The American Rescue Plan, signed in March 2021, dedicated $122 billion in relief for K-12 schools. According to the Whitehouse, nearly 60% of funds were used to invest in staffing, combat learning loss, and support the physical and mental health of students and educators.  This pandemic recovery funding expires in September 2024, and while recovery progress has been made, the achievement gap between students with resources and those without has widened beyond pre-pandemic heights. 
A new analysis by the Education Recovery Scorecard, a project in collaboration of The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University, Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, and Stanford CEPA finds that Indiana students remain more than a third of a grade level behind in math and reading. 
The recent New York Times article, Students Are Making a ‘Surprising’ Rebound From Pandemic Closures. But Some May Never Catch Up, explores the new data captured in this national study. It reports that while there has been critical recovery, students in poor communities are behind and this is often because of a concentration of resources, even within districts. One of the reasons offered for this, is “Even when schools offered interventions to help students catch up, lower-income families might have been less able to rearrange schedules or transportation to ensure their children attended. (This is one reason experts advise scheduling tutoring during the school day, not after.)”
For the past two decades, Brightlane’s operating model has addressed barriers like transportation that prevent students from accessing critical resources. That’s why all of our programs are provided on site at the shelters, community centers, and schools with which we partner. Our model has been proven to work, and we’re seeing important grade maintenance and improvement as Brightlane students work to recover academically.
Since 2020, Brightlane Learning has expanded from 17 partner locations to more than 30 across Indianapolis, many of which are schools. During this period of time, we not only expanded into more elementary schools but we added middle and high school partners. We added extra daytime support in many of our existing partner locations as well.
Brightlane student achievement improved drastically over this period of time as well. Last school year, 90% of Brightlane students maintained or improved their math skills, and 89% maintained or improved their language arts skills. This demonstrates incredible progress against pandemic learning loss our students had demonstrated during the 2021/22 school year when pandemic learning loss was even more evident and both of these student achievements were below 70%.
Even as Federal funding expires for many of the partners we work alongside, our programs that are funded by grants, individuals, and corporations will remain. With community support, we can continue the slow and steady road to academic recovery and ensure that students facing homelessness and housing instability – the kids who were hit the hardest by out of school time during the pandemic – have the tools necessary to be promoted to the next grade, graduate, and secure stable job opportunities.
The New York Times article and the study it explores covers an in depth look at where students are and aren’t recovering, what has worked, and what comes next and are helpful resources for those who want to delve more deeply into recovery progress.