“There’s a substantial gap to begin with, and it’s expanding under Covid,” said James Soland, a professor of education at the University of Virginia and one author of a study that looked at learning loss during the pandemic.
"No matter the tool or its intended goals, most education technology products will fail if they are not implemented with a clear purpose and a clear plan," said Dr. Robert Pianta, chair of the EdTech Evidence Exchange and Dean of the Curry School. "Education technology companies, in partnership with the schools and districts they serve, have an opportunity -- and a responsibility -- to better articulate and act on that purpose in ways that reflect the unique needs and priorities of the school community."
"Even before COVID-19, many of us had managed to engineer physical activity out of our lives. But now, the pandemic has made things worse." Arthur Weltman, a professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology in the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, shares why physical activity is more important than ever.
The Miller Center at the University of Virginia hosted a Zoom discussion where three education experts from the Curry School of Education weighed in on this issue and how learning from home has revealed new concerns.
Project leader Bart Epstein, president and CEO of the EdTech Evidence Exchange and a research associate professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development, says the effort is more important now than ever. “The impact of COVID-19 on schools has made the work of the EdTech Genome Project more critical,” he says.
Chris Chang-Bacon, an assistant professor of education at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development, said students learning English are dealing with multiple challenges and inequities in addition to their language skills.
“They’re also dealing with poverty and racism in the same way that a lot of other groups or students are, and they’re dealing with these things all at once,” Chang-Bacon said. “So I think it’s really important for our community to see how our English learners are being served as a reflection on how we are reaching a broad range of students in our community.”
The commission is chaired by Derrick Alridge, director of the Center for Race and Public Education in the South at the University of Virginia; Cassandra Newby-Alexander, dean of the college of liberal arts at Norfolk State University; and Rosa Atkins, superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools.
“The private schools can be much more nimble,” said Bob Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia. “They’re smaller by almost all scale. They deal with a more homogenous population, typically more resourced.”
“The jury’s out on whether [private schools will] be able to manage the situation any better than the public school system would have,” says Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia.
Abigail Amoako Kayser, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Virginia. She says now that our homes have become classrooms, we can learn from research on “the complexities of these spaces.”
Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings, Shavar Jeffries & Bart Epstein on a ‘Historic Opportunity’
He is also a research associate professor at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. As summer approached and as families adapted to learning during the coronavirus pandemic, we talked with Epstein about ed tech products, the role of schools, what he’s doing for his kids and ideas parents can use this summer.
Teacher training programs in education schools already offer classes in social studies and humanities subjects as well as in teaching methods, and “it’s hard to find spaces in the curriculum” for a new requirement, said Derrick Alridge, professor of education and director of the Center for Race and Public Education in the South at the University of Virginia and chair of the commission’s professional development committee.
“We are flailing at this right now,” said Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. The school released a survey last week, along with the EdTech Evidence Exchange, showing that almost a fourth of teachers responding didn’t cover any new instructional material during the spring closures and more than half said they covered less of the curriculum than they would in a typical school year.
Catherine Bradshaw, professor and senior associate dean for research and faculty development at the UVA Curry School of Education, said these socialization changes may be tougher for younger students.
"Kids, particularly teens, have been using technology to communicate with their friends for quite some time. I think it's the younger kids, particularly preschool, early elementary grades where they are so much more interpersonal and in fact physical in many ways in the way that they interact with each other," she said. "This distance is putting a damper on those learning opportunities."
Children with special needs will face substantial challenges with online learning, Michael J. Kennedy, associate professor of special education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, wrote in an email. The impact would depend on how severe their needs are, he said.
“Many people who are not in education or otherwise do not have a person with a disability in their life don’t know the huge range of disabilities out there,” he said.
Robert C. Pianta, Ph.D., the dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, said the pandemic “pushes on a lot of the tectonics that are between those two systems.” Dr. Pianta added that there has been a reversion to the erroneously assuming, “What child care does is warehouse kids, keeps them out of parents’ hair.”
A University of Virginia professional development program is arming teachers with the tools they need to succeed this fall. The seminars cover a wide range of subjects from racial equity, to mental health, and virtual learning.
UVA’s Equity Center and Youth-Nex at the Curry School of Education hosted the fourth installment of its lunch and learn professional development series, called Returning to School with Equity in Mind. The series is helping teachers in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and beyond prepare for an online start to the school year.
Dewey Cornell, director of the Youth Violence Project and a professor at the Curry School, said it’s important for schools to look at their individual survey results to assess their SRO program and learn why students felt safer or didn’t.
“You have to really kind of unpack these results and realize that you know that there’s more going on than just the single question can reveal,” he said.
Right now, Black history is integral to American history, but not a requirement to earn a degree in teaching, nor is it a required subject area for teacher certification exams such as the Praxis, said Valerie Adams-Bass, an assistant professor of Youth and Social Innovations in the Department of Human Services at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education.
Adams-Bass has done research that shows how students with more Black history knowledge had higher career aspirations, she said.
In a 2017 study, a research team led by one of CARE’s developers, University of Virginia professor Patricia Jennings, focused on 224 New York City elementary school teachers. Half participated in five days of CARE training at their schools and phone coaching between sessions. The other half were wait-listed. Researchers interviewed the participating teachers before and after the training and observed their classroom interactions with students.
The teachers who participated in CARE were better than nonparticipants at regulating their emotions, and rated lower on measures of depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and feeling pressures. Researchers who observed their teaching characterized their interactions with students as more supportive and productive. A follow-up study found the positive effects lasted into the next school year.