- Research from the Columbia Law School Center for Public Research and Leadership finds student learning and engagement during the pandemic saw the most benefit when district administrators expanded their understanding of the instructional dynamic between students, teachers and learning materials to include families as well.
- In a report, the researchers identify a "Fundamental 4" lessons learned when it comes to expanding that instructional core by providing instructional materials that engage students, families and educators, based on close to 300 interviews from nine districts and charter school organizations in seven states.
- Through those interviews, researchers found students who had both high-quality instructional materials and family support learned the same amount or more when compared to a "normal" school year, and that the most effective instructional material for engagement went beyond being aligned to standards to include being tech-enabled, culturally responsive and designed to support families in guiding learning.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools and forced a transition to remote learning in spring 2020, families and caregivers took on a more direct role in their children's education, necessitating a greater level of partnership with educators in the process. Illustrating that are the "Fundamental 4" takeaways identified in the CPRL report.
- Expanding what defines “high-quality” instructional materials to include providing support for families and being tech-enabled and culturally responsive.
- Leveraging high-quality instructional materials to facilitate cooperation among families, teachers and students.
- Sustaining professional learning focused on implementing high-quality instructional materials to respond to the needs of students and families.
- Creating systems and structures for families, teachers and students to design, monitor and improve learning experiences.
As schools prepare to begin a new academic year where a full return to in-person learning is now potentially threatened by the spread of the delta variant, keeping parents engaged in learning plans and informed about changes to curricular plans will continue to be especially critical for schools nationwide.
Establishing clear communication from day one, ensuring learning plans are posted and documented in an easy to locate place, establishing an IT request protocol and professional development for teachers so they can more readily help parents troubleshoot minor tech problems, and providing parent-focused learning opportunities on the tools and platforms used in class are among the best places to start.