Teachers are used to playing many different roles, but this year they are facing the most complex challenges of their careers. They are being asked to be public health experts. Tech support specialists. Social workers to families reeling from the effects of layoffs and illness. Masters of distance learning and trauma-responsive educational practices. And they are being asked to take on these new responsibilities against a backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country, looming budget cuts for many school districts, and a hyper-polarized political debate over the return to school.
To make any of this possible, educators need to be armed with the best available science, data, and evidence, not only about the operational challenges of reopening that have dominated the news cycle but also about how to to meet the increasingly complex social-emotional and academic needs of students and their families. They don’t have time to sift through decades of academic papers for answers. Fortunately, the nation’s education researchers are eager and ready to help.
This summer, our two organizations – the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and Results for America – joined with researchers from top academic institutions across the country to launch the EdResearch for Recovery Project. Our goal: To provide short, accessible, rapid-turnaround briefs full of actionable, evidence-based insights to help guide educators and other decision-makers as they respond to and recover from COVID-related challenges.
We began this spring by crowdsourcing a list of the most urgent questions from state and local education officials, teachers, parents and other advocates. We then asked leading experts in these specific topics to quickly but rigorously synthesize the research, and identify strategies to consider (or avoid) to best support students, teachers, families and communities during this ongoing crisis.
While some of the challenges educators face today are unprecedented, we can learn lessons from research, including evidence generated after previous crises that disrupted school.