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Desperate Circumstances Prompt a Desperate Call on Congress

COVID-19 outbreak impact This month, AACTE joined like-minded institutions in writing a letter to congressional leaders in updating their earlier findings regarding four key COVID-19-related economic indicators that are placing significant financial burdens on higher educational institutions. The emergence of more detailed data regarding these four categories (enrollment, student financial need, auxiliary revenues, and new expenditures) revealed the troubling truth that our prior estimates about the impact of COVID-19 on the economic health of educational institutions was significantly underestimated and that the challenges students and schools are facing are far more severe than initially thought.  

As a consequence of these updated findings, AACTE signed on to a new letter urging Congress and the Administration to finalize negotiations as quickly as possible on a supplemental spending bill of sufficient size to provide at least $120 billion in needed support to students and campuses across the country. The detailed new findings described in the letter, while suggesting a potentially long, painful economic road ahead for some higher ed, provides a detailed and illuminating accounting of the many ways COVID-19 is burdening enrollment, student aid, and revenues at institutions of higher learning around the country.

COVID-19 Education Coalition Releases IHE Resources

Learning Keeps Going CoalitionIn early spring of 2020, AACTE joined ISTE’s LearningKeepsGoing Coalition. The Coalition subcommittees include Higher Education, of which I co-chair along with AACTE Innovation and Technology Committee Co-Chair David Slykhuis.

Each subcommittee developed resources that address the COVID19 pandemic in our nation’s public schools. The Coalition recently released two new resources for Institutions of Higher Education Educator Prep Programs and teacher candidates! The resources target different audiences. The student agency infographic is a resource for educator candidates and educator preparation faculty. As colleges and universities develop online course offerings, candidates are faced with learning how to access and benefit from online instruction. The infographic begins by amplifying five areas of student agency. Ten strategies guide students to advocate for online learning supports, use their own assets, and seek our mentors, to name a few. Students can also take an online learning readiness assessment to determine their preparedness for online instruction. Educator preparation faculty and staff are encouraged to disseminate this infographic to candidates who are learning online.

Uninterrupted Support in an Interrupted Semester

This is Part 1 of an article by Hannah Reeder and Betsy Rosenbalm of Appalachian State University in which they share how they had to pivot student teaching and new teacher preparation during the spring 2020 semester as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teacher is helping one of her primary school students in the classroom. They are sitting at a table using a digital tablet.

When schools suddenly closed in March of 2020, student teachers and beginning teachers quickly shifted their newly learned pedagogical skills to deliver instruction and grow professionally almost solely by virtual means. The Office of Field Experiences and the Public School Partnership in the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University supplied an uninterrupted flow of resources, professional development, and interaction with professional educators in the field.  This shifted from pivoting out of necessity to attempting to disrupt the status quo.  We were quickly introduced to “our new normal”!

Appalachian State University has18 teacher education programs and produces about 450-500 teachers each year. During the student teaching semester, teacher candidates are placed in 45 districts across the state of North Carolina and supervision is conducted by 30-40 part-time University Field Supervisors.

The Public School Partnership provides support, professional development, and resources to 12 school districts in the northwest region of North Carolina. The NC New Teacher Support Program is housed in the Public School Partnership. This program provides weekly coaching and regular professional development to teachers in their first, second, or third years of teaching in those same districts within our area of the state. 

Navigating an Unpredictable Pandemic

Mid adult man attending online math's lecture on laptop at homeIn early spring, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) shut the doors to classrooms, there was an optimistic belief that by fall the obstacles of the pandemic would disappear and in-class instruction would return to normal. However, as states began to lift emergency orders and school districts prepared to reopen schools, it became evident that education leaders would still be grappling with the unpredictable public health crisis this fall.

With COVID-19 spreading more rapidly in some regions of the United States, each state must assess whether they can safely open schools. Recently, some school districts that deemed it safe to reopen have reverted to remote learning when students and/or teachers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Certainly, navigating the current crisis is complicated, and it is having a profound effect on educator preparation programs (EPPs).

Due to PK-12 school closures in the spring, many teacher candidates were unable to complete their clinical and field experiences in a classroom setting—typically a prerequisite for licensure. Acknowledging that a lack of new teachers entering the field would adversely impact the current teacher shortage crisis, EPPs responded with alternative learning opportunities to ensure that teacher candidates are prepared and competent to enter their own classrooms. As a result, many states have implemented emergency policy changes to licensure, thus enabling recent graduates to teach this fall.

AACTE Issues 10 State Recommendations for Educator Preparation Programs and New Teachers During Global Crisis

Teamwork Team Collaboration Connection Togetherness Unity Concept

Today AACTE released its new report, Teaching in the Time of COVID-19: State Recommendations for Educator Preparation Programs and New Teachers. The 10 recommendations address critical state policy changes necessary to support innovative improvement in education during the global pandemic and beyond. Increased barriers to developing the educator workforce during the health crisis, coupled with the national teacher shortage, create demands for acute collaboration between educator preparation programs (EPPs), state education agencies, and PK-12 schools to reinvent systems for producing high-quality teachers to meet the growing needs of diverse learners.

AACTE reviewed and analyzed COVID-related state guidance to EPPs in pursuit of three goals: (1) to understand what states are doing to help prepare teachers for the classroom during this crisis, (2) to understand any extant trends in state guidance and (3), to identify recommendations for state leaders to enhance the support of new teachers impacted by program and policy disturbances stemming from the coronavirus crisis. From the analysis emerged recommendations that address changes to licensure and certification requirements, clinical experience pathways, and induction supports for novice teachers.

“Navigating the current crisis is complicated, to say the least, and the pandemic’s impact has a profound effect on many, including colleges of education and educator preparation programs,” said Lynn M. Gangone, Ed.D., AACTE president and CEO. “The circumstances of the pandemic open a window to think differently about our collective work. AACTE released this report at its State Leaders Institute today to provide our state chapter leaders with the latest research to inform their collaborations and conversations with state officials, PK-12 partners, and legislators.”

The report’s 10 recommendations are:

  1. In making licensure and certification waivers for teachers, states should make changes that are directly necessary because of the pandemic temporary, with a timeline for an ending that is clearly delineated, and transparent in that those who are granted certification as a result of waived requirements must be so classified, (e.g., “waiver-certification”).
  2. States should seek innovative opportunities to address ongoing challenges—such as lack of diversity in the profession and the need to modernize the processes of licensure and certification—as they consider licensure and certification revisions.
  3. Ensure candidates continue gaining experience teaching in a clinical setting with a mentor teacher, university supervisor, and continuous feedback.
  4. Encourage flexibility and collaboration between EPPs and school districts that ensure teacher candidates participate in clinical experiences online or in distance settings if PK-12 schools are not physically back in brick and mortar buildings.
  5. Encourage innovative approaches to clinical experiences including distributed learning models that employ team teaching in PK-12 settings, simulated classroom environments that allow candidates to approximate teaching, and financially supporting candidates through employment with the local school.
  6. Assess the needs of new teachers impacted by COVID-19 and identify areas for additional support.
  7. Require an induction action plan for new teachers describing the activities that must be completed or acquired for successful induction.
  8. Establish a mentorship program to equip new teachers with strategies to deliver high-quality instruction to diverse learners.
  9. Implement co-teaching for new teachers whose clinical experiences were fully or partially waived and teachers who have not passed exams for licensure and certification due to COVID-19.
  10. Partner with EPPs to provide professional development to ensure that new teachers possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach diverse students.

View the full report at AACTE’s website.

Participatory Action Research in a Pandemic

Revolutionizing Education

Christine Gentry
The culminating course of the NYU Teacher Residency focuses on a year-long participatory action research (PAR) journey residents take with a small group of students. PAR is a collaborative, iterative process of inquiry and action in response to an organizational or community problem. Residents and their students work as a team to identify a problem of practice, research that problem of practice, craft action and data collection plans, implement those plans, and then evaluate their impact through analysis of gathered data. In presentations at the end of the course, residents reflect on the entire process and how it helped develop student agency, advocacy, and voice as well as their own leadership. It is the faculty’s hope that during the PAR journey, residents practice radical listening and how to be mindful learners and leaders.

In March 2020, COVID-19 entered the residents’ PAR experience like a wrecking ball. I gathered with the other PAR instructors to decide how we were going to adjust the project for our residents, considering the radical change in access both to physical spaces and to the students in the PAR teams. We ultimately decided to offer the residents two choices: a reflective path, in which they could craft a presentation on their team’s original plan and the progress they were able to make pre-COVID, and a virtual pilot path, in which they could adjust their projects to the virtual space we all suddenly found ourselves in. Understandably, most residents chose to pursue the reflective path, but one resident, Lorraine Zhong, and her team of students chose to continue their project virtually. Her project is a model for how the PAR instructors in the NYU Teacher Residency will be approaching the project this year, with COVID-19’s grip still firmly on our schools. Her journey is a beautiful example of the transformative power of PAR—its ability to strengthen relationships, build student investment, and spark meaningful change—even in the face of this new and terribly difficult time for our schools.

I’ll let her take it from here.

Nominations Open for Everyday Champion Award to Recognize Achievements in Remote Learning during Pandemic

National Center for Learning Disabilities logoCOVID-19 has created unprecedented obstacles to learning, for educators, school administrators and parents/caregivers. Yet even in the face of this disruption, educators and families have found innovative ways to keep learning going and help our kids succeed.

To recognize these heroic efforts, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) will present the Everyday Champion Award for outstanding achievements in remote learning during the 2020 Pandemic. NCLD will honor three courageous and innovative, educators, administrators and parents/caregivers, who have done an outstanding job helping children with learning and attention issues through this time of remote learning.

NCLD will give three awards, each in the amount of $5,000.00. We’ll present these awards to one educator, one  administrator, and one  parent/caregiver. The recipients of the 2020 NCLD Everyday Champion Award will be honored at NCLD’s Annual Benefit, virtually, in December.

Nominations may be made by any parent, teacher, community members, or administrator by submitting an application for NCLD’s Everyday Champion Award. The award descriptions and schedule are below:

The Critical Need for Pause in the COVID-19 Era

This article originally appeared in the AACTE Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) and is co-authored by Gail Richmond, Christine Cho, H. Alix Gallagher, Ye He,  and Emery Petchauery.

The unprecedented health crisis caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus has resulted in innumerable complications and challenges with respect to schooling in the United States and globally. With the closure of schools, parents and guardians and often older siblings have had to oversee the learning of younger, school-aged children. One consequence of what might be called “emergency teaching” or “crisis schooling” has been a recognition, largely by those thrust into such roles of how hard this oversight actually is and a call for more respect and recognition for classroom teachers. Most frequently, this call for recognition and respect has actually been in the form of a recommendation for higher pay. While such an expression of support is laudable, it once again reveals a lack of deep understanding on the part of the general public about the substantial and specialized knowledge and skills teachers need and the scope of their work as effective classroom educators.

While we have learned much about the specialized knowledge and skills that teachers must have to be effective (e.g., Phelps, 2009; Shulman, 1986), given how teaching and learning are unfolding during this COVID-19 “era,” there is much that we need to understand better about these processes (Richmond et al., 2020). At the time in which we are writing this editorial, two such examples include (a) the knowledge for online, face-to-face, or hybrid teaching and learning and (b) the cognitive, social, and emotional transitions for students (and for some, substantial trauma) to new learning platforms and different learning dynamics. There is also much to understand about the specific kinds of supports for students and for teachers that are necessary to maximize effective learning. Despite these needs, the novelty of the pandemic and the conditions students, educators, leaders, and scholars are living through call for a particular kind of pause. In this editorial, we (a) unpack this pause and the relationship to the production of academic scholarship, (b) direct scholars to the complexity of conditions unfolding during 2020–2021 academic years, and (c) encourage action-reflection as an integral part of the research process.

Educational Leadership Students Create 388-page Re-entry Plan

“In early March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began to wreak havoc on every aspect of life as we all knew it. Events were cancelled, businesses began to close, and classrooms became virtual spaces. The world looked and felt very different from anything we had ever known,” wrote Carolyn Gassman, Butler University graduate student.

The Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals (EPPSP), an educational leadership graduate program at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, canceled their summer 2020 research and study abroad learning experience to Italy due to Covid-19.  EPPSP Students, practicing school teachers and educators, understood the complexity of returning to a physical building in the fall 2020 and wanted to support school leaders as they transitioned back to school.

EPPSP’s 40-year history includes experiential and relevant learning opportunities along with proficiencies that allow students to engage in real-life school leadership practices.  Nationally, school leaders began developing re-entry plans and Indiana leaders were conducting plans of their own.

AACTE’s Launches Back To School Webinar Series Featuring ATLAS and FAVSTE in Teacher Preparation

webinar-series-banner

Join AACTE on August 12 and 13 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. for its first back to school webinar series. Over the course of these two sessions, panelists with experience in using the Accomplished Teaching, Learning and Schools (ATLAS) library with the FAVSTE framework will introduce participants to these tools and how to use these tools to effectively utilize video tasks in teacher preparation. These ideas are applicable across different levels of certification (elementary, middle, and secondary) and school contexts. 

Panelists will include the following:

  • Brett Criswell – West Chester University
  • Heather Jo Johnson – Vanderbilt
  • Jessica Anna Arias – Kennesaw State University
  • Lawrence T Escalada – University of Northern Iowa
  • Shelly Forsythe – Texas State University

Register today to attend the two-part webinar: ATLAS and FAVSTE: A Tool and a Framework for Using Video in Teacher Preparation.

Centering Teaching and Learning in Plans to Educate Students With Disabilities This Fall

Disabled schoolboy using digital tablet

This article by Nathan Jones, associate professor of special education at Boston University, is Part 1 of a two-part series.

Questions of health and safety of students and school personnel have dominated summer debates about how to open schools this fall. The collective focus on safety is certainly appropriate, considering concerns voiced by parents and educators. In most all cases, states have asked school districts to prepare for multiple possible scenarios, ranging from fully in-person to fully virtual. To plan well for any of these scenarios would take a tremendous amount of collective will and resources. To plan for all options simultaneously means that schools have simply not had the opportunity to wrestle with the deep teaching and learning challenges in front of them. If we were to wave a magic wand, and all schools were able to operate fully in person with no threat to students or staff this fall, schools would still face an uphill battle to address the learning losses that have been disproportionately felt by critical student sub-populations. Nowhere is this issue clearer than in the education of students with disabilities.

Although formal data are not yet available, we should anticipate that many students with disabilities have regressed considerably since the transition to distance learning. Data from NAEP assessments show that, for the past several years, students with disabilities have lagged behind their peers in reading, writing, and math. These gaps have likely widened further during distance learning, where students with disabilities have likely not received the additional instructional time they need to make progress. In a May 2020 survey conducted by Parents Together, 40% of parents of students with disabilities reported receiving no services at all since the transition to remote learning, and only 20% reported receiving the services they were entitled to.

COVID-19 Education Coalition Urges Improvements, More Money in Final Version of the HEALS Act

COVID-19 Education Coalition memberThe undersigned members of the COVID-19 Education Coalition offer the following statement on the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act:

We are deeply concerned with provisions of the HEALS Act, which proposes $70 billion to support K-12 schools in navigating the fallout from the COVID-19 global pandemic, two-thirds of which is tied to the physical reopening of school buildings. With many districts unable to safely reopen at this time because of high community transmission rates, many schools stand to lose out on a substantial portion of the HEALS Act’s promised resources, which they desperately need to ensure high-quality teaching and learning continues for the 2020-2021 school year. Additionally, the $70 billion allocated to K-12 schools is far short of the funding that national experts estimate will be necessary to fully support educators, students, and families at this time, especially those from marginalized groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Many of our organizations believe that K-12 schools need between $175 billion and $200 billion.

Congress Stalls in Developing Next COVID Relief Package

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

COVID Relief Package Progress Stalled

The Congress is scheduled to go into recess in two weeks.  The election is about 100 days away.  The nation is in crisis.  Yet this week brought us a back and forth between the White House and Senate Republican leadership that yielded leaks of morsels about a proposed COVID relief package followed by retractions, clarifications and proclamations by individual Republican Senators that they have not seen any proposals nor been able to weigh in. Democrats are growing antsy—with two proposals on the table—HEROES Act in the House and  the Coronavirus Childcare and Education Relief Act in the Senate. they are ready to negotiate.  But no one is at the table yet.

A Senate Republican leadership bill was promised this week. A sketch of a proposal was leaked with the caveat that nothing had been finalized or agreed to. With Monday and Tuesday focused on honoring Rep. John Lewis in the Capitol, the business week will be short.  The promise of that August recess is looking dim. With the federal unemployment checks scheduled to end at the end of the month and 1 in 5 workers now collecting unemployment benefits, much is at stake. Educators in both higher education and K-12 are struggling to make decisions now about school openings with little clear guidance and no sure knowledge of when or if there will be additional federal support.

NACTE Partners with Nebraska Department of Education on Guidance for Future Teachers During Pandemic

Red Thumbtack Over Nebraska State USA MapAndrew Carnegie once described teamwork as, “… the ability to work together toward a common vision and the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives … It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” Carnegie was describing the challenges and opportunities that often arose in the business world of the early twentieth century, but the quote has a particular resonance today as the people of the world come together to defeat a global pandemic.   

Teamwork is also how Nebraskans have chosen to face the many challenges related to the Coronavirus in our state—challenges that have expanded beyond healthcare to the economy and to education. And teamwork is at the heart of our efforts to ensure that teacher preparation continues on schedule. To that end, Nebraska education officials and state educational institutions are working together to put in place the program, licensure, and other modifications necessary to keep our student teachers on track.

Teacher Candidates in Online Programs Are Well Positioned To Teach Virtually During COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many teachers, students, and parents rushed to navigate online learning. Some schools may reopen with social distancing guidelines in place, while others may incorporate a virtual component. To limit COVID-19 exposure while maintaining the quality of education for students, educators will need to embrace online instruction.

Navigating new technology can be a big hurdle for veteran teachers. As many school districts are announcing plans to incorporate virtual learning for the upcoming school year, there will be little time for teachers to prepare. Seasoned educators will need a lot of training to master remote instruction and help their students succeed.

Teacher candidates enrolled in online programs can help bridge the gap. These candidates have developed technology skills and experienced asynchronous learning, which puts them in a great position to pivot to remote teaching. With 50 years of experience in distance education and online learning, Walden University faculty are prepared to provide teacher candidates with the knowledge and experience needed for online instruction in PreK-12 schools. Walden even helps teacher candidates develop and practice their skills for the classroom through virtual reality training simulations.

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