Overcome Literacy Learning Loss Next Fall With CARES Act Funding (6/16/20)

Episode Thumbnail
This is a podcast episode titled, Overcome Literacy Learning Loss Next Fall With CARES Act Funding (6/16/20). The summary for this episode is: <p>Congress has passed the U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are resources available for K-12 educators, and they can be used to address literacy learning loss and to prepare for periods of remote and hybrid learning next school year.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>How can K-12 educators secure CARES funding, and make use of the funds to catch students up on critical reading instruction next fall?</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Quotes:</strong></p><p><span class="ql-cursor"></span>“What we want to do is we want to ensure we put that laser focus into investing in the resources to be creative and move the students forward in that learning.”</p><p><br></p><p>“We want to make sure that students in the same schools and the same grade levels are getting the same instruction. And that’s one thing that technology offers, is the opportunity for that consistency and implementation.”&nbsp;</p>

Kay: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to our webinar on Overcoming Literacy Learning Loss with CARES Act Funding. Thanks so much for joining us today. I know you're all very busy people. Very glad to have you with us. I think we're going to have a great discussion about both how to tackle the missed instruction from this spring in literacy and how CARES Act funding can potentially help you with that task. So, a couple of housekeeping items before I introduce our guests. The first is that you are all muted, but there is a chat function at the bottom of the screen where you can communicate with us about technical questions and say hello, and that kind of thing. And then, there is also a Q& A section at the bottom of your screen, and we would like you, if you're interested in asking questions, we will be doing a Q&A at the end of the session. Please, put the questions you'd like us to try to address at the end in the Q& A section, and we'll be pulling them together and then asking them of the panelists at the end of our time together. But, please, put those into the Q& A section, and we will try to get to as many as possible at the end. With that, I'd like to introduce you to our guest today. We have Larry Berger who's the CEO at Amplify who was part of the Clinton administration, worked on education policy during that time. So, he has some experience in federal education policy. For the last 20 years, he's been working in education. They started specifically with early literacy in an early literacy, early reading assessment tool. So, he has been in the early literacy landscape for many, many years. And we also have today our vice president of Elementary Literacy Instruction at Amplify, Susan Lambert. She has been in the world of early literacy for many years as a classroom teacher, an administrator both in the US and abroad and working with us at Amplify on our early literacy programs for several years now, and we're very lucky to have her. So, I'm going to turn things over to Susan who's going to be talking a little bit about overcoming that literacy learning loss.

Susan Lambert: Great. Thank you, Kay. And thanks to everybody for joining us today. Really today, we're going to do three things. We're going to talk about our current context and really sort of a little bit of the backdrop to where we are and how we got here. We're going to shift and talk about priorities and then how we move forward. And then, we're going to talk about resources, the CARES Act funding, which is why you're here. So, we're going to spend a bit of time talking about that. We also want to tell you that, at the end, we will be addressing questions. So, make sure as we're going through, you get those in the Q& A box, and we have folks behind the scene that are really gathering those questions and organizing them so we can get them out to you. So, reality is our current context. So, what's the backdrop here? And I'm sure I don't have to remind anybody of where we came from. But I think it's good to just take a deep breath a little bit. And again, remember the context that we're going into for back to school and just some of the factors that we have to deal with based on what's happened in the past. So, I can't remember. I think it was at the grocery store just the other day. And I heard three people say the date March 12th or March 13th. And it feels like everybody sort of has this in our vocabulary right now. And that was the time when actually 98% of the US schools were shut down. And those were critical end of the quarter, end of the school year sort of months where kids were gaining momentum in their learning. It seems to be that time when things were coming together where end of the unit things were happening. Culminating activities were happening around ELA topics. And, all of a sudden, we had this closure, and for some, it was pretty abrupt, and we had to make some significant shifts. We had this heightened equity issues in this abrupt transition all across the board including remote learning challenges, kids... Well, not only teachers, but kids were also losing routines. So, how is it that we deliver instruction in the way that feels social, and in a classroom environment and taking advantage of collaboration and now we have to do that remotely? We know that there was issues around the availability of technology. Many kids didn't have access to technology to continue to engage in remote learning and whatever that looked like. We know districts and schools had to make a shift to now help provide meals and other social services. And there was a question about student engagement. Likely, it was decreased in many ways we don't even know what was happening with students during that time. We know schools were doing everything from calling students in their class once a week to some kids were just completely disconnected. So, there was quite a stretch of what was happening during that time and not only just with school. But we had significant change to daily life, so stay at home orders which meant not only were kids not going to school. But we had parents that were working from home that were trying to balance the issue of working themselves and trying to help support their students at home. Playgrounds are closed. Parks are closed, food and job insecurities. And so, we just had this real environment. And, in some ways, we still do of uncertainty. And as we think of back to school we also have some uncertainty, right? So, probably many of you are in conversations right now of how do we then put in place some shifting protocols for option A, option B, option C? What happens if we have to be completely remote for a long time? And there is additional responsibilities that go along with that with district administrators including thinking about the possible loss of teachers for either retirement or health issues those that may not want to go back to the classroom just because they are in that risk category. And then, some real SEL concerns for our students as well. And so, what is that all going to look like and how in the world are we going to organize a back- to- school 2020 that really helps move kids forward? We also know that there is likely going to be an ongoing social emotional impact. So, some are saying that COVID- 19 may qualify as what we call an ACE or an adverse childhood experience. And some are even saying that may last for some time as well as it exacerbating the existing ACEs. Students are concerned about education. But they're also concerned about some of those other important issues and 72% of teens say they don't really feel that connected to a school community in spite of the fact that schools have tried to reach out. So, we also know summer learning loss is an issue anyway that when kids come back to school particularly in the younger grades that we have to account for and take into consideration that kids lose things over the summer. And now, NWA Research has shown actually has made this prediction that based on their data that they've been tracking, you can see that we're expecting then this sort of COVID slowdown or COVID slide to impact that back to school learning loss even more. So, just really quickly if we take a peek at this graph, you can see the vertical line that shows when school actually closed for most and when that typical last day would have happened, and you can already see if you follow that third grade line, I think that's the easiest one to follow, you can see the dark part of that line would be the typical growth or summer loss. And then, you have the bigger dotted line that shows that COVID slowdown and actually the prediction of what's going to happen with that COVID slide. So, we know it's likely going to accelerate that learning loss. And probably, it's going to impact in classroom learning for quite some time. So, this is another report that was done by McKinsey, and they essentially put forth three scenarios. And one scenario is we're going back to school in the fall. Scenario two which is, well, we're not actually going to go back to school until January. We're going to have to sort of figure out some different things to do for back to school in January 2021. Scenario three is completely remote for the school year. So, they sort of looked at scenario two and said, " Based on scenario two, what do we think our learning loss is going to look like?" And for those kids that get what we call this average remote learning, they're probably going to do some months of loss. And then, there is the low quality remote learning. And then, there's no instruction at all. So, we do know that some kids are going to come back into the classroom with various kinds of learning engagement. And it's especially going to hit those kids who are already at risk. And so, we're looking at a potential back to school then environment that we already have diversity in our classrooms. But is going to actually increase that diversity. So, that is sort of a gloom and doom sort of backdrop. But what we want to think about is we want to think about how then we can prioritize moving forward because one thing we have seen in this time is we've seen an incredible amount of resilience that kids have been resilient in terms of will be able to help them gain that learning and maybe in new ways and teachers quickly made that shift. I'm sure you followed the social media from schools and classrooms across the country where teachers are really getting creative in terms of their delivery and their focus and the celebration of student achievement. And so, we really want to focus on those learnings that we've had, how can we look at this as an opportunity then to be creative in terms of the delivery opportunities in spite of the fact that we're still not quite sure of what back to school will look like. So, how do we do that? Well, first of all, when it comes to early literacy, we know we can return to what works. So, remote hybrid in school partially out of school or completely in school, we know that in order to move kids forward in their literacy, we need to have a few things in place. And one of those things is really strong core instruction. And so, even in a remote environment when you can focus on getting all the students that really strong core instruction that's based on a scope and sequence that really helps them move forward, that's one thing that we know works. Another thing that we know works is really extending them in a personalized way, their practice that extends that instruction. So, they can actually get extra time practicing, practicing, practicing on what the delivery of that core instruction was. And then, all of that sort of wrapped in this high quality assessment. So, when kids come back to school and as we work through school year 2021, what we know is we're going to have to ensure that we're following students. Where did they come in? How are we delivering this really strong instruction? And how are we tracking them to ensure then that we're continuing to make learning gains? So, remote environment or not remote environment, we know that this works. And so, this is one place that we can turn to. And we can use that to really build this new normal. And what do I mean by new normal? New ways of supporting our students. So, we've already had an opportunity in many places across the country to see what teachers were doing in terms of focused instruction, delivered instruction, and helping support students through that. We also know that teachers are going to wrap that in social emotional learning which will be more important forever and not just for kids, for teachers too that teachers really do an amazing job of building culture in the classroom. I think that's one reason why this shift happened so quickly when they had to do some remote learning. They knew their students already. They made that shift. And it gave them an opportunity to get creative in the delivery. And then, we want to make sure that we go back and focus to reach all students with high quality instructional materials. And I want to pause here for just a minute to talk about why that's so important, why the focus on kids is so important and kids learning because we could get really distracted with lots of other things in this moment of not exactly sure where should we focus, where should we invest, both our time and our resources. But what we know is we need to double down on student learning. We need to actually put them in the center and think about the needs that will help them grow every single day. And we need to do this despite some of these shifting instructional models like when are we going to actually start with back to school and how are we going to start back to school? How are we going to continue this both remote learning as well as social distancing back to school with the teacher turnover and then this possibility that's looming about second wave closures in the fall? But again, this is our opportunity to really look at what are the priorities and what do we want to accomplish by the end of this school year and how can we be laser focused about doing that thing and investing in that to ensure that all students are learning? You're probably thinking and maybe put in the chat box this all requires money. And good news is we're going to talk to you about some funding opportunities that can help support that. But this comes at a time where really local governments are feeling the pinch, new needs are coming on a daily basis. But again, what we want to do is we want to ensure we put that laser focus into investing in the resources to be creative and move the students forward in that learning. It's really important at this time that we actually make that focus that we actually look at where is the knowledge gap with students and how can we stop this learning loss from continuing to increase because, at this moment, students need and deserve to stay on grade level. We don't want to fall further behind with them. But what we want to do is we want to double down on that learning to ensure that we're accelerating by focusing on what's really critical. This is really going to require then that combination of really strong core materials, a really strong assessment, really strong supplemental options that are all aligned and focused on literacy whether it's early literacy in K1 and two or continuing with that reading and writing connection in three, four, and five. And then, this is a really good moment to remind us that consistency and implementation is so important. We want to make sure that students in the same schools and the same grade levels are getting the same instruction. And that's one thing that technology offers, is the opportunity for that consistency and implementation so, again, we can have that laser focus on what kids need. We do know that when students come back to school after closures, they're going to bring with them an incredibly high level of need which is another reason why this focus and this creativity is really important when we start to think about how we could potentially use our CARES Act funding. And so, I'm going to turn it over to Larry right now to lead this section of our presentation. Again, be sure that you are putting the questions in that chat box. So, I think, Larry, you're good to take over.

Larry Berger: All right. Hello, everybody. I'm just going to share my screen so I can talk us through this. So, Susan just confirmed. Are you seeing resources CARES Act funding?

Susan Lambert: I sure am.

Larry Berger: Fantastic. All right. So, this is an update on this particular bit of funding. It's important to remember that the rest of education funding is still going on. So, Title 1 is still happening and state revenues are still being collected. And in some states, they've made commitments that they're going to keep education level funded and figure out how to make cuts elsewhere. And others, they've warned school districts we're going to be making some cuts. But the Federal Government has stepped up a little bit, not quite as much as they have sometimes. But they have put$ 30 billion into the CARES Act which was the March 27th stimulus. It was$ 2. 2 trillion. But instead of making that all available to education, they did things like invest in the cruise ship industry and the car rental industry and resources to shore up folks who needed to go on unemployment. So, a lot of needs in the economy. And there's a general feeling in Washington that it was important to put some money in for education, but that they were going to come back to education in the future and figure out the additional money. So, part of what I'm going to be talking about is where is the CARES money in terms of education now? But I also think keep your ear to the ground. And as you hear about the Heroes Act or other bits of legislation that are going to come down the road, there's a bit of a hunch in Washington that there may be additional stimulus. To give a sense of this, when the Great Recession happened, that led to about a$ 100 billion being flowed into the education, in the K- 12 education. By most measures, this is a worse economic shock, and we're still at 30 billion. So, people know that there's probably going to be more coming to education. But the congress needs to figure out how to do that. Of the 30 billion, it doesn't all go to K- 12. So, about half of it goes to colleges and universities. There's a chunk for governors that also has some flexibility that could be spent on K- 12. And then, there's about 44% that goes to schools, K- 12 schools. So, that's still a lot of money when you spread it around the whole country. It's not necessarily enormous. But it's enough that it's worth paying attention to looking at how your state and your district are spending it. So, let me talk you through how that works. Most bits of education policy, the money starts at the federal government. They make it available to the states. The states have to fill out certain things to get their money. But all the states will get it. And when it's an economic stimulus, there's a lot of pressure on the idea that the funds need to be distributed as quickly as possible. When it's the usual annual funding, there's lots of warning about what's coming. These things show up. They are to be flown out to the states as quickly as possible and the states are supposed to flow it out to the districts as quickly as possible. There is a long tale of how long you could take to spend it. But the idea of economic stimulus is the economy needs this now. We need to make things happen. We need to shore up jobs in local communities. We need to keep the field of education humming. And so, states will move quickly. Not all states have even formed their LEA application. LEA, that's basically the districts or the charters that are how you apply for the funding. But 30 have. The rest are coming soon, and you can check. We have a URL there for where you can check where your state is. And the kinds of things that the US Department of Education wants you to use it for are remote learning and strategic investments in infrastructure and operations. And a key idea there, just so that you understand it, is as much as it is important with local and state funding and potentially with some of the CARES to look at do you have all the people you need in the places, one of the concerns with stimulus dollars that aren't going to be there every single year is that if you spend them hiring up a lot of people, well then, what happens to those people at the end of that year? So, infrastructure and operations making sure that you have, for example, the broadband, the devices, the software, the systems that you might need to make remote learning work. We, all of course, have our fingers crossed that maybe schools will open normally. But the epidemiological data doesn't look good on that front. And I think it's probably important that everybody out there have a plan for going back to school as normal, have a plan for a very abnormal kind of staggering and maybe even be prepared for a whole another level of trauma and impact at the local level if the coronavirus spikes again. So, it's a lot that people have to prepare for. And now is the time to be planning as much. As it's tempting to say it's summer and states are opening up, the data about what things are going to look like in the fall suggests it's time to be ready. So, as you said, the department started in spring. And the states are supposed to get their applications in soon. And by September 30th, all of the departments are supposed to have awarded the funds out to the districts. So, the time is really fast on this. Get involved in your local district's application for the state funding because that's a real opportunity to shape what your district is going to be about. And I would say the other thing that's going on is, very often, the amount of money in a grant like this that stays at the state level is two, three, 4%. It's 10% in this case. So, the state gets to keep resources. Not all states are going to do that. Some of them are going to flow most of it to the districts. But some will be running statewide initiatives. So, if there's things you care about, pay attention to what is your state thinking about. I saw that one of the participants pointed out that in their community someone's doing one- to- one tutoring for kids who have lots of learning loss. That's a strange thing. Schools don't usually do that to provide tutoring. It's an expensive thing. But at this time where lots of people are out of work, there's some interest in the possibility that tutoring might be one of the good ideas. I don't know if it is the right idea for your community, but it's a good example of something you might not have been doing before. If you want to catch kids up quickly, there's a lot of good research that says tutoring is a good idea. Pay attention to whether your state might be investing in tutoring. State of Tennessee has a big plan to do that. Your state might too, or you might be able to float that idea to your state chief. Now, is a time when people are looking for ideas, looking for ways to move things forward. So, that's the timeline. It's happening now. And then, what can you use it for? So, it's pretty broad what you can use it for. So, anything that the federal education laws used to do, so Title 1, Title 2, Title 3, IDEA for special education, all those uses you can put this money towards. You can put it towards urgent needs. So, if there are things related to getting your school ready and a health and safety point of view, probably a lot of hand sanitizer is going to get purchased under urgent needs. But supports for at- risk students, technology extended learning, those are the pedagogical impacts, the one where we're trying to hope that the issues Susan just talked about that there are lots of kids who are going to have really serious learning loss and be quite far behind. And other kids who are going to have gone through trauma, emotional issues, and fine school challenging to re- enter. All of those things are what you could be putting CARES money towards. And the other, of course, is continuing to employ staff and any other necessary activities. So, when you have something as broad as this, there's lots of things you could spend it on. But let's talk a little bit about what people will spend it on. This is just, in some sense, an illustrated version of what we just talked about. But instructional materials, educational technology, the technology itself training are all allowable expenses. And so, as you're thinking about what your plan are is this is a good place to be looking. There's been a survey recently looking at how our districts thinking about spending these funds. And as you can see, a lot of them are going to be spending on internet capacity and online devices. I think, for many districts, this has been a chance to say it was hard this spring to be digital for some kids, print packets for other kids. Could we get our community by pulling money from CARES, local money, getting the business community involved? Could we get to the point where kids have access at home? And as a result, we can think about what's the digital way to support kids in remote learning. Software is going to be a big thing. Cleaning and the health of the building is going to be big. And then, as I said, some states are holding education harmless. They're going to make their cuts elsewhere. But others are concerned that the state is going to reduce funding to education or that the districts just won't have what they need. And as you can see, the needs are great. I think it's quite hard. In making a plan, you have to look at so many dimensions of what a school is as you decide what to do. As I said, 13 billion sounds like a lot. If it was all headed to your district, you'd be fine. But it's spread among 16,000 districts. And so, it may not be a lot for you. There is a lot of talk about a next economic stimulus that might more directly target the needs of schools. So, the House passed the Heroes Act. That would have been$ 3 trillion in response to this. And it would have been 90 billion for education. It's seeming unlikely that the Republican- controlled senate is going to be enthusiastic about the Heroes Act. But we'll see. What I think unlikely is that this plan with$ 90 billion will pass exactly as is. But I also think it's unlikely that no plan will pass. I think the pressure is on in a lot of parts of the economy to make sure there's an additional stimulus. And I think this time, education will have a much more powerful seat at the table. I think there was a feeling that right or wrong that the funds for schools going into this year were fine. It's really next year that tax revenues locally will be down, and there'll be a need for much more substantial stimulus. So, they didn't do it. Then, except a small amount, they will do it later. That's my bet. And as I said, there's so many important things that you need to solve at the local level from health to psychological well- being to software, to hardware to what the pedagogy and the curriculum will be. But I think the fact that there is so much to plan for doesn't obviate the need to have a plan. I think some of the places where I'm most concerned or when I say when I talk to districts, we're like, " Yeah. We're going to keep our budgets more or less like they were before this happened, and they had. And when you say, " But don't you have a new plan? Isn't there a new strategy," they say, " Well, not really. We liked our strategy." And my response at that point is, " It probably was a good strategy for schooling as we knew it." But we saw what happened in the spring. It's hard to find places where kid's learning was maintained this spring despite all the heroic efforts. And so, people need a new plan. They need new priorities. They need to put their emphasis in new places. And when you do that, CARES is one thing. It can be like because it's new, flexible money that wasn't already spent in the budget. You can think creatively about what to do with it. But you've got all your title funds. And sometimes in a district, there are pockets of money that because of all the change we went through weren't spent. A good example in every district in the country is there was money set aside to buy fuel for school buses. It's actually not a small expenditure in many districts especially if they're rural and spread out. And when schools shut down and there weren't school buses going as often, sometimes, they were still doing food drop- offs. But suddenly, they're not spending as much on fuel and fuel costs because of what's going on, have gone way, way down. So, there's a place where the budget is going to be underspent. I don't know if your district's already figured out how to spend that. But it's a good example of this is the time to pay attention. There's going to be a lot more change. There's going to be a lot of additional funding. And my main piece of advice is have a plan. Decide what your new priorities are. And if you have that plan, you're going to find ways from CARES and other things to cover. That's a quick briefing on CARES. But we see that there are questions showing up. Actually, I guess I can keep sharing my screen. And I think Kay is going to pop on, and Susan might pop on. And if you ask a really hard question, I have a colleague named Julia Gonzalez. So, she knows all the answers to the hard questions. And if you ask one that even Julia doesn't know the answer to, then we send you straight to Washington to be a senator.

Kay: Yes. Thanks for joining, Julia, to answer some of the more technical questions. Great. So, we have a lot of questions. So, I'm glad that we have plenty of time to answer them. I think I'm going to organize it by first some questions for Susan and then some questions for Larry and Julia about CARES funding. So, I'll start with the questions for Susan. The first one, ideally, what would strong instruction and high quality assessment look like in the model you mentioned?

Susan Lambert: So, I'm assuming the model is the remote or the hybrid model. So, I think what we want to remember is we want to go back to what kids need to learn to become readers and both instruct on that and assess on that. And so, if they're in K1, two, we want to make sure we're focusing on that continuum from phonological to phonemic awareness to phonics, and ensuring that instruction gets delivered for them based on a systematic scope and sequence. And then, the assessment you use comes alongside to make sure that we're monitoring that. So, an assessment something like we use that Amplify and Class DIBELs will help you screen for dyslexia because we know we also have think about those things too. And it will help you keep track of the kids as they're moving along. So, that's sort of what I was referring to when I said the strong literacy model.

Larry Berger: And, Kay, if I can jump in there too, I would say a couple things. One, I have seen some schools gearing up for plans where the biggest problem they want to solve is where are the kids. So, they're going to do an assessment on Monday and an assessment on Tuesday and another assessment on Wednesday. And I think what they're going to find is the kids are really demoralized by too much assessment if they think of the world that way. I think you have to be really creative about make sure you do some screening at the beginning of the year to understand how at risk they are. But use something lightweight to do that. And then, maybe wait a few days before you do a little bit more lightweight formative assessment. I don't think you can jump in with all the assessment as tempted as we are to just take sort of the temperature of where everybody is and how much learning loss happened. We'll figure that out over the course of the first month or two. And it's going to be a problem that's probably going to be with us for a few years that kids who live through this have some catching up to do. Bu I would say lightweight assessment. And then, I would also say if you haven't been using a digital supplemental tool to teach the fundamentals of reading, and we make one called Amplify Reading, but I'm not necessarily pushing ours. I'm just saying one of those things where you can put kids on a computer. And it will reinforce and give them chances to practice those phonics skills which in the classroom, you might have been the kind of teacher who wanted to sit with kids in small groups and hear them do it and explicitly teach it to them. And it's just harder to do remotely over Zoom or whatever. And so, what we would say is you still have to do it. We have to find ways to get you working with a small group of kids doing that explicit phonics instruction. But one of the ways you can do it is to say that the rest of the class is logged into one of those digital supplemental offerings even as you're still moving through core instruction in the highest quality way possible.

Susan Lambert: Thanks for jumping in because it reminded me of something else too. We hear a lot of people talking about unfinished learning and at Amplify. We talk a lot about unfinished instruction. So, remember, if we're going back from March to the end of the school year and no matter what you're trying to do whether it's packets, whether it was remote learning in some kind of Zoom environment or something, it wasn't the same kind of quality instruction than what it would have been in the classroom. And so, the kids may not have even been instructed on it yet. And so, going back to ensuring that you're covering that instruction, it sort of parallels what Larry's saying about not overly focusing us on assessment at back to school time, but remembering to deliver that instruction.

Kay: So, we have two questions that I'm going to combine into one. But the question was basically like what does a day in the life of a literacy teacher look like in your model, Susan, with the idea that they have not had these kids before? So, they're starting, let's say, third grade or second grade, and they have not had these kids before. How does it look? And then, the other question was how do you catch the kids up?

Susan Lambert: Wow. Those are really good questions. So, I'm sure Larry's going to have some ideas to jump on, on this one too. But I'm going to start from what I would do if I were a teacher. So, best case scenario is, oh, let's go to some researchers or some learning that we've done and figure out what best practice might look like for this particular environment. And there actually isn't like that. And so, I think if I were a third grade teacher again coming into an environment like this, what I would probably do is largely three things. Number one is I would make sure I created that culture in whatever way I could of reading and writing, and use it at the back to school time as an opportunity for kids to engage in some relevant literature and write about it so that I can find out as a teacher how are they reading and comprehending, and how are they responding to that writing and how then could I use that information in a formative way to sort of move them forward? And by doing it, that way, I can also get to know the kids because I really think again the reason that we made this shift, a lot of teachers made that shift really quickly was because they already knew the students in their classrooms in March. They didn't have to figure that part of it out. They just had to figure out how to deliver this instruction. And so, I would say focusing on building the relationships and using the reading and writing process to be able to do that and again remembering the formative moments like what is true formative assessment? It's taking in what the kids are producing, making some kind of judgment about where they are in relation to grade level. So, then, you can take the next step of figuring out how to close that gap whether it's using some sort of technology device or game to sort of get their foundational skills short up, if they need some like writing support. But really, understanding this differentiation moment is going to be really important, and you can't do that if you don't know your kids.

Larry Berger: Yeah. I think I would just echo that. And I've seen some districts and schools do some really compelling things and have it in their plans. Look, we all hope that there's going to be face- to- face instruction at back to school, and there will be that moment of getting to know your kids. But there's also a pretty good chance that it could get interrupted as it did this year. And I would say taking the time over the course of the summer maybe even if you don't mind doing it to just call families and kids get say, " Hey. I'm Miss lambert. I'm going to be your teacher this year. And I hope we're going to be in a classroom. But just in case, I want to take this moment to get to know you." Those little gestures go a really, really long way because that sense of kid's feeling disconnected is I think one of the most profound impacts of what we're living through.

Kay: Yes. One of the questions was how can districts reach kids who are not engaged during remote learning? So, technology access is not the issue. But engagement is the issue.

Larry Berger: Yeah. This is this is profound. And one of our colleagues at Amplify put it a good way, she said, " I have a kid whose teacher is really pretty good. But when that kid is not in school, he's watching YouTube videos that have a billion views." The person who made that YouTube video with a billion views had a lot of time to figure out what captures the imagination of a 10- year- old, and they have production values, and the kid, the 10- year- old said, " My teacher doesn't talk fast enough." And the videos they're used to are like bells and whistles and fast talking and energy. And you're a teacher, and you've got to make a whole day go by. You can't be at the production values of a slickly done video all day long. And I think at every level, kids are disengaging for that reason, but also at another end of the continuum because real trauma and issues are going on in folk's houses as the economic and health impacts are being felt. And so, again, I don't think anyone has a great answer to this. But I think personal connection goes a really long way when there is a disengaged kid, and they get a call from their teacher that just says, " Hey, would love to understand what's going on with you. Are there some ways we can work on this stuff together?" And then, I will put a little plug in there. And in this case Amplify, doesn't do this. So, I'm not plugging our stuff. I think a bigger role for tutoring as a service in a school district for kids who are disengaged with the ability to say a there's a person who on a regular basis is going to be able to work with you one- on- one was way outside the price range of what school districts could afford historically. But we are in a very different economy, and there's lots of folks willing to volunteer, lots of folks unemployed. And I think there are school districts that are even reorganizing time. So, the teachers can do some of that one- on- one tutoring. And you can look at the research. But the evidence of the effect sizes from one- on- one tutoring are just enormous. And for disengaged kids, they can make all the difference because it's someone paying attention to them as an individual.

Kay: We got a few questions about sort of how do you do strong literacy instruction for that matter? Any instruction when kids are at home without technology including how do you assess when they don't have technology? So, Susan you want to take-

Susan Lambert: It's a great question. It's tough I think in those moments, we have to rely on caregivers especially in the early grades. I'm thinking of like K1 and two. And some of the conversations Larry and I had earlier in this spring was about how to get kids interested in topics. So, how do you get them thinking about dinosaurs and finding all the things that they can about dinosaurs in their own home to sort of continue the language development? I would say if kids are at home, and their home language is something other than English to encourage the caregivers of the parents at home to speak to them in their home language and have conversations in their home language to develop that language comprehension early on, and then with whatever books are available to help them to continue to engage in reading and sort of develop that love of reading in an escape kind of way. So, I mean instructions left at home is tough. But there's ways that you can engage kids in becoming curious about learning and helping them learn how to love the printed word.

Larry Berger: And I would just also add this is the time to really push in your local communities for why it would be the case that some kids are still not connected. CARES Act funding is available to invest in this, local business, local community leaders. They want to solve this problem. So, it is perfectly understandable that in the spring, lots of places didn't have a plan to get kids connected. But some of the poorest districts in the country are making plans to make the case they've just decided. And it's not to be clear because people love technology. It's because it's just too hard to run two whole different programs, like, the digital for the kids who can be accessed digitally, the print for the ones who can be accessed only through print and/ or to decide all kids are going to do their work in print because we don't have enough technology. So, I have seen communities without a lot of resources just say we've got to solve this problem by fall. And I think it's worth like making this an issue at the mayor level, at the superintendent level if you're being told that you have to prepare for both of those worlds. I'm not saying it's easy to find funding. But devices are dropping down to about a hundred bucks a piece, and there's lots of different ways to get broadband in place. And I urge you to sort of Google around if you're in one of those places to see what other districts, maybe districts that are thought of as not having a lot of economic capital or social capital, what they're doing to push through this. Not saying it's easy, but I think it's also really, really hard to try to do both, to do digital and print in a remote learning context.

Kay: Okay. I'm going to move on to questions about the CARES Act funding. So, Larry and Julia, we have a bunch of questions. Let's see. One is, just let's start with some basics, how soon can we apply for the money? And who is qualified to apply and who is not? So, for instance, charter schools, non- profits, private and religious schools. So, what are the constraints around who can apply? And then, how soon can you apply for funding? So, should Julia take that one Larry?

Larry Berger: Yeah. I was going to say I know the answer to that one, but only because Julia told me. So, why don't we have Julia answer that?

Kay: We'll have it come from the horse's mouth. Okay.

Larry Berger: Exactly.

Jul.ia Gonzales: Hi. Thank you. That's an excellent question. So, every state is releasing its application process for school districts through the DOE websites. And on our website, we have been tracking this closely. And so, we have listed about 30 states that have already released their applications. And some have due dates that have already closed such as Iowa, I believe. So, the state DOE will have the answer for you. And typically, state agencies will need to release those funds to school districts within a year of the receipt of those funds from the US Department of Education. So, in general, most states are releasing their applications right now. So, I would definitely check your state DEO. And if you need any assistance, we'd be happy to help you track down the information as well. Kay, what was the second question? Who qualifies?

Larry Berger: Kay, you are on mute.

Kay: What kinds of schools and institutions can apply or get this kind of money?

Jul.ia Gonzales: Okay. So, in general, school districts are eligible for these funds that received Title 1 allocations in the most recent year. So, if you did not receive Title 1 funding, you do not unfortunately qualify for those funds. And secondly, charter schools do qualify for these funds. Typically, a lot of charter schools are their own school district. So, if that's the case, then they can apply for the ESSER funds with their state agency. Now, if you are not an individual school district as a charter, then, you can submit within your larger school district. And for the question of others such as private schools and parochial schools, that one's a little bit controversial as you may have been reading in the papers. But in general, the CARES Act does state that relief money should go to private schools under the equitable services provisions and under Title 1 funding. And that is determined according to the CARES Act by the share of low- income students that enroll in a given area. So, your state Department of Education will release information and guidance on how to navigate that question of equitable services to make sure that your colleagues in the larger community that include private schools receive those services as well. I do want to say that also the US Department of Education has released non-... excuse me non- binding guidance on that which is different than the strict interpretation of the CARES Act which says Title 1 students, but says all students. And as you may gather from that, there's a huge differential in Title 1 versus all in terms of the amount of money that would have to be set aside under equitable services. The US Department of Education will very likely release rulemaking to address that issue. But again, I stress for you to contact your state Department of Education because they will give you specific ideas on how to do that like, for example, I know Minnesota has already done that to let school districts know how to navigate that issue that still has to be determined. So, I hope that's helpful.

Kay: Great. We have a few questions around, A, can individual schools apply or does it have to be the district and the district allocates it out to the schools? So, can individual schools apply as well as how can a teacher within a school advocate for how CARES Act funding would be used?

Jul.ia Gonzales: That's another excellent question this. One that I received really early on for my colleagues out in the field and the way that the CARES Act Law is written is that it is subgrant funds that flow to the state Department of Education for school districts. So, school districts make those decisions. In terms of advocating an agency at a teacher level, I would cobble together some other teachers and talk to your principal. The principal also can provide some guidance on how to talk about that with your school district leadership. In particular, the CARES Act does call for support that principals identify. So, that might be one of your greatest allies in having those conversations with your state, excuse me, with your department, excuse me, with your district about how to create priorities and identify specific needs that your schools may have.

Larry Berger: No. I would just add that sometimes teachers think that someone in the central office has a plan and has prioritized where all this money is going. And one of the surprising facts about education is there's always more than a billion and sometimes four or$ 5 billion of federal money that was flowed out to your districts that your districts don't succeed in spending. And it ends up going back. It expires. And it goes back to the federal government. So, clearly, any expectation that you have that everyone's got this figured out in the central office might not be true. And sometimes, they come up with weird ideas like we're going to hoard this money for next year. And, in fact, sometimes, the law doesn't let you do that. And also, the spirit of this law is, hey, we've got real needs right now. The world is changing right now. We might have a vaccine in a year. But right now, we need this help. And so, the number of times when a new superintendent shows up and finds out that the old superintendent's been not spending resources that were available and rolling them over and not to put them in their pocket just because they were looking out for a rainy day. And so, I would be a little bit activist and assume that everyone's trying to make their plan, and that while they're making that plan, if one teacher raises their hand and says, " Hey, I really need X," they're going to hear that a little bit. And if 10 teachers raise their hand and say, " I really need X," they're going to be like, " What's X? How much would it cost to get an X?" And before you know it, X is in the plan.

Jul.ia Gonzales: I just want to say that's absolutely right, Larry. And the funds, remember folks too, once your state Department of Education gets that money, that pot of money to allocate to school districts, they only get it for one year. Whatever's left over, they have to send it back to the US Department of Education. So, if you don't use it, you lose it unfortunately. And that money will then get reallocated for a second wave of funds. So, definitely want to agree with Larry that you should advocate for those funds.

Kay: We had some questions about things that would qualify. Some people asked about technology which I think was addressed. But just confirming about hardware and connectivity. Does it count as well as transportation with the idea that especially if it's a hybrid situation and some kids some days or half days that transportation could be a big cost.

Larry Berger: So, I know that hardware and software is legit. But we got to go to Julia Gonzalez live in the field for transportation. Julia, what's the answer?

Jul.ia Gonzales: I don't want to misspeak. So, I want to get back to you on that specific question. I did not see anything that prohibited transportation. My gut says that it probably would qualify especially because the law allows folks to use these funds flexibly. And they actually include this one specific language that says, " Any activities that are necessary to maintain the operation and continuity of services in your school district is allowable." So, I would assume that getting kids to school would fit under that. But we can email you directly just to make sure that's 100% accurate.

Kay: Okay. Well, I think we are at the end of our time. We didn't get to all the many questions. But we got to the vast majority of them. So, I wanted to thank our panel, Larry, Susan, and Julia, for all the great information. Thanks, everyone, for taking the time out of your day to join us. We have put together some resources that will hopefully help you as you try to navigate back to school next year. The first is amplify. com/ caresact. There's a chart with information for how to apply in each state. If your state is not up there, it means that the information is not out yet. So, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. It just means that they haven't put it out yet. So, it is up to date as of today with how to find out what your state is requiring. And then, we also have a site called amplify. com/ anywhere/ continuity. And it has information about our flexible Amplify programs that qualify for CARES funding if you're interested in learning more about them and how they can support learning continuity. We will be sending out a recording of the webinar, as well as a copy of the slide deck as many of you have requested, and some other resources in the next few days. So, thanks again to our panelists and to everyone who joined us for talking about the CARES Act and literacy.

Larry Berger: Thanks, everyone.

Jul.ia Gonzales: Thank you so much, everyone.

Susan Lambert: Thanks.


Congress has passed the U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are resources available for K-12 educators, and they can be used to address literacy learning loss and to prepare for periods of remote and hybrid learning next school year.

How can K-12 educators secure CARES funding, and make use of the funds to catch students up on critical reading instruction next fall?


“What we want to do is we want to ensure we put that laser focus into investing in the resources to be creative and move the students forward in that learning.”

“We want to make sure that students in the same schools and the same grade levels are getting the same instruction. And that’s one thing that technology offers, is the opportunity for that consistency and implementation.”