Though the pandemic has produced shared experiences among students, including those who may be accessing remote education for the first time, it’s also exposed and magnified disparities between them. For students, their ability to stay connected to their schooling (literally and figuratively) is influenced by their race, ZIP code, and learning needs, among other factors. Educators have responded in a very personal and profound manner, but many students have still struggled.
At the same time, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of change, including for K–12 education expectations and delivery models. This growing paradigm shift presents new opportunities for addressing educational equity, but it also presents new challenges.
A New Educational Equity Resource for K–12 System and School Leaders
To help K–12 system and school leaders during this time of rapid change, D2L has developed a guide titled “Educational Equity Principles and Practices During the Pandemic and Beyond.”
We offer insights and suggestions to improve educational equity. Below are a few highlights of what you will find in this guide.
Learning Loss and ARP ESSER Funds
Any effort to address K–12 equity today starts with learning loss, as highlighted in the American Rescue Plan (ARP). In addition to enabling safe reopening, this funding aims to “advance educational equity.”
The ARP’s $123 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund targets high-poverty school districts and learning loss by differentiating instruction, tracking student engagement, and enhancing family involvement.
At D2L, we agree with educators and families concerned that certain approaches to learning loss could further penalize some students. In contrast, a student growth model authentically builds on each student’s unique strengths and needs with empathy, to support their learning recovery while also accelerating their progress. This systemic, student-centered approach enabled by a mastery-based learning model can help our K–12 system and all students emerge stronger from the pandemic.
Principles of Educational Equity
During the pandemic, educators have visited their students, bus drivers have delivered meals, and teachers have altered their curriculum and instruction to meet students in their place of, and at their pace of, learning. How can such practices be sustained and expanded?
In our guide, we share four principles for building lasting equity, which were brought to the forefront during the pandemic:
- Providing unique supports
- Raising student voice and agency
- Building system resilience
- Promoting diversity and inclusion
Best Practices for Equity in Education
Building on our policy guidance titled “Education Equity, the Digital Divide and COVID-19,” we provide a broader framework that can help address disparities across school functions and student needs.
This framework includes:
- Functional areas for educational equity, including curriculum and instruction, student wellness, and services, as well as technology
- Mechanisms for educational equity, including access and opportunity, accommodations, and supports
High-quality Teaching and Learning for All Students
Teachers have long leaned into the goal of ensuring students succeed. Our opportunity now is to reimagine education, as reset by the pandemic, and our obligation is to do so with the systemic and operational changes needed to deliver on the promise of an excellent education for all students.
Learn more by downloading our guide “Educational Equity Principles and Practices During the Pandemic and Beyond.”
We hope this guide, which was informed by K–12 leaders, supports you as you work to meet the diverse needs of your students.