New Test Scores Show Students Rebounding After Pandemic-Related Learning Loss

Many students are starting to rebound from academic setbacks more than a year after coronavirus pandemic restrictions upended education nationwide, according to a report released Tuesday on new testing data. On average, students are performing below pre-pandemic expectations, but the learning gaps that existed for many at the start of the 2020-21 school year are shrinking, particularly in math, according to a report from Renaissance Learning Inc., an online testing program used in thousands of U.S. schools.

The 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency Study

The 2018 NAEP Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) study is conducted by NCES to examine fourth-grade students’ ability to read passages out loud with sufficient speed, accuracy, and expression, as well as foundational skills to gauge underlying sources of poor fluency. Oral reading fluency and foundational skills are important components of reading that are necessary for successful reading comprehension. Because the NAEP reading assessment measures reading comprehension only, the ORF study provides valuable supplemental information about students who have difficulty in reading comprehension. A nationally representative sample of about 1,800 fourth-graders from 180 public schools participated in the ORF study.

Testing and tutoring: How Illinois plans to spend a chunk of federal stimulus

The state board of education plans to set aside money for assessments, intensive tutoring and “bridge programs,” which would help the youngest students adjust to school and assist the oldest students to graduate and explore their post-secondary options. More than 90% of the funds — or $2 billion — went directly to school districts. The state board kept more than $200 million, or 9.7%; of that, and $11 million can go to administrative costs.

As Biden eyes infrastructure, recent research suggests students’ environments affect academic success

Nationwide, researchers have found that students in schools without air conditioning learn less in years with more hot school days. Similar research has been piling up in recent years, showing a direct connection between the environment students are learning in and their academic success. A Chalkbeat review found over a dozen studies in the last several years making the case. Sometimes the links are obvious; other times, they’re surprising. But together, the studies suggest that upgrades to school facilities might not just result in cosmetic improvements, but could benefit student learning — at a moment when schools may be considering changes that were previously out of reach thanks to federal stimulus funds. 

New WWC Math Tips for Parents and Caregivers: Evidence-based tips for learning fractions and algebra at home

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) just released two sets of math tips for parents and caregivers to support children’s learning of fractions and algebra at home. These tips are based on the WWC practice guides Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade and Teaching Strategies for Improving Algebra Knowledge in Middle and High School Students. As parents and caregivers continue to navigate the challenges of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are having to play a larger role in their child’s instruction than usual. These tip sheets provide easy-to-implement activities and strategies to support understanding of fractions in grades K–8 and algebra in grades 6–12.

  • Fractions Tips: These tips deepen children’s understanding of fractions through simple sharing activities, measurement activities using household items, and other real-world applications of fractions knowledge.
  • Algebra Tips: These tips strengthen children’s understanding of algebra by encouraging the use of multiple strategies to solve problems. The fractions tips are available here and the algebra tips are available here.

Additional resources (such as the full library of practice guides, tips for supporting reading skills at home, and resources for using evidence-based practices in remote learning settings) are also available for free on the WWC website.

Colorado bill would give children free mental health services during the pandemic

The Colorado state legislature is working to give children free access to mental health care to help them cope with the mental ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic. HB21-1258, introduced in the House on April 6, seeks to create a temporary program that would provide minors with three free sessions with a mental health professional. The bipartisan bill allocates $9 million to reimburse providers for these visits, which may be in person or virtual. The bill acknowledges the pandemic put “extraordinary stress” on young Coloradans “who have experienced enormous disruptions to school, social activities, and support networks, resulting in increased isolation and, in many cases, new or exacerbated instability, particularly as a result of a parent’s loss of employment or stable housing.”

Nearly $200B in K-12 pandemic relief funding brings advantages, challenges

A total of nearly $200 billion in federal relief funding for school systems’ pandemic recoveries, provided across three pieces of legislation in the past year, brings enormous opportunities — alongside challenges to spend the money efficiently, appropriately and in ways that avoid a funding cliff in the future, said education experts during a Tuesday webinar hosted by the Southern Regional Education Board and FutureEd. School administrators, along with education stakeholders, should thoughtfully plan how to spend the relief money in ways that will achieve intended goals, use evidence-based practices and address the needs of students most impacted by the pandemic, the panelists said.

Can school nurses be the link between student health and academic gains?

As schools address lost instructional time during a global health crisis, educators should consider analyzing school medical data along with academic metrics to better target resources and intervene earlier when a student struggles with learning, Addie Angelov, founder and executive director of the Paramount Health Data Project, told K-12 Dive. By correlating information about student visits to the school nurse with academic data, schools can also use that information to advocate for more funds for school health programs; form partnerships with nonprofits; increase efforts toward equitable practices; and better identify students in need of Section 504 services, Angelov said.

PSRC Board of Education advances plans for summer school

Public Schools of Robeson County’s Board of Education members approved moving forward with summer school plans to help students recover from a year of learning during a global pandemic. Board members also approved allowing staff to move forward with planning and preparations for PSRC Summer Learning and Enrichment Camp and to submit plans for the camp to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The Credentials Students Earn Beyond a High School Diploma

Individuals in the United States can pursue a variety of different types of postsecondary education credentials. This Perspective describes four common types: degrees, certificates, industry certifications and licenses, and apprenticeships.