Research on Education Strategies to
Advance Recovery and Turnaround

The Power of an Advisory Board to Support Learning Recovery

Bobbi Newman
4 min read
Teachers sitting in a circle in desks discussing a problem

Pulling our schools out of the devastating impact of the pandemic is a challenge we are all facing.  To do it, we need to marshal our collective talent, expertise, and knowledge to identify what is working to positively impact student learning.  The RESTART Network is harnessing this power, as well as research and evidence, authentic collaboration, and broad dissemination to identify and understand what is working across the U.S. to support students and educators. By bringing together numerous policymakers, researchers, and leaders from across the country to create a shared understanding of needs and identify and disseminate evidence-based practices, the RESTART Network aims to accelerate PreK-12 student academic outcomes in the post-pandemic era.

Powerful and Informed Voices

Critical to this effort are the seven advisory board members who are providing relevant knowledge to inform the work of the RESTART Network. The advisory board members represent teacher leaders, principals and superintendents, and national leadership organizations that set or inform educational policy, such as state boards of education and governors. Each of the board members has a depth of experience and wealth of knowledge gained from their deep connections to the field through their leadership positions at their organizations.

The advisory board members will serve as ambassadors for the RESTART Network, supporting our work in the field and providing current knowledge, critical feedback, and invaluable advice.  The advisory board members will offer insights and share common “pain points” from the field. They will share what their members are grappling with as they learn what educators and leaders face as they support student learning in the post-pandemic and will help build the RESTART Network’s infrastructure such that the Network will be well positioned to identify and support rigorous research, engage in authentic collaboration, and contribute to the broad dissemination of high-quality evidence about learning recovery.

Advisory Board Members

  • Layla Bonnot, Senior Project Manager, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
  • Noelle Ellerson Ng, Associate Executive Director, Advocacy & Governance, School Superintendents Association (AASA)     
  • Paolo DeMaria, President/CEO,  National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) 
  • Seth Gerson, Program Director, Education, National Governors Association (NGA
  • Aaliyah Samuel, President/CEO, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning  (CASEL)
  • Akisha Osei Sarfo, Director of Research, Council of Great City Schools (CGCS)
  • Greg Waples, Senior Manager of State Engagement and Outreach, National Association of Secondary Principals (NASSP)  

Recovery Priorities

Recently the advisory board members met for the first time to identify recovery priorities and the strategies that could help to achieve those priorities. Recovery priorities identified by the advisory board, on behalf of their members, involve the academic, social, and emotional learning needs and community engagement to address the recovery priorities.  The table below offers an overview of the priorities and strategies identified to meet the needs in the field.

Recovery Priorities Needs/Strategies to Address the Recovery Priority
Student and staff well-being, student learning acceleration, and other aspects of the school experience are all interconnected
  • Focus on the mental health and well-being of both students and educators
  • Develop effective toolkits and resources to talk about these issues in simple ways to build awareness of their importance
Lean-in to academic recovery
  • Ensure that instructional materials have a strong research base
  • Build interconnected systems
Address educator recruitment and retention
  • Address the decline in teacher preparation enrollment
  • Foster a sense of belonging, positive relationships, and connectedness as key components of a teacher retention strategy
Improve student and family engagement and student connectedness
  • Seek and act on students’ voices
  • Recognize parents as an underutilized asset
  • Engage parent influencers and use them to help accelerate our efforts
Identify evidence-based sources and develop effective methods for communicating and transforming research into practice
  • Curate resources and make them accessible to multiple audiences
  • Translate complex jargon into ideas that are meaningful and accessible
Develop and strengthen partnerships
  • Leverage trusted voices in the community
  • Engage parent groups and influencers
Continuous improvement
  • Support for implementation
  • Real-time data use

The RESTART Network’s name signifies an emphasis beyond the pandemic. The RESTART Network strives to identify strategies that improve learning beyond COVID recovery. The Network sees the opportunity to identify what we want to change from the pre-pandemic period, aimed at bringing about a fundamental transformation. The RESTART Network will identify and amplify evidence-based strategies that respond to the emerging recovery needs of state and local education agencies. The Network will also provide guidance, tools, and connections that will help schools and districts use these strategies.

The Power of You

We want to hear from you about what is working in your community.  We also want to know what the students and educators in your community need to recover from COVID learning loss. Reach out to us on Twitter or LinkedIn. Stay connected to the RESTART Network by joining our mailing list and reading the recent findings in our resources library. We welcome your resources, questions, comments, and feedback. Advancing learning acceleration and recovery is everyone’s priority, and we want to hear from you.

Bobbi Newman, Ed.D., is a principal researcher who leads AIR’s standards and assessment practice hub. She has 20 years of experience in research and evaluation of school reform efforts. Dr. Newman has worked at every level of the education system, from the classroom to the state. As a researcher, she has worked with state and local education agencies to study reform efforts such as school turnaround, effective leadership programs, assessment, and standards implementation. As a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, she successfully created a virtual space to unite policymakers, practitioners, and researchers around evidence-based education practices. She has expertise in strategic education partnerships and facilitating constituents to accomplish shared goals.