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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
Since the pandemic, teachers need more help supporting kindergarteners.
Some school districts have revived mask mandates. Other districts face mandate bans.
How some schools are coping with the recent mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
Pandemic Kindergartners Need Extra Support in First Grade
New America: In interviews, educators across the country report that children—particularly Black and Brown children and those from families with low incomes— are behind on academic benchmarks and that widespread interventions are needed. Despite an influx of federal funds and calls from state leaders, teachers on the ground say they still don’t have the support they need to provide enough individualized instruction. Educators say they desperately need more time to train and to plan alternative ways of structuring their classrooms and schedules to meet the needs of students in this phase of the pandemic. One solution, some experts believe, is to take a more developmental approach by moving away from rigid grade-level expectations and instead looking at and supporting the developmental continuum.
Case Study: The Hard Transition to 1-to-1 Computing Continues
Education Week: Eighty-five percent of educators said their district has a technology device for each individual student at all grade levels to use in class, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey of 1,063 educators. Nearly half said students in all grades can take their devices home. About half of educators surveyed said the availability of the new technology has changed teaching and learning a lot, while nearly another third said the devices have brought at least some changes. Professional development to help teachers figure out how best to use technology to enhance instruction has been a big focus for districts that dramatically expanded their fleet of devices in response to the pandemic.
With So Many Kids Struggling in School, Experts Call for Revamping ‘Early Warning Systems’
Education Week: When one student starts to fall behind, act up, and disengage from class, schools now have early-warning systems in place to signal a problem and intervene. But what happens when half the class—or half the school—throws up similar red flags? That problem confronts many educators and administrators after years of pandemic schooling disruptions. Academic early-warning systems evolved in large part from work at Johns Hopkins and the Chicago consortium, where researchers identified what they termed the “ABCs” of student disengagement: 1) absenteeism, particularly a student who chronically misses school, 2) behavior problems, such as two or more detentions or in- or out-of-school suspensions; and 3) course performance, such as grade failures and lack of credit completion.
Some Districts Return to Mask Mandates as COVID Cases Spike
Education Week: School districts near Boston, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Maine, have reinstated mask mandates as a spike in cases in some places around the country propel communities into the CDC’s “high risk” category. The CDC recommends that people wear masks indoors and in public if they live in a red community. The decision to require masks has become highly localized as nearly all states have dropped mask mandates for schools. But districts in some states won’t have that option even if cases rise. Five states—Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia—ban mask mandates. Six other states—Arizona, Arkansas, Tennessee, Iowa, South Carolina, and Texas—have attempted mask mandate bans but had their attempts fully blocked or suspended by federal judges, or these states are not enforcing the mandates as they await court rulings.
A Look at 11 Years of Title IX Policy in Public Schools
K-12 Dive: The Biden administration is expected to soon release its proposed Title IX regulations almost a year after kicking off its review of the federal civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools. The new version will be the third iteration in just as many administrations. The repeated overhaul has brought significant changes to school staff and operations, some of which overlapped with schools having to close down and divert resources as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Title IX’s complex history, however, dates back much further. Its future now also carries implications for transgender and LGBTQ rights, which increasingly have come under fire in recent months following the proliferation of so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bills and other anti-LGBTQ state actions.
Around the Nation
Parents, Teachers Say SEL is Valued and Needed in Schools
K-12 Dive: Parents and teachers expressed strong and widespread support for incorporating social-emotional learning (SEL) in K-12 schools, despite recent efforts to politicize the practice, according to two surveys. One poll found nearly all teachers (94%) said students do better in school when teachers integrate SEL into the classroom. Two-thirds of teachers said that over the past two years, a student or parent had requested mental health or social-emotional support, according to a survey of more than 2,000 educators by Teachers Pay Teachers. A separate survey of 1,200 parents of school-aged children found both Republicans and Democrats value SEL in schools, according to Committee for Children, a nonprofit that works with educators and families to keep children safe.
Grief, Anger, Fear: How Teachers Can Help Students Cope With the Buffalo Shooting
Education Week: Anger, anxiety, and grief pervaded America’s classrooms as students, teachers, and school leaders reacted to a gunman’s racist attack that killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. School officials in some communities provided resources to teachers and condemned this violence. In Buffalo, the superintendent instructed principals to start with circle meetings, to allow students to ask questions and discuss the attack in classrooms throughout the district. Principals were also instructed to provide safe spaces for students to speak with school psychologists, social workers, and counselors. The Boston Public Schools sent information on how to host a circle discussion on “responding to community trauma” for teachers who wanted to have a discussion about the attack.
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