A Tiered Approach to Ensuring Students are Present, Engaged, and Supported in the 2020–21 School Year

Hedy Chang
Cecelia Leong

As schools begin this fall, educators across California are examining how they can promote students showing up for class, whether instruction is offered remotely or in person. In our previous PACE commentary, we made recommendations for expanding the metrics used to monitor daily attendance and participation in distance learning. In this commentary, we make recommendations for how educators can respond to student attendance data to ensure students get the support they need to be present and engaged in learning.

Measuring Daily Attendance and Participation During COVID-19

An Invaluable Tool for Reducing Educational Inequity
Hedy Chang
Cecelia Leong

Absenteeism is a leading indicator of educational inequity. With COVID-19, taking daily attendance and monitoring absenteeism is essential as chronic absence is a key predictor of later learning loss and an early warning sign that positive conditions of learning are not in place for students. While taking attendance is more complicated in the context of distance learning, it is still possible—and necessary.

To Keep Students Safe and Learning, California Needs Strong State Leadership

In preparing for the next school year, California state policymakers must set clear statewide expectations for teaching, learning, and student support, regardless of whether instruction is online or in person. This spring, local school districts scrambled to adapt to COVID-19 with a wide range of responses largely focused on securing delivery of online resources. Now is the time to shift the conversation back to the core purpose of school: learning. The state should establish a minimum amount of instructional time; create an instrument of diagnostic assessment and require its use; adopt instructional continuity plans; and advocate for and secure additional funding.

What Comes Next for Professional Learning in the Time of COVID-19

Addressing the Social and Emotional Work of Improvement
Carrie Wilson

Students will begin next school year with highly diverse needs, which means educators will face huge demands for differentiation on shoestring budgets. A focus on cognitive science and adult learning, particularly on social and emotional capabilities, can help educators be self-aware and creative in developing strategies to better support students across the full range of their educational and psychological needs. To help students and educators succeed in this new and unpredictable environment, a clear focus on conditions for learning will be key.

Voices of Educators

Supporting Student Learning Amid the Pandemic Requires Prioritizing Social-Emotional Care
Krista Fairley
Rebecca Norwood
Janice Phan
Cynthia Sanchez

The global pandemic and resulting economic devastation, not seen since the Great Depression, have underscored how schools are essential to the well-being of their communities. During this time of high stress, students are reporting anxiety, depression, and thoughts about hurting themselves, as well as increasing abuse. Moving from crisis triage to action guided by core principles that center student well-being is necessary but, to do so, social-emotional care is paramount, both for children and adults. For these reasons, our recommendations include reaching out to families, adjusting expectations, developing flexible guidelines, and investing in teachers’ professional development.

Quality Matters More Than Ever in Times of Crisis

Does the California Quality Rating and Improvement System Predict Child Outcomes?

Quality Counts California rates program elements to assess overall program quality. But are we assessing the right dimensions of quality with measures that are predictive of children’s learning and development? In an era of restricted resources, it is critical that CA identify, measure, and deliver the dimensions of quality that actually matter for children.

COVID-19’s Impact on English Learner Students

Possible Policy Responses

As an immensely diverse group of students, English learners (ELs) will have widely varying experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and thus a broad range of educational, physical, and mental health-related needs.This commentary offers recommendations for how policy can support ELs whether education is online, in person, or both.

Navigating the Education Budget Crisis Following COVID-19

How the State and Districts Can Make Smart Cuts
Michael Fine

California faces a massive budget gap next year due to reduced tax revenues, with schools expected to see a shortfall of $19 billion. Though there are proposals to impose across the board cuts, each district has different needs and resources that should be carefully assessed to come up with the best plan for each.

Understanding, Measuring, and Addressing Student Learning Needs During COVID-19 Recovery

Students re-entering the classroom following the COVID-19 crisis will likely experience severe learning loss and emotional challenges arising from their time out of school. Schools will need to develop tools for assessing students’ varied needs along with the resources, clear guidance, and flexibility to address them. This commentary is modified from testimony delivered to the California Assembly Budget Committee on April 28, 2020.