Examining COVID-19 Enrollment Trends and Learning Outcomes

Across the country, communities are debating the risks and merits of reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Connecticut, starting in fall 2020, most school districts provided options for both fully remote learning and hybrid learning models that mix virtual learning with opportunities for in-person instruction; however, district leaders, families, and students continue to navigate complex decisions due to changing public health conditions, staffing shortages, and myriad other impacts of the pandemic on individuals and communities. As communities enter the remaining four months of the 2020-21 school year and begin to look ahead to summer and 2021-22, it is imperative that the options and impacts that shaped the first part of the 2020-21 school year are understood in order to inform future actions. 

As an organization that collaborates with ten high schools in nine districts across Connecticut, the RISE Network has had a unique vantage point into how leaders, educators, families and students have navigated the first half of the 2020-21 school year. We have seen how schools and communities have risen to the occasion, but we have also seen inequities and persistent challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. Motivated by our commitment to racial and educational equity, improvement, and collaboration, we leveraged our connections with educators and families and tapped into available data to better understand what impact the pandemic has had on educational outcomes for students and provide some suggestions for how leaders, educators and families can move forward.

The report includes the findings and implications of a quantitative analysis of student enrollment, engagement, and academic performance data from across our network alongside insights from families shared through an anonymous statewide survey of 52 families. It also includes our recommendations for how district leaders, policymakers, educators, families and students can deepen their collaborative efforts toward improved student outcomes.

Watch a recording of the February 22, 2021 webinar that provides an overview of the report findings and recommendations, including insights and reflections from RISE educators.