Advancing solutions-oriented analysis of the K–12 response to COVID-19

Gold arrows pointing to the title

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports the Center on Reinventing Public Education's efforts to narrow the gap between research and policy.

Official grant name

COVID-19: Collecting Responses to COVID-19 PHASE 2

Award amount


Principal investigator

Robin Lake

Direct sponsor

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Award start date


Award end date


The challenge

As the COVID-19 crisis response continues, until most children are vaccinated, the need for rapid-response research will most likely continue into the 2021–22 school year. With rolling quarantines, the academic and social emotional impacts are likely to mount. And the cumulative effects are only beginning to be understood and accounted for. This knowledge management work is critical and must continue through the recovery phase of the pandemic. 

State leaders and policymakers need an actionable point of view on emerging research about COVID-19. Many have made bold investments using federal relief funds to prioritize initiatives, such as technology and learning acceleration as a recovery plan. As months and years pass, they must report on the impact of investments and their contribution towards sustainable innovation. To date, there have been few opportunities for policymakers to engage in a reciprocal feedback loop with the research community.


The approach

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center on Reinventing Public Education, housed at MLFTC, launched The Evidence Project in May of 2020 to advance solutions-oriented analysis of the K–12 response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project aimed to bring together researchers from around the country to narrow the gap between research and policy by: 

  • Coordinating existing national research efforts
  • Connecting researchers, education leaders, policymakers and funders 
  • Identifying problems that need attention and encourage researchers to address gaps
  • Conducting rapid-response research on urgent questions
  • Calling attention to critical work and findings with regular broadcasts to the field 
  • Synthesizing lessons learned with emerging issues and implications

With that same support, Robin Lake, director of CRPE and her team, will launch phase 2 of The Evidence Project. In this phase, the project will provide: 

  • A source for up-to-date data on a range of school and district responses, and contextual information regarding the effects of COVID-19.
  • Access to relevant and timely learnings from responses to COVID-19 that can be used in current or future decision making. 
  • Regular updates on the pandemic’s impact on education to leadership at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

CRPE will leverage its networks in research, leadership and policy to ensure that the data collected, reported and synthesized are used for making informed and equitable policy and practice decisions.

Phase 2 aims to improve availability and accessibility to relevant, actionable data and evidence. Its data will be publicly available and accessible to multiple audiences by providing written interpretation and analysis in a range of publications, including CRPE’s blog, The Lens, and by inviting guest speakers from diverse points of view and backgrounds to provide written analysis and reviews. The project will convene researchers to opine on its data, alongside peer data and produce reports on larger conclusions for the field, via consensus panels. The project’s goal is to provide timely, relevant and actionable data to inform policymaker, system and foundation leadership teams with the ability to make decisions that advance their missions in a student- and family-centered way. 

This project aims to be the definitive source of evidence about how students, in particular Black, Hispanic, low-income and other historically marginalized populations, are faring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. By gathering, presenting and synthesizing data in powerful ways, The Evidence Project will provide media, policymakers, philanthropic partners, and student and family advocates with critical evidence to identify and address inequities, and ensure that this generation and future generations of students are prepared for the future.