July 24, 2020
Districts across the country are facing an extremely challenging and complex school year. Administrators are busy planning what the upcoming fall semester will look like—from hybrid models that have students learning in the classroom one day and at home the next, to options that focus exclusively on remote learning or in-person instruction. In addition, some parents are choosing to keep their children home due to the risk of exposure to COVID-19, regardless of what plans their local district put in place.
As teachers and administrators puzzle over the best solution for fall 2020, an important question comes to mind: How will educators sustain student growth with whichever learning model is chosen?
As districts’ decisions trickle in, news sources such as Education Week have started compiling lists of who is planning what for the 2020-2021 school year. One key point stands out based on this information: In every school district, some students will be learning from home.
Even if school buildings are open, some students will need to conduct remote learning due to illness, possible exposure, or their families’ decision. Central to planning for remote learning are flexibility, accountability for both teachers and students, support for families when students are learning at home, and demonstration and documentation of learning gains.
Safety is at the forefront of back-to-school planning. As decisions roll out, teachers are sharing their concerns over the logistics of ensuring that students socially distance themselves, avoid touching their faces, and have enough opportunities to wash their hands. Transportation to and from school, lunchtime, and lack of sufficient substitute teachers are other challenges that do not have clear solutions yet.
Although many plans have been put forth about keeping children safe at school, it is important to also consider the health and safety of faculty and staff. Librarians, custodians, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers are other adults who are frequently in contact with students, and many of them may be in the “at-risk” category for the disease.
Conducting online-only instruction also has its drawbacks. Learning at home means that young students will need a chaperone at all times, which is difficult or impossible for working parents and family members. Some students and families do not have internet access or sufficient devices to use for schoolwork at home. Although safer for the health of students and faculty, remote learning will still be challenging to implement.
Educators are turning to technology partners, such as Reading Plus, for a flexible solution that complements the diverse range of school models they’re preparing for, including contingency plans.
Whichever operating model districts pursue for the upcoming school year, tools like Reading Plus can help students accelerate their reading skills. Students and educators can easily log in to Reading Plus on any compatible device with internet access, making it an ideal solution for hybrid or remote learning models. In addition, educators have access to hundreds of printable resources that can be used by students for offline instruction.
According to NWEA, a research-based, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions, students are projected to be about 30% behind in reading from where they would typically be for back-to-school due to COVID-19. Reading Plus can help determine a student’s level through a 40-minute assessment that provides an individualized diagnostic profile and personalized instruction path. On average, students gain 2.5 years of growth in just 60 hours of program use.
Reading Plus features a comprehensive suite of reports to provide educators with the tools they need to lead a virtual or hybrid classroom. Built-in messaging tools enable teachers to communicate directly with an individual student or a whole class. Real-time alerts and notifications identify students who need additional attention and support.
A built-in Family Portal helps parents and family members support children at home and guide them through the program. Family members can easily see and understand their children’s assignments and progress in the program. Reading Plus provides PDF guides for families on how to support children using the program at home, which are available in multiple languages.
Educators can access high-quality virtual professional development from home or school to learn about the program in easily digestible eLearning modules. In addition, our highly responsive Customer Service team is available through multiple channels during an inclusive range of hours.
Regardless of how students return to school, Reading Plus can work with districts to support a culture of literacy.