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Last spring, the Covid-19 pandemic upended routines for over 56 million students and challenged more than 3.7 million teachers in over 130,000 schools nationwide to continue educating kids in an online format. This transition to “virtual learning” was understandably trying for all educators, schools, and districts, but some managed to do far better than others.

Authored by Gregg Vanourek, this report summarizes key actions taken by leading charter school networks that were able to transition quickly and effectively to remote learning:

  1. Achievement First
  2. Denver Schools of Science and Technology
  3. IDEA Public Schools
  4. KIPP DC
  5. Noble Network of Charter Schools
  6. Rocketship Public Schools
  7. Success Academy
  8. Uncommon Schools

How did they manage the transition from in-person instruction to remote learning? What enabled them to respond as they did? What worked well, and what didn’t?

At Noble, supporting special-needs students during remote learning included using their engagement tracker to gauge progress, calling home to check in on basic needs, and using the Remind app to text students and families about appointments and announcements, office hours, and other IEP services.

Gregg Vanourek

Gregg Vanourek is one of the Fordham Institute's founders and a leading expert on executive leadership development., The Fordham Institute

Drawing on interviews with school leaders, educators, and parents, this report distills major lessons learned and offers concrete recommendations for how to significantly improve the remote learning experience for all students, teachers, and families in the critical months and year ahead.

Among them:

  • Create and enforce a typical school day for students, with a mix of live and recorded lessons and independent student work.
  • Prioritize student health and wellbeing and reach out to individual students and families on a regular basis.
  • Lean into a team approach to teaching and instruction, centered around a common curriculum.As we enter a new school year, other charter, private, and traditional public school leaders and educators could and should follow the lead of these charter networks in the critical months ahead. We have no choice but to get better, faster, and fairer at remote learning for the sake of the “Covid Generation.”

Editor’s Note: special thanks to  Ellen Metz, head of schools, Ben Gunty, principal, Noble Street College Prep, and Monica Avalos, teacher and English-language learning specialist, Noble Street College Prep (also a Noble alum) for sharing Noble’s story.

Read the report at The Fordham Institute

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