Education Continuity during COVID-19

Mapping a clear path through the Common Core Standards for educational leaders, teachers, parents and students.

COVID-19 has disrupted learning across the country. While some schools have implemented online learning, online learning is not universally accessible to all students.

Due to this disruption, many students will not be prepared for the next school year, or the year after next, when students are expected to build on learning outcomes they would have learned during this time.

At the MIT Mapping Lab, we have applied our network modeling methodologies to the Common Core Standards to generate dynamic maps to be used for lesson planning, helping disadvantaged students learn and for curriculum re-organization.

Expand to full interactive map →

Analysis of COVID-19 Impact

The analysis here is based on an example syllabus from Cambridge Public Schools grade 6, but as school days do not vary widely, the analysis largely applies to all schools implementing the Common Core.

The numbers

  • 17

    Direct Micro-outcomes impacted

  • 52

    Downstream Micro-outcomes impacted

  • 7

    Grades impacted

For a student who is currently in Grade 6, this student will have 17 Micro-outcomes disrupted during the 2020 school year. Further on, the student will continue to have 52 Micro-outcomes disrupted as a result from Grades 7 through the end of high school.

One downstream path of a disrupted Micro-outcome
An example showing impacted downstream Micro-outcomes of Standard 6.SP.4. The red node shows that 6.SP.4 is currently impacted due to COVID-19; the two orange nodes are the downstream Micro-outcomes that will be impacted that require 6.SP.4 as a prerequisite.

How we mapped the Common Core

The Common Core Math Standards consist of “Standards” (see Common Core Math) organized by grade bands K – High school. These Standards are statements that describe what a student should be able to do. States that have implemented the Common Core have designed syllabi that cover a grade band's Standards as a student progresses through a school year.

Chunking up Common Core Standards

As a first step, for each Standard, we examined whether or not we could break them down into more fine-grained learning statements. These entities we call Micro-outcomes. For example:

Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.

Common Core Standard CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.B.4

State the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle.

Use formulas for the area and circumference of a circle to solve problems.

Give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.

3 distinct Micro-outcomes resulting from the Standard

Breaking up Standards in this way enable us to draw meaningful relationships between entities. For example, we can now meaningfully and precisely say that: State the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle is a prerequisite to Use formulas for the area and circumference of a circle to solve problems.

This lets us make a much more precise map of learning without loss of validation — these are still the original Standards, but chunked into more fine-grained statements.

Drawing relationships between Micro-outcomes

Next, we drew has-prerequisite-of relationships between Micro-outcomes. This determination of whether or not a certain Micro-outcome requires another is a decision made by our subject matter experts.

This process results in a graph (or network) structure that is very powerful for analytics. Because of this network modeling, we're able to perform analyses quickly and use the data in many different applications.

Common Core network structure
The graph structure resulting from our network mapping methodology applied to the Common Core

More detail on modeling, the decision-making process of drawing relationships and analytics methodology is given in our paper, but we'll forego detail here in this overview.