Director of pK-12 Schools for Seattle Public Schools, Researcher at PERC, and Principal and Teacher.

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