US Stimulus Education Series - Learning Recovery
Helping education professionals fully understand what US Stimulus means for districts, schools, classrooms and students.
How many times have you wished for things on behalf of the students you serve? If you could only provide them with this tool, or those materials in an accessible format, or a dedicated device to use at school and at home. You’ve probably dreamed of things for yourself too? Maybe more knowledge or awareness around the types of accommodations that are available, or tools that could help support your instruction.
US School Districts eligibility to receive Stimulus Funding makes all of those things you’ve been wishing for possible.
Over the past 18 months the United States Congress has passed a series of three bills - CARES Act, CRRSA and ARP - that are aimed to infuse critical and immediate monetary relief to the US education system. Between the three approved bills, there is over $200 Billion in funding available through ESSER I II & III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding sources. There’s even funding for private schools, it’s called EANS.
All you or your school/district has to do to receive those funds is ask!
Fundamental, systemic inequities exposed
The worldwide pandemic exposed the inequity gaps we knew already existed for our students with disabilities and sadly it widened them. In the first phase of the pandemic - as the world went into lockdown - we saw that schools lacked the technology, the infrastructures and the capacity to implement distance learning, not just for our students, for all students. March of 2020 through the end of that school year was basically a wash for many students.
As we headed into the 2020-2021 school year there were many great changes. Districts had spent the summer break purchasing computers for students, setting up Learning Management Systems, establishing Video Communications systems and more. There were still barriers, much of what they purchased lacked full accessibility. Also, there weren’t solidly established “best practices” for delivering instruction and services remotely to our students with disabilities. Further, many students who are classified socio-economically At Risk didn’t have connectivity at home and their parents did not have the financial resources to purchase internet access. As a result, our students once again fell further behind.
According to organizations like the NWEA (producers of the MAPs assessment) and McKinsey & Company (an education research company), All students were behind at least 3-5 months at the time of those reports, which was fall of 2020, so it's likely we'll see a much greater loss as the Spring Reports are published. Also in their reports, both organizations expressed concerns that a disproportionate amount of At Risk students - and students with disabilities - weren't included in their data, they were essentially unrepresented.
The good news in this (yes, there is good news!) is we’ve learned a lot. We have identified many of the core issues and pain points that existed before the pandemic, and were exacerbated during the pandemic, so that we can move forward by making a targeted set of improvements.
Education is forever changed for the better
As a former educator and 20-year veteran in the industry of assistive technology, my colleagues and I have many times discussed the disparity in what’s available technologically and what’s provided and implemented within schools. It’s not that we don’t have the technology to deliver a better educational experience, or the critical technology tools to accommodate students who have learning and physical disabilities. We have had the tools and technology for a few decades, it’s that they haven’t been adopted.
We often used the analogy, If a group of surgeons from the early 1900s time-traveled to an operating room in the 21st Century, it would be unrecognizable, they wouldn’t have any clue what to do with the equipment. The exact opposite would have been the case if you time-traveled teachers to classrooms in 2019. They would have their blackboards & chalk, students would have their papers and pencils, of course there would be some unfamiliar things but fundamentally they would be able to teach.
The response to COVID has pushed our classrooms into the 21st Century. It has forced schools to update their systems, it has shown our specialists and teachers new ways of delivering services and instruction, and there is (thankfully) no going back now!
Learning recovery needs to be our collective, singular goal
The phrase “Learning Recovery” is a little misleading because it’s not just about recovering the information and skills students lost due to frequent stretches of down time. Learning Recovery is the process of recouping the skills students lost, catching them up on the information they missed and making sure they make progress in both so that they can get to where they should be had the pandemic never happened. Students will require accommodations to achieve equitable access to the curriculum, and in many cases, high-dosage tutoring as recommended by EdResearch for Recovery. Casting the widest net possible to ensure that every student gets the accommodations and equipment they need going forward is paramount to getting them access to the general education curriculum as well as adapted curriculums.
Dolphin solutions are allowable purchases using ESSER Funding
As previously stated, acquiring assistive technology should be a top priority when you’re determining where to commit your stimulus funds. Our students have historically lacked the technology they need to have access to, and be able to actively participate in, the general education curriculum - leveraging stimulus funding gives you the opportunity to level the playing field.
It’s important to get those students set up with the tech and software they need, and that will likely last as they move forward in their educational careers. Dolphin produces a range of products for students with visual impairments and other print disabilities, like Dyslexia that accomplish that very objective.
The invaluable all-in-one school bundle in a backpack for students with low vision.
FREE Book reader for students with visual impairments and dyslexia. Available on Android, iOS and Fire devices.
The MS Word add-on that enables anyone in your school or district to create or convert teaching materials into accessible formats.
A family of solutions that delivers the best assistive technology range for magnification, magnification & speech or full screen reading.
Stimulus funding gives you the opportunity to change the narrative
All of those wishes you’ve wished are right there at your fingertips. Now is the time to reach out and grab them by applying for your share of Stimulus Funding, and Dolphin can walk you through the process.
Sign up now for our Stimulus Education Series
- Find the funding allocations for your state
- Understand what constitutes an allowable purchase
- Discover the pitfalls to avoid.
- Administrators will learn how to apply for the funding
- Educators will learn how to approach administrators
- Match the right Dolphin solutions to your student populations
- Create a funding wishlist
- NWEA Producers of the MAPs assessment, November 2020.
Learning during COVID-19: Initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement and growth
- McKinsey & Company, December 2020.
COVID-19 and learning loss—disparities grow and students need help
- EdResearch for Recovery, February 2021.
Accelerating Student Learning with High-Dosage Tutoring