Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are school strategies that support teens throughout COVID-19. However, concrete education policy changes are necessary to increase flexibility for students that need it. 

• How can donors help revise education policy that benefits students during the pandemic? 

• Learn more about the support that homeless students require during COVID-19. 

With unemployment at its highest level (PDF) in recent history, families across the country are scrambling to make ends meet, and food insecurity is increasing. Research shows that in such moments of instability, young people often step up to help their families by cobbling together resources, watching younger siblings so their parents can pick up extra work shifts, and helping manage their households.

In a new toolkit released today, we highlight schools and programs that—well before the pandemic—were reinventing how our mainstream schools support both working teens and others who face unique challenges fitting into a rigid, traditional school environment.

School systems interested in supporting new approaches to education can learn from these existing programs, but they need support from state policymakers to make innovative strategies sustainable:

  • Adjust school funding formulas.
  • Allow flexible funding for school districts to create, invest in, and scale schools with more flexible designs.
  • Communicate existing policy flexibility to local school districts, particularly any policies related to direct instruction and seat time
  •  Preapprove online college and other courses for high school credit.
  • Create, aid, and empower intermediaries to support paid youth apprenticeship, and ensure any state initiatives around apprenticeship explicitly include young people.
  • Pass legislation that can connect employers directly to students.

Read the full article about making schools supportive for teens after COVID-19 by Molly M. Scott at Urban Institute.