The Weekly Connect 3/15/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

High dosage tutoring in a Chicago high school helped improve students’ math grades.

The newly enacted American Rescue Plan directs more funding to schools than past federal Covid relief.

Bilingual learning pods help English Language Learners.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Analysis: 10 Lessons from Past Educational Disruptions, and How They Can Help Students Make Up Lost Learning After COVID-19
The 74 Million: The body of research on past educational disruptions provides important insights into the potential longer-term impact of the pandemic. Ten lessons from this research include the findings that: lost learning time will translate into lost learning; the losses are likely to be large; the full extent of the learning losses may not show up immediately, but small losses can grow over time; learning losses are likely to be larger in younger children; math scores are likely to drop the most; beyond academic losses, students are at risk of disconnecting from education; higher-income students may not suffer any noticeable effects; low-income and disadvantaged students will suffer the biggest losses; the COVID-induced recession will affect children, families and schools in many ways; and without action, the losses are likely to have long-term consequences. See related article: K-12 Dive “Elementary Reading Development Stalled During Pandemic.” 

High Dosage Tutoring in Chicago Improved High School Math Grades
K-12 Dive: A recent study by the University of Chicago Education Lab of thousands of 9th and 10th grade students in Chicago Public Schools shows high-dosage tutoring can increase math test scores, as well as math course grades and grades in other subject areas. The tutoring model consisted of daily 45-50 minute, two-on-one instruction to complement in-classroom learning. Students who participated in the high-dosage tutoring program learned up to an additional 2.5 years’ worth of math instruction within one academic year. The study also shows improvements in math test scores, grade-point averages, and graduation rates continued for one to two years following tutoring. The study defined the nonprofit’s program as “low cost,” or between $3,500 and $4,300 per student per year.

Policy

The American Rescue Plan: What’s in it for K-12 Schools?
Ed Note: Congress recently approved the American Rescue Plan (H.R.1319). This bill differs from previous Coronavirus aid (e.g., CARES Act and the CRRSA) in important ways. While the $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan isn’t larger than the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, it sends more aid to K-12 schools than prior federal relief packages. In particular, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund — dollars directed to school districts for a variety of eligible services — has grown substantially. In addition to more K-12 funding, the American Rescue Plan requires states to reserve 5% and local school districts to reserve 20% of ESSER funds for addressing learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions that respond to the academic and social and emotional needs of students. See related articles: Chalkbeat “Congress Approves Massive Infusion of Funds for Schools, and High-Poverty Districts Will Get the Most” and CNBC “Biden Claims His $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Plan Will Cut Child Poverty in Half — Here’s How.” 

White House Orders Ed Department to Review Title IX Rule
K-12 Dive: President Joe Biden signed an executive order on International Women’s Day directing the U.S. Department of Education to examine existing regulations, orders, guidance, and other activities for consistency with the administration’s policy to guarantee an education free from sexual discrimination. The order makes specific reference to the review of Title IX regulations, which address sexual harassment on K-12 and postsecondary school campuses. An update to the rule was issued by the Trump administration last year and opposed by K-12 school administrative organizations, which criticized its timing and substance. Changes to Title IX will likely go through a lengthy rulemaking process. In the meantime, school systems will need to stay compliant with the current regulations, say school attorneys. 

Biden Steps Up Push for School Reopenings
The New York Times: A day after President Biden announced a new federal program to give teachers nationwide access to at least a first dose of the vaccine by the end of March, the administration sought to position itself as intent on opening schools as soon as possible while showing unity with teachers. First lady Jill Biden and education secretary Miguel Cardona traveled to Connecticut and Pennsylvania to speak and emphasize that teachers should no longer fear returning unprotected to the classroom. The CDC has said that teachers do not have to be vaccinated for schools to reopen safely. Getting shots into the arms of educators and school staff would be his “top priority” as education secretary, Cardona said. He was joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. See related article: U.S.A. Today “Education Secretary Miguel Cardona: Here’s My Five-Point Plan to Get Students Back in School Full Time.”

Around the Nation

How Bilingual Learning Pods Are Helping English Language Leaders Navigate Classes During the Pandemic Without Teachers or Peers
The 74 Million: Esperanza Inc., a non-profit offering tutoring and mentoring programs for Cleveland’s Spanish-speaking residents, developed a learning center similar to the learning pods or hubs created around the country to help students with remote learning. It offers students a safe, distanced space with WiFi to take their online classes. But Esperanza’s center has a crucial feature for English Language Learners — bilingual staff. With 3,500 ELL students making up 10 percent of the Cleveland school district’s enrollment, other nonprofits have also joined Esperanza Inc. in adding or expanding programs during the pandemic to help students. See related article: EdSurge “How Three Nonprofits Are Connecting Kids with Diverse Mentors During the Pandemic.” 

Teacher Shortages May Make it Difficult to Reopen School Safely
K-12 Dive: Teacher shortages were a problem prior to the pandemic, but the issue has grown worse during the COVID-19 pandemic and threatens to jeopardize districts’ ability to reopen safely in California, according to a report from the Learning Policy Institute that focuses on supply and demand, increasing resignations, retirements, turnovers and vacancies, and the number of new teachers entering the workforce. The results show that the shift back to in-person learning with smaller class sizes will further stretch the workforce. Workload and burnout are cited as concerns, as are increasing numbers of retirements and resignations. The report suggests building high-retention pathways into education through teacher residency, which makes the profession more affordable and attainable.

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