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K-12 education resources

Approximately 1 in 6 school-age children experience a mental health disorder each year, and experts estimate up to 60% of students do not receive the care they need to address these challenges. Of the students who receive mental health care, many access those services at school. But, access to services is by no means guaranteed, as ongoing workforce concerns and an unequal distribution of behavioral health providers across the country further complicate matters. As school systems seek to support the whole child throughout their educational journey, some are finding innovative ways to ensure students receive the mental health care they need — sometimes via less-traditional means like telehealth technology.

New Research: Is the U.S. Still Educating a Nation of Inventors?

Abraham Lincoln is said to have joked that an American baby will examine its own cradle and suggest improvements. The story is probably apocryphal, but it aptly conveys an enduring aspect of our national identity: that we are, in Mark Twain’s words, “the nation of inventors” who tinker, troubleshoot and design our way to a better world. On Thursday, Education Commission of the States released a report that explores whether the nation can live up to that reputation. More precisely, it explores one important facet of that question: Are U.S. schools preparing students to solve problems through technology and engineering?

Guiding Principles for Teacher and Leader Policy: Prioritize, Rather Than Prescribe

While schools and classrooms are at the heart of where student and adult learning happens (or doesn’t), policy plays a guiding and enabling role. Unfortunately, policy often has a one-size-fits-all orientation that can lead to a compliance-driven culture. The last 20 years of education reform, in particular, have relied on top-down mandates, which alienated many parents, educators and community leaders. Here is how state leaders can prioritize what matters without prescribing one-size-fits-all mandates. Make sure those most affected by policy are actively engaged in setting itProactively building relationships and co-creating policy with stakeholders not only will help to ensure that policy effectively addresses their needs and aspirations, but also broaden ownership of policy solutions and help them be more effective. Many resources exist to support engagement of teachers, families and students.

Pre-Filed Legislation Could Make Completion of FAFSA a High School Requirement

A new requirement may be on the horizon for students who are looking to graduate high school within the next few years. On November 5, State Representative Regina Huff (R-Williamsburg) and State Representative Deanna Frazier (R-Richmond) pre-filed bill request 817, which, if passed, would make completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid a high school graduation requirement. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form that both future and current college students complete in order to determine the distribution of federal and state funding for financial aid. Many colleges ask, if not require, students to fill out the form. However, many students and parents do not complete the FAFSA.

Illinois State Board of Education Seeking Public Input on Student Testing

State education officials are seeking public input on potential significant changes to the annual reading and math tests students take each year. The Illinois State Board of Education announced Thursday it has launched an online survey to get feedback about how to make those tests “more useful, inclusive, equitable and balanced.” “I began my tenure as state superintendent with a commitment to improving Illinois’ state assessments based on feedback from the field,” State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala said in a news release. “As a former teacher and district administrator, I know the importance of high-quality assessments that help us understand students’ mastery of the learning standards and tailor instruction to meet students’ needs.”

What’s Lost When Black Children Are Socialized Into a White World

Jessica Black is a Pittsburg, California, mother of two black teenagers, both of whom have been disciplined multiple times at their middle and high schools. Her daughter has been suspended more than once, and teachers often deem her son’s behavior out of line, reprimanding him for not taking off his hoodie in class and for raising his voice. In observing her own family and others, Black has noticed a pattern: Behaviors that many black parents might consider annoying but developmentally appropriate, such as an ill-timed joke or talking back to an adult, are treated by school staff as cause for suspension. From there, students are pushed out of classrooms, lose learning time, and can end up in the school-to-prison pipeline. “It’s a totally different environment, a totally different culture,” Black said when we spoke in July 2018.

Illinois Education Association Wins Emmy for IEA Teacher Stories

The Illinois Education Association (IEA) last weekend won an Emmy at the 61st Annual Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Awards. The IEA won for Outstanding Achievement for Public/Current/Community Affairs Programming – Series for IEA Teachers Stories. The composite entry featured three IEA members: Susan Hudson from Thornwood High School in South Holland, Gladys Marquez from Dwight D. Eisenhower High School in Blue Island and Nathan Etter from Prairie View Elementary School in Burlington. “We represent 135,000 strong, powerful educators across the state who work every day to ensure that all students have access to a fair and equitable public education,” said IEA Media Relations Director Bridget Shanahan. “And we tell their stories. Their voices matter. Your voices matter.” The IEA Teacher Stories series amplified the voices of more than 135,000 educators across the state of Illinois. These stories highlight the valuable work that our members do for all students in Illinois, regardless of their zip code. Susan Hudson’s story featured her work collaborating with educators to bring trauma-informed practices to Thornwood High School.

Georgia Department of Education Dedicates $270,000 to Expand Fine Arts Education in Rural Schools

The Georgia Department of Education is awarding a total of $270,000 to rural school districts to help them expand the fine arts opportunities available to their students, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced Thursday morning. Nineteen rural districts are receiving stART grants, which can be used to create or expand arts initiatives that significantly improve students’ access to the arts. The grants are part of GaDOE’s broader Partnership for Rural Growth initiative, which seeks to expand the resources available to public school districts in rural Georgia. “We know that the fine arts provide significant academic and non-academic benefits for all students,” said Woods. “Arts education helps children develop language and fine-motor skills. It keeps them engaged in their education. It equips them with the creativity, ingenuity, and resilience needed to succeed in the modern workforce. At the Georgia Department of Education we are committed to providing the resources necessary to provide fine arts opportunities to all students.”

Gov. Baker Signs Bill with $1.5B in New School Spending

Gov. Charlie Baker has signed into law a bill that would provide $1.5 billion in new spending on the state’s K-12 education system when fully phased in over seven years. Supporters of the measure say it will help ensure schools have the resources needed to provide high quality education for students across Massachusetts, regardless of zip code or income level. The Republican signed the bill Tuesday at The English High School of Boston, the first public high school in America, founded in 1821. Baker said the legislation is aimed at providing students “with the opportunities and resources they need to succeed including accountability measures that are essential to supporting underperforming schools.” Legislative leaders say the new law will help schools that serve high numbers of low-income students while also benefiting districts across the state with updates to the state’s existing school funding formula.

Redesigning for a Strategic Approach to Human Capital Management

The Teacher Quality Programs Technical Assistance (TQP TA) Center facilitated a peer exchange site visit on March 20-21, 2019 for San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), a U.S. Department of Education Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grantee, and East St. Louis School District #189 (East St. Louis), a Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive Fund grantee.1 During the peer exchange, district representatives from SAISD met with representatives from East St. Louis to share SAISD’s strategic approach to teacher recruitment and retention and teacher leadership. The two districts worked to identify ways the SAISD strategies could be adapted for East St. Louis as the district considers an organizational redesign of their human capital management systems and creation of a talent management function at the district level.

On Teacher Shortages: No Shortage of Data or Teachers Available to Help

Teacher shortages are not a new challenge. One often overlooked root cause behind the ongoing recurrence of teacher shortage challenges is the lack of clarity in the data and, thus, incoherence in the dialogue surrounding the issue. Without a compelling depiction of the problem, it is hard to muster the political will to invest in sometimes expensive solutions, like competitive teacher pay, manageable workloads or high-quality instructional supports. Education Commission of the States has done a huge favor for the field in compiling a 50-State Comparison of teacher recruitment and retention data and policies to bring coherence to the national dialogue. How can policy leaders best ensure the wealth of data provided informs decision-making at scale and closes the gap between teacher supply and demand?

State Board of Education To Take Emergency Action To End The Use Of Isolated Seclusion In Illinois Schools

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today that it will take emergency action to end the use of isolated seclusion in Illinois schools. ISBE also will take steps to improve data collection on all instances of time-out and physical restraint in schools, as well as immediately begin investigating known cases of isolated seclusion to take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action. “Isolated seclusion will end now; it traumatizes children, does lasting damage to the most vulnerable and violates the most deeply held values of my administration and the State of Illinois. The use of this unacceptable practice in districts around the state for several years is appalling, and I am demanding complete and immediate accountability,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I have directed ISBE to take immediate action to ban isolated seclusion in Illinois schools, investigate any case where isolated seclusion was used illegally in the past, and mandate strict reporting on any form of time-out moving forward. I also pledge to work closely with the General Assembly to take additional steps to codify these emergency rules and take any additional steps to protect all the children of this state.”