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

How to Improve Access to Advanced Placement in Rural Schools  Requiring high schools to offer at least one AP course would help increase rural student access to rigorous pre-college work, according to a recent report. Although the AP participation rate in rural communities has steadily increased over the past 15 years, it still lags behind participation in suburban and urban districts, according to the report, “Advanced Placement Access and Success: How Do Rural Schools Stack Up?” from the Education Commission of the States and the College Board. (District Administration)

ESSA & School Improvement: What we’re doing and what you can do  This Ed Note blog post comes from Julie Rowland Woods, policy analyst at Education Commission of the States, and provides insights, resource, and ideas for policymakers and education leaders regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and school improvement strategies.

Leveled Literacy Intervention  Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) is a short-term, supplementary, small-group literacy intervention designed to help struggling readers achieve grade-level competency. The intervention provides explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, oral language skills, and writing. LLI helps teachers match students with texts of progressing difficulty and deliver systematic lessons targeted to a student’s reading ability. Based on an analysis of available studies, LLI had positive effects on general reading achievement, potentially positive effects on reading fluency, and no discernible effects on alphabetics for beginning readers.  (What Works Clearinghouse, U.S. Department of Education)

New Toolkits to Help Education Leaders Deepen Learning for Students  The nation’s job market is changing quickly. Jobs favoring low education levels and manual skills are in decline while the fastest-growing job sectors require problem-solving, critical thinking, communications, collaboration, and other “deeper learning” competencies. To demystify deeper learning and help education leaders create the conditions that support it, the Alliance debuted a series of toolkits. The toolkits support state and district leaders as they explore whether to launch a deeper learning initiative or move toward one; strengthen or expand existing practices aligned with skills that prepare students for the future; and commit the resources, political support, and expertise necessary to ensure success. The resources introduce state and district leaders to policies, procedures, and practices that support deeper learning. Topics include: assessing for deeper learninghigh school opportunities, and infrastructure for deeper learning.

Systems for Success: Thinking Beyond Access to AP  The national data are clear: more students of color are taking AP exams, but success rates for these students lag behind those of their peers. To address this, “Systems for Success: Thinking Beyond Access to AP” explores the practices of two diverse high schools that have achieved the dual goals of enrolling more students in AP courses and supporting students of color and low-income students to pass AP exams at rates well above the national average.  (The Education Trust)

The Federation for Community Schools’ new paper, “Strategies for Braiding Funds Under the Every Student Succeeds Act to Support Community School Development,” outlines the ways that schools, district, and community partners can maximize ESSA’s flexibility and braid different funding streams together so as to support community school work.

How to improve student educational outcomes: New insights from data analytics  Taking a data-driven approach, we consider a few of the most active debates in education regarding student performance: Do mindsets matter? If so, to what extent? What teaching practices work best? Does technology help?

Parent and Family Involvement in Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016  This report presents findings from the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016. The survey collected information about various aspects of parent involvement in education, such as help with homework, family activities, and parent involvement at school. (National Center for Education Statistics)

Quality Standards Trainings  ACT Now is holding free training sessions around the state on the Illinois Afterschool Quality Standards. The training will provide participants a general overview of the standards and strategies for implementation. Credit for the training will be available through the Gateways to Opportunity system and participants can also earn CEUs. There are sessions scheduled for Chicago, Peoria, Champaign, and Rockford.

Want School Choice? Public Education Has It, Says New Report AACTE intern Jemima Cabedo highlights a new report that aims to “bust the myth” that public education is a one-size-fits-all monolith. The report, issued earlier this month by the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education, cites the wide range of choices offered within public schools and across districts to serve a variety of student needs and interests—generally outpacing private schools’ offerings.