These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.


Stay Sharp newsletter 10.22.20

By Mary Willson

Good morning, Colorado.

Yesterday, we sent out our most recent research report, in which we analyzed existing research on “summer slide” to look into the potential COVID-19 learning loss.

The “COVID Learning Loss: Recommendations To Improve Student Outcomes” report seeks to answer the question of how much learning loss are students experiencing due to learning disruptions. (Because, it’s undeniable that lost instructional time this year will impact students).

We hope that looking at COVID-19 learning loss can help district leaders and policy makers understand what learning in such a disrupted year means for our state’s students, in order to further prioritize their success. This is why we’ve included recommendations at the beginning of the report.

  1. Prioritize live, in-person instruction for students in pre-K and elementary school, with a strong focus on addressing the opportunity gaps for historically targeted and oppressed groups, especially students who experience low socioeconomic opportunities.
  2. Provide short duration, high-intensity tutoring to all students.
  3. Leverage technology (e.g. texting) to provide consistent contact (at least bi-weekly) to families with a focus on specific research-backed interventions and enrichment activities families can use to help students.
  4. Mail (or deliver) books to students in their homes.
  5. Implement at-home interventions that include training for families in conjunction with student instruction.

Thank you to educators, who are are working harder than they ever have, showing amazing flexibility, ingenuity, and working long hours – motivated by their care and love for students.

We hope this report can elevate that work, and serve as a voice for students’ who are doing their very best learning during this time.

What we’ve been up to this week

Explore the report – Introduction // COVID-19 Learning Loss

Two months into the 2020-2021 school year, families and educators continue to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 and issues of racial inequity across the United States. On March 20, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos invited states to apply for a waiver from assessment and accountability requirements pursuant to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), an invitation Colorado accepted. As a result, predicting learning loss based on the events of 2020 is difficult due to lack of publicly available data. However, researchers have made predictions regarding learning loss based on prior research regarding summer slide.

In April 2020, the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) released a report that followed the trajectory of learning loss by grade from the beginning of pandemic school closures in March based on typical growth/summer loss rates.  Based on their modeling, the situation ranges from bleak to dire as it relates to learning loss, with 30-50% predicted learning loss that is larger for earlier grades. Figures 1 and 2 from the NWEA report highlight the serious learning loss expected for students following COVID-19.

ICYMI: 2020 election guide: Education issues on your Colorado ballot // A+ Colorado 

ICYMI, last week we introduced our voting guide for education issues on your Colorado ballot.

Here’s some of the questions we answered in our State Board guide. 

  • What is the State Board of Education?
  • What do they decide?
  • Is it paid?
  • Why do board members run under political parties?
  • Who is running?
  • Plus, summaries of each candidate in Districts 1, 3 and 7, which are on your ballot.

Also on your ballot are are four measures that directly affect student funding. We put together a guide about what we support and oppose, and why.

Lastly, if you’re in Denver, you’ll see that a Bond and Mill Levy on your ballot, which is “a $795 million bond that would provide funding to build and maintain schools, and a $32 million Debt-Free Schools ballot initiative that would provide operating dollars to fund priorities such as mental health, nursing, and special education supports.” See how this proposed funding breaks down.

All of this in our comprehensive voter’s guide here.  ⬇️

Musings from A+’s staff.

After you read the report, looking for ways to share your voice on learning during COVID-19? 

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) opened a survey to ensure that all voices are heard, as they launch a stakeholder group to make recommendations regarding:

  • Whether and how to proceed with state assessments, accountability/accreditation, and educator effectiveness during the 2020-21 school year.
  • How the systems can continue to effectively measure student achievement and growth and provide an accurate, credible, and comparable assessment of the quality of the public education system throughout the state following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Share your voice here here

With the COVID slide, we must be able to support all kids who walk through the door, virtually and literally and it must be tailored to each student’s circumstances and learning needs.

The state can’t equitably provide supports without prioritizing assessments that highlight where the need is greatest. A+ also believes that accessibility must continue to be a focus as learning during the pandemic continues.