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13th October 2021
COVID-vaccine deadline extended by LAUSD
Los Angeles USD has extended the looming deadline for all workers to be fully immunized for COVID-19 by one month, to November 15th. Interim Supt. Megan Reilly said the move represents the right balance of firmness and forbearance. “We don’t want people to be out of jobs,” Ms. Reilly said in an interview. “Our employees are one of the strongest assets that we have.” At the same time, she said, “we’re absolutely adamant about keeping our schools the safest possible environment — and vaccinations are clearly the pathway to keeping them safe.” The extension comes as the nation’s second-largest school system has struggled to fill more than 2,000 teaching and other vacancies, including counselors, nurses and maintenance staff.
Tennessee education funding formula could be reviewed
Tennessee's Gov. Bill Lee has called for a robust review of the state's decades-old formula for funding public education, in a bid toward more student-focused spending. While traditional funding models focus more on allocating money toward expenses, student-centered funding it takes into consideration each student’s needs, circumstances, and learning path, and as a result yields greater accountability. The model could however force the state to do student-by-student calculations that could make it easier for Tennessee to start a private-school voucher program, which Lee has previously advocated for. Gov. Lee and state education chief Penny Schwinn will seek public input about education funding over the next 90 days and invite Tennesseans to weigh in through surveys, committees and meetings across the state. At a cost of nearly $6 billion, K-12 education is the single largest expense in Tennessee’s state budget.
Staff shortages reported by administrators throughout nation
More than three-quarters of district leaders and principals say they’re experiencing at least moderate staffing shortages in their school buildings this year, according to the newly published results of a nationally representative EdWeek Research Center survey. Fifteen percent said shortages are “very severe,” 25% said they’re “severe,” and another 37% classified staffing challenges as “moderate.” Just 5% of administrators said they aren’t experiencing any staffing shortages in their schools or districts this year. Another 18% said the shortages are “mild” or “very mild.” The shortages are most acute, according to the survey results, among substitute teachers, bus drivers, and instructional aides. Districts plagued by staffing shortages are taking a wide variety of approaches to addressing the issues; for example, 15% are offering recruitment bonuses. The most common tactic districts are employing is asking current employees to take on additional responsibilities. Roughly two-thirds of principals and district leaders say they’re taking that route.
Districts work to strengthen cybersecurity practices
Earlier this year, a report from the K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center identified 2020 as a "record-breaking" year for cyber attacks against U.S. schools. In all, 408 publicized incidents marked an 18% increase over 2019. Since, 2016, there have been an estimated 1,180 cyber-related incidents in public schools. When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools and forced a transition to virtual learning, many districts nationwide that hadn't yet gone 1:1 with classroom devices found themselves fast-tracking multi-year plans to do so and exploring digital learning options for the first time. Actions taken by districts to strengthen security include keeping security patches and antivirus software up to date, maintaining full offline backups for school networks, and avoiding software that is "end-of-life" or no longer supported with security updates.
College Board president on deploying exams remotely
College Board president Jeremy Singer explores how teachers worked to ensure the delivery of AP exams in a year when millions of students were cut off from their normal routines, and out of school buildings for weeks or months at a time. More than 2.5m students completed at least one exam this year (counting both digital and traditional formats), which is on par with a typical academic year. To help prepare for this year’s AP exams, the College Board bought and prepared more than 25,000 laptops to send to any student who needed one, ensuring device access was no barrier. "It would have been easy to simply cancel exams and wait for a return to normal, and there were some thoughtful voices in favor of scrapping AP exams this year," Mr. Singer said. "But it was students and teachers who overwhelmingly wanted to preserve the opportunity to test. More than 90% of students told us they wanted the chance to complete an exam, and I’m glad we listened to them."
Rankings published for elementary and middle schools
U.S. News & World Report has published its latest Best K-8 Schools rankings. For 2022, schools have been ranked at the state and district level, with Best Charter Schools and Best Magnet Schools ranked as stand-alone categories. California has 5,534 ranked elementary schools – the most of any state – followed by Texas (4,446), New York (2,211), Florida (2,128) and Illinois (2,038). California also has the most ranked middle schools with 2,319, followed by Texas (1,942), Illinois (1,243), New York (1,219) and Florida (997). The methodology for the brand-new rankings focuses on two areas: math and reading proficiency, or how well students perform on state assessments, and math and reading performance, or how well they perform compared to expectations. Notably, the state assessment data used in the rankings is from the 2018-2019 school year, so pre-dates the impact of the pandemic.
Canadian Grade 8 results publishsed
A new report by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), reveals a detailed portrait of the skills of Canadian youth in Grade 8 in three core areas of learning; mathematics, reading and science. The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) complements other pan-Canadian assessments and allows student performance to be compared across the country. At the pan-Canadian level, 90% of students in Grade 8 demonstrate the proficiency in mathematics that is expected of them (Level 2 or above), while almost 10% reached the highest level of performance (Level 4). At the provincial level, over 80% of students in every province (and 90% or more in four of them) meet the expected standard. Administered in the Spring of 2019, approximately 30,000 Grade 8/Secondary II students, from close to 1,600 schools across all 10 provinces, were tested.


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