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

Recess Making Comeback in Public Schools: ‘Children Do Better When They Have a Break’  After years of teetering on the brink, recess is making a comeback in public schools as state lawmakers move to reinstate playground time lost in the push for higher test scores. (Washington Times)

50-State Comparison: Instructional Time Policies  How do all 50 states approach requirements for time in K-12 classrooms? What are your state’s policies? Learn more about Instructional Time Policies — including days or hours per year, hours per day, and start and end date parameters — in this updated 50-State Comparison.

The Illinois State Board of Education wants to hear from you!  Every year, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issues an electronic report card that provides students, families, and communities with information on public schools throughout Illinois.  This year is especially exciting– the Illinois State Report Card will include even more information that will show how the State and schools are working together to provide the best education for all of our students. It is vital that the information is easily understood and valued by students, parents, and communities. That’s why ISBE is holding a series of engagement sessions to gather feedback from local communities. ISBE will use the feedback to inform them on what data is important to share in this year’s Report Card and how to share it in a way that’s easily understood Join in the conversation on what you want to know about your student’s school. Help ISBE share new data on school performance in a way that is accessible, useful, and valid.

School Safety Expert Tells MD Teachers: Rethink School Shooter Profile  When he studied individual cases, “physically they were different; academically they were different,” he said. (WTOP)

Call for Reviewers: IL-EMPOWER Learning Partner Applications  ISBE is looking for district, school, and teacher leaders to review applications submitted by vendors that wish to work in IL-EMPOWER as a Learning Partner (Partner). IL-EMPOWER, which was approved as part of the Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan, is the statewide system of accountability and support that empowers schools with greater choice and voice in the school improvement process. IL-EMPOWER is focused on capacity development for statewide school support and it is required for those schools identified to receive comprehensive services. Schools that receive services will complete a needs assessment process using multiple data sources. The findings will guide the identification of priority areas to address in collaboration with Partner(s).  ISBE anticipates receiving between 50-60 applications in late May 2018. Each application must be read by three reviewers within a 15-day time frame.   If you are interested, please submit a summary of professional experience to Henri Fonville at Contact Jason Helfer at or (217) 782-4123 with questions.

Guide Aims to Shed Light on ‘Learning Loop’ Approach  Created by the Theatre Communications Group, the guide is based on the video and written account, Denver Center Theatre Company is Cracking the Millennial Code…One Step at a Time. The guide includes suggested questions about the story itself, and you can use it along with the video, written account or both to apply lessons to your own organization. This is the third addition to the Discussion Guide Series. The first mined lessons from Ballet Austin’s efforts to build audiences for unfamiliar works, and the second explored Seattle Symphony’s efforts to woo new residents in Downtown Seattle.

Seizing the Moment: A District Guide to Advance Equity Through ESSA  A new set of tools will help district leaders use the opportunity of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to promote equity.  The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides an important opportunity for district and state leaders to pursue their visions for equity in education. To help them take full advantage of that opportunity, we partnered with the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program, Chiefs for Change and EducationCounsel to produce Seizing the Moment: A District Guide to Advance Equity Through ESSA.

Services to Support Parent Involvement by Community Type, Sector, and School Classification  This report examines the relationship between services to support parent involvement, and community type, school sector, and school classification. Overall, higher percentages of principals reported having a staff member assigned to work on parent involvement (51%) and workshops available for parents (53%) than on drop-in centers for parents (17%). Higher percentages of principals in city schools reported having a staff member assigned to work on parent involvement (63%), workshops for parents (67%), services to support parent involvement (51%), and drop-in centers for parents (26%) than other community types. Compared to suburban schools, rural schools had lower percentages of principals who reported assigning a staff member to parent involvement (51% and 44%, respectively), having services for parents (42% and 31%), and offering a drop-in center for parents (17% and 11%).  (National Center for Education Statistics)

Why More School Districts Are Holding Class Just Four Days a Week  Shorter school weeks are generally popular among families, students and teachers, and many school districts say the change saves money and makes it easier to recruit teachers. But the research is inconclusive: Shorter school weeks save only a little, according to education policy researchers. (Stateline via Bristol Herald Courier)

50-State Comparison: Instructional Time Policies  This resource provides an overview of state instructional time requirements for kindergarten through 12th grade — including days or hours per year, hours per day and start and end date parameters where they exist in state law.

Racial Disparities in School Discipline Are Growing, Federal Data Show  Federal data released on April 24, 2018, shows racial disparities in school discipline worsening, with black students facing far greater rates of school arrests than their white counterparts. (Washington Post)

THE EQUITY DASHBOARD Exploring the impact of the new funding formula  Equity Dashboard, a new data tool shows Illinois’ progress toward equitable and adequate funding for all school districts. The Equity Dashboard, the latest release since Data Desk launched last year, takes data visualizations to a new level, analyzing and using the new funding figures released by the Illinois State Board of Education on April 5. The Equity Dashboard shows how well districts are being funded, and the impact new funding formula dollars are having on historically under-resourced students, including students of color, low-income students and English learners. The data show that the formula is working, but that its impact will take time.

Alternative School Discipline Strategies  This Policy Snapshot highlights trends in the use of restorative practices and positive behavioral supports and interventions.