To support California’s school districts and county offices of education as they navigate the new terrain of education during the COVID-19 pandemic, three of the state’s leading education-focused organizations have joined forces to create the Hybrid Distance (HD) Learning Collaborative.

The Collaborative will provide resources, technical assistance, and a virtual community for school districts implementing K–6 science and math education through hybrid and distance learning. In early December 2020, educators from over 20 California school districts will gather for the inaugural online learning event of the HD Learning Collaborative.

Education groups come together to support distance-learning and equity

Three top-of-their-field education groups — which carry out a range of research, policy, and technical assistance projects — met in November to begin synthesizing their work in order to create a vibrant and comprehensive suite of supports for the HD Learning Collaborative. As one participant put it, the groups came together to “put all the puzzle pieces of support for districts out on the table and figure out how to fit them together.” These pieces include instructional best practices, learnings from policy and research work around COVID, and cutting-edge resources for districts.

Learning Policy Institute (LPI), one of California’s premier research and policy organizations, will be supporting the HD Learning Collaborative by

At the November meeting, staff from LPI said their approach to meeting the moment is grounded in what they are seeing in schools and districts across California: “A lot of suffering — and a lot of imaginative and thoughtful responses to the crisis.”

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is an independent research center focused on achieving more equitable outcomes at all levels of California’s education system. PACE will support the HD Learning Collaborative by

  • Sharing research-based evidence that supports teaching and learning in distance and hybrid learning contexts
  • Helping to disseminate promising practices and lessons learned from HD Learning Collaborative participants to the field

One of PACE’s most exciting contributions will be the work of Michal Kurlaender and Sherrie Reed, two researchers from UC Davis who are creating a detailed database of every California district’s policies and practices in response to COVID. They will share learnings from their work with the Collaborative throughout the year. These learnings will include everything from data on the number of instructional minutes districts are mandating per week, to information on what responses districts are prioritizing (e.g., assessment of learning loss), to districts’ levels and types of supports for specific populations such as foster youth and English Learners. They will make the full dataset available in 2021.

The Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), housed at the University of California, Berkeley, develops and disseminates innovative science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. Drawing on its long history supporting school districts with science education, LHS has helped to recruit districts to the HD Learning Collaborative. LHS staff will design and engage in data collection and analysis with each of the participating districts throughout the life of the Collaborative. The data will yield key information on the participating districts’ experiences providing high-quality K–5 science and K–8 math teaching and learning during COVID, with the goal of understanding and sharing the districts’ greatest needs and successes with participants and with the field.

The HD Learning Collaborative, together with LPI, PACE, and LHS, will generate learnings about best practices in hybrid and distance learning that can help all districts in California. WestEd will be sharing these learnings, along with tools and resources, on the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning’s website. Stay tuned!