CARES Impact Study Lays Foundation for the Future of Education in Metro Atlanta

By Robert W. Gaines, II, Ph.D. 7 months ago

 

 

At the core of Learn4Life’s work is convening education leaders to identify and share best practices that can be taken to scale. The billions of dollars in federal recovery funding provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate proven strategies. The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (Partnership) recognized this opportunity and has designed a multi-year, multi-strand research project to capture the ways districts are using these funds. We are excited to partner with folks throughout the Learn4Life network and beyond to ensure we all learn and grow from this critical investment in public education.

Since March 2020, the Georgia Department of Education, local school districts, and state-approved charter schools have received $6.6 billion in federal relief funding to ensure the state’s public schools could manage the rising costs of educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local school districts are using these funds to address academic and non-academic barriers to learning for Georgia’s most vulnerable students. While districts have used early rounds of relief funding to address immediate needs caused by the pandemic, such as expanding access to high-speed internet, addressing food insecurity for students and families, providing supplemental academic supports for struggling learners, and delivering non-academic supports. Districts have used early rounds of relief funding to address immediate needs caused by the pandemic, such as expanding access to high-speed internet, addressing food insecurity for students and families, providing supplemental academic supports for struggling learners, and delivering non-academic supports. However, these funds are also being used to take steps to reimagine areas of K-12 education and better serve students beyond the immediate challenges created by the pandemic.

Considering this unprecedented infusion of dollars into our state’s public schools, Georgia now has an opportunity to collect useful data about how each district planned to use these funds. The Partnership is leading this study, which is being partly funded by the Georgia Department of Education, with three primary goals:

1. Generate actionable knowledge that supports student success
o Understand how districts use federal relief funds and the impact they have on district practice and, where feasible, students;
o Identify best practices and lessons learned about student support strategies deployed by districts, which can be used by practitioners and local and state policymakers to inform decisions about strategic action and investments.

2. Facilitate the application of emerging knowledge in district and state policy
o Provide shared learnings, cultivate cross-district information exchange, and encourage adoption of successful student-centered practices across districts by bringing education and civic leaders together through meetings with stakeholders in rural and suburban/urban communities;
o Develop and disseminate recommendations based on findings to inform policy decisions by state and local education leaders.

3. Bolster public support for public education
o Identify and share compelling stories from Georgia schools about the pandemic’s impact on students and how educators are meeting their needs;
o Create and deploy tools to disseminate emerging learnings targeted to multiple stakeholders.

The Partnership believes these federal funds can lay the foundation for transformative and lasting educational change in Georgia, particularly in historically marginalized and under-resourced communities. With careful data collection and analysis and shared learning among practitioners and policymakers, this study supports the development of this foundation and can help solidify the long-term strategic change needed by leveraging and bolstering the collective capacity of education stakeholders. Moreover, ongoing engagement with stakeholders who make and influence decisions about district policy and practice moves knowledge generation into learning and action. Doing so aids the design and implementation of effective and sustainable improvements that better support students and address persistent gaps in learning opportunities and outcomes for many students.

Robert W. Gaines, II, Ph.D. is the Director of External Affairs for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. He also serves as a Learn4Life Core Team member.

To learn more about the CARES Impact Study, contact Robert Gaines at rgaines@gpee.org or visit https://gpee.org/programs/cares-impact-study/.

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  Partners in Education
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