On Wednesday, the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning announced that it is teaming with Impact Florida to offer an analysis of how public and private K-12 schools across the Sunshine State were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Through one-on-one interviews and surveys in both English and Spanish, the Lastinger Center for Learning will interview students, parents, teachers and administrators across Florida on how the pandemic impacted education.
The project has earned some major backing including $100,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is also sending $100,000 to Impact Florida to showcases the findings.
“COVID-19 impacted every facet of education in Florida,” said Dr. Philip Poekert, the director of the Lastinger Center. “We’ve all heard anecdotal accounts of how schools and early learning programs responded, but without a systematic research effort to assess the impact, we miss the opportunity to draw conclusions about what worked well. Thanks to the generosity of the Gates Foundation, we will likely discover some innovative and efficient practices that could advance education and enhance student learning.”
The project started last month when the Lastinger Center research team began designing the protocols and planned their outreach efforts.
“Researchers will target communities throughout the state to ensure maximum variation and a sample that reflects Florida’s diversity. Once collected, data will be used to develop briefs, a website that geo-tags findings, and a final report that highlights best practices, key themes, challenges and solutions to support future planning and policy efforts at the local, state and national levels,” the Lastinger Center and Impact Florida announced.
“Florida was an early national leader in ramping up distance learning options for students at the beginning of the COVID pandemic,” said Mandy Clark, the executive director of Impact Florida. “Sharing the lessons learned from that experience will help ensure that all students are able to receive a high-quality education no matter what the upcoming school year brings.”
Floridians interested in sharing their experiences of Florida’s educational system response can complete the survey here.