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North Carolina district responses to COVID-19: An updated database from EdNC and Public Impact

In March 2020, the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) released “District Responses to COVID-19,” an online database tracking how some of the nation’s largest public school districts have shifted instruction, student support, and organizational operations in response to COVID-19 school closures. CRPE continues to update the database on a regular basis as district plans shift and evolve.

In April, EdNC and researchers from Chapel Hill-based Public Impact joined forces to create a North Carolina version of this database to provide a similar set of information for state leaders, district leaders, school leaders, and the public. We published this initial database on April 23, 2020.

In alignment with CRPE’s national database, the North Carolina database outlined districts’ responses to COVID-19 according to a series of standard indicators, covering curriculum, instruction, progress monitoring, centralization, learning time, and technology. For more on the initial database, read this article.

Since April 23, both district plans and CRPE’s national database have evolved. To reflect those changes, EdNC and Public Impact again joined forces to update the North Carolina database, resulting in the second iteration of NC District Responses to COVID-19 School Closures.

View updated NC District Responses to COVID-19 Database

Updating the database

As a follow-up to the initial research, EdNC sent a survey to North Carolina school districts in an effort to fill in information gaps and gain on-the-ground context for district and school responses. For districts that did not complete the survey, researchers reached out to districts via phone and email for additional information. Researchers then populated the database with available information.

Between April 23 and June 4, researchers updated the database with the most recent CRPE indicators and completed a second review of each district’s websites and social media pages in an effort to capture the most up-to-date information.

This updated database does not include all CRPE indicators, but it does include additional indicators specific to this project. Where applicable, the database differentiates between CRPE and non-CRPE-aligned indicators. More information regarding each indicator and the guidelines for coding can be found in the “DEFINITIONS” tab of this database.

View updated NC District Responses to COVID-19 Database

What’s new?

In addition to including more information, the updated database contains several changes. First, following CRPE’s publication of their codebook, the definitions tab has been updated to include a more substantial definition of each indicator along with how it was coded. It also includes examples to illustrate that coding.

Secondly, the updated database contains both new CRPE-aligned indicators (in blue) and new non-CRPE indicators (in orange). For the CRPE-aligned indicators, new indicators include: instruction from teachers, a synchronous student engagement flag, feedback on student work, a formal grading flag, teacher check-ins, attendance tracking, and instructional minutes recommended. New non-CRPE indicators include: teachers engaging in professional learning, train families to use virtual platforms, train families on curriculum/instruction, and train families on distance learning best practices.

Finally, the fourth tab of the updated database provides a summary of each indicator that shows both the count and percentage of districts that fall into each category. This summary allows you to see trends in district responses, such as the fact that 108 districts require instruction from teachers in all grades but just 40 require synchronous teaching in all grades. The summary tab also shows which indicators have limited data, such as the synchronous student engagement flag.

View updated NC District Responses to COVID-19 Database

Improving the database

As with our initial database, we hope that education leaders and the public will use this updated version 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.

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.

We also realize that district plans continue to evolve. If you have direct knowledge of a school system’s distance learning plan or see information in our database that needs updating, please contact Molly Osborne at mosborne@ednc.org.

Molly Osborne

Molly Osborne is the director of policy for EducationNC and the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

Jessica Struhs

Jessica Struhs is a consultant with Public Impact, focusing primarily on assisting schools and districts in implementing the Opportunity Culture model founded by Public Impact.

Troy Smith

Troy Smith is a senior consultant with Public Impact, focusing on assisting districts and schools in implementing the Opportunity Culture model founded by Public Impact.

Beth Clifford

Beth Clifford is a policy analyst at Public Impact, focusing on quantitative and qualitative research projects.