COVID-19 Learning Labs

Winchester, VA

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 then 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 Winchester, VA

  • 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 multiple Learning Labs across the city 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 Winchester Public School system during the 2020-2021 COVID pandemic virtual and hybrid school year.
    • The Learning Lab was developed in partnership with The Kids Club, an out-of-school time non-profit organization. The Kids Club successfully transitioned over the year from after-school programming to all-day care, using existing staff and volunteer tutors.
    • Intent: The Learning Lab was 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 Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) score. PALS provides a comprehensive assessment and screening literacy tool to identify those students who meet minimum competency in early literacy skills and those who do not; and provides indications for specific instruction for students who may need intervention. Students were categorized as either “meeting benchmarks” or “not meeting benchmarks.”
      1. We measured only WPS students that attended the Kids Club Learning Lab consistently throughout the year.
      2. WPS provided aggregated PALS scores for each child from K-4, measured at the beginning (fall 2020) and end (spring 2021) of the 2020-2021 school year.
      3. Our hypothesis was that the Learning Lab would reduce the number of students “not meeting PALS benchmarks” for their respective grade level.
      4. We used 2018-2019 pre-COVID PALS “not meeting benchmarks” scores for all WPS elementary school students (38%) as the baseline.
      5. We expected fall 2020 scores (as this was the first COVID school year semester) to reflect a significant increase in students “not meeting benchmarks.” In fact, we did see the expected increase with a rise from 38% to 54% “not meeting benchmarks.”
      6. We then measured spring 2021 PALS scores to see if the full year of Learning Lab support would help reduce the “not meeting benchmarks” percentage. In fact, we saw a clear reduction from 54% to 42%.
      7. Thus, we can conclude that, along with other various interventions provided throughout the year, the Learning Lab program did help more students meet PALS benchmarks. While the Lab was unable to attain the pre-COVID baseline of 38%, the program did work in helping to minimize learning loss associated with the 2020-2021 COVID school year.