USDE Launches Two Communities of Practice to Help States Address Impact of the Pandemic on Students (December 4, 2021)

On December 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) launched two new multi-state communities of practice to support states in addressing the impact of lost instructional time from the pandemic on students’ social, emotional, and mental health, and academic well-being. “Students across the country have felt the impact of school building closures as a result of the pandemic. While the good news is that nearly 100 percent of America’s schools have now returned to in-person instruction, we must provide the necessary supports to nurture all students’ social-emotional well-being, mental health, and positive academic outcomes by addressing the impact of lost instructional time,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “I’m proud that these new communities of practice, supporting the use of American Rescue Plan funds, will help states engage in this vital work.”

The USDE is launching the Evidence-Based Interventions: Using American Rescue Plan Resources to Accelerate Learning Community of Practice with the National Comprehensive Center. This community of practice will work with states and communities in accelerating learning using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding in sustainable ways. The USDE will invite teams of State Educational Agencies (SEAs), Local Education Agencies (LEAs), and partner community-based organizations (CBOs) to participate in the community of practice. Participants will explore different evidence-based strategies to accelerate learning and build their organizational capacity to support districts and schools in implementing these practices with fidelity, using the ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds for evidence-based interventions such as high-dosage tutoring and expanded learning time. This community of practice will address students’ needs by equipping local educators, school staff, partners, and leaders with the skills they need to design and deploy interventions that work for all students to recover lost instructional time, with a focus on students most impacted by the pandemic.

The USDE is also launching the Toward an Equitable Education and Recovery: Transforming Kindergarten Community of Practice in partnership with the Campaign for Grade Level Reading and the USDE’s T4PA Center, among other partners. This community of practice will engage a cohort of state and district teams to share best practices, policies, and initiatives that will allow the kindergarten year to become a more effective path to early school success and learning recovery, especially for those children who have been historically underserved and most adversely affected by the ongoing pandemic. The community of practice will consist of a series of virtual convenings on topics such as social-emotional development, family engagement and supportive transitions that respond to disparities in access to in-person learning and nationwide under-enrollment for young children.

In addition, the USDE will continue to support states who participated in the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative (SLEC) through the Strategic Use of Summer and Afterschool Set-Asides Community of Practice. This series will support state teams and their partners in promoting strategic and sustainable use of ARP funding to accelerate learning through summer and out of school time programming. This community of practice will build on the success from the SLEC, which brought together 49 SEAs across eight total events that reached more than 1,300 participants.

The communities of practice are the USDE’s most recent efforts to support families by addressing the impact of lost instructional time. This fall, the USDE released Strategies for Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Address the Impact of Lost Instructional Time,” a resource to support educators as they implement, refine, and work to continuously improve their strategies for supporting students.

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