Learning Issues

How can we design learning settings so that all students thrive?

Pamela Cantor, M.D., Linda Darling-Hammond, Merita Irby, and Karen Pittman Education has long been central to the promise of the United States of America. But our current education system has never been designed to promote the equitable opportunities or outcomes that our children and families deserve, and that our democracy, society and economy need. Our system was designed for a different world — to support mass education preparing students for their presumed “places in life.” That world believ
— Read on www.soldalliance.org/

Authentic Assessment

The emergence of PBL (Project-Based Learning) has accelerated interest in “authentic assessment”– the evaluation of student work by rubric. This practice makes it possible for students to spend their time learning and for teachers to spend instructional time in support of student learning and progress rather than interrupting learning for testing or test prep.


Learning Together with Teach to One Distance Learning Partners


There is nothing ideal about implementing an emergency transition to distance learning. Over the last several weeks, we’ve had the privilege to help school partners apply unique aspects of Teach to One’s school-based design to ensure learning continues in a personalized virtual learning environment. 

This work with new and existing school partnerships is also helping our team better understand students’ multifaceted distant learning challenges. Our close collaboration with partners is providing important data-driven learning insights about what works best for students during this time. 

An example is Beginning with Children Charter School 2, an elementary and middle school in Brooklyn. Working with math teacher Nicki Lowell and school/district leaders Esosa Ogbahon, Martine Louisma and Edwin Santiago, we’ve worked closely to support students, track daily learning progress, and make refinements along the way. Our teams have been experimenting with how much structure and synchronous learning to offer students. We’ve learned that some students need more flexibility around taking assessments, and we’ve been able to adjust testing windows to keep them open all day. Other students, we’ve learned, seem to do better with additional scaffolding and more structured lesson times. These kinds of close working partnerships – and the timely insights and feedback they yield – are what helps us provide a better learning experience for all TTO partners.

We’re updating this page with stories on how New Classrooms and our partner school are navigating the COVID-19 crisis.

Pandemic Drives Statewide Learning Management Adoption

Education Week’s blog this week focuses on the movement of states towards offering statewide learning management systems. Idaho, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Utah have chosen or are in the midst of implementing statewide design of learning management using software from Canvas, Egenuity, Desire2Learn and others. Click here for G2 software review’s good comparison of major LMS providers. The summary grid is below.

The blog does not mention Hawai‘i, the only district that is a state. While some statewide systems have been in place in Hawai‘i, there is a current effort to choose an LMS, and we would assume, to design an integration with SIS and clear guidance on complex area and school level use of the LMS as a parent portal as well. In Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i recent parent survey, there was a remarkable variety of ways the parents get information on the schools and on their student’s learning.

Satisfaction is highest with Google Classroom (though it is more limited in function) and Canvas from Instructure.

Pandemic Academic Regression? School Budget Shortfalls?

Across the country district and school leaders and staff, teachers, families and students are suffering the sudden change to staying at home. One of the very painful realities is that this pandemic is limiting learning for students from less affluent families more, widening the already unacceptable equity gap. Families with less income are more likely not to have Internet connections, or to have weak connections. The student may have no computer or tablet for their study, or they may have a device that cannot handle the challenges of web conferencing, advanced software, or rich media. In some families many children share one device and cannot complete their work or meet at the times teachers give lessons online. Parents in those families are less likely to be able to guide the students with the technology or the academics. Meanwhile, IB, AP, Honors, and self-motivated students with Internet and devices may actually speed ahead of the rate of learning they would have achieved in the school building. We have much to do to address these challenges.

In Hawai‘i, the only district that covers the whole state, it is difficult to measure given the district’s effort to leave decisions and implementation to the schools and complex areas. Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i surveyed parents and received a wide variety of responses on accessible Internet and devices, and in the ways in which technology is being used to support students and families during this shelter-in-home time. Honolulu Civil Beat reported on the difficulty getting data on the district’s pandemic response comparing it to efforts in Miami, Los Angeles and other cities.

As Miami’s school buildings closed, the district rushed to provide 90,000 more devices and around 11,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. 91% of Miami Dade students have logged in for virtual lessons.

“We are bracing ourselves for an unprecedented, historic academic regression experienced by our most fragile population of students.” — Alberto Carvahlo, Superintendent, Miami Dade Schools

The Los Angeles, CA Unified School District is spending $95 million to deliver hot spots and laptops to students to address the digital divide. The impact of technology and training needs on the budget is staggering. Overall effect on the LAUSD budget is pictured below. Click here to get to the EdSource article providing that chart and information on other districts facing these challenges.