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:
Middle school students need tailored instruction and support.
Colorado voters approve universal free school meals.
Schools face a “tripledemic” of the flu, Covid, and the respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
Report: Middle School Students Need Tailored Instruction and Supports
K-12 Dive: Strategies specific to middle schools — such as creating teams of teachers to foster positive relationships with students and training teachers to communicate effectively with parents — can better help set adolescents up for success in high school and beyond, according to a paper from Chiefs for Change. In offering recommendations on how to boost student academic, emotional, and social development in middle school, the paper explains why approaches in middle school should differ from those in elementary and high schools due to the rapid neurological, learning, psychological, and social changes children experience during this time.
Youngest Students Show Achievement Declines Post-Pandemic
K-12 Dive: Students in grades 1-2 showed lower reading and math achievement in spring 2022 compared to pre-pandemic trends. Reading scores fell 6 to 7 percentile points behind spring 2019 results, while math scores dropped 3 to 8 percentile points, according to newly released NWEA MAP Growth assessment results and analysis. Students in grades 2-5, on the other hand, had assessment results in 2021-22 that mostly paralleled those in the 2018-19 school year. By honing in on children in the earliest grades, researchers found the pandemic didn’t just impact children whose normal school routines got disrupted. The results emphasize the need for targeted investments in early literacy and math programs to help the youngest students gain essential academic skills.
How Educators View Social-Emotional Learning, in Charts
Education Week: According to recent survey data from the EdWeek Research Center, more than a third of the teachers, principals, and district leaders surveyed said social-emotional learning, or SEL, was one of many strategies available to them; more than a quarter said it was a transformational way to improve schools, and almost a quarter said it was a promising idea. Just 9 percent said it was a passing fad. Social-emotional learning differs from providing mental health services; it teaches skills such as emotional regulation, empathy, and collaboration to help students develop into well-rounded, confident people who can work well with others.
Improve K–12 Literacy with Next-Gen Reading Tools
EdTech: Learning to read and improving literacy once hinged on traditional hard-copy books, but in 21st-century learning, there are far more tools at educators’ disposal. From audiobooks to augmented reality, next-generation reading tools help student readers and writers maximize their literacy education with guidance from innovative K–12 leaders. These tools chip away at an alarming nationwide trend, in which a third of children in the earliest grades are missing reading benchmarks due to pandemic challenges and other factors.
Election Guide 2022: K-12 Issues and Candidates Shaping the Midterms
Education Week: The 2022 midterm elections are poised to have a seismic impact on the nation’s politics, especially at the state and local levels, with K-12 education at the heart of some of the most contentious issues on voters’ minds. This year, debates over schools’ role in teaching students about gender, sexuality, and race have fueled candidates’ campaigns across the country at state and local levels. For candidates on the conservative side, that meant promoting their conception of parents’ rights, along with school choice and restrictions on how issues, including race, gender, and sexuality, are taught and approached in schools. More liberal candidates championed issues such as teacher pay increases, increased mental health supports for students, and support for LGBTQ students. See related article: The New Yorker “How ‘Education Freedom’ Played in the Midterms.”
Colorado Voters Say Yes to Universal Free School Meals. Will Other States Follow?
Education Week: A program that would make school meals permanently free for all students in Colorado is on the brink of becoming a reality. Colorado voters have come down strongly in favor of a ballot initiative to provide school meals to all students regardless of income. That’s according to unofficial election results from the state that show 55 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of universal school meals. This may be the start of a bigger trend as states look to fill in the void left by the federal government when it let COVID-era funding for universal free school meals expire this summer.
Around the Nation
Staff, Student Illnesses Lead to Districtwide Closures in Several States
K-12 Dive: School systems in at least five states shut down recently due to staff and student flu-like and respiratory illnesses at a time when school leaders are attempting more stability with in-person learning after several years of COVID-19 interruptions. A “tripledemic” of the flu, the lingering pandemic, and the respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, is wreaking havoc on plans to boost learning supports and professional development opportunities. RSV, flu, and COVID-19 are all respiratory viruses that can cause coughing, runny noses, and fevers, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In states such as Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, districts are experiencing systemwide closures, according to local reports, district websites, and social media posts.
Like what you see? Sign up to receive this summary in your inbox as soon as it is published.