The Weekly Connect 5/24/21

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:

Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research reenforces the case for universal preschool

As eviction moratoriums end, the risk of homelessness increases

Cleveland tests out a kinder, gentler summer school

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

The Case For Universal Pre-K Just Got Stronger
N.P.R.: President Biden and Congress are aiming to implement universal preschool in the U.S., and a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research gives us a glimpse of what the impact could be. In 1997-2003, 4,000 children in Boston took part in a lottery system for slots for city-funded preschool. Recently, economists found that individuals who were randomly selected to attend preschool were less likely to get suspended from school, less likely to skip class, and less likely to be placed in a juvenile detention facility. They were more likely to take the SATs and prepare for college. The preschool group ended up having a high-school graduation rate of 70%, 6% higher than the kids who were denied preschool. And 54% of the preschoolers ended up going to college, 8% higher than their counterparts who didn’t go to preschool.

Parents’ Spending on Education Boomed During the Pandemic. Here’s Why
EdWeek Market Brief: Parents in the U.S. pumped billions more dollars than usual into their children’s education during the pandemic, in large part because they sought out services and curriculum directly rather than relying on their school to provide them, a new analysis by Tyton Partners found. Families spent an estimated $232 billion on private schools and education-related activities, an increase of nearly $20 billion compared to previous years, according to the survey of more than 3,000 parents. Most of the increase was attributed to parents’ switches to learning pods or homeschooling to supplement schoolwork. The analysis also captured a decline in spending on products and out-of-school activities. See related study: Toluna “Pandemic Learning Effects Study.”

Policy

What Does the CDC’s New Mask Recommendation Mean for Schools?
Education Week: Even as vaccinated adults stop wearing masks in many settings, schools should maintain recommended COVID-19 “layered mitigation strategies,” including masks, through at least the remainder of the 2020-21 school year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a recent update. That advice came days after the agency said fully vaccinated adults no longer need to wear masks or maintain social distancing guidelines, indoors or outdoors. That relaxed recommendation may have created a sense of freedom for vaccinated Americans, but it also created some questions about the next year for K-12 schools, where masks have been a key strategy for slowing the spread of COVID-19. See related article: NJ.com “N.J. Parents Must Send Kids to In-Person School This Fall, Murphy Says.”

As Pandemic Eviction Moratorium Ends, Households with Children Face Greater Risk of Homelessness
Child Trends: Current federal moratoria on evictions and foreclosures for people unable to pay their rent or mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic are scheduled to end by June 30, 2021, and the eviction moratorium is in immediate legal jeopardy. The consequences of ending eviction and foreclosure protections for non-payment would fall disproportionately on households with children, who are more likely to have difficulty paying rent or mortgage, according to data from the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey. Based on this Pulse data, to prevent these families from experiencing housing instability or homelessness—state and federal policymakers should provide eviction and foreclosure supports to families and landlords through rental and mortgage assistance, and should offer additional supports to families who have struggled during the pandemic. See related article: Brookings “Anti-Poverty Policies for Children Must Level the Playing Field Across Both Racial and Economic Lines.

See the Hundreds of Pet Projects for Schools and Students Federal Lawmakers Want to Fund
Education Week: Federal lawmakers can seek direct funding for local projects by lobbying for what are commonly known as earmarks. The House of Representatives recently published a list of the earmarks members are seeking for fiscal year 2022. While it isn’t guaranteed that all funding requests will be included in the final spending deal, the requests shed light on lawmakers’ priorities for serving schools and students. Out of 2,887 earmark requests so far, 343 are child- or education-related projects (roughly 12% of the total). These projects would cost $335.8 million. The top 10 categories of child-related projects include: school district, Boys & Girls Club/YMCA, community center, school district-related, shelter and housing, STEM, summer learning/workforce, early childhood, mental health, and after-school programs. See related article: K-12 Dive “How Are Districts Planning to Spend American Rescue Funds?

Around the Nation

Leaders Detail Approaches to Assessing Students’ Academic, Mental Health Needs
K-12 Dive: While formative and diagnostic assessments are useful tools to gauge students’ academic status, they should be administered with a specific purpose and in coordination with other measures of student learning and social and emotional wellbeing, according to a group of education leaders who spoke during a recent webinar hosted by the Learning Policy Institute and AASA. Data from classroom, schoolwide, and districtwide assessments, for example, should only be collected and analyzed if the information will be used to improve student supports, the educators said. Formative assessments, surveys, teacher observations, and even student and family direct feedback are essential ways schools will know what interventions students need after over a year of disrupted education due to the global health crisis.

Cleveland’s Kinder, Gentler Summer School: District Mixes Pure Academics With Enrichment Activities to Entice Kids Back to Class After COVID Struggles
The 74 Million: Cleveland’s “Summer Learning Experience,” uses a strategy districts across the country are testing to help students rebound. Schools are avoiding strict academics, betting instead on getting students back to class with a mix of fun activities and learning. The hope is that a softer tone will rekindle students’ joy for learning this summer and for years to come, helping them recover socially, emotionally, and academically. “We’re really thinking about how the recovery looks in the next 1-3 years and not the notion that somehow, in one summer, we’re going to recover everything from the pandemic,” said district CEO Eric Gordon, adding that mandating attendance would backfire and drive students away. In Cleveland, academics and fun afternoon activities like music, sports, art, or neighborhood improvement projects will be braided together.

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