Dear School Leader,
Last year was a monumental achievement. We know that. You, as leaders and as educators, did all you could in the wake of so much ambiguity, so much uncertainty, to maintain not just educational continuity but academic excellence.
But we also know the reality of the situation as we grapple with a third consecutive year of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity & ambiguity). This VUCA? The disruption to instruction and learning (and ‘regular’ growing up too) have combined to leave students in many areas without predictable, consistent supports for academic success. The data is there. Missed learning and the social and emotional toll of the past year and a half is real. Students across the country, especially those from vulnerable populations, have experienced a significant setback in terms of both their academic achievement and SEL compared their counterparts from years past, in many cases by a substantial amount.
This year we will be tested on our ability to mitigate this missed learning among our own students and set them up for success this year and for the years to come. It won’t be easy. But our experiences over the past year plus provide a roadmap.
Many of you, like the educators at Ascend Public Charter Schools, introduced learning pods, providing its at-risk students with one on one support and targeted outreach to certain students when its monitoring protocols identified academic and attendance issues. Or Achievement First Voyager, which expanded its core content blocks to provide more time for students to learn mathematics, reading, and writing skills. Or Albany Community Charter School, which used frequent, quick assessments to gather and analyze data and adjust instruction.
Others, such Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem, leveraged standardized assessments to inform curricular changes and analyze learning gaps. Through Advisory Group sessions, Capital Prep Harlem was able to monitor students’ SEL needs and help them develop both the school’s “learner expectations” as well as critical skills such as collaboration and problem solving. Green Tech Charter School, meanwhile, required students with low course grades to attend extra Friday sessions for additional support and maintained close contact with families to maintain high student engagement and attendance rates.
SUNY schools are as diverse as the students we represent. And the path forward in dealing with learning loss will be as well. No one knows what’s best for your students better than you. Let’s make it happen. Our schools – and our students – are counting on us to get this right.