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An Asset-Based Approach to Pandemic Recovery

July 6, 2021|By Susan May

Over the last year and a half, most of our nation’s students have lived under extreme stress, missing important opportunities to learn and grow academically due to challenges from the pandemic. Many of the most vulnerable students have been disproportionately impacted; yet at the same time, those students have developed unique skills to cope academically. The Dana Center believes that schools and educators must build upon those strengths to support students in their individual journeys to academic recovery.

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) is giving schools the opportunity to attend to today’s urgent needs and build for a more equitable tomorrow.

This is a unique time for schools, as they address short-term pandemic recovery needs while also laying the foundation for more equitable systems in the future.

Evidence-based strategies

The Dana Center is proud to continue its long history of leadership and innovation in helping schools establish asset-based, equitable practices that support student learning and achievement. We can help schools address specific areas of concern due to the pandemic and create lasting change with programs and strategies that will continue to support students well beyond this year.

Two evidence-based strategies we recommend are corequisite supports and social, emotional, and academic development (SEAD). 

  • Corequisite Supports, in contrast with remediation, focus on grade-level mathematics with proven, research-based supports and interventions for learners, including embedded “just-in-time” instruction. The corequisite model requires a challenging, grade-level curriculum that incorporates scaffolding and targeted interventions based on formative assessments, and includes supports for teachers to help them identify and respond to the students’ needs.
  • Social Emotional Academic Development (SEAD) describes the integration of students’ beliefs, particularly about themselves and their abilities, their approaches in academic situations, and their support from adults, and how these experiences have profound influence over their success. The pandemic impacted the culture of learning and critical student/teacher relationships. Many students will need specific supports to again feel a sense of belonging in the classroom and a connection with their peers and teachers.

Implementation options

The Dana Center recommends these four programs, all of which use corequisite supports and fully incorporate SEAD strategies.

Intensified Algebra

Leveraging intensification to address lost opportunities for learning and to increase motivation 

image of the components that make up the intensified algebra rigorous math coreIntensified Algebra I – a major research and development initiative of the Dana Center, the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Agile Mind––is a comprehensive algebra curriculum that integrates the social and emotional supports needed for learners to complete a rigorous algebra course successfully and to reach grade-level proficiency in mathematics within a single academic year. 

The course incorporates experiences that motivate students to re-engage and be successful in school. Through perseverance, effective learning strategies, and support from their teacher and peers, students can thrive in a strong culture of learning in the classroom. Hear teachers talk about their experiences with Intensified Algebra.

Academic Youth Development

Building supportive and productive learning environments

Academic Youth Development (AYD), a major research and development initiative of the Dana Center and Agile Mind, connects students’ mathematics learning with their social-emotional learning. AYD explicitly addresses social and emotional competencies while providing opportunities for students to practice those skills with challenging mathematics tasks. Hear AYD students talk about productive struggle. 

AYD Social and Emotional Learning skills


Educator–Academic Youth Development

Preparing educators to build effective learning environments

Supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development is not just about the students’ learning; it is also about the attitudes and beliefs of the adults in the system. E-AYD is a professional development experience for educators that empowers faculty teams, site and district leaders, counselors, and other staff with knowledge and meaningful, manageable practices that support learning for all students. This program is not specific to mathematics teachers and has the potential to impact the culture of the entire school system.

Transition to College Mathematics

Helping all students achieve college readiness

Transition to College Mathematics (TCM) supports 12th grade students who are not on track to meet college readiness measures. The corequisite course design covers rigorous grade-level material with supports that prepare students for most entry-level, credit-bearing college mathematics courses, especially quantitative reasoning, statistics, and college algebra. 

TCM bolsters students’ SEAD through explicit instruction related to topics such as a growth learning mindset, persistence, collaboration, self-regulation, metacognitive strategies, and goal setting. Students connect and use multiple strands of mathematics, including quantitative, proportional, algebraic, statistical, and probabilistic reasoning. Learn more about the Transition to College Mathematics Course

Let’s help our students, together

We’re ready to hear about your unique challenges for 2021. For more information on corequisite supports, SEAD strategies, these recommended programs, and more, contact me to discuss.

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Categories: Blog, K-12 Education

About the Author

Susan May

I believe that the curriculum students use should be relevant and meaningful, supporting their social and emotional learning, and opening doors to future aspirations. As a curriculum developer and director of curriculum at the Dana Center, I am privileged to support the thousands of students who use my work in the classroom.