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Good Data Analytics & Research Are Only Part of the Solution

Case Study: RDF Covid-19 Education Research and Intervention

Having good data is essential to effective decision making, but data alone won’t change an organization or help it serve more effectively. In order for the information to make an impact the leadership must be able to discern and take steps in light of the data. Perhaps, this is why in philosophy the virtue of prudence requires both discernment (gathering and interpretating data) and decision (acting based on the data). Even-though this is common sense, complex organizations often struggle with one of the two. They either collect great data but never really make decisions based on it, or they never take the time to acquire or analyze the data as part of their decision making process. Sometime we hear things like, “we knew what the information was telling us to do, but we failed to act on it” or “we reacted without gathering enough information and missed the mark.”

Over the past few years SJDI’s team have collaborated with other organizations to provide data analysis and research along with leadership development. An example of this would be the Covid-19 Education Research and Intervention project with Raza Development Fund and Capital One. See summary below, and final report linked here.

Executive Summary:

Since March 2020, the pandemic related disruptions to education have disproportionately affected Latino and black students, as well as English Language Learners and students with IEP’s, widening the achievement gap considerably. Early research at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year indicated that quick responses to the closures prevented interruption of learning and helped prevent immediate losses, improved attendance, and connectivity to school community. However, by the Fall of 2020 school closures demonstrated their imminent impact. Based on diagnostic, interim, and year-end testing there were considerable losses among all students between March 2020 – December 2020, with an avg. of 13% decrease in reading scores K-5 and a 32% decrease in math scores K-5. Schools serving 50% or greater students of color demonstrated a decrease of 23% and 41% respectively. A follow-up study for the 2020-2021 school year indicates that the gap continued to grow for K-12 to an equivalent of 4 months of learning loss in reading and 5 months in math. These national trends were confirmed on a more local level through nine New York City charter schools, which indicated concerning gaps especially in reading for K-2, math in 5-7, and the social emotional wellness and engagement of High School students.

Understanding the gaps in learning and developing effective interventions are critical, especially given the clear evidence of learning loss in reading and math, and the importance of these subjects for future academic performance. While increased resources will need to be deployed to address additional learning losses and prevent further regression, the success of large cash infusions will likely depend on the extent to which they can be deployed wisely on a local school or district level. Over $200 billion of Covid related relief from government subsidies has been poured into our K-12 educational system. Helping schools collect, analyze, and evaluate data to identify gaps and respond with effective interventions will be central to a sustainable plan for continuing gains and lessening the achievement gap long after these massive cash infusions are available.

Through a Capital One Impact Initiative grant, nine New York City Charter schools were selected to receive a grant of $25K to assist efforts at providing remediation for students disproportionately affected by pandemic school closures. These charter schools provided a representative sample for how schools collect and analyze data to identify student learning loss and develop and evaluate models of intervention. The process of student selection, the incorporation of key stakeholders, as well as the implementation and evaluation of intervention impact were key variables in student improvement.

  • Schools with systems of data collection and analysis that integrated standardized testing along with classroom performance, teacher observation, and parent feedback did better in identifying students in need of intervention.

  • Students responded and performed better to interventions that focused on short term improvements and evaluated improvements weekly or monthly.

  • One-on-one tutoring (in-person and online) had greater impact when it was focused on specific concepts and limited to 5-10 hours.

  • Pull-out interventions specific to key concepts needed, and not necessarily separated by grade level reported greater levels of improvement.


Click below to download and read the full San Juan Diego Institute White Paper: The Impact of Coronavirus on K-12 School Attendance, Performance and Culture, May, 2020

The Impact of Corona Virus on K-12 Education- SJDI White Paper
Download PDF • 1.58MB

Click below to download and read the full Raza Development Fund White Paper: COVID-19 Education Research & Intervention: Strategies for Short-Term and Effective Interventions to Combat Covid-19 Related Learning Loss in Lower-Income Schools, November, 2021

Final Report November 2021
Download • 716KB



- San Juan Diego Institute, The Impact of Coronavirus on K-12 School Attendance, Performance and Culture, May, 2020.

- McKinsey & Company, Covid-19 and Learning Loss—Disparities Grow and Students Need Help, December 2020, pg 3.

- McKinsey & Company, Covid-19 and Education: The Lingering Effects of Unfinished Learning, July 2021,

- K-12 Spending at $13.2B CARES Act - March 2020, $54.3B from Education Stabilization Fund Dec 2020, $132.6B American Rescue Plan - March 2021. Estimate addition $200B from Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework – August 2021.


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