Fordham’s new resource, “The Acceleration Imperative,” aims to give the nation’s chief academic officers a head start on planning for America’s educational recovery, with a focus on high-poverty elementary schools. It’s intentionally a work in progress, and already the product of thoughtful advice from more than three dozen experts. The intention is for it to continue evolving and improving with readers’ help, via a “crowdsourced” initiative on a new wiki site.
After one of the worst years in the history of American education, there is finally light at the end of this very dark tunnel. Teachers and other school staff are getting vaccinated, infection rates are starting to drop, and President Biden has promised a partial return to normalcy as soon as the Fourth of July.
For instructional leaders in school districts and charter school networks nationwide, that means their focus can start to shift from managing the daily crises of remote and hybrid learning to looking ahead to the fall, when there’s reason to hope that all students will be back in class full-time once again. In other words, it’s time to put our attention on the recovery phase of the pandemic, when we all must work to ensure that the challenges encountered by students since March 2020 do not set them back for the rest of their education careers.
A new resource from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, The Acceleration Imperative: A Plan to Address Elementary Students’ Unfinished Learning in the Wake of Covid-19, aims to give the nation’s chief academic officers a head start on planning for America’s educational recovery, with a particular focus on high-poverty elementary schools.
The document is intentionally a work in progress. It’s already the product of thoughtful advice from more than three dozen instructional leaders and scholars. The intention is for this model plan to continue evolving and improving with the help of practitioners and other readers—via a “crowdsourced” initiative on a new “CAO Central” wiki site. After all, America’s public education system may be divvied up into 13,000 districts and 7,000 charter schools, but that doesn’t mean we need to work in isolation. As with other open-sourced and crowd-sourced efforts, the goal here is to address common challenges together.
This document rests on four key assumptions:
- Many students—especially the youngest children in the highest-need schools—will need extra help coming out of the pandemic, in the form of extended learning time, high-dosage tutoring, and expanded mental-health supports. The latest data from i-Ready winter assessments show that elementary school students—especially students of color and those in high-poverty schools—have been hit particularly hard, and are significantly behind where they usually would be in both reading and math. And every day we see new evidence about the burgeoning mental health crisis hitting American children.
- That extra help should complement but cannot replace what students need from schools’ core programs. Tutoring cannot substitute for high-quality curricula, and mental-health services can’t take the place of a positive school culture. No amount of extended learning time can compensate for not making optimal use of the “regular” school day. So while education leaders must address the particular needs of students related to the pandemic, they may also need to reboot their school improvement efforts. Implementing a high-quality curriculum is job number one.
- To make up for what’s been lost, we need to focus on acceleration, not remediation—going forward rather than going back. That means devoting the bulk of classroom time to challenging instruction, at or above grade-level, and giving all students access to the good stuff: a rich, high-quality curriculum in English language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, the arts, and more.
- Our decisions should be guided by high-quality research evidence whenever possible.
The good news is that the American Rescue Act provides over $100 billion for local districts and charter schools to address students’ needs in the wake of the pandemic.
So what might make for smart investments of the new federal funds, with an eye toward academic recovery? And what action steps should schools take? The Acceleration Imperative is chock-full of specific recommendations, including:
- Administer a school culture survey to evaluate the current strengths and weaknesses across the community, such as those from Johns Hopkins University or UChicago Impact. Do teachers and staff view the school as having clear, high expectations for teaching and learning? Do they feel that vision is aligned with school or network policies and practices?
- Select and implement comprehensive, high-quality instructional materials. Reviews from EdReports are helpful; only green-rated curriculum should be used.
- When selecting a curriculum, also arrange for professional-development services from a training organization that specializes in supporting educators to use that curriculum. Rivet Education is a promising source of reviews for professional learning providers.
- In both English language arts and math, focus on “priority instructional content” as identified by Student Achievement Partners, at least during the 2021–22 school year.
- Establish science and social studies as part of the daily core of elementary school instruction, rather than “special” subjects that happen once or twice a week. Ensure that students are not pulled away from science or social studies instruction for any reason, including for tutoring.
- Keep struggling students, including those with disabilities and English learners, together with their general-education classmates as much as possible, even as their specific learning challenges are also being addressed during additional instruction in small-group settings.
- Use the same instructional materials for interventions and supports—including tutoring—that are used for regular instruction.
- Implement an evidence-based mental health program such as Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) for students who have experienced significant trauma or who have been diagnosed with serious mood, anxiety, or other behavioral disorders.
The most important suggestion: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The only recommendations that will help students thrive are ones implemented thoughtfully, with fidelity, and with attention to detail. Aim for quality over quantity, and save some steps for later.
Nothing in The Acceleration Imperative is brand new. Almost everything has been validated by quality research on its actual implementation in existing American schools, in addition to the professional experiences of our expert reviewers. But pulling it all together and applying it in schools that already faced considerable challenges before the pandemic is going to be a heavy lift. We know that. The goal of the dozens of practitioners and academics who have contributed to the project is to help with the task, and to assist educators in accelerating the progress of our most disadvantaged students across this great country of ours. Now let’s get to work.
Editor’s note: A different version of this article was first published by The 74 Million.
Editor’s note: This is the second post in a series that puts the themes of 2020’s Getting the Most Bang for the Education Buck into today’s context, with particular attention to the effects of the pandemic and federal relief dollars. Edited by Rick Hess and Brandon Wright, the book features nine chapters by twelve authors. Each entry in this series will draw primarily upon a single chapter. Read the first post, on the effects of America’s aging population, here.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, including its $129 billion for schools, will do much to mitigate the harm Covid-19 inflicted on K–12 education and our students over the last year. Yet despite the windfall, it won’t fix many of the problems school systems had before the pandemic, many of which the virus has made worse. A primary example is the rising and substantial cost of employee benefits—especially pensions and health care.
As Chad Aldeman, the Policy Director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, wrote before the pandemic in his chapter in Getting the Most Bang for the Education Buck, “Due to the rapidly rising costs of teacher benefits, the cost to employ any individual teacher has risen considerably.” He adds that this steady increase has occurred “largely underneath the surface, away from high-visibility fights about teacher pay, class sizes, charter schools, or other reform efforts.... But if policymakers don’t pay attention, rising benefit costs will continue to cut into education budgets and force some hard choices.”
On the pension side, the American Rescue Plan therefore provides no direct money for the ailing public systems that pay retired teachers and principals after they’ve left the schoolhouse. The package does include $82 billion for “multiemployer pension funds”—but those are plans that cover private-sector employers and their workers. It also includes $195.3 billion to state governments, but this cannot be used to shore up ailing public pensions systems that pay retired teachers and principals. Aldeman does point out, however, that money is fungible, and it will be hard to know if states are using stimulus funds to pay off past pension debts. “Realistically, some of the money will go to pensions, since presumably some of the money will cover salary and benefits for full-time employees,” he told me. It may be indirect, but, “pensions would eat up proportional share of whatever districts spend on regular staff.”
This could be a big problem because policymakers have given little attention to rising pension liabilities over the last twenty years, preferring to kick this huge can as far down the road as they can, despite the deleterious effects of two recessions. “Nearly every state has over-promised and under-saved,” Aldeman writes in the book, “and collectively the plans covering teachers owe more than $500 billion in unfunded pension promises due to current and future retirees.”
The stimulus package could help, in that it’ll improve states overall budget situations, freeing them up to reduce unfunded pension liabilities—but it’s a big, open question whether they’ll take advantage of the opportunity in that way. In California, for example, which alone has $167 billion in unfunded commitments to teachers and other state workers, “there are no proposals, either by the governor or the Legislature, to allocate any proposed federal aid toward state pensions,” according to the state’s Finance Department spokesman H.D. Palmer. In any event, most relief dollars will be spent on more immediate concerns, limiting their indirect effects on pensions even in places that want to mitigate the problem.
As for health care benefits, the pandemic has blessedly been a bit of a wash, and insurers’ premium hikes have been very modest, with a median rate increase of 1.1 percent from 2020 to 2021. “The most common factors that insurers cited as driving up health costs in 2021 were the continued cost of Covid-19 testing, the potential for widespread vaccination, the rebounding of medical services delayed from 2020, and morbidity from deferred or foregone care,” explains the Kaiser Family Foundation. But health care utilization was smaller than normal in 2020, and “many insurers expect health care utilization to remain lower than usual next year as people continue to observe social distancing measures and avoid routine care.”
This still leaves school systems with the significant health care obligations they had before the pandemic. Ninety-nine percent of educators are covered by health insurance, versus just two-thirds of private sector employers, and “teachers are also far more likely than private sector employees to have their health insurance benefits extend beyond employment into retirement,” writes Aldeman. “In 2017, 69 percent of public schoolteachers were employed in states and districts that offered retiree health benefits to workers under age sixty-five, and 61 percent worked for an employer that offered health benefits even after age sixty-five.” In the private sector, just 15 percent of retirees enjoy such a benefit.
The gravity of these problems is likely to be made worse by the subject of the previous installment in this series, which drew upon Matthew Ladner’s chapter: An aging American population that will reduce tax revenue, increase non-school costs, strain the public’s will to devote more dollars to education—and increase schools’ pension obligations as more and more teachers retire. As that piece also noted, for years now and on through at least 2030, an average of 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age, sixty-five, in our country every single day.
Covid-19 worsened this further because it caused more teachers than usual to opt for early retirement and thereby trigger the related benefits sooner than anyone’s models anticipated. In California, for example, there was a 26 percent increase in early retirements among teachers in 2020, compared to 2019, putting them on pace to match the record levels seen during the Great Recession.
It’s important, then, that policymakers around the country act to mitigate the budgetary strain of rising teacher-benefit costs. In the near future, that means using stimulus dollars in ways that don’t create additional long-term obligations. Do not, for example, hire more staff—especially those that will qualify for pensions and long-term health care benefits. Not only would such additions worsen the benefits problems, they’d make it more likely that leaders would push schools off a fiscal cliff of their own making within a few short years, taking dollars away from programs that will need them when the aid ends. Concerningly, however, there are some signs that many systems may do exactly this. The NEA tweeted this month, for example, that schools can use the relief money to “hire more teachers, more paraeducators, more custodians, more nurses, more counselors.”
In the longer term, addressing the rising costs of employee benefits will require tough choices. “States should start by curbing the accumulation of new pension debts,” Aldeman says. “By closing their existing pension plans and enrolling future hires in different types of retirement plans that more closely link benefits to contributions, states can at least prevent the hole from becoming deeper.” Rhode Island, for example, replaced its pension regime in 2012 with a hybrid that combines a 401(k)-like defined contribution plan with a smaller pension. “While that change did not wipe away the state’s debt, it did put Rhode Island on sounder financial footing going forward,” observes Aldeman.
On the health care side, one option is to reduce the share of the cost borne by taxpayers. “Asking teachers to pay a higher share would not be popular, but it would help increase transparency and encourage teachers to be active participations in keeping health care costs in check,” Aldeman says. Systems can also save money by being more actively involved. For example, as Michael Q. McShane writes in another chapter, the Miami-Dade County Public School system “moved to become its own health insurance provider. It opened its own medical clinic and heavily subsidized preventative care for its teachers and staff.”
As for the health care plans enjoyed by current retirees, including those over age sixty-five, these “should be on the chopping block entirely,” writes Aldeman, because “they are expensive, underfunded, and regressive, not to mention largely redundant of national programs like Obamacare and Medicare.” He acknowledges that this may seem draconian, but stresses the protections that are already in place. Medicare covers those over age sixty-five. And the Affordable Care Act provides income-based subsides for retirees under that age that can cover, according to Aldeman, “some or all of the costs of a basic health care plan” for a retired teacher. The American Rescue Plan even increased those subsidies further.
It’s an understatement to note that none of these changes would be popular. But if states and school systems refuse to make tough choices, they will find themselves with ever less money to implement other policies like higher teacher pay, stronger curricula, up-to-date technology, additional help for struggling students, greater equity, and more. Though recipients of the immediate federal windfall may not have this truth in mind, school dollars are inherently finite. And the leaders that best act on that fact will be the ones who, in the long run, end up doing the most good for their districts, their teachers, and their students.
The CDC’s revised guidelines for pupil spacing in school—three feet under most circumstances rather than six—opened a floodgate of gratitude from superintendents and parents. But they evoked more hesitancy-verging-on-churlishness from the heads of both national teachers unions and reminded me yet again that the unions have been worse about Covid reopenings than about anything else that I can recall. Why, if teachers are essential workers—they’re part of Phase 1b says the CDC, right up there with cops and firefighters—are they not expected, nay, required, to come to work? What if firemen said “No, we’re nervous, instead of rushing to that conflagration with fire engines and hoses, we’d rather stay home and Zoom”?
The Biden team gets two cheers for the new CDC guidance, for walking back its folly about schools needing only to be physically open once a week, and for sticking—so far—to its guidance on spring ’21 assessments. But that guidance contains big loopholes, and states are busy devising ways to exploit them. Maryland is moving its tests to autumn and shortening them by half, probably sweeping in more students and—if the scores come back super fast—getting baseline data for the new school year, but also contorting any multi-year comparisons or growth calculations. Colorado lawmakers have moved to test only English in some grades this spring and only math in others, thus (again) wreaking havoc with growth data. Several other jurisdictions are still seeking to get out of testing altogether.
When a blue-state governor and the teachers union pushes for a wrinkle, deferral, or waiver, how firmly will Secretary Cardona’s team push back? And how many kids will actually end up taking those tests? Using a skinny sample, such as some states are proposing, or not bothering to test the kids who study at home, or not tracking down the truants—any or all of these will result in incomplete data. At one level, that’s OK because these data aren’t supposed to be used for high-stakes accountability anyway. At another level, however, such data gaps mean that principals and teachers won’t actually know which students have what kinds of learning shortfalls when school (presumably) resumes in the fall.
When in-person schooling does resume, some of my favorite education thinkers are pushing for teachers to concentrate on “acceleration” rather than “remediation.” Says Hopkins professor David Steiner, “Instead of segregating these children and trying to give them what they didn’t learn, you say to yourself, ‘What must they know in order to stick with their peers and have access to next week’s lesson?... The key is you’re always asking yourself, ‘What do they need for next week?’ not ‘What did they miss?’” Jay Mathews, channeling Robin Lake and Paul Hill, seems willing to pare state learning expectations down to practically nothing, and Phi Delta Kappa chief Josh Starr seems willing to leave content choices entirely up to teachers.
I can see the immediate appeal, but how many holes will that strategy leave in the cumulative K–12 learning of millions of kids? What if they missed how to convert fractions to percentages, or vice versa? The difference between adverbs and adjectives? How plants produce oxygen? The Dred Scott decision? If nobody looks back to see what needs to be retaught and recovered, won’t many more students wind up with lots of gaps in the education floor that they’re supposed to stand on?
The flood of money heading into states, districts, and individual schools in the coming months—sadly unaccompanied by any mandate that the schools actually open!—will surely ease short-run budget concerns where those exist. (Not nearly as many places as once thought!) Creatively deployed—and they have years to spend it in full—this money could support not just recovery but also remarkable innovation on multiple fronts. It might pay for new ways to assess school performance, for vastly improved forms of distance learning, for reformed school calendars and schedules, and so much more. The Washington Post recently surveyed a number of these possibilities, and its tally repays attention. But all this requires leadership and the capacity to picture something different from the way we delivered education pre-pandemic. How many states and districts have that capacity? How many even understand that they could use the flood of federal dollars to strengthen that capacity?
It’s now thirty years since Minnesota lawmakers passed America’s first charter law. It was bold. It was bipartisan. It was foreshadowed by smart thinking by some very forward-looking Minnesotans (Ted Kolderie comes first to mind). It’s led to some 168 charter schools in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and about 7000 around the country (so far!), as almost every state eventually came up with a version of the Minnesota law.
I’m proud to have played a small role in this movement, which is one of the great developments of modern American K–12 education. But boy were we naïve at the outset! We didn’t know how hard authorizing would turn out to be when done well. We assumed that all parents exercising choice would focus on the educational quality of the schools they were choosing. We didn’t understand how hard it is to launch a really great school—and to keep it great over the years. And we assumed that bipartisan support would endure, not quite foreseeing the number of Republicans who are for charters in other people’s neighborhoods or the number of Democrats who would selfishly come to oppose charters even when it’s their own constituents who benefit most from the presence of such schools.
Today’s big push to rekindle civics education has my support, but the professional culture warriors are already finding it a wonderful new target for their slings and arrows. And as members of Congress gear up to file bills to further the civics cause, there’s a real risk of ending up with too much federal involvement and the possibility of another “Race to the Top” situation, redolent of the damage done to the excellent Common Core State Standards by too tight a federal embrace.
Grump, grump. OK, I realize you may not agree with me about any of this. But my chest is now a lot lighter, which I know makes you happy, too.
Structured activities and services provided outside of the regular school day were increasingly the focus of public investment in the U.S. prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Fully remote learning and hybrid models put in place over the last year have brought new attention to educational opportunities outside of the formal school day. A recent study from North Carolina indicates that an intensive, comprehensive after-school program can provide benefits both in the classroom and beyond and could provide a blueprint for post-Covid educational recovery.
Duke University’s Sarah Komisarow was able to conduct a causal study due to the fact that the oversubscribed StudentU program in Durham, North Carolina, admitted participants by lottery. StudentU is an ambitiously comprehensive program that provides education, nutrition, extracurricular, and social support services to low-income students in the city.
Participants can come from any district, charter, or private school in Durham. To be eligible to apply for a coveted spot in the program (only fifty students per cohort), the students’ parents must have not attended college (thus, program participants will be the first in their immediate family to attend college if they do so) or their family must qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Families and students sign contracts to participate in the program over seven years, and all of the services are completely free, paid for by government grants and philanthropic funding.
The intense program starts in the summer before sixth grade and continues for seven years—through students’ senior year of high school. Rising sixth graders attend a six-week, full-day, daily program in the summer that bolsters academic skills through small groups taught by local college students, as well as leveraging personal interests through elective learning groups focused on poetry, the arts, astronomy, and so on. During the school year, StudentU participants engage in fifteen hours per week of after-school programming for thirty weeks during the school year. They receive academic tutoring and participate in various physical and wellness activities (aside from the electives above).
In the spring of 2012, StudentU began using an admissions lottery to fill open seats. Komisarow’s analysis looks at lottery winners in three participant cohorts from 2012 through 2014—a total of 100 students as a treatment group—and compares their academic outcomes to a 224-matched-student control group of those who applied for the lottery but were not selected to participate. Academic outcomes included course credits earned by the end of ninth grade, grade point average (GPA), and suspension rates.
The results indicate that lottery winners accumulated 0.45 more course credits than did lottery losers by the end of ninth grade. But when Komisarow interacted lottery status with baseline achievement, she found that the effects were driven almost entirely by the students with low baseline achievement in fifth grade. That is, the lottery winners who were furthest behind at the start of the program benefitted from it even more than did their higher-achieving fellow winners. By the end of ninth grade, students who entered the program with average fifth grade test scores nearly one standard deviation below the statewide mean more closely resembled—and in some cases had better outcomes than—their counterparts who entered the program with high baseline achievement. Specifically, those with low baseline achievement earned more course credits (0.82 credits), achieved higher GPAs (0.37 grade points) and were less likely to be suspended (17.1 percentage points) during ninth grade than their lottery loser counterparts.
Since the analysis stops at the end of ninth grade, there are no data on how lottery winners fared regarding high school graduation, but Komisarow performs a back-of-the-envelope estimate that predicts lottery winners will be around 4 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than lottery losers.
Analyses on expenditures indicate that the program costs approximately $16,000 per student for four years of programming—thus, approximately $28,000 for the full seven years—which Komisarow says is in line with similar after-school programs. That’s also roughly equivalent to more than two years of additional schooling based on Durham Public Schools’ reported per-pupil spending in 2018.
Students are behind, time is of the essence, and all workable efforts will be required to make up for the losses. Thankfully, there will soon be plenty of funding to be had for big swings such as the StudentU model. Yes, schools have a role to play in stemming learning loss, but high-quality, intensive supports during out-of-school time may be just as vital.
SOURCE: Sarah Komisarow, “Comprehensive Support and Student Success: Can Out of School Time Make a Difference?,” Annenberg Institute at Brown University (September 2020).
Keeping high schoolers on track and motivated to complete academic work is a perennial worry, one of many such concerns that took on aover the last year. Now, a in the Journal of Educational Psychology indicates that there are six distinct motivational profiles into which students can fit and that a student’s motivational characteristics can change over time. What’s more, the general trend for kids is toward more intrinsic motivational patterns from year to year, and it seems that specific, controllable factors can influence this movement.
Researchers surveyed 1,670 high school students from central and northeastern Ohio over two consecutive years. In the first year, 685 students were in ninth grade, 588 were in tenth grade, and 397 were in eleventh grade. The sample was split 50.5 percent female and 49.5 percent male. Reflecting the racial and ethnic makeup of the two regions, 82.0 percent of students were White, 5.5 percent were African American, 6.2 percent were Hispanic, 3.4 percent were Middle Eastern, and 2.9 percent were Asian American. While socioeconomic status and test scores weren’t reported for individuals, the schools that students attended ranged from 12.9 to 72.5 percent economically disadvantaged, andranging from 51.9 to 85.8 percent (out of 100) on their most recent state report cards.
Students’ academic motivation was assessed via eight survey items adopted from adeveloped in the 1990s. This scale assesses students’ motivation toward school activities from fully intrinsic (learning for the simple enjoyment of the task) to fully extrinsic (doing the task only because one is forced by others), with various stages in between. Students were surveyed on their academic motivations in spring 2016 and again in spring 2017. Only students who fully completed both surveys were included in the study, although the researchers did run some comparisons between two-year and one-year survey completers to determine that there were no significant differences between the groups. Because previous studies on this topic had indicated a connection, the researchers also looked at students’ sense of school belongingness and their prior achievement levels as factors potentially contributing to academic motivation. School belongingness was assessed during the 2016 data collection only, using a five-item survey adapted from the psychological . Achievement was measured using weighted student GPA.
All students fit into one of six motivational profiles: (1) “amotivated,” meaning they had extremely low levels of all types of motivation; (2) “externally regulated,” meaning moderate levels of external regulation and low levels of all other types of motivation; (3) “balanced demotivated,” low levels of all types of motivation in a balanced pattern; (4) “moderately motivated,” moderate levels of all types of motivation; (5) “balanced motivated,” high levels of all types of motivation in a balanced pattern; or (6) “autonomously motivated,” low levels of external regulation and moderately high levels of other more autonomous motivation types.
Students fitting the balanced motivated profile predominated in both years of the survey—36.59 percent of students in year one and 36.17 percent in year two—with students fitting the moderately motivated profile accounting for nearly 30 percent of students in each year, the second-largest profile. While the membership of those two profiles stayed the most stable,showed that, depending on which profile they started in, between 40 and 77 percent of students changed profiles between years. And those changes were largely for the better, assuming that having more intrinsic motivation is “better.” For example, 8 percent of students fit the autonomously motivated profile in the first year, a share which increased to 11.4 of students in the second year. Meanwhile, membership in the amotivated profile shrunk from 2.8 percent of the total to 2.1 percent.
The researchersthat developmental maturity could be one reason for the changes in motivation. Moreover, results of the school belongingness survey consistently predicted students’ shift into more-autonomous profiles over time. When students had a higher sense of belongingness at school, they were statistically more likely to shift into a more-intrinsic motivational profile than to stay in the same profile. Students with higher belongingness scores were also more likely to stay in the same profile than to shift downward. Year one GPA likewise was a significant predictor of year two profile membership in a similar manner. The higher a student’s year one GPA, the more likely they were to stay put or shift upward. This was especially true for those starting in the “lower” profiles in year one.
The report concludes with the recommendation that schools should routinely assess students’ motivation to identify those who are most at risk for dropping out or underperforming. However, that would likely only benefit students falling into the two “lowest” profiles. It seems that making sure all students are fully connected to their schools and are achieving academically at their highest possible levels is a much stronger path toward increasing student motivation across the board.
SOURCE: Kui Xie, Vanessa W. Vongkulluksn, Sheng-Lun Cheng, and Zilu Jiang, “ ,” Journal of Educational Psychology (February 2021).
- Remote learning has taken a toll, but increased flexibility and family time should be preserved as we move into a post-pandemic era. —The Atlantic
- While hard to define, “character education” is always happening in schools. This presents an opportunity to be intentional, prioritize local values, and encourage active conversations around the community’s aspirations for its children. —Andy Smarick
- “Democrats are failing the schools test.” —The Atlantic
- The mayor of Lyon, France, has removed meat from elementary school lunch menus—sparking outcry from politicians and the meat industry. —The New York Times
- A Black Lives Matter curriculum has made its way into classrooms, sparking community debates around indoctrination and critical thinking. —Conor Friedersdorf
- Many vulnerable students have gone missing from their virtual classrooms over the past twelve months. An assistant principal in California has been driving across his county looking for his students, who are primarily low-income, Hispanic, and hard-hit by the pandemic. —The Washington Post
- Federal relief funds and smaller-than-expected drops in sales tax revenues leave school budgets in a better position than expected, but fortunes vary from state to state. —EdWeek
- A veteran educator insists “kids are not broken” and worries how a “growing narrative of loss” will affect our students, emotionally and academically. —The Atlantic
- “A split between Biden and teachers unions on reopening schools? There are 122 billion reasons why it doesn’t matter.” —The 74
- New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang speaks openly about the teachers union’s role in delaying school reopenings. —Politico
- Teaching students at home and in-person simultaneously is incredibly difficult. Prioritizing online materials, human relationships, dynamic lessons, and motivation can help. —The 74 Million
- Efforts to fund civics education may not meet conservatives’ goals without a closer look at who is implementing the policies. —City Journal
- Providing poor students with access to professional networks helps them succeed in college, just as those networks have consistently supported rich students. —Bloomberg News
On this week’s podcast, David Steiner, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, joins Mike Petrilli and David Griffith to explain why schools should embrace acceleration over remediation when addressing students’ unfinished learning. On the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines efforts to reliably measure teacher quality at scale.
Amber's Research Minute
Liu, Jing, and Julie Cohen. (2021). Measuring Teaching Practices at Scale: A Novel Application of Text-as-Data Methods. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-369). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/6bqj-vh81
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