COVID-19 Learning Labs

Dorchester County, MD

The Foundation’s Efforts Against COVID-19

John & Janice Wyatt Foundation

Disaster Response Strategy:

Augmented Capacity of Our School Districts + Provided Critical Support to Our Non-Profit Partners Taking Care of Our Most Vulnerable Children

J2W Foundation supported short-term COVID-19 disaster response efforts within our service areas. We transitioned our COVID-19 disaster response grantmaking efforts to long-term disaster recovery strategy that will support partner organizations for years to come.

Program Summary

Developed community-led, safe-space programs designed to minimize learning loss and increase socialization opportunities during the 2020-2021 year in Dorchester County, MD

  • Student learning during the COVID pandemic, whether hybrid or 100% virtual, was a significant challenge to our youngest learners and resulted in achievement and opportunity gaps
  • Facilitated the creation of a coalition of community leaders and non-profits that worked to find meaningful solutions
  • Stood up Learning Labs to address the need
  • Learning Labs were run by existing out-of-school time non-profits, aligned with their respective school district, offering all-day programming, tutoring support, and safe space to elementary school children
  • The intent was to minimize learning loss, increase socialization opportunities, and allow parents to get back to work
John & Janice Wyatt Foundation
John & Janice Wyatt Foundation
John & Janice Wyatt Foundation
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Measures of Performance

Data Analysis

  • Goal: To provide a safe space, combined with academic supports, for low-income elementary and middle school students within the Dorchester County Public School system during the 2019-2020 COVID pandemic virtual and hybrid school year.
  • Learning Labs were developed within 3 out-of-school time non-profit organizations: New Beginnings, Cambridge Empowerment Center, and Harvesting Hope. All 3 organizations transitioned from after-school programming to all-day care, using existing staff and volunteer tutors.
  • Intent: Not necessarily designed to improve learning, but rather to reduce academic slide as a result of virtual learning; to help ensure students logged in, stayed focused, and received tutoring as needed, while spending the day in a safe, nurturing environment with access to meals, supplies, and broadband Internet.
  • Measured academic performance by looking at one key marker that was consistent across the elementary schools: the DIBELS DAZE score. This assessment focuses on reading comprehension and is measured by students either meeting appropriate grade-level benchmarks or “requiring severe or intensive interventions.”
    1. Measured only DCPS students that attended a Learning Lab consistently throughout the year.
    2. DCPS provided aggregated DIBELS DAZE scores for each child from K-5, measured at the beginning, middle, and end of the 2019-2020 school year.
    3. Hypothesis was that Learning Labs would reduce the number of students requiring severe or intensive interventions in reading comprehension.
    4. The Learning Labs were not able to improve reading comprehension to a point where the students were achieving “on grade level reading.” The 45 out of 47 students (91%) that began the year not meeting benchmarks also ended the year not meeting benchmarks.
    5. However, we did see significant material improvement in reading comprehension for 77% of the students participating in the Learning Labs. This means that these students improved their reading comprehension DIBELS DAZE scores by at least 5 or more points over the course of the year.
    6. Thus, while the Labs were not able to help the students meet standardized reading benchmarks over the course of the year, they were able to help most of the children improve their reading performance.