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Meeting the Learning Needs of Historically Underserved Students During and After California School Closures

By Alicia Bowman, Shelley Jallow


School closures intended to slow the spread of the new coronavirus have forced California’s public education leaders at all levels to tackle the enormous task of delivering instruction to some 6.2 million students across the state who, for an indefinite period, must engage in some type of distance learning.

Even under normal conditions, many of California’s districts and schools struggle to adequately serve the full range of their highly diverse student populations. These extraordinary circumstances only add to the challenges districts already face and serve as a call to action for rethinking how to meet the learning needs of student groups that have been on the wrong side of long-standing opportunity gaps.

Written primarily for district and school leaders, this paper, produced by WestEd as part of a collection of Crisis Response Resources, offers important considerations for keeping a focus on these student groups not just during this initial period of distance learning but, also, in planning for the 2020/21 school year and beyond. Among the considerations are:

  • Instruction – Wherever instruction takes place — in the classroom, at a distance, or through some combination of the two — students will need additional supports to address academic needs that may have been amplified by this spring’s abrupt transition to distance learning.
  • Technology Infrastructure Continue to address gaps in the district’s instructional technology infrastructure.
  • Policies and Practices – In looking ahead, identify any policies and practices that might serve as bridges or barriers for historically underserved students.
  • Ongoing Data Collection Identify information and data that would have been helpful for navigating during the early months of the COVID-19 crisis, and develop infrastructure to collect and monitor those data going forward.
  • Implementation Consider the change management that will be necessary to implement your plan.
  • Engagement Trust between families and the school is key to developing partnerships focused on supporting student learning.

For more information and guidance, visit our COVID-19 Resources page.

Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2020
Format: PDF
Pages: 12
Publisher: WestEd