Governor John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting on Tuesday announced their plans for helping schools support students and address unfinished learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using federal funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, Delaware will focus on key areas to support districts and charter schools in helping students make up for unfinished learning. The state received roughly $21 million for K-12 education and districts and charter schools received more than $164 million from this bill.
The Delaware Strategy to Accelerate Learning focuses on four core actions:
- Support the Use of High-Quality Instructional Materials: Provide statewide licenses for access to high quality instructional materials such as Zearn Math for every rising 1st through 8th grader and Summer Booster Literacy for every rising 1st through 5th grader.
- Support Training and Professional Learning: Provide initial and ongoing professional learning to support learning acceleration, which will also be open to those working in nonprofit programs and other summer and after-school programs.
- Support Leveraging Data to Diagnose Unfinished Learning: Support schools to implement a balanced assessment system and leverage data that supports educators in diagnosing unfinished learning and providing the necessary scaffolds to ensure all students have access to grade level instruction.
- Support Structures to Accelerate Learning: Provide high-dosage tutoring beginning this summer, with a focus on students who need the most support.
The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) will also provide access for every student to an online text repository of roughly 3 million e-books and the Delaware public library collection. Schools will have the ability to track how many texts students have read and how much time is spent reading. These resources and trainings are also available to community organizations, other entities serving students over the summer and after school, and to families at home, to ensure no matter where children are, they are getting high-quality educational services.
Additional expenditures from this federal funding include supports for non-English speaking families and family engagement around these resources, support for Delaware’s school-based wellness centers, targeted professional learning packages for high-need schools, behavioral health supports, and more.
In addition, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), passed by Congress last month, will provide DDOE more than $40 million and districts and charters nearly $370 million. DDOE will be engaging stakeholders to solicit input on key areas the state can invest its portion of funding, with a particular focus on how to support students who were most affected by the pandemic. Districts and charter schools will be crafting plans on how they will spend their funds with stakeholder engagement at the local level.
DDOE will hold a Facebook Live in early May to give families and community members an overview of the state’s accelerated learning plan, take questions, and share how families can help their students using these resources.
Questions or feedback on this plan can be sent to [email protected].
“I want to thank our federal delegation for their work to secure these critical funds for Delaware’s schools and communities,” said Governor John Carney. “Helping our schools make up for the unfinished learning that occurred over the past year is going to be one of the most important things we as a state do. I want to also thank our educators, district and charter leaders, principals, school nurses, and everyone who works in our schools for the work they are doing. These resources are here to help you maximize your impact.”
“Both our educators and our families are focused on preparing students for grade-level instruction at the beginning of the upcoming school year. Through our accelerated learning plan, we will be able to supplement instructional time that may have been impacted by COVID-19 closures,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “The Delaware Department of Education is a support agency. We look forward to working with our district and charter leaders, as well as our educators and non-profit partners, to maximize academic growth during the summer.”
“We are thankful for this federal funding because it will help students and educators to recover from this public health crisis,”said Stephanie Ingram, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “It will provide those who need additional support the most with an opportunity to access this support anywhere, at any time. We are particularly encouraged by the professional development and training being provided as well as the additional mental health supports for students and educators. Such supports have become even more of a necessity over the last year.”
“As we debated economic relief packages in Congress, I would not back down when it came to prioritizing funding to states and school districts to help our students catch up on the learning they might have missed due to the pandemic,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “Our children, particularly our most vulnerable students, deserve access to high-quality accelerated learning and summer school programs, and our educators will need the resources and tools to help our students clear the learning hurdles brought on by the past year. I’m proud of Delaware’s announcement, and commend Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting for their ongoing focus on community engagement and helping all students, especially those challenged the most by this pandemic.”
“The past year has posed dramatic new challenges for students, educators, and families,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons. “I am grateful for the leadership of Delaware’s teachers and district leaders, Governor Carney, and Secretary Bunting in seeking out new ways to support our students. These critical investments will help identify areas where additional support is needed, provide instructional tools, and give students more one-on-one time for extra support.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every part of Delawareans’ lives, including our children’s ability to learn and thrive. That’s why, as the federal delegation worked on COVID relief legislation, one of the top priorities for Senators Carper, Coons, and I was ensuring that we obtained funding to help compensate for learning loss experienced over this past school year,” said U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester. “I want to thank Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting for their efforts in ensuring that these federal resources make it to the students and educators who need them most.”
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our students has been truly monumental, upending the learning process in almost every way imaginable. We know that many students have fallen behind, and it’s our duty to get each and every child in our schools back on track,” said State Representative Kim Williams, Chair of the House Education Committee. “I am pleased to see that significant resources have been dedicated to this vitally important task, and am confident that educators, administrators and education professionals across Delaware will put them to good use in the months ahead.”
“I’m thrilled Governor Carney is investing federal dollars in professional development opportunities for educators in our high-needs schools — a key provision in the interim recommendations issued by the Redding Consortium for Educational Equity earlier this year,” said State Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, Vice Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “This is an important first step toward providing the sustained and consistent support our educators, our students and our families deserve. I look forward to working with him to make this a permanent component of our efforts to improve outcomes for students at the greatest risk of falling behind.”
“The pandemic has meant less direct instruction time for many of our students as we have worked to open schools with many mitigation strategies in place,” said Dr. Dan Shelton, Superintendent of the Christina School District. “In Christina, we are utilizing an expanded school year to ensure that we have opportunities for learning to extend beyond the traditional school year. We are also partnering with Adult Ed. so that we have multiple avenues for our High School Students to gain Credit Recovery. Partnering with the Delaware Department of Education, we will also be offering individual tutoring and online math support through the Zearn platform. We are planning to develop lessons around the resources available in SORA, in addition to the curriculum mapping our specialists have developed.”
“The Delaware Hispanic Commission has been advocating for a Language Access Plan that provides equal access to services to all non-English speaking Delawareans,” said Javier Torrijos, Chairman of the Delaware Hispanic Commission. “The Governor and the Department of Education has moved one step closer toward meeting this critical need by providing a language line where parents can call the school in their native tongue and always have an interpreter available. Many Spanish speaking parents have been unable to communicate with their children’s teacher due to the language barrier. They now can engage in a full conversation to better understand their students’ progress and find out what is going on at their school. They can be directly involved whereas previously this was not possible due to the language barrier. We congratulate Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting in taking this crucial step in providing this long overdue service.”
“As President of the Delaware School-Based Health Alliance and Director of Behavioral Health for the Colonial School District, I am very grateful for the Governor’s support of High School Wellness Centers in Delaware, which are playing a key role in supporting adolescent health both in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jon Cooper, Director of Behavioral Health at the Colonial School District. “Now more than ever, our adolescents need access to the medical and behavioral health services that School Based Wellness Centers provide.”