Virtual School Meanderings

September 20, 2020

PACE – Fostering Parent Engagement: Removing Barriers to Data Accessibility

This policy brief may be of interest to some readers.


Fostering Parent Engagement

Removing Barriers to Data Accessibility

Benjamin W. Cottingham

Policy Analysis for California Education, Stanford University

Parental engagement has been shown to be a key lever for improving outcomes for all students. It can positively influence grades, test scores, and graduation rates for all students. Increased engagement is also shown to improve the outcomes of underserved student populations, positively impacting low-income, Black, and Latinx students in both primary and secondary settings. Additionally, parental engagement has been found to be a critical support in blended and distance learning environments—a need that has intensified with the shift to distance learning in response to COVID-19. Current state policies and tools for parental engagement fail to provide the necessary scaffolding parents need to support student learning or participate in local education decision-making. Here we outline three key principles and related actions that Local Educational Agencies can take to remove barriers to data access and support parent engagement.

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Make data easily accessible so that parents and other stakeholders can engage with the information-sharing process.
  • Share data so that it is easy to find, manipulate, and understand.
  • Use familiar rating systems for presenting data and share data broadly in a variety of formats.
Structure data sharing so parents start with a broad view that can then be focused to better understand information relevant to their individual child(ren).
  • Provide parents access to more information.
  • “Progressively disclose” data in chunks of general information with the option to explore specifics.
  • Provide data that is relevant to families and anticipates future needs
Consistently include parents in datasharing conversations to build relational trust, improve data literacy, and utilize parents’ abilities to share and process information with peers.
  • Make space for parents in more data-sharing conversations.
  • Share accurate data regularly with parents to build trust and credibility in the data provided and clearly communicate any procedural changes.
  • Build parents’ capacity to engage with available data to support active participation in local planning efforts.
  • Empower parents to share accurate information with their peers and drive community learning.

A printable version of this material is available as an infographic; the complete study is available in the full policy brief.

September 10, 2020

Data Release: 2018-19 Teachers’ Use Of Technology For School And Homework Assignments

Given the amount of remote learning that is happening right now, there are likely some useful gems in these data.

 Institute of Education Sciences

Data Release: 2018-19 Teachers’ Use of Technology for School and Homework Assignments

Today, the National Center for Education Statistics released new public and restricted-use data and related documentation from the “2018-19 Teachers’ Use of Technology for School and Homework Assignments” survey.

The survey collected data from public school teachers about their understanding of the types of devices and technologies that students use for educational purposes, the impact that student access to technology outside of school has on homework assignments, and ways that schools and teachers address challenges that students with limited access to technology face in completing homework assignments. Data were collected in the 2018-19 school year, the year before the coronavirus pandemic. It focuses on information that can best be provided by teachers from their perspective and direct interaction with students. The survey provides nationally representative data of public school teachers who taught at least one regularly scheduled class in grades 3–12 and taught either self-contained classes or departmentalized classes in one or more of the core subjects of English/language arts, social studies/social science, math, or science. Computers were defined to include desktop and laptop computers, as well as tablets with a virtual or physical keyboard. Smartphones were not included in the definition of computers, but separate information was collected for smartphones.

Documentation provides information about the purpose of the study, the sample design, the data collection procedures, the data processing procedures, response rates, imputation, weighting and standard error calculation and use, the data files and codebooks, and the file layout of the ASCII data file. The ASCII data and a SAS version of the data file are also provided.

The public-use data and documentation can be freely downloaded from

The restricted-use data and data documentation (NCES 2020-089) require a restricted-use license to access. To learn about the licensing process, please visit

Please note that the public- and restricted-use versions of the data differ only in terms of the restricted-use file containing NCES school ID number and Census region variables not on the public-use file.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.
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August 24, 2020

CANeLearn Report – Documenting Triage: Detailing the Response of Provinces and Territories to Emergency Remote Teaching

This past Thursday the Canadian eLearning Network (CANeLearn) hosted their annual Summit Leadership Summit.  As a part of that event, they also released their latest research report –  Documenting Triage: Detailing the Response of Provinces and Territories to Emergency Remote Teaching.  The report is described as:

  • This report highlights what each Canadian jurisdiction did to continue to promote learning throughout the Spring 2020 pandemic.
  • Information was gathered for each province and territory and the report was designed to delineate how each jurisdiction managed their emergency remote teaching during the spring of 2020.
  • The goal was to report on what occurred, and it is not intended to assess the quality of what occurred.

The executive summary reads:

Ahead of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) March 11, 2020 declaration that COVID-19 was indeed a pandemic, and as Canada began diagnosing its first cases of the coronavirus, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, urged Canadian communities to “prepare for stronger public health measures to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, including closures of schools” (CMAJ News, 2020). Two days later, New Brunswick was the first of the 13 provinces and territories to close their schools across the province. However,
within 10 days all K-12 schools across Canada were closed.

Through the Canadian eLearning Network (CANeLearn), a leading voice in Canada for learner success in K-12 online and blended learning, this report highlights the moves each Canadian jurisdiction made to continue to promote learning throughout the pandemic. Information was gathered for each province and territory, through government websites, educational organizations, and current news releases regarding each jurisdictions strategies to provide supports, resources, and technologies appropriate for the continuation of emergency remote teaching and learning. This report is designed to delineate how each jurisdiction managed their emergency remote teaching during the spring of 2020. The goal is to report on what occurred, and it is not intended to assess the quality of what occurred. This shift was dependent on the supports and resources provided by each jurisdiction across Canada. By April 21, 2020 all of Canada had moved forward with emergency remote teaching for their K-12 learners.

In providing emergency remote teaching, the three territories took much longer to release their plans then their provincial counterparts. If the territories were excluded, the average length of time it took the 10 provinces to release their emergency remote teaching plans was 14 calendar days. The supports and resources provided by each of the jurisdictions manifested in various ways, such as access to mail delivery of educational learning packages, radio and television broadcasting, centralized learning management systems and access to a variety of digital tools. Some provinces such as Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and British Columbia provided technology to students. All jurisdictions – except for Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick – provided resources that did not require internet access. Further, some jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut made specific considerations for Indigenous students who may be on-the-land and offered a land-based curriculum for learners who did not have access to both the internet or to educational packages.

While access to resources and supports for emergency remote learning is key for the success of any program, so too is the level of preparedness and professional learning of teachers. The vast majority of teachers across Canada had no training or professional experience with online pedagogies related to using digital tools in their teaching or even how to develop online content that was instructionally sound. Yukon, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia were the only provinces that announced some form of professional learning for teachers. These professional learning opportunities were evidenced in the form of online professional development days, access to webinars, educational toolkits, access to paid digital tools, virtual learning environment instruction, and University courses. Other jurisdictions referred teachers to other ongoing professional learning options already in existence.

You can access the full report at:

Full disclosure: Please note that I am one of the authors of this report.

August 19, 2020

Closing The Digital Divide During The COVID-19 Lockdown

While this is an item that may be of primary interest to my Kiwi readers, but also something that may be of interest to all readers.

GCSN Monthly Newsletter                                                                             View this email in your browser
Kia ora Michael

We hope you are keeping safe at this time wherever in NZ you are.

After New Zealand first lockdown, and once schools had returned to as much normality as possible, GCSN undertook a study to gain insight into how the COVID-19 Lockdown had impacted ākonga, whānau and staff from their perspective.

The report, Closing the Digital Divide during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Student, whānau and staff perspectives, highlighted key findings in the areas of; accessibility, Internet usage, support for remote learning and
positives and negatives of the online learning experience.

This report shows how important it is to continue to work towards bridging the digital divide for our ākonga and their whānau.

Your can read the blog post here, or go direct to the report here.

Funding for Teacher Aide Digital Fluency

We would like to work with you to develop and deliver meaningful Digital Fluency PLD for your amazing Teacher Aides in your schools.

The team at GCSN will help your TA’s apply for the funds, and catering will be provided. Your Teacher Aides will be paid for their time, and the school will be reimbursed for the time the TA participates in the PLD training, including travel, expenses, and course costs up to the value of $1500.

We can support

  • Clusters or Kāhui Ako
  • Small groups of Teacher Aides
  • Teacher Aides on Teachers’ Only Days
  • School holiday days

For more information visit our Request Funding for Teacher Aide page.

Thank you for being part of our community.
The GCSN team

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Greater Christchurch Schools Network

PO Box 945
West End

Christchurch, Christchurch 8140

New Zealand

August 3, 2020

[REPOST] Rationale For The Special Report – Teacher Education And K-12 Online Learning

This entry was originally posted at

The genesis for this report began in late 2016. In fact, the data for this report was originally collected from February 2017 to April 2017. The data was analyzed from September 2017 to December 2017, and much of the report was originally written from January 2018 to June 2018. However, as many research projects go, the drive to see this report to completion waned. The K-12 school year ended, the post-secondary academic year had concluded, summer was upon us once again. Essentially, the project got pushed to the side.

The Fall came and the demands of beginning a new K-12 school year and a new academic post-secondary year were upon everyone. The new school year introduced all stakeholders in the field to the Government of Ontario’s e-learning announcements of 15 March 2019, and later 21 November 2019, which would propose a new regulatory regime in that province. For us in the field, most of 2019 – and even the beginning of 2020 – were focused on understanding the various aspects of these proposals, examining the research to support those proposals, and combating massive misinformation and misunderstanding within the media and general public – and the draft of this report continued to languish.

The year 2020 also brought with it a new challenge to those in the field of distance, online, and blended learning. As early as January 2020 (maybe even the end of the previous year for those paying closer attention), rumblings of the beginning of a new health threat began to emerge. By February it was assumed that this would, or at least had the potential to become a global pandemic. It was at this time that we revived our work on this report. While the data was already dated by three years, as educators would be forced with having to manage emergency home-based or remote teaching, we felt it important to provide an assessment of how well those individuals were formally prepared by their teacher training programs to meet this challenge.

The report can be accessed at:

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