Summer learning programs are offered across the country each year by school districts. But following the massive disruption of education sparked by COVID-19, there’s more pressure — and federal funding — to get it right, with meaningful and engaging learning opportunities in the summer. Districts have three years to spend their share of more than $120 billion in extra K-12 aid under the American Rescue Plan, a stimulus measure President Joe Biden signed in March.
Concerned that the state’s existing standardized test won’t adequately capture pandemic losses and eager to streamline the number of tests that students take, Illinois wants to sign a new contract for a state test before the previous assessment contract is up. Now a vote to make that change has been delayed, putting the state school board’s plans on pause and raising questions about how to catch pandemic-related learning loss.
This week the Department of Education announced several steps to advance equity across the nation’s education system, spanning K-12 through higher education. In a statement, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona noted, “While COVID-19 has worsened many inequities in our schools and communities, we know that even before the pandemic, a high-quality education was out of reach for too many of our nation’s students and families. Our mission at the Department is to safely reopen schools for in-person learning, dramatically increase investments in communities that for too long have been furthest from opportunity and reimagine our schools so that all students have their needs met.”