The end of the school year has always been a reflective time for me. It is an opportunity to pause and celebrate successes, think about barriers that are impeding our ability to make progress toward our system-wide goals, and identify ways to collaborate on creative solutions. As the 2019-20 school year comes to a close, we have all found ourselves in an unprecedented reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has put life as we know it on hold, and we have had to transition quickly to a new world of distance learning. The calling of educators has always been a challenging and noble pursuit, and never has that been more on display than this moment. On behalf of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, I want to take this moment to express how much we appreciate the tremendous work that you all have done to benefit students across the state.
We have quickly pivoted some of our efforts to identify ways that we can support you now and in the future as we transition back to “normalcy.” Following is a brief summary of our efforts:
- CAREI is providing support to the MDE through the Wisconsin Minnesota Comprehensive Center (WMCC) through a grant with the federal government. As part of the Comp center work, the commissioner and deputy commissioner have asked us to review a sample of MN distance learning plans to summarize descriptive information about the structure and content of plans to learn more about how districts are addressing critical issues of access to education within their school communities. We have reviewed a stratified random sample of 269 distance learning plans and plan to provide a range of examples of how districts are implementing distance learning practices and identify areas that might need more support should distance learning continue or a 2nd round occurs in the future. Results of this review will be completed by the end of the month.
- The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Minnesota is attempting to gather information from educators to aggregate the needs of all districts in the state and identify ways the University can support school districts in the future. The key assumption is that, at some point in the 2020-2021 school year, schools may need to be in at least a hybrid mode of distance learning and may need greater levels of support to do that effectively. To that end, we have developed a survey for educators to complete about the implementation of distance learning during Spring of 2020. We will provide district leaders with district level reports for your district as well as a report of how your district compares to the entire survey sample at no cost. The survey is completely voluntary and should take no more than five minutes to complete.
- Implementing Principles of Reimagine Minnesota in a Period of Remote Teaching and Learning is a document that complements the 2019 Expanding the Vision of Reimagine Minnesota Report which built on an extensive multi-year engagement and collective roadmap effort led by the Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD). Produced by the University of Minnesota’s College of Education & Human Development in partnership with The Minneapolis Foundation and other funders, the 2019 report provided overviews of current research and practical recommendations related to themes raised in the original Reimagine Minnesota roadmap. As the COVID-19 pandemic grew and educators moved to decentralized distance learning, a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota provided insights into what students, parents, teachers, educators and policy makers should be considering as they implement new learning strategies while continuing efforts to disrupt education disparities.
- CAREI is helping to curate resources around distance learning. There are certainly many resources at our disposal to utilize in transitioning to distance learning, and yet we continually hear from educators that they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of resources. We have a resource guide developed that we will continue to expand upon in the upcoming months. In addition our April provided a summary of several distance learning resources.
The University of Minnesota wants to identify ways we can be helpful to the educational community. However, the University is a large system, and I often hear that it is difficult to know who to call. I would encourage you to think of CAREI as the entry point. Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-625-9751 with any questions, and I can help direct you to appropriate resources. I wish you all a safe and healthy summer as we all reflect and plan for the start of a new school year.