The following resources focus on the educational climate and betterment of those serving the K–12 educational community.

National Poll Shows Differing Views About Focus of Public Education. A new national poll shows nearly half of adults believe public education’s main goal should be academics, while others believe the main goal should be preparing students to be good citizens or to get jobs. (EdSource, Aug. 29)

English Teachers Assess The Assessments: What do these English teachers think about assessments? A report released by the National Council of Teachers of English last week synthesizes the responses of over 500 English teachers who said that while they were dissatisfied with standardized tests overall, many found the data useful. Author Kathleen Blake Yancey and NCTE designed a five-question online survey, the Assessment Story Project. Check out the five main themes about writing and reading assessments that emerged from the survey responses (Zubrzycki, EdWeek)

Voluntary Summer Learning Programs for Elementary School Students Benefit Those with High Attendance: Since 2011, five urban school districts and their partners, the RAND Corporation and Wallace have been working together to find out whether and how voluntary summer programs can help students succeed in school. New research released today shows that students with high levels of attendance in the programs benefitted in math and reading. The findings, along with practical recommendations for districts and their partners interested in launching or improving a summer program, are discussed in detail in a new RAND report Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Programs on Low-Income Youth along with a Research Brief and Infographic.

Illinois Issues: Rewriting the Rule Book. (NPR Illinois – August 25). A law going into effect next month will ban zero-tolerance policies in schools and turn suspension and expulsion into disciplinary options of last resort. Districts throughout the state are taking different approaches to prepare for the changes.

New Classroom Resources to Combat Absenteeism: Getting kids to school every day can be a challenge, so the Department of Education, the Ad Council, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation have teamed up to bring awareness to the importance of school attendance through the Absences Add Up Campaign. Dig into their new information about how to encourage school attendance and resources to help address issues like poor grades, bullying, and family challenges that cause children to miss school when they don’t have to.

American Schools Have a Chronic Absentee Problem. A new analysis of data collected by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights from the 2013-14 school year shows that more than 6.5 million students, or about 13 percent in grades K-12, missed 15 or more days of school. (Washington Post, Sept. 6)

Delaware State Using Data Science to Improve Retention. The school uses data analytics to flag not only when students leave the school, but to anticipate before they “stop out.” School officials also use analytics to understand the reasons why and to figure out what, if anything, can be done to get them to stay or re-enroll and finish. (Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Aug. 29)

A Well-Rounded Citizen:
 Check out the latest Ed Note blog post comes from Jan Brennan, project leader for the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement at Education Commission of the States, and discusses how the Every Student Succeeds Act strengthens the opportunities for states to focus on civic education as part of a well-rounded education.

A Virtual Tour of Blended-Learning Schools, So Others Can See How It’s Done. The Learning Accelerator has created a website that provides the public a virtual peek inside several schools. The release of the website earlier this month concludes more than a year of research, including more than 100 school visits. (Hechinger Report, Aug. 31)

STEM: U.S. State Department Tackles Gender Gap in STEM Participation. The U.S. Department of State-sponsored program is one of a growing number of efforts that are providing real-world, in-depth experiences to get girls more engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. Men still largely outnumber women in STEM fields, and the State Department aims to pick away at that gap. (Education Week, Aug. 30)