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

Public Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky –  A Region’s Way Forward  The report presents data, information and trend demographics that outline a trajectory more challenging than most citizens and state leaders realize. The report offers a regional perspective based upon the belief that every community possesses unique assets, and strong alignment and collaboration across all boundaries (geographic, education, agency, government, civic and workforce) is necessary to make the region stronger. Citing dramatic worsening demographics in Appalachian Kentucky, authors cite the need for innovative, grassroots, citizen-engaged strategies to leverage public education to revitalize their local economies in ways that can be replicated statewide and serve as a national model for communities throughout rural America.

A Social Worker in Every Grade? Perhaps for 10 CO Elementary Schools  If approved by the full legislature and signed into law, the measure would create a three-year pilot program at 10 high-needs schools. It is estimated to cost about $5 million a year. House Bill 1017 would place social workers, counselors or psychologists in every elementary grade at the test schools starting next year. (Chalkbeat)

The Arts and CTE: Building Tomorrow’s Creative Workforce Today  Visit any state education committee meeting or congressional town hall these days and you may hear a discussion about how policymakers are approaching the issue of educating today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce. In part buoyed by the Perkins reauthorization, state policymakers are examining their role and expanded flexibility in creating a seamless workforce development system that meets the need of both employees and employers. In recognition of CTE Month this February, the Arts Education Partnership has identified ways that states have begun to include the arts in CTE programs and generated questions to help state and district leaders, policymakers and stakeholders get started.

Education Students and Diversity: A Review of New Evidence Webinar One of the most striking findings of AACTE’s signature report, Colleges of Education: A National Portrait, is the lack of diversity among education students, particularly at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. Education Students and Diversity: A Review of New Evidence takes advantage of a recently released U.S. Department of Education survey to examine the characteristics of students working toward bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, to compare these students to the general student population, and to identify key differences by race/ethnicity.  The issue brief’s findings suggest that African American and Hispanic education students face significant financial and personal hurdles as they work to become professional educators. The findings also challenge schools, colleges, and departments of education to carefully consider how to support students as they pursue both academic and clinical preparation.  On March 7 at 1:00 p.m. EST, author Dr. Jacqueline E. King will present a webinar summarizing the findings of this important new research.

New to the Website: State Policy Resources – AACTE’s Ward Cummings shares the latest features to the AACTE State Policy Tracker webpage—the State Legislatures Session Chart and StateNet Capitol Journal—to help you stay informed about the latest developments in your state and around the country regarding education and education policy.

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation of Hope  Recommendations from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development  Excerpt from report: ‘We began with the simple intention of listening—really listening—to young people, parents, teachers, school and district leaders, community leaders, and other experts. This document, in many ways, is a report from the nation. What we heard is profoundly hopeful. There is a striking confluence of experience and science on one point: Children learn best when we treat them as human beings, with social and emotional as well as academic needs. As one teacher put it, “I don’t teach math; I teach kids math.” To reach a child’s mind, we must be concerned for the whole person.’

Using Policy to Create Healthy Schools: Resources to Support Policymakers and Advocates This report reviews relevant state statutes and regulations enacted as of September 2017 and analyzes their alignment with the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model of healthy schools. The WSCC covers 10 domains: health education; physical education and physical activity; nutrition environment and services; health services; counseling, psychological, and social services; social and emotional climate; physical environment; employee wellness; family engagement; and community involvement. Ten states have deep coverage of the WSCC by addressing at least six domains in a comprehensive manner. These states not only touch upon each of the WSCC components but also thoroughly cover each component’s topics. These states include Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have broad coverage of the WSCC. Although these states cover most components of the WSCC, some topic areas are not thoroughly addressed. Eighteen states have limited coverage of the WSCC. These states may address any given WSCC domain, but do not address other domains. Two states’ laws have weak coverage of the WSCC framework, with six or more categories rated as none or low. North Dakota and South Dakota do not cover or have low comprehensiveness in eight of the 10 components. (Child Trends)

Kindergarten: Where Play and Learning Can Meet  What can kindergarteners gain from play-based learning? Kindergarten: Where Play and Learning Can Meet is a documentary that explores the advantages associated with a play-based approach in kindergarten and features stories of how two Illinois school districts-Valley View School District 365U and Elgin Area School District U-46-made the transition to play-based learning. Produced in partnership with WTTW Channel 11 and the Midwest Early Childhood Research Alliance at REL Midwest, the documentary includes scientific findings about the cognitive and social-emotional benefits of play from experts Dr. Roberta Golinkoff (University of Delaware), Dr. Christina Weiland (University of Michigan), and Dr. Eboni Howard (American Institutes for Research).

Rural Students: Technology, Coursework, and Extracurricular Activities  This report takes a closer look at rural students’ access to technology, coursework, and extracurricular activities opportunities in various facets of their high school experiences based on two online surveys of a sample of students who took the ACT in 2018. Rural students were less likely than non-rural students to claim that their home internet access was “great” (36% vs. 46%). Similarly, rural students were almost twice as likely as non-rural students to state that their internet access was “unpredictable” (16% vs. 9%). At school, however, there were no substantive differences in reported internet quality between rural and non-rural students. Rural students in the sample were less likely than non-rural students to report taking or planning to take advanced math and science courses. Only 50% of the rural respondents reported being enrolled in a course during the academic year that awards college credit, compared to 60% of non-rural students. There was a higher percentage of rural students participating in extracurricular activities than non-rural students in all categories except for community service for which there was no statistically significant difference. Because rural schools are smaller on average than non-rural schools, they must recruit large proportions of the student body to have the numbers needed to make group activities viable. (ACT Center for Equity in Learning)

50-State Comparison: K-12 School Safety  Education Commission of the States researched K-12 school safety policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to provide this comprehensive resource. This resource does not include district- or school-level policies, handbooks, manuals or other sources outside of state statute or regulations. Education Commission of the States does not provide legal advice on specific circumstances. The information here gives an overview of relevant laws in each state and does not reflect how these laws may interact with other state or federal policies.