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Request for Services: Hard Copy Instructional Materials

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The deadline has been extended to Friday, June 19th.

Request for Services: Hard Copy Instructional Materials

Context

Due to COVID-19, we are in the midst of an unprecedented period in American education where the normal operations of K-12 schools will be the exception, not the norm. Schools have had to grapple with an array of challenges, from providing meals to disconnected students to delivering online education at a scale that was inconceivable just months ago.

Research, polling, and news show that the new state of remote instruction surfaced real challenges that stood in the way of learning. Schools and districts that launched distance learning plans saw many American students left behind, a function of lacking access to devices or connectivity. This gap mirrors historical access disparities along racial, socioeconomic, and linguistic lines:

  • 50% of low-income and 42% of families of color lacked sufficient devices at home to access distance learning
  • 38% of low-income families and 29% of families of color reported concern about access to distance learning because they don’t have reliable internet at home
  • A quarter of non-English home speakers said their child’s school did not provide materials in other languages

Sadly, we are coming to terms with the fact that the crisis has not ended. Still in triage mode, most local education agencies (LEAs) have not provided any learning plans for the summer, leaving many families to find their own resources at a time when access to summer camps, parks, and other community resources is still uncertain. And distance learning is here to stay, either “in full” or as a hybrid model through the FY21 school year.

The burden on caregivers to not only keep their families safe and healthy during this time, but also to keep their children engaged and learning is intense – and unfeasible:

  • The volume and intensity of strain for caregivers in families of all backgrounds is overwhelming, especially those supporting diverse developmental, social, and academic needs of children
  • With school and summer activities closed, schedules are upended and potentially non-existent
  • Basic needs and concerns are pressing and immediate: food, housing, financial resources
  • Students are bored, lonely, and aware of stress; they are eager for engagement and connection
  • Studies show that acute feelings of stress are particularly pronounced among parents of children with disabilities and lower-income families

Collectively, these data points suggest that millions of students are now facing months of acute interrupted learning, with potentially deleterious effects on their education trajectory:

  • Based on data about summer learning loss, NWEA estimates substantial learning declines for all students, with particularly significant effects in the early grades and for low-income youth
  • Many such students have the fewest resources to “catch up” and may be experiencing more trauma than peers, exacerbating the learning gap both now and upon reentry
  • The long-term impact of these learning losses may impact students’ likelihood to graduate high school, pursue a college preparatory path, and beyond

This elevates an urgent need to support students and families across the country to mitigate learning loss, in summer and into the next school year, providing them with quality at-home instructional materials that are engaging and easy to access and use.

Solution

Design principles

Bellwether Education Partners, in partnership with parent advocacy and support organizations EdNavigator, GreatSchools, and Learning Heroes and with the National Summer Learning Association – seeks to rapidly launch a solution that provides access to quality, print-based instructional content to families most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

To be effective, the solution must:

  • Move forward quickly, with pilot project launch in July-August and scaled to full implementation in early fall at the latest (with an eye toward continued disruption to teaching and learning throughout the next school year)
  • Be agile; we are orienting toward a nimble, efficient, short-term solution that will “bridge the gap” for the duration of the crisis but, should demand/ need continue after this period, a longer-term plan will be considered
  • Continuously improve; given rapid timeline for startup, it will be critical for solution to have built-in feedback mechanisms to support real-time refinement of solution and operations
  • Supplement, not supplant the existing, ongoing work of districts/ schools and other education support organizations in the field: this is designed to be an “and”, not an “or”, solution (with no intent to displace other critical efforts)
  • Orient toward solving gaps and challenges in the caregiver experience
  • Remove barriers around reaching and engaging families, with attention to the inequities in the education system
  • Be flexible and responsive to ever-changing conditions around COVID-19

Please note that we may select multiple providers who together will bring a comprehensive solution, each contributing a unique, critical competency to the collective whole. You may apply as a standalone organization or in partnership with other providers to bring one or multiple of the requested services; please be clear in your application which services your organization and/or partnership is positioned to support in implementing the proposed solution – and how you will ensure coherence.

Pilot

Given the urgency of the situation at hand, we are launching pilot services this summer to bring print-based content to home learners and caregivers that is engaging and easy to access and use – and oriented to mitigating learning loss throughout the crisis.

To support caregivers in assessing their learners’ unique needs, Learning Heroes has translated its proven Readiness Check, a quick, fun, at-home review of math and reading skills, to print format. Not a “test,” but rather a series of three-to-five activities that families can do together, helping parents understand “where their students are” and identify level-appropriate materials to continue learning at home.

The Readiness Check ties in with GreatSchools’ grade-based monthly newsletters, or “Learning Calendars.” These newsletters, now also available in print, take the heavy lifting out of the equation for parents and support them with an easy-to-use, grade-based curriculum for grades K-5. Each workday, Monday through Friday, includes reading worksheets/ activities, math worksheets/ activities, a writing prompt, and a science/ art/ social studies activity. Each day also includes a physical education challenge.

Core academics (reading, writing, and math) content comes from GreatSchools’ library of worksheets, academic vocabulary words, and learning games and activities. Science, social studies, or art activities draw on GreatSchools' printable resources and also have hands-on activities curated from a wide variety of online resources. GreatSchools has also developed a short orientation for caregivers about how to use the packet, along with curated tips and tricks for caregivers to support their students academically and socio-emotionally (e.g., “the secret to making reading fun for your 3rd grader,” “how to praise 5th graders”).

The Need

We are seeking partners to complement the solution in process, with greatest needs around the following print-based materials...

Content - student-facing

  • Books, activity packs, or other materials to complement GreatSchools’ core academics content (reading, writing, math), grades K-5
  • Activity packs or other hands-on materials to complement GreatSchools’ supplemental content (science, art, social studies), grades K-5
  • Books, activity packs, or other materials for core academics (reading, writing, math), grades 6-8
  • Activity packs or other hands-on materials, grades 6-8
  • Social-emotional learning activities (e.g., routines) that parents can use to prepare for and facilitate at-home learning in grades K-8 (if not embedded in the above)

Content - caregiver-facing

  • Aligned to the materials above, print-based tools, processes, or plans to assess and meet individual learner needs; this could be an initial diagnostic that complements Learning Heroes’ Readiness Check or ongoing checkpoints
  • Aligned to the materials above, a print-based orientation for caregivers about how to use the materials, along with curated tips and tricks to support students academically and socio-emotionally
  • Aligned to the materials above, digital materials to support caregiver implementation (e.g., video-based tips and tricks, “clickable” calendar, SMS short code service)

Content - language access

  • Spanish printables and books, activity packs, or other materials for core academics (reading, writing, math), K-8
  • Spanish printables and activity packs or other hands-on materials for science/ art/ social studies, grades K-8
  • Translation services for caregivers’ orientation, tips/ tricks, and diagnostic survey into several languages

...as well as production and distribution capabilities and capacity:

Production

  • To curate sequence of print-based packets/ materials, aligned to the needs outlined above
  • To develop caregiver-facing instructions and tools to support the sequence of materials
  • To adapt and integrate student- and caregiver-facing materials with the foundational materials provided byGreatSchools and Learning Heroes to create a cohesive, coherent comprehensive solution
  • To assemble and collate materials from partner provider(s) into a singled, unified packet to be distributed to students and caregivers
  • To print and prepare packets for distribution to students and caregivers
    • By late July/ early August 2020, ability to serve 2,000 students and their caregivers through pilot
    • By fall 2020, ability to scale pilot to large-scale implementation

Distribution

  • To ship/ deliver materials to students and families at reasonable cost

Customer Engagement and Support

  • To develop a marketing plan for this solution, including place-based community engagement strategy that supports relationships with local leaders, on-the-ground distribution channels, customer service mechanisms, etc., with the goal of building awareness, understanding, and uptake of solution among caregivers most in need
  • To build and implement a customer service model, including functionality to support information sharing, sign up, and technology-based support for caregivers

We are not expecting every high-quality content provider to cover all grade bands, content areas, or service functions requested, but will prioritize coherence of content/ programming available.

Request for Services

Please submit responses to questions found in form that can be accessed via this link. A full list of the questions that will be asked at that link is available here.

RFS Submission Deadline: June 19

Provider Selection: By June 26

Where to submit: Please follow this link (preview of questions available here)

Submit Proposal Now

Recommended Proposal Length: 1,500 characters per response (~1 page, double spaced) to each question

~ 15 pages in total, with appendices/ attachments

Evaluation Process: A selection panel comprised of relevant experts/stakeholders will review applications using a predefined evaluation rubric.

Eligibility: Organizations with capacity/ capability to support specific functions and/ or full solution, as well as a set of organizations who, in partnership, will bring capacity/ capability to support full solution

Please email tanya.skubiak@bellwethereducation.org with any questions.