Become a more informed educator in minutes....
29th July 2021
National test scores show pandemic stalled student progress
A pandemic that reshaped American society and disrupted more than a year of schooling also slowed progress in math and reading for millions of U.S. students, according to new national data from testing group NWEA, with Black, Latino, and low-income students were hit hardest. The report, which focuses on students in grades three through eight and compares their progress this year to similar students from before the pandemic, found that by the end of last school year, the typical student was behind where they would normally be — three to six percentile points behind in reading and eight to 12 points behind in math, with younger students faring worse than their older peers. In elementary grades, Black, Latino, and Native American students usually saw much steeper declines than white and Asian students. Students in high-poverty schools also saw bigger drops than those in more affluent schools. Another analysis, based on a different test and released Tuesday by the consulting firm McKinsey, found similar results. First through sixth -graders were an average of five months behind where they would usually be in math and fourth months behind in reading.  Black and Latino students typically lost six months in math, while white students lost four months. “The losses are not only greater but also piled on top of historical inequities in opportunity and achievement,” wrote the McKinsey researchers.
Leaders call for education transformation after COVID-19
Governors, former secretaries of education, state commissioners of education and representatives gathered last week at the Ronald Reagan Institute in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to turn the coronavirus pandemic into an opportunity for innovation within the education profession. Politics and a lack of bipartisanship, as well as an ineffective distribution of resources, have often gotten in the way of improving school infrastructure and providing universal broadband access, speakers at the summit said. Arne Duncan, a former U.S. secretary of education under President Barack Obama, said federal, state and local agencies should “stop fighting" and "help each other." “As a country, we fight over small strategies. We don’t have big goals,” Duncan said. “That would be an opportunity to accelerate the rates of change going forward.”  Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana’s commissioner of higher education, pointed to her state as an example of smart collaboration. As a result of cooperation between the workforce, higher education institutions and high schools, Louisiana piloted a program in every region of the state for high schoolers to graduate with an associate degree.
Educators of color urge schools to better support racial justice efforts
Most educators of color say they lacked any sort of professional development on how to support students after the high-profile police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans and the ensuing protests for racial justice, according to a new survey by the Center for American Progress, EduColor, and the National Education Association. The leaders of those groups said hearing from educators of color is particularly important now, as legislators in more than half of states have introduced bills or taken other steps to restrict how teachers can discuss racism and sexism in the classroom. Teachers say they feel as if these restrictions, which will soon be in effect in 11 states, will prohibit them from teaching the truth about the racism in both America’s past and present. “Educators of color generally should be, and ought to be, at the forefront of conversations around education policy,” says José Vilson, the executive director of EduColor, a grassroots group that provides professional development on equity and justice.
'Heated discourse' shouldn't disrupt boards' business, attorneys say
School attorneys have underlined a trend of increasingly disruptive school board meetings nationwide, with members even experiencing threatening and insulting behavior, which can obviously seriously impede proceedings. Debate, discourse and conversations about controversial topics are all normal aspects of school board meetings, school attorneys say, though polarizing opinions over controversial and political issues, as well as new awareness of local education decision-making as a result of access to virtual board meetings during the pandemic, can be incredibly challenging for school board members. Bobby Truhe, a school attorney who has been practicing for 10 years and is now with KSB School Law, which mainly represents school systems in Nebraska and South Dakota, comments: “We've had a lot of schools that have been asking questions about, OK, exactly how do we structure a public comment period? What are the reasonable rules that we can have? What decorum expectations can we have?"
Psychologists stress importance of solid student mental health supports
Schools need to take ownership in addressing the mental health needs of all students, and though they should work with community partners to meet students’ needs, they shouldn’t totally rely on contracted services, said panelists at last week's virtual Special Education Legislative Summit, hosted by the Council for Exceptional Children and the Council of Administrators of Special Education. Having a mental health infrastructure that includes access to multi-tiered systems of support for student interventions, plans for sustained funding, and staff capacity for direct services and oversight will help schools organize a comprehensive mental health approach, said panelist Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, director of policy and advocacy for the National Association of School Psychologists. Emergency stimulus funding has provided schools with a boost of resources, and districts should consider using those dollars to hire more professionals to meet students’ needs — even if it’s just one or two additional staff members, she added.
How universal meals transform student wellness
In an op-ed for K-12 Dive Laura Benavidez, executive director of food and nutritional services for Boston Public Schools, and Jennifer LeBarre, executive director of student nutrition services for San Francisco USD, describe the impact a universal school meal program can have on holistically nurturing and supporting students. They cite a recent study by UC Berkeley that showed a positive correlation between providing healthy school meals and academic achievement. They also praise the Universal Meals Program Act of 2021 introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Gwen Moore (D-WI), which aims to “ensure that every child has access to free nutritious meals at school, after school, during the summer, and at child care through the child nutrition programs.”
How California's teachers view the health of the educational system
The Inverness Institute recently surveyed members of its California Teacher Consultant Response Network regarding their experiences with the reopening of their schools for in-person instruction amid the waning coronavirus pandemic. Between April 30 and May 20, 136 leading teachers responded to 27 survey questions and offered almost 1,900 thoughtful comments. While some teachers reported that their districts’ reopening plans were going as well as they could, given all the challenges, a majority expressed their dissatisfaction with the way funds were spent to prepare for schools to reopen. Additionally, reports of students’ loss of learning, social/emotional difficulties, and the loss of basic classroom skills suggest that district leaders will need to attend to more than just health and safety issues. There was also a wide divergence across the state in district capacity and stances toward teachers. A significant percentage of teachers found that district and school administrators were “out of touch” with classroom realities, and that they were more concerned about holding teachers accountable than supporting them. By contrast, where teachers did find useful support from school and district administrators, and from parents, they greatly appreciated it.
Montana tribes sue over Indian education compliance
Tribes and the parents of 18 students in Montana have filed a lawsuit alleging that state education leaders are violating a constitutional requirement to teach about the unique culture and heritage of Native Americans. The lawsuit seeks an order to require the Board of Public Education to create specific educational standards for the Indian Education for All program and also to require the superintendent of public instruction to ensure schools meet those standards and accurately report how they are spending money allocated for the program.


Education Slice delivers the latest, most relevant and useful intelligence to to key educators, administrators, decision makers and teaching influencers, each weekday morning..

Content is selected to an exacting brief from hundreds of influential media sources and summarised by experienced journalists into an easy-to-read digest email. Education Slice enhances the performance and decision-making capabilities of individuals and teams by delivering the relevant news, innovations and knowledge in a cost-effective way.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities within Education Slice, please get in touch via email sales team

This e-mail has been sent to [[EMAIL_TO]]

Click here to unsubscribe