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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
K-12 opportunity gaps fuel differences in who goes to college.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona calls on educators to “raise the bar” on student achievement.
More schools are bringing in therapy dogs to help students cope.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
Schools Face ‘Urgency Gap’ on Pandemic Recovery: 5 Takeaways from New Study – The 74
The 74 Million: A new study on post-pandemic student achievement from researchers at CALDER, NWEA, and Harvard University suggests school districts should do more academic interventions with students. Based on achievement tests administered between fall 2021 and spring 2022, the new data show that districts, for the most part, put an end to student achievement declines in math and reading relative to pre-pandemic levels. However, on average, math and reading test score gains during the 2021-22 school year didn’t move past pre-pandemic levels. Researchers found that in many districts, remediation initiatives planned for the fall of the 2021-22 school year were still in the process of starting as late as spring 2022 — and in some cases, they hadn’t even launched.
K-12 Opportunity Gaps Fuel College-Going Disparities
K-12 Dive: Differences in academic preparation during elementary and secondary school partly explain the large racial, gender, and socioeconomic disparities in U.S. college enrollment rates, according to new research from the Brookings Institution. The researchers found steep divides in college-going rates between students with higher and lower socioeconomic status. Of students in the top quintile for socioeconomic status, 88.9% attended college, compared to just 51.2% of students in the bottom quintile — leaving a nearly 38 percentage point gap. However, when researchers compared students with similar levels of academic preparation, the divide between those two socioeconomic groups shrunk to 11 percentage points. They observed even more pronounced effects when examining differences by race and gender.
‘Social-Emotional Learning’ is Just as Vital for Kids as Reading and Math, Local Expert Says
WGBH News: Elementary and middle school are both pivotal times in young people’s lives. Children experience a lot of emotional, physical, and educational changes. They learn how to communicate with their peers and learn formative lessons that shape their critical thinking skills. What happens during these years often predicts outcomes later on in school — and in life. But experts say a skill now being taught by some schools during those years is as essential as reading or math: social-emotional learning, or SEL. SEL aims to encourage social and emotional curricula designed to support young people’s well-being and academic performance. It’s a complex teaching process that requires proper training for the teachers, as well.
Cardona Urges Education Community to ‘Raise the Bar’ on Student Achievement
K-12 Dive: During a recent speech at his department, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called on educators to set higher expectations for students in reading and math achievement, as well as provide greater opportunities for students to learn multiple languages. His speech, which had the theme “Raise the Bar,” also called for the expansion of career pathways, a focus on student well-being, and sustained funding to continue the “transformative change” that began with federal COVID-19 emergency funds. In his speech and a follow-up fireside chat with National PTA Executive Director Nathan Monell, Cardona also emphasized the need for supporting teachers with competitive pay and authentic engagement with parents. See related article: The 74 Million: “Ed Secretary Cardona Touts More Tutoring, Extracurricular Activities as Part of Vision for Schools to ‘Level Up’ After Two Years of Pandemic Disruption.”
Dozens of US schools, Universities Move to Ban TikTok
The Conversation: A growing number of public schools and colleges in the U.S. are moving to ban TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned social media app that allows users to share short videos. Schools and colleges are following the lead of the federal government and several states that are banishing the social media app. Public schools in several Virginia counties have banned TikTok on school-issued devices and on schools’ Wi-Fi networks. Louisiana’s state superintendent of education recommended that schools in the state remove the app from public devices and block it on school-issued devices. As with other social media services, researchers have found serious vulnerabilities with TikTok.
Around the Nation
Schools Face Pressure to Take Harder Line on Discipline
AP News: As kids’ behavior reaches crisis points after the stress and isolation of pandemic shutdowns, many schools are facing pressure from critics to rethink their approaches to discipline, including policies intended to reduce suspensions and expulsions. Approaches such as restorative justice were adopted widely in recent decades as educators updated exclusionary policies that cut off students’ access to learning and disproportionately affected students of color. But more students have been acting out, and some school systems have faced questions from teachers, parents, and lawmakers about whether a gentle approach can address problems that disrupt classrooms.
Gone to the Dogs? Schools Use Therapy Animals to Boost Mental Health, Academics
Education Week: Facing a worsening youth mental health crisis, more schools have brought therapy dogs on board to help students cope. Some integrate the animals into academic work, using them in interventions for students with disabilities or as part of classroom engagement strategies. The pandemic has contributed to a growing interest in bringing therapy dogs into schools. Districts in states including Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Virginia have even used portions of the $123 billion in K-12 relief funding provided through the American Rescue Plan to pay for specialized therapy dog training, which can cost thousands of dollars.
‘It Was so Nice to Have Someone by my Side’: Mentors can be Essential. Gen Z has Less Access
USA Today: MENTOR, a national nonprofit that advocates and provides resources for mentoring, recently studied trends in mentorship over time. Over the past half-century or so, mentoring has become significantly more common. However, that trend appears to have stalled in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other societal shifts. Overall, the report notes that mentoring relationships – especially those that occur naturally, such as that with a camp counselor – remain “considerably more prevalent among youth growing up in wealthier households.” Among Gen Z, particularly its youngest members (those ages 18-21), the presence of mentors appears to have declined. Young people now 18-21 are five percentage points more likely than slightly older members of Gen Z to say they haven’t had a mentor.
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