PREPARING FOR THE RETURN TO SCHOOL
TEACHING AND LEARNING: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
June 17, 2020
In this forum, Robert Balfanz led a discussion surrounding three essential questions:
~ What have we learned about teaching and learning during the spring of COVID-19? What worked, what did not?
~ Which of the teaching approaches and methods we have tried are worth keeping and using for the long term?
~ What do we still need to figure out to be ready for the varied conditions likely to be experienced next year?
The Pathways to Adult Success and Cross-State High School Redesign learning communities shared their insights and learnings.
CRPE Reinventing Public Education
America’s Promise Alliance
Education Endowment Foundation
Everyone Graduates Center
WHAT WORKED, AND WHAT DID NOT, WITH REMOTE TEACHING AND LEARNING DURING THE SPRING OF COVID-19 ?
More connections between teachers and students.
~ Pro: teachers found new ways to connect to students. (Scott Reveals, Cincinnati Public Schools)
~ Students felt connected with teachers and peers via Zoom. (Liesel Jan Carlson, Lansing School District)
~ Teachers made more calls than ever before to students. (Marilyn Ramirez, School for Media and Communications, Manhattan, NY)
Collaboration and team spirit among teachers
~ What worked: Teacher collaboration and teamwork. (Sofia Russo, High School for Media and Communications, Manhattan, NY)
~ I heard from many of the schools I support that young, freshly-certified teachers and veteran teachers all worked shoulder-to-shoulder to plan for remote learning…they usually don’t get to experience a learning curve together! (Laura Tedesco, NY State Education Dept.)
~ It was truly a collaborative effort to adapt to the new learning environment. (Marisa)
Teacher creativity and tech adaptiveness
~ Many teachers were very creative and were able to adapt to the new learning environment. (Marisa)
~ Allowing teachers to use creative methods to engage with students who don’t have equitable or reliable access – and connecting those lessons to their home life – really helped students grasp concepts in new, tangible ways. That was huge. Kids found engagement in personal, meaningful, applicable ways. Example: our culinary teacher had students create dinner menus and cook for their families and have them provide feedback from parents regarding their dining experience (*think: Yelp reviews ). (Audra Bluehouse, Hatch Valley Public Schools, NM)
~ Some teachers wanted to do live synchronous instruction and had the technical capacity to do so. (Jeremy Greenfield, New Visions for Public Schools)
~ Tools such as Screencastify (free-to-inexpensive Chrome browser extension for video recording). (Sofia Russo)
High expectations plus grace and empathy
~ Some education leaders have been understanding about student situations (working, taking care of siblings, internet issues). (Sarah Frazelle, Puget Sound Educational Service District, WA)
~ Be a “Warm Demander.” (Liesel Jan Carlson)
Collaborative leadership, flexible design structures, prior experience with technology
~ Flexibility of the redesign process allowed us to switch gears quicker. (Peter Deswood, Rocinante HS, NM)
~ Schools with experience with a Learning Management System (LMS) were better prepared for a transition to online learning during the shutdown. (Shara Montoya, Hatch Valley HS, NM)
WHAT DID NOT WORK:
Inequities due to uneven teacher capacity and tech proficiency
~ The ability of teachers to adapt to distance teaching varied greatly – which led to very inequitable outcomes for students. I’m worried about how this will play out in the fall. (Sarah Frazelle)
~ Ours was very inequitable in regards to proficiency of the teachers. (Courtney Monnette, Alabama Community College System)
~ Some teachers were reluctant to do any synchronous work, so some students had no synchronous or group work. (Jeremy Greenfield)
Student engagement suffered from lack of technology/ internet access
~ Con: Students’ engagement, especially students without technology access at home. (Scott Reveals)
~ We really pushed our students to stay engaged, but we still could not engage 35% of our students. (Peter Deswood)
Not enough live instruction from teachers
~ Students and parents would have appreciated more live instruction from the teachers. ~ marisa
~ Some of the assignments given would have been better served with a mini-lesson to help students understand the concepts. (Avence Pittman, Jr., Pontotoc City Schools, MS)
Inequities for students with special needs
~ Students on IEP’s were not served well. (Christina Espinosa, Sacramento City Unified School District)
~ English language learners, students with disabilities, and those living in poverty had difficulty accessing the internet. (marisa)
Students were not prepared to use the technology
~ Students didn’t receive enough instruction on using technology before going remote. (Marilyn Ramirez)
Some teachers didn’t understand the need for empathy and shift in focus
~ Some teachers insisted on blaming students. This may be an issue that will follow some students into the next year. (Sarah Frazelle)
~ A group of counselors summarized that teachers are most concerned about curriculum and administrators are most concerned about test scores. Bo one has room for a focus on SEL, which we know students will need when they come back, especially as we may need to alternate between distance and in-person learning. (Sarah Frazelle)
~ I agree. I just had to justify to my central office last week that we need to hold steady with the school redesign plan. (Peter Deswood)
Challenges in assessing learning and tracking attendance/engagement
~ What did not work: Screen fatigue; authentic reliable assessment. (Sofia Russo)
~ Schools struggled with tracking accurate attendance and how to assign grades for 4th quarter (Felicia Walker, Talent Development Secondary)
WHICH OF THE TEACHING AND LEARNING PRACTICES USED DURING COVID-SPRING ARE WORTH KEEPING IN GENERAL?
FOCUS ON BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS TO SUPPORT STUDENTS WITHIN EWS FRAMEWORK
~ Focus on building and maintaining relationships. (Sarah Frazelle)
~ EWS helped us stay connected with our students. (Peter Deswood)
~ Understanding that a focus on SEL is not a ‘nice to have’ but a central core goal. (Jeremy Greenfield)
~ Add student support into the “high expectations + grace+ empathy” equation. (Joyce Highhouse, Pivot Learning)
~ Our district had to rely on and reach out to community partners for supporting students. We hope to build upon this increased collaboration in the future. (Wendy Holcomb, Graduate Tacoma, WA)
~ I think there’s an opportunity to shift our traditional measures in EWS – attendance, and behavior specifically – to be more reflective of engagement and SEL as behavior. But we need to figure out how to authentically collect that information in as close to real time as possible. (Sarah Frazelle)
~ We’re working on engaging the voice of students, families, and communities of color in two-way communication. The impact of COVID is showing the large cracks in education and how they play into systemic racism. (Sarah Frazelle)
PERSONALIZED LEARNING OPTIONS AND SCHEDULING FLEXIBILITY
~ Students benefit from recorded lessons, so they can rewind and revisit concepts with which they struggle. (Laura Tedesco)
~ Recording and having the ability to re-watch these lessons is critical. (Audra Bluehouse)
~ Choices and allowing students to work at their own pace. (Marilyn Ramirez)
~ Posting assignments at the beginning of the week so that if issues arise, students know and can plan accordingly. (Sarah Frazelle)
~ Asynchronous resources accommodate the fact that that some students at secondary level are essential workers, just as parents are. (Joyce Highhouse)
~ Innovative synchronous instruction options. Example: teachers at the same grade level or teaching the same content can offer live instructional segments over the day so students can engage when they have access to devices. (Kenya Wilson, Educate Texas)
~ School leaders reported that they noticed more opportunities for individualized learning for students. Teachers increased the number of student/teacher conferences and discussed student goals. (B. Jasmine White, NYSED)
~ Virtual tutoring options to support students who can’t stay after school for traditional support. (Peter Deswood)
BETTER SUPPORT FOR TEACHERS (PERSONAL, TECHNOLOGY, INSTRUCTIONAL)
~ Support for teacher mental health is another important piece that we haven’t quite figured out. It can’t all be on counselors. (Sarah Frazelle)
~ We held two staff check-ins each week at the end of the work days, on Tuesday and Thursdays, and used talking circles. (Peter Deswood)
~ Our fall professional development is designed to help teachers who struggled with remote instruction. (Courtney Monnette)
THOUGHTS AND INSIGHTS ON UNANSWERED QUESTIONS FOR THE FALL?
~ I’m concerned that the clinical environment of schools (though necessary) will affect student comfort in schools. It almost challenges the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy. How do we make schools feel safe again? (Kenya Wilson)
~ An idea I’ve heard recently – schools are making a video of what the school will look like with social distancing tape on the ground, desks spaced differently, fewer desks in classrooms, grade levels entering/exiting different doors, etc. Parents are encouraged to watch video with students before they re-enter in whatever way that might be. This helps to reduce some anxiety for students/ parents. (Tara Madden, Talent Development Secondary)
~ I am concerned about co-located schools. We need to collaborate and agree on clear guidelines including multiple entrances, exits, and staggered times for students to enter and exit the building. (Sofia Russo)
~ Another concern I’m hearing from teachers is with enforcing wearing masks and social distancing. Teachers are asking how they will discipline students. It seems to be a political divide around wearing masks so I don’t know how this will play out (Sarah Frazelle; Brandi Fuentes, Las Montañas Charter HS, NM)
~ One district is planning to have a virologist and other local health care providers help students understand why they need to wear masks, as one step in helping to mitigate against potential resistance to mask wearing. (Tara Madden)
~ Teacher, family, and student voice in the community narrative will build resilience and participation. Build the “We are all in this together” attitude. (Liesel Jan Carlson)
~ I think we need to continue to be flexible, understanding, and empathic to our students’ needs. My staff tried several different learning options; it was different for each student. Very individualized. We focused a lot on SEL and leveraging our relationships. (Peter Deswood)
~ I’ve heard some districts are considering limiting the fall semester to core content. I don’t agree with this at all. But if it occurs, how can students who hae not attended school since March be expected to sustain full days of English, math, science and history? (Kenya Wilson)
~ Has anyone had success with peer tutoring/mentoring during remote learning? (Liesel Jan Carlson)
~ We didn’t use peer tutoring, but during our SPED IEPs, students would have individual sessions with an EA and a teacher to assist with work. Perhaps this process could work peer to peer as well. (Audra Bluehouse)
~ We’ve had some success with near-peer postsecondary advising support. Key to this was that (a) relationships were established before schools closed, and (b) we’re doing weekly training with the near-peer coaches. (Jeremy Greenfield)
SELF-CARE AND SUPPORT FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
~ Teachers adapted, but they may not have the capacity or endurance to continue providing effective remote learning through fall 2020. (Kenya Wilson)
~ It’s imperative that schools provide differentiated instruction strategies for professional development. (Kenya Wilson)
~ Our organization, with support from a licensed social worker, has created and provided a virtual Self-Care PD session for teachers. This has been well received; many teachers indicated they would provide something similar for their students so they too will be able to create a self-care plan. (Tara Madden)
PREPARING FOR THE RETURN TO SCHOOL
USING AND ADAPTING EARLY WARNING, ON-TRACK, AND MTSS SYSTEMS TO SUPPORT STUDENTS DURING COVID-19
May 19, 2020
In this forum, Robert Balfanz shared early warning, on-track, and multi-tiered student support systems that can help schools mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 for the 2020-21 academic year and beyond. Additionally, Pathways to Adult Success and Cross-State High School Redesign community members shared their insights:
~ Frances Dumas-Hines, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, IN
~ Carla Gay, Gresham-Barlow School District, OR
~ Tara Madden and Felicia Walker, Talent Development Secondary and New Mexico ECHO EWS project
~ Amy Szymanski, Ohio Department of Education
~ Alexis Urquhart, Compass Academy Middle School, Denver, CO
By the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
National Child Tramatic Stress Network
NYC Community Schools
NYC Community Schools
FAQS: GLEANINGS FROM SOLUTIONS FORUM CHAT
HEALTH, WELL-BEING, AND SCHOOL CONNECTEDNESS
Well-being: What tools can we use to assess students’ and families’ needs in a distance learning environment?
~ We’re using EWS data from SY 2019-20 to triage services for students who are likely to be at-risk; teachers who have prior relationships with those students are reaching out to contact them to check in on them and their families and needs they may be facing. (Frances Dumas-Hines, Evansville-Vanderburgh School District, IN))
~ An internet search for “student well-being surveys” will bring up a number of open-source options, including a recent one from Panorama Ed.
What types of “Tier 1” strategies can be used to foster students’ well-being as the new school year opens?
~ Many of our schools are planning an “SEL blitz” during the first 1-2 weeks of school, focused on creating a calming environment and working with students at the classroom and small group level to address well-being issues essential to a safe and secure learning environment. (Frances Dumas-Hines)
~ Leaders in our network are reframing the crisis to focus on “survive and thrive” as a motto going into the new school year. “Survive and thrive” takes away the potential stigma of student feeling like they are behind. This is also a good way to encourage student engagement and motivation. (Tara Madden and Felicia Walker, Talent Development Secondary)
~ Because of the many unknowns ahead, we’re preparing school teams to engage in multiple short-term PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) cycles of inquiry with staff so that we can learn what is effective and capitalize on it. (Tara Madden)
~ We’ve used our EWS resource map to maintain a number of essential support structures, such as virtual “homerooms,” teacher champions for students who are struggling, and engagement of community and City Year partners to support students.
Relationships: How can leadership help teachers and other school adults develop empathetic relationships with students, particularly when this involves bridging linguistic, racial, and/or socio-economic differences?
~ Looping is an approach that some schools are exploring, including some New Orleans charters. (Tara Madden; Jennifer Husbands, Gates Foundation)
~ In our district, culturally specific community liaisons are working to help bridge the relationship gap between classroom teacher and students from different linguistic and racial backgrounds. (Carla Gay, Gresham-Barlow School District, OR)
~ Success Mentors has proven to be an effective strategy when mentors and mentees are thoughtfully paired. MENTOR’s Elements of Effective Mentoring is a thorough guide to practices that can be adapted to the current situation. (Maria Waltemeyer, JHU/EGC)
Health and safety: How can districts effectively communicate information on physical health and safety issues to students and teachers?
~ During our “SEL blitz” in the first 1-2 weeks of school, we plan to address physical safety and hygiene as one of the essential topics at classroom or small-group level. (Frances Dumas-Hines)
Student voice: How can we ensure that student voice is considered, especially in cases where students’ internet access is unreliable or infrequent?
~ One idea for collecting student voice (brought up by a student with unstable internet connectivity) was to use journaling. (Sarah Frazelle, Puget Sound Educational Service District)
~ Our districts are reaching out to students for their input on designing distance instructional activities, as well as Opening Strong plans that include Tier I interventions to help all feel welcome. Student input is being sought to inform weekly student recognition. (Tara Madden)
INSTRUCTION AND LEARNING
Teachers: How can districts or school leaders identify and respond to teachers’ various needs as they prepare for school to reopen?
~ During the summer, our SEL counselors are providing targeted PD to teachers on preparing to respond to students’ SEL needs when school reopens. (Frances Dumas-Hines, Evansville-Vanderburgh School District, IN)
~ In our (distance) work with teachers seeking EWS certification, we’re modeling distance-learning best practices that teachers can subsequently incorporate into their own instructional practices. (Tara Madden)
~ We also hosted an hour-long webinar on self-care for teachers to help them develop their own self care plans; many teachers indicated that they would be adapting that material to share with their students. (Tara Madden)
~ An EWS multi-tiered support model could be used to support teachers who have different levels and types of needs, particularly in their level of comfort with distance or blended learning. (Amy Szymanski, Ohio Department of Education)
Instruction: How can schools measure students’ academic preparedness for learning in the new school year, and adapt instruction accordingly?
~ The National Teacher Project has released an excellent Learning Acceleration Guide to help educators plan for robust instruction in various possible scenarios for the return to school. (Carla Gay)
~ There are a number of high-level system change recommendations in the recently published Chiefs for Change/JHU brief “How Should Education Leaders Prepare for Reentry and Beyond?” (Carla Gay)
~ With grading options in our state limited to “pass” and “incomplete,” high schools are seeing many students receiving “incomplete” for key courses. Credit recovery for those courses is a high priority for the summer and going into the fall. (Carla Gay)
~ Our state is actually considering adding state testing in the fall. (Raegan Genovesi, Beecher Community School District, MI)
~ We’re working on figuring out how to use City Year corps members to support students in the coming year, especially if distance learning continues. Can we develop a virtual “after-school” space that would incorporate tutoring or homework help? (Alexis Urquhart)
~ Some schools and districts are seeking outside expertise from commercial educational services firms, such as EAB. (Carla Gay)
Assessment: How can schools both maintain sufficient rigor in grading and assessment and demonstrate empathy that nurtures student engagement?
~ Some high schools are working with students to design project-based learning experiences where a rubric is used for assessment. (Tara Madden)
~ Also see the National Teacher Project Learning Acceleration Guide to address this issue.
Technology: How can educators adapt tools and curricula to provide hi-tech, lo-tech, and no-tech options, depending on the resources and capabilities of students and their families?
~ The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) has developed a guide to adapting curricula for students with disabilities to be used at various levels of tech capacity (or non-capacity); it offers insights and suggestions that can be applied in a non-disability context as well. (Amy Szymanski)
~ Our district is exploring a number of options to extend internet access for students who do not have it, especially since previous options such as Starbucks or the library have been closed. This includes offering connectivity in school parking lots or even in school buses strategically parked to be available to students in high-need communities. (Frances Dumas-Hines)
~ Some schools are offering technology boot camps for parents, whether online or even in the form of videos that are mailed to them, to help with essential access and troubleshooting skills that they will need to help support their children’s learning. (Tara Madden)
Data: What data can schools collect (and how), before the new school year starts?
~ Using EWI data from the current year as a starting point, we plan to begin an SEL screening process to ascertain student needs two weeks prior to reentry. We are also using the upgrade of our state data warehouse to put at-risk data from the two prior years on the same page as the at-risk data from the coming year, which will be updated daily. (Frances Dumas-Hines)
~ When districts provide hot spots for families without internet access, they are able to track which students have turned on those hot spots and how often they’ve used them. They can then reach out to those who have not done so. (Amy Szymanski)
States: How can states help local districts identify proxy data on attendance, behavior, and assessment/ course performance, in the absence of state-level data that teachers and principals normally rely on?
~ Our teachers have been monitoring students’ online contact with school as a proxy for engagement, using “no contact in a week’s time” as a proxy for absenteeism. (Carla Gay)
SUPPORTING STUDENTS DURING COVID-19
A Pathways to Adult Success Solution-Building Forum
April 28, 2020
In this forum, Pathways to Adult Success Learning Community members from across the country shared their best practices and valuable experiences for assisting students and staff during these difficult times.
~ Riverside County, California Office of Education College and Career Readiness Unit. Catalina Cifuentes, Executive Director; Gil Compton, Director; and Pedro Caro, Coordinator
~ Hamilton County, Tennessee Response Team. Michelle Caldwell, Director of Student Success, Chattanooga Public Education Foundation; Sarah Malone, Lead College and Career Advisor, Hamilton County Department of Education; and Keith White, Director of Research and Effectiveness, Chattanooga Public Education Foundation
~ Partnering for Student Success: Denver Public Schools and Denver Scholarship Foundation. Gabe Guindon, DSF Director of College Access, and Katie Gianatasio, DPS College Access Initiatives Manager
A free school counselor “on-the-go” webinar series.
Growing Inland Achievement Technology Support Partnership
A partnership to support technology needs for taking AP exams.
Envision Learning Partner’s Virtual Portfolio Defense
A free toolkit to help plan for virtual defenses and presenations.
Return to School Roadmap
A suggested set of actions to help keep students on track to postsecondary success.
SUPPORTING HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS DURING COVID-19
A Pathways to Adult Success Solution-Building Forum
April 7, 2020
In this forum, Pathways to Adult Success Learning Community members from across the country shared experiences and insights regarding effective ways to support Class of 2020 high school seniors during COVID-19. Many traditional supports that students rely on in the transition to a postsecondary pathway have been disrupted or are not available. We discussed three key issues:
~ Supporting seniors who need to pass courses or complete other requirements during the spring to graduate, and need assistance in finding a post-secondary pathway
~ Supporting students who are on track to graduate, but did not secure a post-secondary placement before school closings (e.g., students hoping to attend open-access four-year or community colleges who had not yet applied)
~ Supporting students accepted to post-secondary placements while preventing summer melt as many re-think priorities and possibilities in light of COVID-19
To find out what we know about the challenges facing each of these groups of students and learn from the collective wisdom that emerged from this very well-attended forum, we invite you to explore the resources linked below.
POLLING RESULTS: WHERE DO WE STAND?
IN YOUR STATE, SCHOOL DISTRICT, OR COMMUNITY, HAS GUIDANCE BEEN PROVIDED ON HOW TO MODIFY GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS DURING COVID-19?
HAVE YOUR STATE, SCHOOL DISTRICT, HIGH SCHOOL(S) OR LOCAL HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS BEGUN TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS WITHOUT A POSTSECONDARY PLACEMENT?
IN YOUR DISTRICT, SCHOOL(S), AND COMMUNITY, ARE THE NORMAL SUPPORTS PROVIDED TO HELP STUDENTS GET FROM POSTSECONDARY ACCEPTANCE TO ENROLLMENT AT RISK BECAUSE OF COVID-19?
SHARED RESOURCES: WHAT WE KNOW, WHAT’S BEING DONE
SENIORS WHO NEED TO EARN CREDITS OR COMPLETE REQUIREMENTS TO GRADUATE
WHAT WE KNOW
- Most states have waived or are allowing local districts to waive graduation requirements like state tests or college and career demonstrations of readiness.
- Some states are encouraging/requiring local districts to view all students who were on-track to graduate at the end of the 3rd quarter by being enrolled in (and passing) courses needed for graduation, as having met graduation requirements, e.g. AL, AK, NC, VA.
- Some states have suggested multiple ways students can earn credit for needed courses (local tests, projects, work experience etc.) and are leaving it up to districts or schools to decide whether students have done sufficient work to graduate, e.g. NM, TX.
- Not all states have issued graduation requirement guidance yet.
- Best source we have found is ExcelinEd, which has a data base of state graduation requirements under Covid updated daily https://www.excelined.org/covid-19/
WHAT'S BEING DONE
- Remote technologies to connect with students, district partnerships with community-based organizations, clear instructions for seniors. – Liesl Santkuhl, College Success WA
- Virtual office hours, Google classrooms. – José Guardiola, Denver Public Schools
- Paras and RTI/MTSS instructors connect with families over Zoom. – Sarah Frazelle, Puget Sound ESD
- Online tutoring and office hours via Zoom or Teams. – Jazmin Vasquez-Bueno, MDC-Hope WA
- Online tutoring to help students pass, especially for AP classes. – Hannah Hibbs, MDC-Hope WA
- Teachers contract with failing students for grades to earn credit based on remote – Dena Dossett, Jefferson Co. Schools, KY
- Be sensitive to where students are, and their pressing family and personal concerns. Communicate with them via their preferred method to make sure they know what they need to do to graduate and matriculate. – Sade Ortiz-Lucin, Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria NYC
- Teachers using Teams for class meetings; administrators contacting individual students who are not communicating. – Andrea Beckel, Osceola Schools
- Support students with navigating the process as information becomes available. Make connections for them to the adults in the school that can help them and their parents determine next steps. – Shanetta Martin, United Way of Central Maryland
- Student support groups, connecting students in similar situations via virtual tools to build community and support outcomes. – Ali Slack, National Education Equity Lab
- Riverside County: working with districts to provide students technology access to distance learning (distribution of digital devices and hotspots); providing guidance on grading practices with “hold harmless” focus driving the conversation; discussing downstream issues for underclassmen; offering Guiding Document to frame issues of distance learning and grading practices. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_6dviH7pdq15ntyKZGtxBINArqPI5K448umyWSbDkvo – Gil Compton, Riverside Co. CA
- Deans have been reaching out to parents and students to see if they need additional support. – Andrea Beckel
- Smaller, more rural districts are having more success than larger ones in WA. – Sarah Frazelle
- The leadership team is reaching out to students that have not been heard from since the start of remote learning. This takes some stress off teachers so they can focus on instruction and providing feedback. – Monica Shavers, Osceola Schools
- Riverside County has also created 5 virtual professional development sessions for K-12 school counselors on best practices in a virtual environment. Over 500 have signed up for the series so far. – Gil Compton
SENIORS WHO WILL GRADUATE, BUT DID NOT SECURE A POSTSECONDARY PLACEMENT BEFORE SCHOOLING BECAME REMOTE
WHAT WE KNOW
March, April, and May are typically months when some seniors apply to open-access four-year and community colleges.
- Many depend on application supports provided by their high school and/or affiliated non-profits
- Open-access four-year institutions and community colleges often send representatives to high schools to provide information help students apply.
- Almost all higher education institutions are closed with staff working remotely. They may re-open on different schedules and make different adjustments to application deadlines. This will make it harder for prospective students to get questions answered or receive accurate information.
- If students graduate without a post-secondary placement, it will be difficult for schools to track them down. If they leave the K-12 system and have not enrolled in higher education, it will be hard to provide information on rolling admissions, mid-year starts, etc.
- A few states have at least brought up this challenge in their COVID-19 Guidance to districts, e.g. Colorado.
- But, overall, this could be an out of sight, out of mind problem, with serious effects for students and communities.
WHAT'S BEING DONE, CONCERNS & ISSUES
- This seems easier for districts that were focusing on SEL and welcoming school climate. These districts still focus primarily on caring for students and relationships; academic support seems to be flowing from those connections. – Sarah Frazelle
- We’re working on this, but it’s super messy and not aligned across schools. – Alexis Sullivan, Community Center for Education Results, WA
- Our students apply to post-secondary options during October-December, so now we are assisting them with reading FA packages and deciding where to enroll. – Magdelyn Gomez, Student Leadership Network/College Bound
- In Hamilton County, TN, district-based, full-time college and career advisors continue reaching out to students via various tech solutions, as do College Advancement Mentors, to make sure the HS-postsecondary transition happens. They stay in touch, provide guidance, and bridge postsec/student/HS communication. – Keith White, PEF Chattanooga
- Meeting students where they are – using social media like Instagram to blast out information and respond to questions that students have. – Jared Epler, Philadelphia Education Fund
- We are working with a person from school partner Denver Scholarship Foundation on reaching out to students to help with placement, opening school portals, FAFSA and scholarships. – José Guardiola
- Some Denver metro area colleges have provided remote meeting opportunities for prospective students. I’m then sharing that with students who may be interested in applying to those schools. – Emily Webster, Denver Scholarship Foundation
- Georgia collaborative partners (University System, Technical College System, Student Finance and K-12) are coordinating efforts in regard to HOPE scholarship eligibility and dual enrollment credits to help students identify higher ed options and finalize plans, and reignite those without firm plans. Technical colleges will be a great bridge; as many students are already dual enrolled and have a connection, they can continue there until policies are better aligned. – Brad Bryant, REACH Georgia
- Representatives from Tacoma CBOs, institutions, and the school district are meeting this week for collaborative action planning to help communicate systemically about resources re: college options, financial support, etc. – Nalani Linder, Degrees of Change Tacoma
- A Buffalo collaborative effort, including GEAR UP, has set a goal to email, text, or phone every HS senior (~2,500) to help them navigate their individual challenges; this is in addition to the work school district counselors are doing. – Betsy Behrend, Say Yes Buffalo
- Paid internships & apprenticeship programs; gap year programming. – Magdelyn Gomez
- Note: Undocumented students are not able to do AmeriCorps, so this is not an option for them. – Alejandra Perez, Community Center for Education Results, WA
- A group of Texas nonprofits and other stakeholders, including two-year and four-year institutions, are working to coordinate a common location for students to find information on enrollment process change. – Claudette Jenks, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
- In San Antonio, we have a one-stop shop called cafecollege to help students of all ages and grades with completing college steps, financial aid assistance, and scholarship research. We are currently working on virtual advising and assisting students using Zoom and email/text/phone communication. https://cafecollege.org/– Rosemary Rodriquez, San Antonio Education Partnership
- Though these students are at risk, district, PS, and community systems have joined forces to support current and upcoming PS students, addressing relocation and similar financial challenges and outreach using pre-existing relationships between HS-based college and career advisors and students. Advisors are staying in contact with students using text, Naviance, and similar tools along with virtual advising. They’re doing their best to keep a game plan in play and the students engaged and focused on the end-goal. – Keith White
SUPPORTING SENIORS THAT HAVE A POSTSECONDARY PLACEMENT BUT ARE RETHINKING OPTIONS DUE TO COVID-19
WHAT WE KNOW
Initial surveys and media reports suggest…
- Some students are looking for options closer to home.
- Students are concerned about costs and the impact of COVID-19 on family employment and income.
- As a result, some are considering delaying enrollment for a year.
- Finally, there is a substantial gap between acceptance and enrollment; students may struggle with the multiple steps and deadlines involved in enrollment, including financial aid forms (typically due in May).
WHAT'S BEING DONE, CONCERNS & ISSUES
- One-on-one outreach and engagement is key, especially in high poverty urban areas like Buffalo. – Betsy Behrend
- I’ve been working with students whose parents have lost jobs due to COVID-19 on financial aid appeal letters, to see if colleges can help cover the additional costs that families can no longer afford. – Sade Ortiz-Lucin
- We are trying to transition the services already woven together through Say Yes Buffalo (e.g. mentoring, peer mentoring, FinAid support, PLUS basic needs, housing etc.) to virtual and distance methods. – Betsy Behrend
- In Massachusetts, we’re trying to figure out how to use MyCAP to keep virtual advising going. It is locally administered, so we are starting to survey districts on what the status is. – Nyal Fuentes, MA DESE
- Not sending a robotic-like response is key to engaging seniors in their transition from high school to higher ed. Personalizing messages and asking students how they’re doing during this time goes a long way; I’ve had more responses this way than through any other method/format. I echo the emphasis on doing 1:1 contact – Salvador Acosta, San Antonio Education Partnership
- At Chattanooga PEF, we are making use of our SIS to make sure educators and advisors are aware of where students are in on the PS trajectory, and using match and fit tools to offer students PS options that would still be a good fit/match, even if they’ve had to change plans. – Keith White
- Our Trio Program in WA has been pushing 1:1 contacts with students as well as parents. We used a needs assessment to assess family needs and try to gather resources to address those needs. Some families need food, cleaning supplies, or school supplies. We want to make sure parents and students know we are here to serve them as we help students review financial aid award letters, apply to schools, etc. – Jazmin Vasquez-Bueno
- Students can pick up a smile in the voice! I feel it is very important that students hear a voice they are familiar with. – Rachel Maldonado, San Antonio Education Partnership
- In Puget Sound, we are encouraging focused data-sharing across colleges, districts and CBOs to support individualized, virtual advising. We’re looking for data-sharing agreement templates to adapt that have worked across districts, colleges and CBOs. If you have one that may work for us, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks! – Kyla Lackie, Puget Sound Educational Service District
- We have some from our previous PAS work. – Sarah Frazelle
- Riverside County Office of Education has a data sharing MOU with our districts. We can create a “Boiler Plate” example to share. email@example.com – Gil Compton
- Big-picture reminder: many institutions–especially the smaller ones–are hit hard by COVID-19 in their own ways and may not have all of the student supports or financial aid packages available to students immediately when they reopen. While we hope they will emerge stronger and even more responsive to students post-COVID-19, as good partners we should talk with colleges and be aware of any modifications they’ve had to make, so we can communicate those to incoming or prospective students. – Nalani Linder