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

Career and Technical Education  This Policy Snapshot highlights enacted legislation in 2017 and 2018 pertaining to career and technical education. States enacted career and technical education (CTE) policy in one or more of the following areas: awareness and support, collaboration and research, graduation requirements and dual credit, work-based learning, and funding.

WI – Evers, Bipartisan Task Force Both Calling for Funding Hike  Gov. Tony Evers campaigned on the promise to increase funding for public schools by $1.4 billion, and now a bipartisan legislative task force that heard from parents, teachers and others across Wisconsin is also calling for significant increases in state spending and local property taxes. (Associated Press)

Perkins V: Keeping Better Track of Racial Equity in CTE  The new Perkins V requires states to provide public data on the racial and ethnic composition of CTE courses, so educators and policymakers can identify and address disparities and decrease inequities in the workforce. Read more in part three of this blog series.

Helping Schools Close the Digital Accessibility Gap  Technology provides exciting new ways to engage and teach students, including those with disabilities. The requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) represent a symbolic shift in how educators are expected to use technology tools to address learner variability. American Institutes for Research’s new guide provides research-based information to answer 10 questions on how educators should approach this opportunity and what they should consider when purchasing new technology.

CT – Teach Kids About Climate Change? This State Might Require It  A legislative proposal in Connecticut would mandate instruction on climate change in public schools statewide, beginning in elementary school. Connecticut already has adopted science standards that call for teaching of climate change, but if the bill passes it is believed that it would be the country’s first to write such a requirement into law. (Associated Press)

Are Educators Setting Goals for Social-Emotional Learning? A growing body of evidence shows that social-emotional skills predict the long-term outcomes of students, even after controlling for differences in academic achievement. Despite the evidence that social-emotional learning (SEL) contributes to student success, few studies have investigated the extent to which educators promote SEL among their students. This report details the extent to which a nationally representative sample of teachers and school leaders report setting goals for the social-emotional growth of their students. Results indicated that about 60% of teachers and principals report setting goals for student SEL growth. However, teachers were less likely to report that their school leadership set these goals compared with principals’ self-reports. These results indicate that SEL goal setting is substantial but by no means universal. Further, the gap in perceptions of school leader goal setting indicates that as principals begin or continue to develop goals, they should aim to create a school-wide strategy that is communicated to teachers and take into account efforts that are already underway in classrooms. One barrier to these efforts may be the lack of school-wide systems for assessing SEL skills. (RAND Corporation)

Barriers to Parent-School Involvement for Early Elementary Students  In the 2012–13 school year, when most of the 2010–11 kindergartners were in second grade, a higher percentage of these students had parents who reported going to a regularly scheduled, parent-teacher conference or meeting (93%) than attending an open house or back-to-school night (84%); attending a school or class event, such as a play, sports event, or science fair (82%); serving as a volunteer in the classroom or elsewhere in the school (52%); or attending a meeting of a PTA or PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) (43%). The four most common barriers were “family members can’t get time off work” (48%), “inconvenient meeting times” (33%), “no child care” (17%), and “[parents] don’t hear about things going on at school that [they] might want to be involved in” (12%). Among second-graders whose parents reported low involvement in school activities, 59% overall had parents who reported an inability to get time off from work as a barrier. Higher percentages of this barrier were reported for students who had two parents employed full time (68%) or who had a single parent employed full time (73%). Among second-graders whose parents reported low involvement, 46% overall had parents who reported inconvenient meeting times as a barrier. Compared to the overall average, higher percentages of this barrier were reported for black students (62%), while lower percentages were reported for white students (37%). Among second-graders whose parents reported low involvement in school activities, 22% overall had parents who reported a lack of child care as a barrier, with a higher percentage of this barrier reported for Hispanic students. (National Center for Education Statistics)

Stop Illinois Brain Drain  Too many hurdles stand in the way of success for Illinois high school students. Stand for Children outlined a number of them in the Stop Illinois Brain Drain report, as well as solutions for how to prepare and keep talented young people in the state. Things like:

  • Open more doors to individualized coursework
  • Provide practical workplace experiences
  • Modernize the approach for supporting students
  • Adequately fund education and spend wisely

The Status of School Discipline in State Policy  This new Policy Analysis highlights research on school discipline, past state policy trends, current policy examples and considerations for policymakers examining their state’s policies. It also looks at how states address school discipline data in their plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

New research provides lawmakers with tools to create safe and supportive schools  New resources map what states are doing to promote healthy schools. These resources give governors, superintendents, and state lawmakers tools to build schools that address the full range of issues affecting a child’s ability to learn and thrive. This comprehensive approach will also help states craft policies that create more supportive schools for children exposed to traumatic experiences.

The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development recently released its final report. The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development was created to engage and energize communities in re-envisioning learning to encompass its social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions so that all children can succeed in school, careers, and life. The Commission’s work has drawn on research and promising practices to recommend how to make all these dimensions of learning part of the fabric of every school and community. The Commission’s members are leaders from education, research, policy, business, and the military. The full Commission team includes a Council of Distinguished Scientists, a Council of Distinguished Educators, a Youth Commission, a Parent Advisory Panel, a Partners Collaborative, and a Funders Collaborative.

It Doesn’t Hurt To Ask: ISBE Wants Equity Now When Illinois approved a new school funding formula in 2017, it didn’t make funding equitable across all districts overnight. But it has opened the eyes of the State Board of Education.

New Illinois Laws 2019: Schools and Education  Review the new laws that took effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Six Ways Schools Can Support the Whole Child  Two hundred students, parents & educators spent two years thinking about how to support the whole child. Here are six things schools can do.