AASA report outlines path to systemic change in public education by 2025

Schools and classrooms across the nation need to implement systemic changes that support personalized and rigorous learning based on equitable practices, a group of education, business, advocacy and philanthropic leaders said in a report published by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Although the report outlines core component areas for school redesign improvements and specific steps to meet those recommendations, the leaders’ work is ongoing and will continue with the release of case studies of demonstration school districts and virtual forums to share success stories.

Pandemic’s K-12 impacts exacerbated by pre-existing disability disparities

The novel coronavirus pandemic has had a disparate impact on students with disabilities, who experienced a greater loss of instructional time alongside an increase in traumatic experiences, according to a new report from the Civil Rights Project. In fact, the disparities during the pandemic have been exacerbated by pre-COVID-19 inequalities, particularly for students of color who qualify for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and those students with disabilities who qualify for 504 services, the 121-page report said.

District leaders detail 4 best practices for hosting school vaccination clinics

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out at varying paces, districts are setting up school-based clinics and working with local health organizations to get shots to school staff at other community vaccination events. “We all know schools get used for a lot of different events…they’re a real center of a community and so it’s not difficult to set something like that up,” said Kathleen Ethier, a public health official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a March webinar. 

When typical middle school antics mean suspensions, handcuffs or jail

Most American children who age into the criminal justice system do so in middle school — every state allows for the prosecution of children as young as 12, though most set the threshold earlier, or not at all — and suspension from school is predictive of incarceration later in life. For Black, Native and Latino boys, like Alan, research by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights shows the impact to be especially severe. And while the pandemic closed middle schools across the country, it doesn’t appear to have shut down school discipline.

5 ways COVID-19 is influencing school construction projects

With nearly $190.5 billion has been earmarked for helping schools cope with the ramifications of the novel coronavirus pandemic, some leaders are eyeing the use of those funds for related school construction projects. In 2020, Congress passed two relief bills provided nearly $67.8 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, in March, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, in December. 

Can schools make summer programs more fun, effective by focusing on accelerated learning?

As schools expand summer learning programming to address lost instructional time during the pandemic, efforts should focus on offering accelerated learning experiences as a motivator for students, as well as aim to include as many students as possible who want to participate, speakers recommended during a Tuesday webinar hosted by the Learning Policy Institute and AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Federal stimulus funding has provided school districts the opportunity to strengthen summer programing that should include research-based strategies, such as incorporating social, emotional and academic components into enriching experiences for students, said LPI President and CEO Linda Darling-Hammond, who also serves as president of the California State Board of Education.

Amid teaching shortages, can educators in related subject areas fill gaps?

Just under a quarter of physics teachers majored in the subject, and fewer than half overall majored or minored in physics, according to a 2012-13 report from the American Institute of Physics, but physics teacher Marianna Ruggerio writes for Edutopia that all science and math teachers can still teach the subject successfully to their students. If there isn’t an existing physics teacher in the building to lean on for support, a math or science educator can start by turning to the American Association of Physics Teachers for networking and help. Twitter is another resource where physics teachers share ideas and suggestions.

Pandemic Reduces Number of High School Students taking Dual Enrollment Courses

The increasingly popular practice of taking college courses while in high school — an umbrella that includes dual credit, concurrent enrollment and early college programs — is often a free or low-cost way of accruing college credits, sometimes shaving two years off the time it takes to get an undergraduate degree. Dual enrollment also increases the likelihood that students will go to college, research suggests. A Colorado study found that those who took dual and concurrent enrollment courses were 23 percent more likely to enroll in college than their classmates who didn’t.

8 ways a year of dueling crises is shaping the future of K-12 schools

Over the past year, school and district leaders were confronted with the challenge of a lifetime. In March 2020, a global pandemic ground the K-12 public education system to a halt, sending educators scrambling to adapt to distance learning models alongside their students, and requiring administrators to strain to close gaps in access to devices and home internet while maintaining special education services, meal programs for high-needs students, plan for how to safely reopen when possible and more. But alongside COVID-19, they also faced a dual crisis that required equal precision and speed: the nation’s reckoning with systemic racism, ignited by the police-involved deaths of Black Americans.