Next Up Blog

This report you can download here was produced as a collaboration we had the pleasure to undertake with the National Charter School Institute.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, schools around the nation were forced to pivot to remote education plans with very little time for planning. We did what we had to do, with mixed results and an extraordinary amount of patience from our families.

Now, charter schools and authorizers alike must act nimbly and quickly to create an environment for schools to succeed meeting the needs of their students and fulfill their mission under the difficult conditions necessitated for safety and required by government authorities.

This report focuses on seven essential domains schools need to address, with descriptions and examples of how they can incorporate them into distance learning plans moving forward:

  1. Curriculum, Instruction and Evaluation
  2. Student Engagement/Behavior and Social-Emotional Support
  3. Equitable Access to Learning
  4. Special Populations
  5. Staff Professional Development
  6. Family Engagement
  7. Resiliency for Managing Through Crisis

While this report was written for charter schools, it is our hope that educators and leaders across different sectors of K-12 education will find it a useful guide.

Nevada School Options is partnering with the National Summer School Initiative (NSSI) to offer a free daily virtual summer school program for students in grades 3-8. We are excited to offer this high-quality, free resource to Nevada families to help make up for grade-level instruction lost during the COVID shutdowns and to prevent “summer slide” learning loss from the extended summer break.

If you are interested in enrolling your child, please email

Parents and educators alike are concerned about students experiencing a steep learning loss after COVID-19 shutdowns. By studying the typical amount of learning loss that occurs during a summer slide, research predicts the possibility of some students returning to school in the fall retaining only half of the learning gains made in math the previous year, and some students may return a full year behind in mathematics. 

These losses are predicted to occur because of the extended summer slide, and also due to the content not taught as a result of the school closures. With school closures, many students missed out on the final quarter of learning during the past school year.

In addition, the typical summer slide learning loss will be more significant this year as school closures led to an extended summer break.

We understand the concerns that parents have voiced to us regarding their child’s progress and educational growth. We know that parents across the state are worried about their child falling behind. It is our hope that this summer school program will help to alleviate some of the learning loss children are experiencing in Nevada.

The program will run June 29-July 31, with students participating from 9am-1pm Monday-Friday. Classes are conducted virtually with local teachers providing support and feedback for each class.

This program is led by a national design team of world-class educators and curriculum designers. The NSSI concept paper is available here for you to take a look at. 

There will be four hours of online instruction with master teachers available for students enrolled in the program. Additionally, there will be local partner teachers that will create a virtual community with their students in classroom-sized groups. These partner teachers will provide valuable learning help and regular, timely feedback on every student’s work.

The classes will be focused on English and Math, with mindfulness and movement blocks built in. 

We are currently organizing classes for different grade levels on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Ashley Campbell at or 702-202-3573 if you would like to enroll your child, if you have questions or would like to get involved.

While schools and districts are trying to sort out when and how they will be able to open, a different model for schooling is emerging that just might be a right answer for many families. Though microschooling is not a new concept, it is one that many parents might not be familiar with. is a new initiative that is building a dynamic ecosystem of diverse microschooling opportunities in Nevada, beginning with the Greater Las Vegas Microschooling Collaborative.

Microschooling is an updated version of the one-room schoolhouse. It offers flexibility in both core content and specialized learning. Microschooling offers a solution, often a short- or medium-term solution, to families who want something different. We are working to incubate a network of microschools across the valley during 2020 — take our Microschooling Interest Survey to see where you might fit in!

Microschooling succeeds with flexibility, not tied to any strict definition. Often a microschool serves ten students or less, when housed in a family home, or up to 25 students when located in a dedicated facility. 

Costs can remain relatively low, depending on setting, teacher arrangement, device needs, and curricular choices.

Microschools often serve students of different ages in the same setting. 

A microschooling network can be fluid, so that students can move between microschools depending on circumstances or interest. A “digital backpack” can allow a student to transfer relatively seamlessly and without lost learning time.

A family may choose to utilize microschooling as a “for now” solution, say as a reaction to an unsatisfactory circumstance at their previous school, such as a bullying situation.

Instruction in microschooling is driven by the needs of the learners in both core and specialized areas. In the established, and flourishing, microschooling ecosystem that the Greater Las Vegas Microschooling Collaborative envisions, students and families will have the fluidity to move between a variety of programs available for both core subjects and specialized learning. 

This will apply to specialized learning as well. If a parent is looking for an arts microschooling experience one year for their child, and then during the course of the year the child’s interests sway more to science, the student can be effortlessly transferred to a new microschool, with progress and individualized learning plans following the student to the new location.

Microschools offer temporary or long-term solutions, depending on what families are looking for. This makes it an appealing option for families that might be struggling with bullying, or feel that the assigned teacher at their child’s current school is perhaps not the best match for their child and want a temporary, one-year solution. 

Look for Part II – Microschooling: Homeschool Co-op, Private School, or Public/Public Charter School?

With scary uncertainties abounding across the landscape of American schooling, there can be no understating the importance of trust as a foundational value in education.

The certainties offer little more comfort themselves. Among them: the work of education before us will be challenging for all involved. With resources scarce, fears persistent, and frustrations lurking behind corners, temptations to succumb to distrust will present themselves often.

Earning and maintaining the trust of our younger generation must be a priority if our education system, among our many societal systems, is to succeed under the likely circumstances of the years to come. 

Ella Baker, one of the American civil rights movement’s great heroes, embodied a leadership with much to offer the leaders who will tackle these challenges.

Many schools teach that the civil rights movement in the United States began with Rosa Parks’ defiant action in December of 1955, which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  We know that the crucial foundational work began much earlier. 

Miss Baker spent most of the 1940s as a field organizer, and as Director of Branches, for the NAACP.  She became a force for her ability and commitment to “transform the local branches” into “centers of sustained and dynamic community leadership.”

In 1960, her adamance that the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, of which she was an instrumental creator, remain a student-run organization was a crucial element of her leadership for its founding. “The major job was getting people to understand that they had something within their power that they could use, and it could only be used if they understood what was happening,” she later told an interviewer.

Ella Baker approached building trust as a no-nonsense business. “You don’t start with what you think. You start with what they think,” she observed. “You start where the people are…. If you talk down to people, they can sense it. They can feel it. And they know whether you are talking with them, or talking at them, or talking about them.”

The impact of her leadership on those she worked to support, especially through the challenging ordeals of the SNCC’s work, was profound. Freedom Rider Diane Nash described, “So very often, she was the person who was able to make us see, and work together. She really strengthened us.”

Ella Baker was a leader who was always a teacher, who imparted the knowledge and information to equip new, local leaders to succeed.  “My basic sense of it has always been to get people to understand that, in the long run, they themselves are the only protection they have against violence or injustice… they cannot look for salvation anywhere but to themselves.”

Many with whom I have had video meetings throughout this crisis may have noted the photo of Ella Baker above me on my office office wall. This constant reminder of her magnificent spirit inspires and informs my every workday.

As with many great leaders throughout history, her leadership was multi-dimensional and self-sacrificing such that it defies succinct summary.  Nonetheless, as we as a community immerse ourselves into what seems the second half of this pandemic crisis, mindful as we are that second halves are frequently the more dangerous half of a crisis, we must respect the power of trust to both drive success and make it easier to attain.  

And we have had few, if any, leaders whose work offers more to learn about the business of building trust than Ella Baker.

Please let me know if you’d like to discuss Ella Baker’s leadership and the value of trust with you or your team.

As Nevada transitioned into distance learning, many of our state’s teachers worked tirelessly during the last months of school, ensuring that they were in contact with their students. There were phone calls to parents that frequently took place outside of normal school hours, going over lessons, explaining how to access online materials, how to login to virtual classrooms and sometimes, just checking on families, finding out if their students had food to eat and an adequate place to do their schooling.

The relationships that teachers build with their students and families are an important part of schooling. This is reflected in EdChoice’s Public Opinion Tracker, launched earlier this month, which shows us that when asked how much trust Nevadans place in teachers to make good educational decisions, only 7% indicated a lack of trust, showing that Nevadans do trust teachers to make good choices for education. This compares to the 36% of Nevadans polled that indicated an absence of trust when asked how much trust they place in school district superintendents, and 31% that answered the same for school boards.

Trust in teachers, and building that good rapport, also translates into the satisfaction that parents feel with their schools. EdChoice’s April 2020 Gen Pop National Polling Presentation shows that nationally, 59% of all adults are very satisfied with their children’s experiences with religious, parochial private schools compared to just 33% of adults who are very satisfied with their children’s experiences with public district schools inside their school district.

This aligns with the Nevada K-12 & School Choice Survey published by Nevada Action for School Options and EdChoice in March of 2019. This survey shows us that 73% of school parents ranked their charter school as an A or B school. Only 34% of public district schools ranked their school as an A or B school.

Nevadans want to choose where to send their children to school, and Nevadans want to send their students to private schools. When asked what school they would select for their children, if transportation and financial costs were not factors, 45% of all Nevadans that participated would select a private school for their child, compared to the 31% that would select a public district school. 

Breaking this down even further into subgroups, this compares to the 2019 Nevada K-12 & School Choice Survey which showed us that 48% of Nevada Hispanics and 34% of Nevada African Americans would select private schooling for their child if transportation and financial cost were of no concern. 

EdChoice has done a thorough and thought provoking job with their opinion tracker. In What You Need to Know About the EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker Paul DiPerna breaks down the goals for the opinion tracker, as well as how to find and navigate the results. It is worth checking back in frequently for their monthly poll updates.