$8 million contract to help students with COVID 'learning loss'

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Jul. 14—A three-year $8 million contract with Discovery Education of Charlotte, N.C. will provide a state-of-the-art archive of learning materials for all teachers, students and families, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said Wednesday.

The Executive Council approved the use of federal COVID-19 relief grant money to gain access to these programs, during its meeting at the Peabody Lodge on the grounds of Cannon Mountain in Franconia.

Edelblut said this will go a long way to assist students with any "learning loss" that occurred due to the pandemic.

"This can really help kids catch up," Edleblut said during a telephone interview. "We are closing that instructional gap for every student right now."

The program was previewed during a conference with local school superintendents two weeks ago.

"The reaction was overwhelmingly positive," Edelblut said.

The Discovery Education platform includes content from the Discovery Channel, along with hundreds of other content producers.

The materials are organized into both grade level and topic areas.

"This means any teacher of any grade that is offering a certain unit on a topic can use these materials and build them into their lesson plan and presentations," Edelblut said.

"Teachers can use this as often as they care to; it's up to them."

New learning system

The program is being designed so that it is loaded into CANVAS, the state's new learning management system.

The community colleges have been using the CANVAS program, and the University System of New Hampshire decided last summer it would incorporate it into USNH curriculum.

USNH Chancellor Todd Leach said in a statement that the partnership with the Department of Education and Community College System of New Hampshire "leverages the scale and buying power of the DOE and of our state's two higher education systems and will provide significant economies and opportunity for innovative collaborations."

The state acquired CANVAS through a three-year $6.2 million contract paid for with COVID-19 grant money.

Edelblut said it was important for him that these materials also be easily accessible for parents to use as they help their children.

"The accessibility to every one of our families is key to me," Edelblut said. "If a kid wants to explore a subject outside the classroom, they have a lot of high-quality resources available to them."

The program also offers an on-demand channel called Professional Learning NOW that will provide teachers with three-to-five minutes bursts of personalized learning on a topic that can fit into a teacher's busy schedule.

Under the federal American Rescue Plan, all state education departments are required to use their grant dollars to address student learning loss.

The grant provides $4 million for the 2021-22 school year and $2 million in each of the next two years.

"I really think this program is going to be a real asset for all public schools," Edelblut said.

klandrigan@unionleader.com

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