Now Is the Time for Digital Citizenship Education

In today’s technology-rich world, preserving the American democracy involves ensuring that digital tools facilitate the productive and equitable exchange of information and opportunity, rather than misinformation and division. In recent months, we have observed examples of both cases: young Americans using technology to raise awareness for racial justice and others using those same tools to share falsehoods about COVID-19.

Parents Worry About Learning Loss in Remote Education Environments

Parent concerns about learning loss during COVID-19 remain high as most report their children are still learning remotely either full or part time, concludes a new survey. More than 3 of every 4 parents, 76 percent, reported that their children are attending school remotely either full time or part time, according to a survey of 1,140 public school parents by the National Parents Union, a nonprofit that supports parents’ role in making decisions about their child’s education. The remainder reported their children are receiving primarily in-person instruction.  

Special Considerations for Assessing and Advancing Equity in School-Year 2020-21

State policymakers are confronting well-documented intersecting crises – medical, economic, and racial – with especially dire implications for educational equity. State education leaders face a moral urgency to both understand and respond to the challenges students are experiencing and to do so in ways that address burgeoning equity gaps. Education assessment can play a crucial role in identifying these learning and related challenges, allowing policy leaders to direct resources to where the needs are the greatest. It will be incredibly challenging, however, to collect, interpret, and use high-quality state standardized test data this school year. This brief recognizes this conundrum and offers recommendations for state leaders regarding assessment in 2020-2021.

Chicago’s childhood vaccination rates are slipping

There’s a constellation of reasons why Chicago’s typically high vaccination rates have started to slide among children who reside here, including access issues, fear of being exposed to COVID-19, and resurging distrust of vaccines. Current numbers are hard to come by, but data obtained by Chalkbeat offer a window: A quarter of low-income children who attend Chicago’s publicly funded child care sites are behind on critical immunizations for such serious illnesses as measles or polio. That’s a decline of 12 percentage points compared to last year.

Data You Can Use: Students’ Mental Health Needs in 2020

There is evidence that the pandemic threatens students’ mental health, but data are scarce. Early surveys suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening children’s emotional well-being. In May, 29% of U.S. parents reported that isolation was harming their children’s emotional or mental health, and another 37% anticipated that lockdowns would have that effect if they continued. In June, 30% of high schoolers said they were feeling depressed more often. More specific data are still scarce, however. For example, there is little information on the impact on students in communities of color, which have suffered a disproportionate share of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

State Legislative Action to Support Students’ Mental Health

Students’ mental wellness has a profound impact on their ability to engage in the learning environment and succeed academically. Unfortunately, students in K-12 report high levels of stress, depression and anxiety, and diagnoses have risen among school-age youths in recent years. While many students do not receive the treatment they need to address their mental health concerns, lack of access to school-based services is particularly prevalent for students of color and students from families with low incomes. Research shows that school-based mental health interventions can lead to improvements in overall mental health, educational, social and behavioral outcomes. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought many concerns around student health and wellness, more broadly, and trauma and mental health, more specifically.

How deeply will digital learning transform K-12 long term?

In a news release, Project Tomorrow CEO Julie A. Evans said examining the Speak Up results from before and after spring school closures allows education researchers “to see in almost real time how the unexpected shift has altered not only teachers’ expectations for using technology within learning, but also parents’ perceptions on the value of digital learning and the impact of this experience on students’ aspirations for enhanced learning environments.” While the transition to remote learning due to COVID-19 came swiftly and with its share of challenges, elements that have worked well are likely to persist as new features of the educational model long after the pandemic subsides.

Families of some special education students in Texas may be eligible for $1,500 in aid to offset pandemic challenges

Families of some students with disabilities may be eligible for $1,500 per child in aid to use toward services including tutoring, therapy and digital resources, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency said Wednesday. The Supplementary Special Education Services program is intended to offset pandemic-related learning disruptions, officials said. “This program is a win for Texas families and children with special education needs, many of whom have endured education disruptions due to COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement.

Reading Scores Fall Among U.S. High School Seniors

The average reading score for high school seniors declined between 2015 and 2019 and remained unchanged in math, while the country’s lowest performing seniors saw their scores drop in both subjects. Overall, just 37% of 12th-graders reached or exceeded the academic preparedness benchmarks for both math and reading that would qualify them for entry-level college courses – a figure unchanged since 2015. Those are the major takeaways from the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, which was released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics.

There Is No Finish Line for Report Cards

As states grapple with an ever-changing “normal,” the importance of transparent and useful data cannot get lost. Updated and easy-to-understand report cards will help ensure that decisionmakers and communities are equipped with the data they need to answer their most pressing questions about how their schools responded to the crisis,
what worked, and how to move forward. This report looks at information on student progress and school quality provided in states’ 2018–19 report cards. As always, DQC looked for whether states were communicating the information that parents need and deserve, including the necessary context and other indicators that add value beyond test scores alone.

How can State Leaders Support English Learners During COVID-19 and Beyond?

Seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, research and reporting continue to paint a grim picture of what English Learners (ELs) are experiencing during school closures. Despite their best efforts, schools are still struggling to reach these students and their families, expand access to devices and internet connectivity, and offer ELs enough face time with teachers. To turn the corner, schools and districts will need more guidance and resources from state leaders. Since schools suddenly closed in the spring, states have put out reopening guidance with varying degrees of focus on ELs. A 50-state review of these documents by New America found that a few states (e.g., Colorado and Washington) have shared detailed information and useful resources to help educators serve ELs and their families during remote learning, including how districts should identify and reclassify ELs remotely, best practices for supporting language development from a distance, and where to find digital tools to support ELs’ ongoing learning.

America’s School Funding Crisis: Budget Cuts, Rising Costs And No Help In Sight

Back in May, school funding experts predicted a looming financial disaster for the nation’s K-12 schools. But those warnings, like everything else that happened in May, feel like a lifetime ago. Remember, schools get about half of their funding from state tax revenues, which have taken a big hit in the pandemic. States were facing budget cuts in the 20-30% range, Griffith says. But thanks, in part, to those federal CARES Act dollars, it’s just “a bad year,” he explains — “between 15 and 20%.” The bad news is that those cuts are still pretty deep.

Supports for Social and Emotional Learning in American Schools and Classrooms

RAND researchers present results from a spring 2019 survey of a nationally representative sample of kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) public school teachers about their approaches to supporting students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) and the factors that might influence those approaches. The authors explore teachers’ SEL practices, including both classroom- and school-level approaches. The authors also examine teachers’ beliefs about SEL, their emotional well-being, professional development related to SEL, school-level supports for SEL, and district and state SEL standards.

State ballot measures’ impacts on K-12 schools

Ballots in the 2020 presidential election also included a variety of state measures that could impact education. “The biggest trend is that a lot of them had to do with raising money for education,” said Damion Pechota, a policy analyst at Education Commission of the States. While a limited number of state ballot initiatives specifically mentioned COVID-19 as their impetus, support or opposition for measures passed was punctuated by the ongoing pandemic, according to Education Dive’s analysis. From tax changes to gun control and K-12 curriculum shifts, here are the major takeaways from numerous state ballot measures that were passed on Nov. 3.

How Reopening Plans Changed the Vaccination Conversation

In recent years, policy activity and public discourse has focused on religious and philosophical exemptions for mandatory vaccine requirements for school-age children. During the pandemic, the conversation has shifted to declining vaccination rates and the anticipation of a COVID-19 vaccine. States have begun developing guidance and policies to support students in getting routine vaccinations as well as conditions for reopening that are affected by a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-pandemic, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates among kindergarteners across the states varied from 87.4% to 99.2%.

State Education Department To Review Black And Latinx History Curriculum

Connecticut’s Department of Education is preparing to review and approve a new curriculum in Black and Latinx history for all public schools in the state. Last year Connecticut passed a law requiring schools to offer the course. When the new curriculum is approved next month, it will reportedly be the first statewide Black and Latinx history course in the country. It will be required in schools in the fall of 2022.

Illinois high schools see huge spike in number of AP exams taken since 2018, new data shows

Last year’s graduating class of Illinois high schoolers took thousands more Advanced Placement exams than their predecessors and passed those tests at higher rates, newly released data shows. The increase built on two years’ worth of gains in AP testing, which state education officials credited to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for budgeting for fee waivers to reduce the cost of AP exams for low-income students. That decision earned the governor national honors from the College Board, which administers AP exams.

Embracing an Enriched Literacy Approach in Quarantimes

Becky Bailey, founder of Conscious Discipline, says, “No significant learning can occur without significant relationships. Connection is the key.” Students need to connect to each other, to their teacher and to their motivation to learn. How can educators and policymakers ensure a connected learning experience in a time of social distancing and remote learning? Like many educational nonprofits in the U.S. this year, The Learning Alliance had to adapt to COVID-19’s impact on educating students in person. Located in Indian River County Florida, TLA has established a community-wide Moonshot Moment goal of 90% literacy by third grade.

The Mastery vs. Seat-Time Debate Takes Center Stage Under Remote Learning

COVID-19 has forced educators to reexamine some of their core practices, and in some cases, circumvent them altogether. Measuring learning by how much time students spend in a classroom could be next for an overhaul. But making that transition won’t be easy. Numerous U.S. school districts have experimented in recent years with a teaching approach that emphasizes student mastery of discrete skills or “competencies” over assessment-based, one-size-fits-all measures of learning progress. Most states have policies that permit this…

Arizona Proposition 208: Voters OK New Tax On High Earners To Fund Schools

Arizona voters have approved a new tax on high-earning residents that could bring in nearly $1 billion of new revenue annually to the state’s underfunded school system. The approval of Proposition 208 came after the state’s business community spent more than $18 million trying to defeat the measure backed by many educators and progressive groups. They argued it would hurt the state’s economy. Proposition 208 proponents have been confident that they would win.