It might seem far away, but the 2021–22 school year is just around the corner. In a few short months, students will be gearing up for summer break—and using that time wisely has never been more important. This fall will be similarly significant.
It might seem far away, but the 2021–22 school year is just around the corner. In a few short months, students will be gearing up for summer break—and using that time wisely has never been more important. This fall will be similarly significant. The vaccine rollout hasn’t been as smooth as most of us hoped, we’re still waiting for evidence that the vaccine is safe for kids, and experts warn that the pandemic is far from over. But it’s possible that schools could fully reopen for the coming year, and that means education leaders need to start planning now.
To be clear, none of this means that schools or leaders should stop focusing on this year. Kids are still in school (albeit virtually in a lot of places), and what happens between now and the end of the school year matters immensely. But what we do in the future matters too, and it’s important for leaders to start thinking about how to handle this summer and fall. Here’s a look at three areas where they should focus their attention.
Collecting reliable academic data
Although there is some data estimating learning loss, we don’t yet know precisely how big of an impact school closures and virtual learning have had on students. The collective consensus is that there’s been a disproportionate impact on children who were already underserved—low-income students, students of color, those with special needs, and English language learners—but nobody knows for sure.
That needs to change as soon as possible. As long as it’s safe to do so, it’s imperative that schools administer state assessments this spring. These assessments will allow us to reliably measure student achievement and growth across schools, subgroups, and geographic regions, and compare those results to previous years to identify potential gaps and losses. Local assessments matter, too, but it’s important to assess potential learning loss on a broad scale so that achievement gaps are clear. State leaders need to know where to send supplemental funding, district and school leaders need to know where to target intervention efforts, and education researchers need a new baseline from which to track progress moving forward. None of that is possible without reliable and comparable state assessment data.
Adding more learning time
School closures and remote schooling have cost kids hundreds of hours of learning time. To make up for all these lost hours, the best thing schools can do is provide students with additional time. Summer school, extended days and years, and high-dosage tutoring after school and even on the weekends are all interventions that schools should consider. Ideally, school leaders will spend the current semester planning to implement all these options during the coming summer months and school year—and perhaps beyond—until students are caught up.
At the state level, it’s critical that policymakers provide districts the resources necessary to boost learning time. The federal funding headed to Ohio thanks to the most recent federal relief package should help with that.
Communicating to parents and the public
Even with good data and a solid plan for implementing time-based interventions, schools won’t succeed in catching kids up without clear and consistent communication efforts. Schools need to focus on communicating with two groups in particular.
First and most importantly are parents and families. Parents need to know where their kids are academically in comparison to state standards. They also need to know what schools plan to do to close achievement gaps and remediate learning loss, and how they can support those efforts at home. No time should be wasted in waiting for parents to come to schools for help either. Remediation action plans should be automatically provided with clear timelines and expectations along with minimal red tape.
Second, schools need to communicate with the broader community. Taxpayers and stakeholders also deserve to know where students are and how schools are addressing learning loss. But clear communication about what schools need from the surrounding community—volunteers for tutoring programs, equipment donations, Covid-safe learning spaces—is also vitally important.
Even if schools are able to fully reopen this fall, the lingering impacts of the pandemic will be significant and long-lasting. The best way for leaders and teachers to minimize these impacts is to start planning how to address them now. That means getting clear data on where students are, organizing and offering as many time-based interventions as possible, and communicating both academic data and intervention offerings clearly to parents.
The federal government continues its spending spree aimed at ameliorating the effects of the pandemic. At the end of December, Congressand President Trump signed a $900 billion package that made headlines for sending eligible Americans direct payments of $600. Perhaps less known is that the legislation also includes $54.3 billion for K–12 education, a that more than quadruples the $13.2 billion earmarked for primary and secondary education in last March’s .
In general, the new relief package works similarly to the. States will receive money based on the allocation rules in the federal education law known as . Ohio is expected to receive just shy of in relief aid, or approximately $1,100 per pupil. Ninety percent of this funding—known as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund ( )–will be allocated to Ohio districts and public charter schools via which generally steer more dollars to high-poverty systems. For instance, according to , Cleveland Metropolitan School District will receive about $3,000 per pupil in ESSER II aid versus $238 per pupil for the wealthier suburban district of Rocky River. Districts and charters will have broad spending flexibilities and until September 2023 to use the federal funds.
Just like the earlier CARES Act package, ESSER II also allows state education agencies to set aside 10 percent of the overall allocation for discretionary purposes. Thus, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will soon receive a sizeable chunk of money—about $200 million—to use as it sees fit. It’s not yet clear how the department will spend these funds, but it has plenty of options (though the uses are subject to state AP courses and exams or ), subsidize Internet access, create need- or competitive-based grant programs, or simply send the money to districts and charters via formula.approval). They could pursue centralized initiatives like the launched with CARES Act dollars, provide “direct student supports” (e.g., paying for
Also akin to the CARES Act, the new relief package includes a much smaller  In Ohio, nonpublic schools will receive $155 million in federal relief aid through the governor’s fund. An additional $46 million will be sent to the Ohio governor’s office to use at its discretion on early childhood, K–12, or higher education.(GEER II). Nationally, the legislation provides $4.1 billion in GEER II funds, of which $2.75 billion has been set aside for nonpublic schools, as they don’t receive support through ESSER II.
What all does this mean for Ohio education? Three thoughts:
1. Ohio schools will need to figure out how to spend more money, rather than prepare for budget cuts. To be sure, the $2 billion in federal relief aid represents just a fraction of the spent on K –12 education in Ohio. But the amount is nothing to scoff at. For many districts, it’ll mean millions more in their coffers. Moreover, with recent higher than expected despite the pandemic, the extra boost in federal aid may not be needed to offset state budget cuts. Despite what some had feared, it’s altogether possible that Ohio schools will soon be deciding how to spend an influx of new money rather than working to slim down their budgets.
2. How these relief funds are spent will matter immensely. As noted above, Ohio schools will have flexibility in how they spend the ESSER II funds. But will they squander these valuable resources on unnecessary or ineffectual initiatives? Or will they use them to provide extra support to students who have been knocked off-track? Over on Twitter, Vlad Kogan, a political science professor at The Ohio State University :
If your district spends its new federal funds on anything other than (1) extending learning time or (2) intensive tutoring for the most at-risk kids, they are committing educational malpractice. Vote the board out as soon as you can.
Amen to that. Research and common sense suggest that in-personand would probably give students the best chance of catching up. Programs such as intensive tutoring or summer school also make sense given the temporary nature of these funds and the hopefully short-term need for remediation. Districts, however, should be wary of more permanent expenditures such as across-the-board pay raises or hiring additional full-time staff, which could be difficult to sustain when the emergency dollars dry up.
It’s worth noting that ODE and the governor’s office will also be facing decisions about how to spend roughly a quarter billion in federal relief aid. Much like Ohio’s districts and charters, they’ll need to consider how best to leverage these dollars to meet the needs of students (a topic we’ll tackle in future blogs).
3. To guide spending decisions, Ohio needs up-to-date information about where students stand. At this point, no one really knows the extent of the pandemic’s effects on students. State assessments were cancelled last spring, so no system-wide data on the academic toll exist. There is also a dearth of information about how many Ohio students have gone missing from school. To target these emergency funds toward students most at-risk of falling through the cracks, state and local leaders need information ASAP. State authorities, for instance, could use attendance data to help schools identify and re-engage students who have fallen off the radar, something thatand are doing. Local educational leaders could rely on spring 2021 state assessment data to encourage off-track students to take advantage of the extra supports afforded by the relief aid.
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With a seemingly unlimited willingness to enlarge the national debt, the federal government has bolstered school finances through the CARES Act and the ESSER/GEER II funding. It’s possible that the incomingand a Democrat-controlled Congress will keep the gravy train going. But the largesse doesn’t mean that schools can spend haphazardly, without giving much thought to the needs of students or the consequences of today’s decisions on tomorrow’s budgets. Rather, Ohio’s educational leaders will need to put these dollars to good use. With many students struggling to keep pace, every penny will count.
 Unlike ESSER I, school districts are not required to provide nonpublic schools with “equitable services” under ESSER II. For more, see .
Most Ohioans likely didn’t notice the passage ofa few days prior to Christmas. That’s understandable, given the ongoing pandemic and the hustle and bustle of the holidays. But this bipartisan bill is chock full of education provisions that will have a significant impact on schools of all stripes. It’s worth a close look, particularly because it includes an “emergency measure” that requires the majority of its provisions to go into effect . Here’s a bird’s-eye view of what the bill seeks to accomplish.
Pausing school accountability
Last spring, Governor DeWinethat eliminated state testing and paused school accountability measures for the 2019–20 school year. While HB 409 does not cancel state exams for the coming spring, it extends the accountability pause through the (current) 2020–21 school year. That means that for the second year in a row, the Ohio Department of Education will not publish state report card ratings. The consequences associated with the Third Grade Reading Guarantee have also been waived, meaning schools are not required to retain students based solely on their reading scores. Similarly, ratings assigned to charter school sponsors for the 2020–21 school year won’t be used to determine sanctions and penalties.
It’s important to note that this pause on accountability does not impact existing sanctions or penalties that were already in effect prior to the pandemic, nor does it create a new starting point for measures that are based on ratings determined by multiple years of data. For example, districts that were subject to an Academic Distress Commission (ADC) during the prior year——will remain under the control of an ADC in the upcoming year. Data from the 2020–21 school year cannot be used to determine whether these district are eligible for the outlined in the . Similarly, low-performing schools that were previously identified for intervention based on will continue to receive the interventions outlined in their improvement plans during the 2021–22 school year. The pause also does not impact student eligibility for for the 2021–22 and 2022–23 school years.
Attendance tracking for e-schools
Determining the best way to track attendance at e-schools has been a priority for Ohio lawmakers since 2017, when attendance and enrollment issues at the now-defunct Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) started. There have been a few attempts at legislative changes since then, but HB 409 is the first piece of legislation to explicitly outline how e-schools must track student attendance. Under the new law, students are considered in attendance if they meet one of two conditions: 1) they participate in at least 90 percent of the hours of instructional activities offered by their school, or 2) they are considered on pace for on-time completion in any course in which they are enrolled. The law identifies what qualifies as an “instructional activity,” but it’s left up to individual schools to come up with a definition for “on pace.”
HB 409 also mandates that e-schools adopt policies that identify how they plan to address chronically absent students. For example, schools are required to notify in writing the parent or guardian of a student who accumulates thirty or more hours of unexcused absences. If students fail to follow attendance guidelines after this notification, intervention efforts, and a “reasonable period of time,” then schools are permitted to disenroll students—but they must provide families with a list of alternative education options and notify the student’s resident district within forty-eight hours.
Flexibility regarding substitute teachers
Even during a typical school year, good substitute teachers arebecause it’s a that . The pandemic has made it that much , as Covid-19 infections and exposure protocols have forced teachers to quarantine and left school leaders scrambling to find replacements. from the state could lessen the pressure on schools, and —which was signed into law in November under emergency status— that would have expired in July 2020. HB 409 builds on these efforts by waiving the state requirement that substitute teachers hold a post-secondary degree. For the 2020–21 school year only, districts and schools are permitted to employ substitute teachers without post-secondary credentials as long as they meet all other requirements and procedures (like passing background checks).
Flexibility for the state superintendent
Responding to an ongoing global health crisis calls for flexibility, and HB 409 offers plenty of it to the state superintendent. For the 2020–21 school year, Ohio’s education chief has the power to extend or waive the deadlines on several state policies, including teacher evaluations, school safety drills, and the identification and screening of gifted students. Notably, the bill explicitly states that the superintendent’s authority to waive or extend deadlines does not apply to application deadlines for.
All things considered, nothing in HB 409 is particularly surprising. Revising attendance policies for e-schools and suspending the state’s accountability system due to the pandemic have beenfor a while now. The bill’s provisions are reasonable responses to problems that have surfaced thanks to the pandemic. Overall, this is a measured piece of legislation that strikes a solid balance between flexibility and accountability.
In March 2020, a group of researchers and economists led by Peter Q. Blair of Harvard University published a working paper exploring the idea that on-the-job skills acquisition could be just as valuable as a bachelor’s degree, or more, in helping workers move up the career ladder to higher-wage work. A, but the bottom line was that college was not the only route to upward mobility. “In-demand jobs might be filled from the ranks of skilled, hard-working lower-wage workers” as well as from the ranks of B.A. holders, Blair wrote.
The group Its new report looks at the mechanisms for employment mobility—how workers successfully leverage their skills into higher-wage jobs and the barriers that can prevent their rise., home of the economists on the original research team, has pursued this line of thought into a number of additional analyses.
The new analysis uses data contained in the, a comprehensive collection of occupational information, to compare the skills required for any two given jobs. The framework calculates a “distance” between those two jobs based on the amount of similarity in skills. The greater the overlap in skills, the shorter the distance between jobs.
Using data from the  and those with degrees fare in their new jobs. Transitions are classified as upward, downward, or stagnant based on the impact on worker wages.the analysis also identified over 130 million job transitions occurring between 2010 and 2019 to understand which workers change jobs, how successful those moves are, and the different ways in which those with skills
Downward and stagnant transitions predominate for workers without college degrees, or 61 percent of the transitions observed. The upward transitions this population do make are of a smaller skills distance than their degreed peers. That is, there is more of a skills match between the origin and the destination jobs. Workers with college degrees, meanwhile, make more upward transitions than their non-degreed peers. That’s not surprising. More striking, though, is the distance over which they transition, often rising between jobs with very different skill requirements. That is, the destination job requires more and different skills than the origin job. The lack of skills overlap between the jobs indicates that degreed workers likely don’t have all the needed skills of the destination job. While it could be that employers in the destination job assume that their new employees “have what it takes” to adapt, the researchers suggest more pessimistically that the lack of skills is literally “papered over” with the indicator of a college degree. Wage growth in upward transitions is also higher for degreed workers than for non-degreed ones.
In looking at the 31 million upward transitions non-degreed workers did make, specific mobility pathways recurred. Researchers identified fifty-one so-called “gateway” jobs that were reasonably accessible to lower-skilled workers, employed large numbers of people, and reliably led to additional upward transitions. Examples include customer service representatives, pipefitters, computer support specialists, licensed practical and vocational nurses, and advertising sales agents.
Unfortunately, even these few avenues of upward mobility were not accessible to enough workers. Those with college degrees still comprised the majority (59 percent) of those working in these specific gateway paths. Historic patterns of job discrimination were also front and center in upward transitions. Black and Hispanic workers started out in lower-wage jobs more often than their White counterparts and made shorter distance transitions, despite likely having the same skills. Women showed the same transition patterns as Black and Hispanic workers and also were less well-compensated than men even when they made transitions of an identical skills distance.
Ultimately, this work shows that there is [email protected] are convinced that reverence for the college degree among employers is a large part of the problem. The report’s recommendations are strongly targeted at employers, urging them to open and strengthen pathways of employment for skilled workers by investing in their existing non-degreed workforce and helping them move up. But who knows how the coronavirus pandemic will distort the world of work going forward? Perhaps will be skilled workers’ gain.in our present workforce than is being realized, and the folks from
SOURCE: “[email protected] (December 2020).,”
Approximately 85,000 Ohio students use interdistrict open enrollment to attend a neighboring school district. Titled Open Enrollment and Student Diversity in Ohio’s Schools, this new report examines whether these student transfers are creating more diverse schools, or possibly worsening segregation.
To assess this question, Dr. Deven Carlson of the University of Oklahoma compares current segregation levels across Ohio’s 600 plus school districts to a counterfactual in which all students attend their home district (i.e., no open enrollment). Based on his analysis of Ohio Department of Education data for the 2012–13 to 2017–18 school years, the following findings emerge.
- Ohio school districts are highly segregated by race. As of 2017–18, 70.0 percent of Black students would need to change districts to achieve an even distribution (that is, each district’s enrollment would reflect the state average of Black students). Segregation levels in Ohio are higher than the national average where 61 percent of Black students would need to relocate.
- Ohio school districts are moderately segregated by socio-economic status. Data for 2017–18 indicate that 49.8 percent of economically disadvantaged students in Ohio would need to move in order to reach an even distribution.
- Interdistrict open enrollment has virtually no effect on segregation across Ohio school districts. Without open enrollment, 69.6 percent of Black students would have needed to relocate in order to achieve an even distribution (instead of 70.0 percent). The impacts by socio-economic status are likewise very small.
- Open enrollment does not appear to impact segregation at an individual school level. Although detailed analyses for individual schools were not feasible, relying on simulations, Carlson finds little evidence to suggest that open enrollment has significantly increased or decreased segregation across Ohio’s roughly 3,000 district schools.
Currently, about eight in ten Ohio districts voluntarily participate in open enrollment. However, many suburban districts choose not to accept non-resident students—the map in the infographic below displays the geographic pattern of opt-outs for the 2017–18 school year. The lack of participation among more affluent districts, plus the relatively small share of the overall population represented by open enrollers, helps to explain the minimal impacts of open enrollment on student diversity.
To leverage the potential of interdistrict open enrollment as a tool for increasing access to quality public schools and to encourage more school diversity, we offer two policy recommendations: 1) all schools districts, subject to their capacity, should participate in open enrollment and 2) open enrollees should have viable transportation options. Download this report now to learn more about the analysis and to read our policy recommendations.