Schools get creative to enroll, retain youngest students during pandemic

With preschool and kindergarten attendance dipping this year — in some areas significantly — schools are implementing multiple strategies to keep learning and funding continuing. Across the country, school systems are reporting notable decreases in K-12 enrollments this school year compared to previous years, particularly in preschool and kindergarten, which they attribute to the difficulties families are having with monitoring schooling from home for younger children and other challenges due to the pandemic. 

State leaders empower students to be active digital citizens

Educators overwhelmingly agree that digital citizenship is critical to help students make informed decisions online and to build inclusive online communities. However, recent surveys show that most digital citizenship education focuses primarily on cyberbullying and privacy. While important, this approach to digital citizenship instruction is limiting and fails to promote the opportunities technology provides to empower students.

What role will schools play in COVID-19 vaccine distribution?

In nearly three decades as a school nurse, National Association of School Nurses President Laurie Combe has dealt with her share of infectious diseases. Before COVID-19, there was measles, tuberculosis and swine flu, which all required similar precautions, such as quarantine, contact tracing and educating the public about the risks of exposure and the benefits of immunizing children for prevention. “The reason we immunize children is because not only can they spread disease within the school community where it would have so much contact; but if we protect them in the school, we’re also protecting the broader community from the spread of these preventable diseases,” she said. “So the school really has a huge role to play in the health of the broader community.”

Study: Evaluations penalized teachers in low-income schools

A study published Thursday in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis found teacher evaluation practices unfairly penalized Black teachers in Chicago Public Schools for teaching in low-income, disadvantaged neighborhoods. The typical Black Chicago teacher ranked in the 37th percentile of teacher observation scores, compared to the typical White teacher’s 55th percentile ranking. After researchers controlled the differences for factors such as academic achievement, poverty and student misconduct rates, however, the gap statistically disappeared. The study found 89% of the Black/White gap in classroom observation scores was driven by differences between the schools where the teachers worked.

Schools targeted for improvement: Are small sample sizes masking poor school performance? (Infographic)

In some states, a disproportionately large share of schools identified for Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) are middle schools that have low-performing students with disabilities. In one state, these middle schools accounted for 67% of all TSI schools in the state. The Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic partnered with two states in the region to explore why this might be. We examined school accountability systems in two states and identified two features that, when combined, make middle schools more likely than other schools to be identified for TSI because of the performance of their students with disabilities.

Will this school year be another casualty of the pandemic?

In this Data Note, researchers summarize selected findings on teaching and learning in the face of a pandemic by drawing on surveys administered via the RAND American Educator Panels (AEP) to nationally representative samples of teachers and principals in early October 2020. The findings paint an alarming picture of how the 2020–2021 school year is unfolding. Even though teachers are working more hours than they were before the pandemic, students are likely not getting all the curriculum content and instruction that they would have received during a normal school year. Students from vulnerable populations might be particularly likely to slip through the cracks.