Federal Initiatives to Support Intensive Special Education Services

The most significant piece of federal legislation supporting special education students is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. When IDEA was enacted in 1975, the intention was to fund 40 percent of the cost of special education services across the U.S., with states and districts picking up the remaining 60 percent. Unfortunately, IDEA appropriations have fallen significantly short of these expectations; in 2019, IDEA funds covered less than 15 percent of the total costs of educating the nation’s special education students. This figure is in reference to the average cost of special education services in the states, calculated as two times the state’s average per-pupil spending for non-special education students. To provide an appropriate education for the 5 percent of special education students with the most significant needs, states will spend more than three times their average per-pupil amount.

How States Can Make Remote Learning a Continuous Option

All over the country, states, districts and task forces of every sort are wrestling with the question of how to safely reopen schools. This scenario planning is daunting, as schools must navigate a minefield of health, safety, legal, and instructional issues, and do so blindfolded by ever-changing and imperfect understanding of the virus itself. The newly released guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is helpful as far as it goes, but also makes it clear that key decisions will be made locally. The most urgent priority for school districts as they prepare for the fall is to offer families and educators a way to continue learning, and teaching, at home. And state policymakers can take several concrete steps to help make that happen.

With the extended school closures happening throughout the United States, many States, districts, schools, parents, families, and students are having to learn in entirely new ways and facing challenges when it comes to learning during these unprecedented times. It is important to provide continuity of learning and growth for all children and youth, particularly those with disabilities. The links below offer information, tools, and resources to help educators, parents and families, and related service providers meet the educational, behavioral, and emotional needs of children and youth with disabilities through remote and virtual learning.

Educators call for schools to be ‘safe havens’ against racism

Education leaders and organizations joined others Monday in condemning a Minneapolis police officer’s killing of a black man last week while urging students and community members to refrain from contributing to the wave of violence that continued to spread over the weekend. Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, called the cellphone video of officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck “a vignette in the ongoing story of injustice and racism that is our nation’s history and our current reality.” He added that at a time when educators are teaching remotely and districts are facing budget cuts, schools must also “amplify” efforts to address inequity.

Saturday school days approved for next school year in Oklahoma

Public school districts in the 2020-21 school year could use Saturdays as an instructional day, if they wish to construct a school-year calendar with classes on the weekend. The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted Thursday to grant waivers for a state law that prohibits regular classes on Saturdays. “Districts are taking this time right now during the summer to plan for Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, and definitely there would be a need for as great a flexibility as we can give them,” state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said after the board meeting.

Pandemic flips CTE models, but not without challenges

Going forward into an uncertain 2020-21 school year, EVIT is considering implementing “flipped classrooms” that will give students the opportunity to practice skills while in the classroom and learn the academic side of their trades through online content. Flipped classrooms allow students to practice skills or do homework at school with the teacher available to advise, while the lessons are delivered online and assigned as homework.

The pandemic’s toll: nearly 500,000 public education jobs disappeared across U.S. in April

The country saw 6 percent of its public education jobs disappear in just a month, according to a new analysis of federal employment data, when the nation’s schools shut their doors to halt the spread of the coronavirus. In March, there were just over 8 million jobs in K-12 public education. By mid-April, that figure had dropped to just over 7.5 million—a loss of nearly 500,000 jobs. “More K–12 public education jobs were lost in April than in all of the Great Recession,” wrote Elise Gould, who analyzed the data for the Economic Policy Institute, a union-backed progressive think tank.

Some school districts are cutting ties with police. What’s next?

As school districts look to cut ties with local law enforcement, they’ll be wrestling with some big questions about what their school safety plans should look like now—especially whether they should replace police officers with other security staff or something else entirely. Part of the challenge of trying something new, advocates say, is that the alternatives aren’t as widespread. All 25 of the nation’s largest school districts have sworn police officers in at least some schools, and 10 run their own police forces, according to their websites. Nationwide, more than half of all public schools had sworn law enforcement officers present at least once a week during the 2017-18 school year, federal data show.

Low-income families in Louisiana have another week to apply for a program to provide healthy meals for children who lost access to school meals during the coronavirus pandemic, the state education department said Monday. Monday had been the original deadline to apply for the federally funded Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program. But department extended the time to apply until June 15. The federal program is for families of children in prekindergarten through 12th grade who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school. Louisiana schools have been closed since March 16. Families can apply through a P-EBT portal on the Louisiana Department of Education website.

Illinois green-lights in-person summer school

The state of Illinois will allow school districts to host in-person summer school, with some restrictions to protect against the spread of coronavirus. The announcement late this week represents a reversal for the Illinois State Board of Education, which had previously recommended that districts provide summer school only online. The new guidance comes after a state advisory group focused on what activities can be safely allowed under Phase 3 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase plan to reopen Illinois.

Continuation of Educational Services at State-Run Schools

Among the educational challenges state policymakers are facing in a world impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is the continuity of services for state-run schools and facilities that provide specialized educational services. For example, students with vision and hearing loss attend state schools with specialized education and trained educators. In addition, many students impacted by the juvenile justice system live in detention facilities where they also receive educational services provided through state-run schools. Some states, including Illinois and North Dakota, initially exempted these schools from statewide closure requirements.

Reopening Schools: First look inside a school with partitions

Many parents are wondering how schools could look different when they reopen in the fall. The Pima County superintendent toured a charter school today. The principal of Da Vinci Tree Academy invited Dustin Williams to look at a preliminary model that follows CDC guidelines. Williams says, “I saw the partitions up and I said, Whoa. I haven’t seen a model like that. This is one of the first models I’ve seen in class. But I have to accept we’re in unprecedented times and safety has to be paramount for everybody.”

Projecting the potential impacts of COVID-19 school closures on academic achievement

With 55 million students in the United States out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, education systems are scrambling to meet the needs of schools and families, including planning how best to approach instruction in the fall given students may be farther behind than in a typical year. Yet, education leaders have little data on how much learning has been impacted by school closures. While the COVID-19 learning interruptions are unprecedented in modern times, existing research on the impacts of missing school (due to absenteeism, regular summer breaks, and school closures) on learning can nonetheless inform projections of potential learning loss due to the pandemic. In this study, we produce a series of projections of COVID-19-related learning loss and its potential effect on test scores in the 2020-21 school year based on (a) estimates from prior literature and (b) analyses of typical summer learning patterns of five million students. Under these projections, students are likely to return in fall 2020 with approximately 63-68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year and with 37-50% of the learning gains in math.

Without a large federal investment in the nation’s public school system, districts hit hard by the coronavirus will struggle to meet the needs of their pupils this fall as they try to reopen their doors, educators told a Senate panel on Wednesday. In testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, education leaders from around the country said budget challenges were among their chief concerns as they drafted plans to resume in-person classes. That is particularly true for students who have borne the brunt of the economic, educational and racial injustices that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

America’s Most Disadvantaged Counties for Kids are Mostly Communities of Color, Nearly All Rural & Poor New Save the Children Report Reveals

The first-ever ranking of how each county in America protects and provides for its children reveals the most disadvantaged counties are mostly comprised of communities of color, and nearly all are rural, poor, and concentrated in the South, according to a Save the Children report released today. The bottom-ranked counties are also the same areas that are being hit hardest by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Report: Most districts lacked clear plans in shift to remote learning

A new analysis of the remote learning plans of 477 U.S. school districts shows about a third have provided clear expectations for how teachers should provide instruction and track students’ participation and progress, according to the Center for Reinventing Public Education. The researchers, who initially followed the learning plans of 81 districts in the sample, conducted the larger work in partnership with the RAND Corp. They note teachers are likely “going beyond their district’s expectations to continue instruction,” but that a lack of specific guidance can result in wide variation.

Policies Outlining the Role of Sworn Law Enforcement Officers in Public Schools

The National Center for Education Statistics collects data on crime, violence, and safety in U.S. public schools through the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS). This Data Point report uses data from the 2017–18 SSOCS to examine the formal policies schools have in place to outline officers’ roles and responsibilities and whether these policies are aligned with the activities that sworn law enforcement officers participate in while at school.

Results and Technical Documentation from the Spring 2020 American Educator Panels COVID-19 Surveys

This technical report provides information about the sample, survey instrument, and resultant data for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surveys that were administered to principals and teachers via RAND’s American Educator Panels (AEP) in spring 2020. The AEP COVID-19 surveys focused on how teachers and school leaders navigated the challenging circumstances brought about by COVID-19, including managing school closures and implementing distance learning. Specific survey topics included schools’ operational status, supports for teachers, communication with and supports for families, and plans for next school year. The results presented in the report include frequency tables for survey items and are shown for the full national samples and for subsamples of schools serving large populations of students of color and students from lower-income households (or target schools) compared with other schools (nontarget schools). This breakdown of target and nontarget schools provides evidence regarding disparities in the supports and resources for teaching and learning across the United States. Forthcoming reports will provide more-detailed analysis and discuss the implications of these findings. Follow-up surveys will be administered later in 2020 and in 2021.