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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
Despite the pandemic, English Learners make gains in reading.
Students’ school meal debt is ballooning.
Schools are addressing the opioid crisis using less punitive measures.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
Remote Learning not ‘Primary’ Driver of Academic Losses, Analysis Suggests
Chalkbeat: A new analysis helps us to understand how much remote learning contributed to students’ academic losses during the pandemic. Using the latest national and state test score data, a team of researchers found that districts that stayed remote during the 2020-21 school year did see bigger declines in elementary and middle school math, and to some degree in reading, than other districts in their state. But the losses varied widely and many districts that went back in person had bigger losses than districts that stayed remote. The pattern is inconsistent enough that school closures, it seems, were not the primary driver of those drops in achievement.
English Learners Make Significant Gains in Reading Despite Pandemic Disruptions
The 74 Million: English learners made an exciting gain, scoring four points higher in 8th-grade reading while overall student reading performance on the NAEP dropped. The upward trend was even more pronounced in several major cities whose NAEP results are tracked separately. For example, in Chicago, which is now home to the country’s fourth-largest district, the score for English learners on the eighth-grade reading test shot up 17 points to 234, the highest level since reading data was first reported on this group in 2002. The same held true in Los Angeles, the district with the most English language learners in the country, where their eighth-grade reading scores leapt from 202 to 210.
CDC: 3 in 4 High Schoolers Faced Potential Trauma During Pandemic
K-12 Dive: About three out of four (73%) high school students reported at least one potentially traumatizing experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in October. In addition, over half (53%) of the 4,390 high school students studied reported up to two adverse childhood experiences. These percentages are higher than pre-pandemic estimates cited in the report, which indicated that 60.9% of students younger than 18 reported at least one adverse childhood experience. Examples of such experiences range from food insecurity, bullying, and caregiver job loss to physical and emotional abuse or sexual violence.
Are Students Using Intensive Tutoring? What National Data Show
Education Week: New national data from NAEP suggest students may not yet be receiving the kind and intensity of tutoring to really get them back on track academically. Prior research suggests that to be most effective, tutoring should be “high-dose,” or multiple sessions per week, and involve 1-to-1 or very small groups of students. A 2022 survey finds significantly fewer 4th and 8th graders now attend schools that offer teacher-led tutoring in math. Experts recommend creating a structure for high-dose tutoring in and out of school by using evidence-based models for the tutoring intervention, ensuring teachers or outside tutors are trained to implement a tutoring program and align it to the school’s curriculum, embedding tutors into a school’s daily schedule, partnering with outside groups, and monitoring student progress.
Ed Department Distributes Money for Middle, High School Student Engagement
K-12 Dive: The U.S. Department of Education is distributing $50 million to states to add or improve extracurricular, after-school, and summer programming for middle and high school students, according to a letter recently sent to state education officers. The supplemental grant award — provided by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — is being automatically sent to states through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Chronic absenteeism, a problem even before the pandemic, increased for students at all levels in the past few years, sparking efforts to boost student attendance and engagement. In the letter announcing the grant distribution, the Education Department suggests states and subgrantees focus on grade-level practices that are inclusive and support family engagement, as well as on partnerships between schools and community organizations.
Student School Meal Debt Is Ballooning in Many Districts. Here’s Why
Education Week: Student meal debt is rising rapidly in many school districts across the country now that federal funding that made school meals free for all students during the pandemic has ended; families are either struggling to pay for school meals or aren’t even aware that the program ended and they are now obligated to pay. The end of universal free school meals comes as inflation and rising labor costs are driving up food prices for both schools and families. The School Nutrition Association, which represents school food service directors, confirmed that members from across the country are reporting that student meal debt is rapidly accruing. The association also pointed out that food service directors are struggling to educate families about the need to apply for free and reduced-priced lunches, if they are eligible.
Around the Nation
As Student Mental Health Concerns Rise, States Turn to Telehealth
Education Week: With heightened concern over students’ mental health, some states and school districts are turning to telehealth providers to ensure that all students have access to the health care services they might need in order to thrive academically, mentally, and socially. Several states, including Hawaii, Mississippi, and Texas, are implementing telehealth this school year to meet students’ mental health needs. “One of the issues that we run into is that there may not be community resources close by that would be available for students and parents to address these longer term issues,” said Eric Sparks, the deputy executive director of the American School Counselor Association. “So telehealth could be a really good way to try to bridge that gap so that students are able to receive longer term support for mental health issues.”
Fighting Fentanyl: Schools Tackle Opioid Crisis Head-on
K-12 Dive: The opioid crisis has plagued the nation for the last three decades and will likely impact the education system for years to come. Community organizations, local governments, and schools are banding together to respond to increasing rates of overdoses, communicate the dangers of opioids, and erase the stigma of substance abuse treatment. Meanwhile in classrooms, educators are using social-emotional learning to strengthen students’ self-reliance, coping skills, and positive relationships so they are empowered to reject offers of drugs and alcohol and to seek help when they need it. And in general, schools are taking more trauma-informed approaches of restorative practices, therapy, wraparound services, and treatment — moving away from punitive measures against students suffering with addiction or struggling academically and behaviorally because of addiction in their families.
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