Restoring Learning at Scale in a Remote Environment
By Eileen Belastock
Disruption in learning caused by COVID-19 is the reality that school districts face this school year. K-12 education is evolving from a brick-and-mortar learning environment to learning both in person and online. While this shift is challenging to say the least, it is an opportunity for school districts to use technology to engage, personalize, and challenge students.
In an edWeb edLeader Panel sponsored by EveryDay Labs, Michael Romero, Local District South Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District (CA), and Todd Rogers, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University and Chief Scientist, EveryDay Labs, talk about actionable strategies to help create the conditions for learning this fall, including using attendance data, effective communication strategies, and building strong family-school partnerships.
Every day and every instructional minute is sacred with our students, especially in this time of remote learning. However, according to Rogers, 80% of parents/guardians with school-age children underestimate their children’s attendance by 50%. This underestimation of attendance is a slippery slope to chronic absenteeism. Without parental/guardian monitoring of attendance, it is difficult for school administrators to intervene to increase student participation in their learning. Even in the best of times, chronic absenteeism can significantly impact education with low graduation rates, higher suspensions, and decreased standardized testing proficiency.
The chronic attendance problem that had plagued districts before COVID-19 was exacerbated once schools shut down in March 2020. According to Romero, there is no panacea or silver bullet to address this issue. However, Rogers’ work with EveryDay Labs has developed a personalized approach to connect with families and students in a collaborative way to increase participation and engagement in learning remote, hybrid, or in person. By planning fast, acting fast, and fixing fast, districts can quickly identify, design, and resolve highly challenging absenteeism issues.
Parent/guardian involvement and commitment is a crucial component of any district absenteeism initiative. A three-prong strategy—simplification, repetition, and transparent monitoring—developed at EveryDay Labs and implemented in Romero’s district, ensured parent/guardian understanding and participation in increasing their children’s attendance rate. The first prong, simplification, establishes a districtwide commitment with a clear message that student attendance in school, whether online or in-person every day, is essential to their learning. The second prong, repetition, involves daily phone calls from a live person at that school site when a student is absent. This consistent action ensures that parents/guardians know when their child is not at school and guaranteed communication from the school. Transparent monitoring, as the third prong, focuses on personalizing interventions. By identifying a targeted group of students with chronic absenteeism, school districts can reach out to families to determine the level and type of support needed at home to increase learning time.
Decreasing chronic attendance is critical to ensuring all students have equitable access to their education. Yet this can be a daunting and complicated process for school districts already dealing with the overwhelming challenges of online learning this year. However, due to their partnerships with EveryDay Labs, districts like Romero’s are getting positive results with increased student attendance, more students on target to graduate, and successful outreach to parents and the school community.
This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by EveryDay Labs.
This article was modified and published by eSchool News.
About the Presenters
Michael Romero is the Local District South Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is responsible for ensuring that almost 100,000 students in 145 schools receive a quality educational program in a safe and nurturing environment. He has served the District for the past 30 years as a teacher, Science Advisor, Assistant Principal, Principal at three different sites, and Director of the District’s Reading Programs, which included the supervision of over 500 literacy coaches. He also served the District as a Director of School Services, Executive Director of Division of Adult Education, Option Programs, Beyond the Bell and Athletics, and the Executive Officer, Office of Educational Services. Michael recently served as the Senior Executive Director of Strategy and Innovation for Dr. Michelle King before being assigned as the Local District South Superintendent.
Todd Rogers is a behavioral scientist who studies how mobilizing and empowering students’ social networks can increase student success. He founded the Student Social Support R&D Lab at Harvard to use data and behavioral science to develop and prove scalable, high ROI interventions that mobilize and empower students’ social support systems to improve achievement. Todd received his Ph.D. jointly from Harvard’s Department of Psychology and Harvard Business School.
Join the Community
Leadership and Innovation is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net that serves as an online forum for collaboration on leadership and innovation in schools to meet the needs of the next generation.
At EveryDay Labs, we improve student outcomes through the power of behavioral science. We partner with districts to reduce absenteeism because we believe every student deserves to learn every day. To date, we have helped prevent more than 400,000 absences, equating to over 150 million minutes of instructional time.
Eileen Belastock, CETL is the Director of Technology and Information for Nauset Public Schools, MA, and also works with edWeb.net to write articles on their professional learning edWebinars. You can follow Eileen on Twitter @EileenBelastock.