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

State Information Request: Special Education and Accountability  A state senate committee member asked for an overview of state special education policies including state accountability systems and academic improvement initiatives. The response included federal statutes specifically for special education, annual testing and state accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act, research on practices that may improve the academic performance of students in special education and selected state polices related to special education.

State Information Request: Bullying Prevention  A legislative staff member requested information on how states have addressed bullying and best practices for prevention. The response included a sampling of recent state anti-bullying legislation and links to additional resources.

Civics Contest to Encourage Student Engagement in WI  Young adults have been voting at lower rates than older adults for years. Less than a quarter of all 12th-graders were at or above proficient in civics education, according to a 2010 study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. (Associated Press)

Despite Popularity With Parents and Teachers, Review of Research Finds Small Benefits to Small Classes  “Class size reduction is costly,” the researchers wrote. “The available evidence points to no or only very small effect sizes of small classes in comparison to larger classes. Moreover, we cannot rule out the possibility that small classes may be counterproductive for some students.”

School funding, pensions, preK: Here are 8 education issues J.B. Pritzker will face as governor  Having secured the governorship in the election, J.B. Pritzker will enter office with a host of pressing education issues demanding his attention. (Chalkbeat)

Why Does Personalized Learning Sometimes Feel Impersonal?  Personalized learning often involves greater reliance on technology. To balance out screen time, schools are working to make sure students are developing social-emotional skills. (Education Week)

Secretary DeVos Releases Guide to Help Families Understand School Report Cards Required by ESSA  Report cards will bring long-needed transparency and accountability on funding, student achievement and other key metrics.

Equity through Cultural Responsivenes  ​In the fall of 2012, Berwyn North School District 98 schools were the lowest-performing schools in reading and math among all of the schools that feed into Morton West High School. There was a lack of instructional organization, and there was community frustration with poor communication between schools and families about student expectations. Berwyn North serves a high-poverty community with ninety-six percent students of color and a majority white staff. There are a growing number of English Learners that accounts for a full third of total students.  District leaders and teachers utilized professional development and shared accountability to systemically integrate culturally responsive practices that have improved internal and external relationships, as well as student learning outcomes.

Social and Emotional Learning and Equity  Social and Emotional Learning—or SEL—can help students develop key skills they need to thrive in and out of the classroom. But how can SEL support equity in education? In a new video, AIR researcher Jameela Conway-Turner discusses how SEL can improve outcomes and be used in equity initiatives to support all students.

The Parents Guide to ESSA  This guide aims to help parents understand the flexibility provided to States and school districts in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a landmark
Federal education law.

ED Publishes Report on Rural Education  The U.S. Department of Education recently published the Section 5005 Final Report on Rural Education (also known as the “Rural Report”). The Rural Report outlines actions the Department will take to meaningfully increase the involvement of rural schools and school districts in helping develop and execute Department processes, procedures, policies and regulations.

House Democrats Expected to Ramp Up Oversight of DeVos  Democrats seized control of the House on election night, likely placing Rep. Bobby Scott in charge of the House education committee. And that means the hot seat is about to get even hotter for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

How Education Ballot Initiatives Fared   School funding, school choice, religious displays in schools and education governance questions were among the issues decided by voters. Here are some of the results.