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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
Strategies schools can use to support students and staff who are suffering from trauma.
Factors driving restrictive policies on LGBTQ issues.
Rural districts in Texas are moving to a four-day school week.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
4 Ways Schools Can Support Students, Staff Suffering From Trauma
K-12 Dive: Incorporating trauma-informed practices into schools will help schools be supportive, welcoming, and safe places where both children and educators want to spend time. From helping adults find restorative moments during the day to allowing students to sit in the principal’s chair for a few minutes, there are multiple approaches to creating healthy school communities. Building and maintaining strong relationships should be at the core of trauma-responsive efforts. As school systems seek ways to retain and recruit staff and increase student engagement, they should acknowledge the duress people are under and find strategies to empower students and staff — and add joyful moments to the day.
Weighing the Best Strategies for Reading Intervention
Hechinger Report: Many teachers aren’t well versed in the science of reading and the best ways to teach to the widening range of abilities they are seeing in students. Researchers largely agree schools should be training — and retraining — teachers and adopting curricula that embrace evidence-based strategies. Relevant content that gets kids excited about reading is also important, as is testing. Frequent assessments can identify kids who are behind and make sure educators target resources and deliver interventions during the school day to the kids who most need help. Gaps in reading can be closed, but this requires transformative change in the classroom — not just heaping on more programs.
Students Need Help to Rebuild Attendance Habits. Here Are 3 Things Schools Can Do Now
Education Week: To truly engage students after two years of unprecedented disruption, schools need to look beyond perfect attendance awards and consider broader efforts that address barriers to school attendance. “Simply emphasizing the impact of days missed on learning does not adequately recognize the overwhelming stresses many students and families are faced with during the pandemic,” according to a new toolkit released by Attendance Works. The toolkit aims to help schools respond to the challenges of the moment by focusing on key areas like building routines, increasing engagement, providing access to resources, and supporting learning. Three key takeaways from the toolkit include the importance of communicating the importance of attendance to students and families, creating a positive school climate, and using data to target supports.
White House Seeks to Expand Early Intervention for Young Children
K-12 Dive: Increased access to early intervention services for infants and toddlers at-risk of developing delays and disabilities would help the Part C program of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act better serve underrepresented populations, according to an FY 2023 budget proposal justification from the White House. The request comes at a time when Part C enrollment has fallen, likely due to fewer well-child pediatrician visits during the first year of the pandemic. Experts in early childhood development, however, expect Part C enrollment over the next few years to rise to — or even exceed — pre-pandemic levels.
Sec. Cardona: This Is Our Moment to Improve Education. Here’s Our Plan.
EdSurge: Education Secretary Miguel Cardona plans to continue using American Rescue Plan funds to support students’ academic and mental health needs. To help address lost instructional time, he plans to increase students’ access to tutoring, afterschool activities, and interventions. He also plans to ensure that students have daily access to the mental health and wellness supports they need; improve educator preparation in trauma-informed practices; establish partnerships with community-based organizations to support the whole child; authentically embed students’ voices in school decisions; connect each high school student to at least one co-curricular activity; and establish parent engagement teams with culturally competent family schools liaisons to ensure families have a voice.
What’s Driving the Push to Restrict Schools on LGBTQ Issues?
Education Week: What is driving a recent raft of legislation in the statehouses taking aim at LGBTQ students this year? Six insights emerged from Education Week’s conversation with political scientists, historians, LGBTQ advocates, legal scholars, and the lawmakers themselves. First, lawmakers introducing these bills echo older fears about LGBTQ people. Second, the parents-rights framing has a long history. Third, the issues may be old but the political tools are new. Fourth, states have historically not given schools much guidance, and public attitudes about LGBTQ issues in schools are complex. Fifth, bills about transgender students are being coupled with aggressive new rhetoric. Sixth, emergent nonprofit groups are fueling the flames.
Around the Nation
Healing School Systems
MDRC: School systems throughout the U.S. need collective healing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to address the needs of school communities, a policy brief says, calling for changes in three areas: structure and policy; educators’ well-being and capabilities; and the use of strategies to strengthen students’ social and emotional well-being. The brief focuses on the first two areas, explaining how school districts can become healing spaces by reevaluating system-wide policies and structures and building educators’ capabilities and supporting their well-being.
Universal School Meal Efforts Grow in States
K-12 Dive: Legislatures in Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Colorado, and New York have introduced bills looking to secure universal school meals for at least one more year, with some looking to extend it even further. California and Maine were among the first states to have passed statewide free school meals in 2021. Jennifer Lemmerman, vice president of public policy at Project Bread, which provides and advocates for food assistance for families in Massachusetts, says states should take action instead of waiting for the federal government to continue free school meals.
NYC Schools to Add “Gifted and Talented” Seats for Third Grade, Kindergarten
Chalkbeat: More students will have the chance to enroll in New York City’s gifted programs. Although former Mayor Bill de Blasio promised major changes to address the stark segregation in these programs, Eric Adams, the current mayor, is largely sticking to the status quo. For the upcoming 2022-23 school year, the education department plans to add 1,000 new seats across the city for gifted programs launching in third grade. Additionally, officials aim to add 100 seats in kindergarten “gifted and talented” classrooms so that every district will now have a gifted program starting at that grade.
With Millions of Kids on the Line, Can Schools Make Tutoring Work?
Education Week: Tutoring is on the brink of a national inflection point. School districts are channeling big chunks of their federal COVID-relief money into tutoring programs, relying on research that shows that the strategy can be a powerful aid in completing unfinished learning. Billions of dollars—and millions of children—are on the line. With the stakes so high, experts are urging districts to reframe their thinking about tutoring by imagining it not as a quick fix in a crisis, but as a long-range investment strategy to improve instruction.
4-Day School Week Picks up Steam in Rural Texas Districts
K-12 Dive: A small number of mostly rural districts in southern Texas are switching to four-day school weeks beginning in the 2022-23 school year primarily to help retain teachers and students. In mid-March, the Jasper Independent School District in Texas made headlines after announcing on Facebook that its Board of Trustees unanimously decided to switch to a four-day model. District Superintendent John Seybold told Good Morning America that teacher burnout and difficulty recruiting teachers motivated the shift.
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