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Understanding the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Describe how the SEA will support its local education agencies (LEAs) in identifying the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student learning and student well-being, including identifying the groups of students most impacted by the pandemic. Where possible, please identify the data sources the SEA will suggest its LEAs use in thoughtfully diagnosing areas of need, including data on the academic, social, emotional, and mental health impacts of lost instructional time.

PDE will provide a variety of supports to its LEAs to aid their identification of the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student learning and student well-being. Data are being collected, and LEAs are being supported through the following mechanisms:

ARP ESSER Application – Needs Assessment: As part of its application for ARP ESSER funds, each LEA is required to complete a needs assessment. That assessment will prompt the LEA to undertake a comprehensive accounting of the specific needs of its students and educators, including descriptions of the root causes of those needs, the qualitative and quantitative data sources used to determine the needs, and how ARP ESSER funds will be used to meet those needs.

Accelerated Learning Through an Integrated System of Support: Throughout the 2020- 21 school year, PDE regularly provided technical assistance and guidance for LEAs in reflecting on their successes and challenges in providing instruction while managing the COVID-19 pandemic through the Roadmap for Educational Leaders. Components and resources of this roadmap include establishing a comprehensive stakeholder group to establish thorough plans based on current needs and conditions, including instructional delivery models, social and emotional wellness, effective instruction, connectivity and communication, and professional development.

In preparation for the 2021-22 school year, PDE has created a new toolkit of resources and professional development offerings, the Accelerated Learning through an Integrated System of Supports, which provides a systematic process and technical support for school communities to make key decisions for the start of the new academic year. The toolkit follows a Cycle of Continuous Improvement mindset that will lead to strategic vision, needs assessment, planning, implementation, monitoring, and adjusting, with each element integrated systemically. Key components within the associated Accelerated Learning framework include operational and system conditions, social and emotional wellness, academics, and scaffolded supports. Additionally, this toolkit includes an updated collection of lessons learned, research, critical resources, and simplified planning templates with probing questions to guide LEA decision-making.

Local Assessments: To assist LEAs in gaining early and important insights into the impact of COVID-19 on student learning, PDE is partnering with its vendor, Standards Aligned System – Education Value-Added Assessment System, to implement a system through which LEAs can voluntarily submit local assessment data and receive analytics similar to traditional Pennsylvania growth reports normed to Pennsylvania performance levels. Once LEA data are submitted, PDE and local IUs will provide data tools and comprehensive support to assist LEAs in:

  • Increasing understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 in LEAs and schools;
  • Assessing current learning trends among students;
  • Evaluating whether different student groups experienced different learning outcomes during school interruptions; and
  • Identifying the amount of learning needed to get students back on track to their pre- pandemic expected achievement levels.

Future Ready Comprehensive Planning and School Improvement: Title 22, Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania Code specifies planning requirements for LEAs. As a component of each

LEA's Comprehensive Plan, LEAs are to conduct a thorough needs assessment on student achievement, growth, and student programs. The state's Future Ready Comprehensive Planning Portal (FRCPP) provides a consistent planning framework and collection tool for all LEAs. This platform is grounded in an outcomes-based approach focused on student achievement and encourages schools and districts to more effectively plan and lead school improvement practices. The core concepts are based on a simplified logic model, one that any LEA or school can effectively use for developing cohesive long-term goals and action plans, monitoring yearly progress, and providing transparency in communication with school personnel, state officials, parents and caregivers, and community members. Schools designated for support for accountability purposes under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (A-TSI), and Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), also are provided technical assistance and guidance as they develop their school improvement plans in the FRCPP.

State System of Support with Pennsylvania IUs: PDE will contract with the 29 IUs to provide professional learning, technical assistance, and supports to school leaders on the following essential content and systems components:

  1. Systems Conditions;
  2. Academics;
  3. Social and Emotional Wellness; and
  4. Scaffolded Supports and Strategies.

IUs will collaborate with LEAs in their assigned region to develop a detailed plan for instructional delivery that is grounded in evidence and informed by a comprehensive assessment of local needs, resources, and current health data; support LEAs in implementing effective progress-monitoring routines; convene LEAs as a networked learning community quarterly to share promising practices and collectively solve problems of practice; and assist in collecting anecdotal data from LEAs for periodic reports to PDE.