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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
A survey conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the pandemic has hurt student progress in all grades.
The U.S. Department of Education has launched a National Parents and Families Engagement Council to improve communication between families and schools.
Scientists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have approved the use of Moderna and Pfizer Covid vaccines in young children.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
GAO: Pandemic Hurt Student Progress at all Grade Levels
K-12 Dive: Students across all grade levels and instructional models made less academic progress during the pandemic-strained 2020-21 school year compared to a more typical school year, according to a teacher survey conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. While 52% of teachers said they had more students start the 2020-21 school year academically behind compared to a typical pre-pandemic year, respondents also reported some learners excelled during this time. Those who made progress benefited from more flexibility to work at their own pace and a supportive family environment. Educators and parents told GAO researchers that as the education field looks toward the start of the fourth school year impacted by the pandemic, ongoing challenges and learning disruptions could be addressed by initiatives that strengthen student engagement, teacher capacity, access to technology, and family-school connections.
Number of Trans Youth Is Twice as High as Previous Estimates, Study Finds
Education Week: About 300,000 teenagers identify as transgender in the United States, nearly twice as many as previous estimates, according to newly released research. The sharp increase could be because many more young people now feel more comfortable identifying themselves as transgender—which means their gender identity does not align with their sex assigned at birth—or it could be that more accurate data sources are now available to account for them. It could also be a combination of both, according to Jody Herman, the study author and a senior scholar of public policy at the Williams Institute, a research center within the UCLA School of Law that specializes in LGBQT issues.
What Educators Need to Know About Senators’ Bipartisan Deal on Guns, School Safety
Education Week: A tentative compromise on federal gun legislation by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators would seemingly break the pattern of polarizing debate and inaction that follows most mass school shootings. The proposal calls for funding for mental health and school safety programs. The outline was announced by 20 senators, including 10 Republicans, in response to a string of mass shootings in recent weeks. The outline released falls far short of what advocates for stronger gun laws, and President Joe Biden, have long pushed for. Notably, the proposed compromise would not create a ban on “assault weapons,” like the powerful AR-15 rifle used in Uvalde and many other school shootings.
The Ed. Dept.’s New Parent Council: What Will It Do?
Education Week: The U.S. Department of Education launched its National Parents and Families Engagement Council. The council will be tasked with identifying ways to help families engage with school districts at the local level. Federal officials hope a new council will pave the way for better communication between schools and the families they serve. Consisting of members from parent and family organizations across the country, the council will help families understand their rights, create a feedback loop with schools to shape how American Rescue Plan funds are used, and identify summer learning and enrichment opportunities for children. See related article: US News and World Report: New Education Department Effort Aims to Elevate the Role of Parents in Schools.”
Around the Nation
FDA Staff Supportive of Pfizer, Moderna COVID Vaccines in Young Children
K-12 Dive: Food and Drug Administration scientists found the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and partners Pfizer and BioNTech to be comparably effective at boosting antibody levels in children as in teenagers and young adults. While vaccine efficacy in preventing disease was not formally tested in the companies’ trials, both shots also appeared to prevent disease, according to the FDA’s review of study data. There were no cases of heart inflammation in children who participated in testing, although the side effect has been linked in very rare cases to both vaccines among older adolescents and young adults. Moderna is seeking emergency authorization in infants 6 months of age through adolescents up to 17 years old. Pfizer, which has already obtained FDA clearance for providing its vaccine to teenagers and children older than 5, is seeking an expanded authorization to include children aged 6 months to four years.
CDC: Schools Turn to Low-cost Ventilation Remediation Strategies First
K-12 Dive: Schools were more likely to move activities outdoors or open doors and windows rather than implement higher-cost strategies like replacing or upgrading HVAC systems to mitigate COVID-19 spread, according to a survey of 420 schools released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, the CDC study found rural and mid-poverty schools were the least likely to report using multiple higher-cost and resource-intensive plans to address school ventilation problems. The agency said it has found that school-based strategies to tackle ventilation help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms. The CDC recommends public health professionals focus attention on supporting the schools least likely to use higher-cost ventilation plans, to ensure more equitable use of ventilation strategies to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
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