During the pandemic, school districts must deal with uncertainty, not ignore it or take shots in the dark.
We Must Close the Gap Between Research and Policy in School Systems' Responses to COVID-19
In times of crisis, knowledge must flow freely and quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic created just such a crisis in K-12 education. As our database on school districts’ response to the COVID shutdown shows, districts and states are struggling to mount effective responses and to plan for the possibility that a return to traditional schooling might not be possible for years, if at all.
Under these circumstances, research can pay huge dividends. It can help practitioners and policymakers identify and assess emerging innovations. It can help them anticipate conditions ahead—such as multiple waves of closures, the need to maintain social distancing even after students return to campuses, major cuts in school funding, and efforts to address varied and significant student learning losses—that will force further changes.
Research is needed. But fragmented initiatives, conflicting findings, and duplicated efforts, will not yield the dividends we need. Without coordination, we risk overlooking major gaps in our evidence base that leave essential questions unanswered.
For these reasons, CRPE has launched a new initiative that will advance solutions-oriented analysis of the K-12 response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Evidence Project will bring together researchers from around the country to narrow the gap between research and policy.
Through the Evidence Project, and in partnership with participating researchers, CRPE will:
- Aggregate and coordinate existing national research efforts to make analysis and expertise accessible to the public.
- Connect researchers, education leaders, policymakers, and funders to spur new collaborations.
- Identify problems that need attention and incentivize researchers to address those gaps.
- Conduct rapid-response research on urgent questions.
- Call attention to critical work and findings with regular broadcasts to the field.
- Synthesize lessons learned, emerging issues and implications, making sure practitioners and policymakers get useful information when it can make a difference.
We currently have 50 participants from nearly 25 organizations, with more joining. We are seeking an open community of researchers rich with diverse backgrounds and expertise with a shared interest in improving access to and action on evidence.
In the coming weeks, we will release new tools for researchers, policymakers, and funders to access fresh analysis, share data, and identify critical issues that can be informed by research. We will also publish summaries of new research underway or just released that will bring important insights to the field.
If you are a researcher doing work on the K-12 response to COVID-19, we invite you to join us. If you are in search of evidence-based ideas and analysis, you can sign up for our newsletter where we will regularly share out the latest evidence.
For many students returning to class in the coming weeks, it will be back to school online.
States are dumping the instructional planning burden during an unprecedented modern pandemic onto teachers’ laps (or laptops).