Journey to the (Next) Summit

Journey to the (Next) Summit

Taking Practical Next Steps for Ohio’s Students

Since March 17, 2020, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its associated interruptions to student learning, Ohio’s education community has boldly navigated a journey filled with challenges to meet the caring, teaching and learning needs of Ohio’s 1.7 million students. Ohioans have demonstrated an ability to collaborate, innovate and problem solve to address these unprecedented challenges. It is now time to take further steps on this journey by taking on the challenge of returning students to pre-pandemic expected levels of academic attainment to lift their aspirations and create hope, as each student is challenged, prepared and empowered for his or her future. Educators across the state are endeavoring together to reach the summit of each child being prepared beyond graduation for the next journey and subsequent “summits” in his or her life.


Recently, Governor DeWine asked schools and districts to work with their communities and educational stakeholders to help students continue to advance academically, towards their future career and to make up for any learning that may have been lost or delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related disruptions.


“This once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has impacted all of us, so it should be no surprise that it has impacted our children. But we should not panic, nor should we be surprised by the results of assessments,” said Governor DeWine. “Instead, we should do what Ohioans have always done when facing a challenge – stay calm, roll up our sleeves and work to solve the problem.”


While each student is on an individual summit journey, it is up to the education community of adults to ensure that he or she has a basecamp from which to begin, and then provide the tools and assistance for each to reach the next summit. This webpage and accompanying resources are offered as practical advice to educators and education partners, as they act collectively and assertively to accompany Ohio’s students to their next summit.


Student Centered, Data Driven, Equity Focused

Student Centered: While it goes without saying, the journey must begin with students at the center of every conversation, holding out hope to each student for renewal and acceleration of learning. Students and parents should be true partners and decision makers in choosing learning options.

Data Driven: The effective use of data becomes a learning agenda for each district, school and teaching team. Data must inform decisions about effective opportunities and options for students.

Equity Focused: There must be assured access for each student to appropriate academic and social emotional supports. Students historically marginalized (students of color, students with disabilities, English language learner students and any other students who may need support) should be ensured access to options for extended learning.

Identifying Academic Needs

Key questions to ask:
  1. What do students need to know?
  2. How will we know they learned it?
  3. How do we accelerate learning for those students who have not learned it, and what supports will be needed?
Unfinished teaching and learning may impact students’ progress towards mastery of grade-level, standards-based content. Determining the content that may not have been taught is critical to moving to grade-level content as quickly as possible. Understanding the level of knowledge acquisition for each student is important for teachers and schools, and teachers may have to teach standards typically found in a different grade level. Diagnostic assessment data is crucial to informing the ongoing work of educators. Summative assessment data is a critical marker for understanding the progress of students and setting strategic priorities. Many schools and districts already utilize high-quality, vendor-based or locally developed assessments aligned to Ohio’s Learning Standards. The Department has additional assessment resources and supports for the use of data.
  • Regional Data Leads: Regional Data Leads are education professionals who promote the use of student performance data among other educators regionally, both to strengthen professional practice and improve learning for all students. Regional Data Leads are located at Educational Service Centers (ESC) and within State Support Teams throughout the state. They are valuable resources to educators and administrators as they work together to make data-informed decisions to best support student learning.
  • Restart Readiness Assessments: The Restart Readiness Assessments, available for English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, are designed to help schools and districts identify student progress early and receive actionable performance data. These assessments, which may be offered remotely, are administered using systems with which Ohio educators and students are familiar from the administration of Ohio’s State Tests. The state has received much positive feedback on the restart readiness assessments and is developing enhanced features and training and supports for the 2021-2022 school year. 
  • Student Readiness Toolkits: The Toolkits are standards-based guides designed to help educators determine students’ levels of educational attainment when starting the new school year. The toolkits include curriculum and assessment materials, which may help identify instructional gaps and determine instructional priorities.

Approaches to Addressing Academic Needs

Foundational actions for each child, every day in every class regardless of race, ethnicity or any aspect of identity:
  1. Every student should have access to grade-appropriate assignments, aligned to Ohio’s learning standards for that grade level. Schools and districts should ensure students receive this access. A mindset of acceleration must be shared among educators across Ohio in every classroom.
  2. Every student should have access to strong instruction.
  3. Every student should experience deep engagement with grade-appropriate standards every day.
  4. Every teacher should hold and convey high expectations for each student.
  5. Every student and family should be an authentic partner with opportunities to shape the experiences students have in school and extended learning, receive accurate and accessible information about students’ progress and have a legitimate role in decision making.

RemotEDx: RemotEDx is a state-level initiative that brings together a unique mix of remote, hybrid and blended learning partners from across the state to help schools and districts enhance, expand and more effectively scale high-quality remote, hybrid and blended education models. Consistent with Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education, RemotEDx places a premium on equity and seeks to support Ohio’s most underserved students. Its design has been informed by lessons learned and from experiences resulting from all types of Ohio schools implementing remote learning since March 2020.
RemotEDx Exchange: The RemotEDx Exchange, powered by INFOhio, is available provide parents, caregivers and educators easy access to all the supports, services and resources available through RemotEDx including assistance from the Connectivity Champions and services offered by Ohio’s ESCs. Explore the contents and resources available on the Exchange at There is a RemotEDx site for educators and a RemotEDx site for parents and caregivers.
Reframing Education: A statewide network of ESC personnel worked collaboratively to create a decision-making framework to support districts as they consider best practices, have authentic conversations about instructional expectations and make plans to “reframe education” moving forward. The intent of the “Reframing Education” project is to support Ohio districts as they strive to meet the needs of all students in a multifaceted and multilayered manner.

Educators: The role of professional, licensed educators is as significant and valued as ever. While education may, and possibly should, look different moving beyond the pandemic, the importance of highly trained, qualified educators remains a priority for effective student learning.



Identifying Social and Emotional Needs

Key questions to ask:
  1. What is the current school climate?
  2. What positive relationships do students have access to already or what relationships do they need?
  3. What is our school doing to facilitate social and emotional skill development? Do we already have a program or curriculum?
  4. How are school staff teaching, modeling and practicing schoolwide expectations, rules and routines to promote positive behavior? Do staff teams need training in Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports?
  5. What safe and supportive activities do we need to implement to support students? Where do we observe gaps in supports? 

Approaches to Addressing Social and Emotional Needs

Schools can provide a variety of protective factors in the lives of students. The Department provides a Student and Staff Well-being toolbox that is designed to explore the social, emotional and behavioral considerations districts and schools may reflect upon while providing supports for students and staff as they engage in learning. The toolbox provides resources and links to the following topics:
  During times of increased stressors, it is important to have access to the resources that can help both children and adults to cope, heal, strengthen and grow. The Department, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, provided access to resources through the Youth and Adults Mental Health and Wellness Outreach resource guide. It also provides tools needed to support an appropriate awareness campaign. Each initiative has a built-in education and stigma-reduction component, aimed at changing attitudes and strengthening supports for those in need. The toolkits include downloadable educational resources, including videos, for parents, caregivers and educators.

Ohio's Whole Child Framework provides a blueprint to meet the needs of the whole child, which are foundational to a child’s intellectual and social development and necessary for students to fully engage in learning and school. A whole child approach broadens district and school focus beyond academics to include meeting students social-emotional, physical and safety needs.

Physical Wellness Resource Needs

As Ohio educators assess the specific academic and social-emotional needs of students and work to develop plans and intervention strategies to address any lost or delayed academic skills, it’s important to recognize that this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic has impacted many children and families beyond the academic realm. Any planning for recovery and instructional intervention must begin at a very basic and practical level. While Ohio’s children will have a myriad of identifiable academic and social-emotional needs moving forward, it also is critical that Ohio educators recognize there may be basic human needs and resources that have been disrupted because of the pandemic. Directly assessing issues of food scarcity, adequate housing, residence transiency and unaddressed medical care must be a starting point if Ohio schools intend to create a pathway to recovery, effective instructional intervention and resilient gains in academic growth.

Identifying Physical Wellness Resource Needs

Key questions to ask:
  1. Does food scarcity play a role in the child’s daily experience?
  2. Does the student meet the definition of “Homeless” or “Unaccompanied Youth”?
  3. Does the child have any known unaddressed medical needs? Medications?
  4. Is the child adequately clothed?
Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Is the child safe? Supervised? Fed? Clothed? Housed? These physical issues always have been barriers to success, but now more than ever, they will play a role in recovery.

Approaches to Addressing Physical Wellness Resource Needs

While this section may not be an issue for many children, schools must be aware of students for whom physical wellness is a concern, what needs they have and how to provide a pathway to available resources. Community based partnerships exist, and some time needs to be devoted to the development of a repository of resources that educational leaders can make available.
To ignore the fact that this vulnerable group of children has grown in number due to the economic impact of the pandemic will negatively impact any attempt to provide academic recovery.

Responding to Professional Learning Needs

The traditional structures in which educators learn must be adapted to support teaching and learning in the unique context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Content-specific professional development that accelerates all students’ learning must support educators as they build knowledge and skills while ensuring their own sense of self-efficacy and social-emotional health and learning. By providing professional development opportunities to educators, they will be in a better position to act as coaches, guides and “Sherpas,” as Ohio’s student climbers endeavor to reach their next summit.

Use of Funds to Support Next Steps

Schools and districts have benefited from a substantial amount of federal financial support. Since the beginning of the pandemic, allocations of more than $2.6 billion have been made through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act to support the new and unexpected costs associated with both remote learning and the safe and responsible resumption of in-person learning. These funds have been critical in supporting the continuity of educational services for students. Since last spring, schools, districts and other education-related entities have benefited from the following:
  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER I) - $489.2 million – available through September 2022;
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund - $100 million – available through December 2021;
  • BroadbandOhio Connectivity Grant - $50 million – available through December 2021;
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund - $33.8 million – available through September 2022; and
  • ESSER II - $1.99 billion – available through September 2023.
In March, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, and provided Ohio with additional $4.47 billion in federal ESSER funds (available through September 2024). These funds will play a significant role in the expanded efforts by schools and districts to make up for lost learning opportunities and reach readiness for the new school year. Schools and districts will have several years to use these funds, so they can also contribute to fundamental changes to education that can create even greater improvement and outcomes for students.


Ohio Department of Education and Partner Organizations



The following resources may be helpful to schools and districts in considering various methods for providing extending learning opportunities to students. They are not endorsed by the Department, nor are they official Department resources.



Social Emotional


Last Modified: 12/6/2021 3:54:40 PM