HawaiiKidsCAN spoke with Nicholas Munyan-Penney, who is the author of Education Reform Now’s Speeding Ahead: COVID-19 School Closures and Distance Learning report on April 9, 2020. The following represents the additional context we learned through that conversation. HawaiiKidsCAN also offered the opportunity for Hawaii State Department of Education representatives a chance to provide a statement to this blog post, which they respectfully declined.
Education Reform Now (ERN) is a national think tank and advocacy organization committed to helping build a globally competitive high-quality public education that empowers all students to fulfill their limitless potential. As advocates interested in preventing the exacerbation of achievement gaps in this time of crisis, ERN designed Speeding Ahead as a resource for education stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, community members, and policymakers – to more easily evaluate what states are doing and how quickly they have been able to mobilize in the face of unprecedented interruptions in classroom learning. This evaluation is not an assessment of the hard work being carried out by selfless teachers and school leaders, but rather the clarity, accessibility, and comprehensiveness of the support and guidance being offered from state departments of education to schools and districts.
In the case of Hawaii, the initial assessment of “25 MPH” was given on ERN’s March 24 and March 30 updates, based on publicly posted information for parents and schools at that time. This assessment was intended to provide a snapshot in time across states. Based on the rubric, ERN’s assessment during this snapshot in time identified that HIDOE:
- Provided instructional resources for educators and families.
- Issued clear guidance around accommodating special education students.
Given available information at that time, ERN did not see clear enough evidence of the following elements:
- Providing districts and schools with guidance/templates for creating distance learning plans.
- Providing access to distance/online education training for educators
- Working to address the digital divide through improved access to high-speed internet and/or devices (laptop/iPad).
ERN performed an updated inventory of actions by states on April 9. At that time, they found evidence of materials and additional resources posted since the March 30 update, which met the following rubric criteria:
- Provides districts and schools with guidance/templates for creating distance learning plans.
- Provides access to distance/online education training for educators
- Provides instructional resources for educators and families.
- Issues clear guidance around accommodating special education students.
- Works to address the digital divide through improved access to high-speed internet and/or devices (laptop/iPad).
Due to this updated information, ERN has revised Hawaii’s ranking to “65 MPH,” placing it within the most active group of states. They have also made a note about Hawaii’s unique status of having a single statewide district.
We hope this report sparks productive conversations about the efforts taking place across the country, and the lessons states can learn from each other. Students, parents, educators, and community members are eager to better understand the guidance and support available to ensure continued learning for all students.