NGA Hosts Expert Roundtables on K-12 Education Focus Areas  

National and state experts gathered to discuss gubernatorial strategies for addressing academic recovery and supports, educator recruitment and retention and student and staff well-being.  

As the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices K-12 Education Team prepared for 2023, we analyzed Governors’ priorities and planned expert roundtables focused on two of the core issues: academic recovery and supports and student and staff well-being.  These expert roundtables provided opportunities to gather exemplars and document promising practices, which will inform NGA’s future education convenings and technical assistance throughout the year. 

Academic Recovery and Supports Expert Roundtable 

The first of these expert roundtables took place in early December 2022 and focused on the topic of academic recovery and supports, including the importance of recruiting and retaining high-quality educators.  Throughout the day, participants discussed data-driven decision-making, afterschool and summer learning and enrichment, high-dosage tutoring, and strategies for increasing math and reading proficiency.  

Paul Reville, founding director of Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Education Redesign Lab & former Massachusetts Secretary of Education (2008 -2013), opened the meeting by encouraging Governors’ offices and attendees to “think big.”  He shared his vision for a redesigned education system focused on relationships and connectivity, personalization, cross-agency collaboration, strong connections between school, afterschool, and summer learning, family engagement, and harnessing technology to augment learning in the classroom. 

The National Assessment Governing Board, SAS Institute, Curriculum Associates, and NWEA shared their perspectives on the current state of student learning through the lens of NAEP, state, and formative assessment results.  Each organization discussed how states can use multiple sources of student assessment data to target supports to the students and schools most impacted by the pandemic and FutureEd, The Center on Reinventing Public Education, The Education Trust, and Strive Together emphasized the importance of data-driven decisions, especially analyzing how funds are being spent and measuring their impact on students and educators.   

States, school districts and community partners have been working over the past two school years to accelerate learning and extend opportunities for learning and enrichment beyond the hours spent in a classroom.  Accelerate’s States Leading Recovery Grant program supports state education agencies and statewide nonprofits to help them integrate high-impact tutoring into schools. FHI360 directs the District Summer Learning Network, helping school districts across the country maximize the potential of summer learning programs to promote student well-being.  Afterschool Alliance and National League of Cities shared a map of investments that states and localities have made in afterschool programs.  Learning Policy Institute emphasized the importance of designing programs with the science of learning and development in mind. American Institutes of Research, National Comprehensive Center, and National Summer Learning Association highlighted recent research about the positive impact of afterschool and summer learning and enrichment on students’ academic achievement. 

Attendance Works shared their efforts to help states address chronic absenteeism and use strategies to re-engage students by building strong relationships between students and their teachers, their peers and other positive adult mentors, including family members. Dr. Bob Balfanz of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University shared about both the National Partnership for Student Success and the GRAD Partnership efforts to provide high-quality tutoring and keep students on track to graduate high school ready for postsecondary and the workforce. 

Student and Staff Well-Being Expert Roundtable 

An overarching theme from both roundtables was that student and educator well-being is foundational to academic progress and that without addressing the mental health and well-being of students and building strong partnerships between families, schools, and communities, it will be difficult to address the academic needs of students.   

As such, on February 28, 2023, NGA hosted a second expert roundtable on student and staff well-being.  The meeting opened with a bipartisan panel of two states sharing their recent experiences addressing student and staff well-being, as well as their work during a recent NGA project.  In the spring of 2021, NGA worked with 6 Governors’ offices including Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon and Wisconsin, over 18 months to focus on the well-being of students, families and school staff throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  The two major themes that resulted from this work were cross-agency collaboration and parent, family and community engagement.  

At the expert roundtable, the importance of cross-agency collaboration was highlighted by the Forum for Youth Investment, which supports Children’s Cabinet Networks in bringing together federal, state and local leaders to create child-centered policies across all levels and systems.  

The National Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety at WestEd, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association shared resources and tools to help school staff support the mental health and well-being of students.   

During the meeting, experts shared the central role Governors can serve to support partnerships between families, schools and communities to better support student and staff well-being.  The National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement, Learning Heroes and the National Parent Teacher Association shared resources to support schools in engaging with parents and families.   

Community engagement was also highlighted as a key factor to support well-being for students and school staff.  Communities in Schools shared their model for supporting student and staff well-being through mobilizing resources and relationships with educators, families, students and the local community.  The Coalition for Community Schools provided an overview of the community schools model and how integrative student supports and wraparound services can strengthen family-community-school connections.   

The Aspen Institute shared an overview of the 2019 National Commission report and emphasized the importance of a positive school climate and environment for students to thrive holistically and academically.  In order for students to succeed beyond K-12 in postsecondary and the workforce, Dr. Camille Farrington of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research emphasized ensuring that students have employability skills and shared her Foundations for Young Adult Success Framework

Throughout both expert roundtables, NGA ensured that national state and local organizations were in attendance to help guide our support for Governors’ offices, including for states, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Conference of State Legislatures, Education Commission of the States, and the National State Boards of Education.  NGA also included local and district voice at the expert roundtables, including AASA, the Council of Great City Schools, and the National League of Cities.  

Both expert roundtables included organizations representing perspectives across the education field from local schools and districts to state agencies and national expertise.  NGA’s K-12 Education Team looks forward to continuing to work with these partners to support Governors and their staff to meet the needs of students and educators in their states. 

For more information on this topic, please contact Jillian Meinhardt (