In March 2020, the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) developed a database to track how the nation’s largest public school districts have shifted instruction, student support, and organizational operations in response to COVID-19 school closures. To date, the database includes 82 urban school districts and 18 charter management organizations. As districts extend school closures, this database serves as a valuable resource for educators, district leaders, and the public to get information and generate ideas on how best to support our nation’s 56 million students.
The CRPE database prompted researchers from EducationNC and Public Impact, a Chapel Hill-based education policy research organization, to develop a similar source of information for all 115 North Carolina school districts. Researchers developed the NC District Response to COVID-19 School Closures Database to show the varied ways North Carolina districts are handling the closure of school buildings and the shift to online learning. It’s just a start, with missing pieces to be filled in, and it will be updated as responses change.
Developing the database
EdNC and Public Impact first gathered information we could find easily on district websites and social media. That led us to organize the database by 11 indicators, each falling into one of three categories: curriculum, instruction, and equity/access.
Public Impact researchers filled in the database using each district’s most recent COVID-19 response page and social media, then added responses from an EducationNC survey sent to all North Carolina superintendents. The survey helps us fill in gaps in the initial data set.
As we filled in our database, CRPE revised some of its indicators. As a result, the final North Carolina database distinguishes between the most recent CRPE-aligned indicators and “additional indicators.” The additional indicators include original CRPE indicators and grade-specific context for each district.
Though we strived for completion, data gaps remain. Any missing data indicates either the information was not available on the district website or researchers were unable to appropriately code the indicator given the information provided.
How to use the database
When you open the database, you will see three different tabs. The first, “About this NC database,” explains what the database is and how we populated the database, including the team members from EdNC and Public Impact who worked on this project.
The second tab provides definitions for each indicator in the database along with how we coded the indicators. The top half, shaded in blue, are the most recent CRPE-aligned indicators. The bottom half, shaded in orange, are original CRPE indicators and give more context for each district.
The third and final tab, “Coded NC district response database,” is the meat of the database. Along the top, you will see each indicator, and along the left side, you will see the names of all 115 North Carolina school districts. If you click on each district, the link will take you to the district website or social media page where researchers collected the information to populate the database.
As you scroll through the final tab, you will see the shading again changes from blue to orange, representing the new CRPE-aligned indicators in blue and the original CRPE indicators in orange. In the far right column, column U, you will see an overview of all indicators for each district. Hover over the cell to see a snapshot of the district’s response to each indicator.
How can we make this database better?
We hope that education leaders and the public will use this database to quickly and easily find what districts across the state are doing in response to COVID-19. In addition, we hope this work will highlight districts’ creative approaches to disseminating information and implementing at-home learning strategies. It will also point to gaps and challenges, like the far-from-finished work of equipping all students with devices and broadband connections. We hope policymakers and philanthropists can use this information to determine the best ways to support schools, educators, and students.
EdNC and Public Impact plan to publish more information within the next month analyzing trends in the data and highlighting district stories of crisis response and leadership.
This project is the start of what we intend to be a more robust database, complete with all up-to-date CRPE indicators. We will use survey results to fill in gaps over the next month and complete the database with all CRPE indicators as well as others related to organizational operations.
We are also looking at including charter school responses. If you are a charter school principal, complete this survey about your school’s response to COVID-19 school closures.
We welcome your feedback on this first iteration of the database. What do you think of the indicators? What are we missing? How can we improve the database to better serve your needs? Please send suggestions, corrections, or ideas on how to improve this resource to Molly Osborne, EducationNC’s director of policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.