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COVID-19 Education Innovations Solution Spotlights in Utah, Florida and Kentucky

• ExcelinEd News

Utah Expands Ways Students Can Demonstrate Learning Gains

Utah already had an option for students to “test out” of some classes using competency-based assessments, reported Education Week on April 8. After its schools closed during the pandemic, Utah surveyed its districts on how they are approaching local flexibility on awarding credit for all students and seniors in particular. It found districts are rapidly casting a much wider net for ways students can prove they deserve academic credit, including projects, portfolios and other performance assessments in lieu of traditional tests this year.

At the time of the closures, fewer than half of reporting Utah districts already allowed district administrators to award credit based on a review of students’ work or projects, and a third of districts already allowed students to count recognized industry certifications or credentials toward graduation requirements. Now, another 20 percent or more of districts said they were considering accepting those credentials because of the COVID-19 disruptions.

32,000 Laptops Distributed to Small and Rural Florida Districts

On April 11, Governor Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced that 32,614 laptop computers are being distributed to 34 mostly small, rural school districts throughout Florida and the Florida A&M University Developmental Research School. When the COVID-19 crisis created the need for distance learning, the Department proactively began calling laptop suppliers throughout Florida and reaching out to rural county school districts to identify both available supply and demand.

These districts serve predominantly low-income students and these resources help ensure all Florida students will be able to continue learning while schools are closed.

GoTeachKY Launches Virtual Teacher Mentorship Program for COVID-19 Support

A new GoTeachKY initiative called Teachers Helping Teachers is connecting experienced educators to provide virtual coaching and support directly to other teachers to help them deal with the stresses of the COVID-19 crisis. GoTeachKY is an initiative of the Kentucky Department of Education to inspire and recruit the next generation of Kentucky educators. There currently are 18 mentors registered, who were recruited from the GoTeachKY ambassadors, the Kentucky National Board Network and educator preparation programs/colleges of education from across the state. The mentors will assist other educators while school buildings are closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. The mentors will aid in areas such as content planning, finding helpful resources, using technology and staying connected with their students.

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