How to Choose how to invest Elementary and Secondary School Relief Funds


States and districts have almost $122 billion coming their way from the American Recovery Program's Elementary and School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund. Decisions on how to spend the money must be made quickly, because the ESSER funding timeline is fast, and student needs are substantial. Theoretically, the best way to determine how to spend the funds is relatively straightforward. In practice, though, it may feel more challenging. ESSER funds are new, so administrators might have questions about what is allowed, especially considering that a broader range of possibilities is permitted under ESSER when compared to other federal teaching programs.

The $122 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP ESSER) may be the third round of ESSER funding, which totals $189.5 billion in most. The first round (ESSER 1) involved $13 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and also the second (ESSER 2) was roughly $54 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. In most three rounds, 90 percent of the money have to go to school districts, which have broad discretion over how to spend the funds. Districts must spend a minimum of 20 % of ARP ESSER funds to deal with learning loss through evidence-based interventions.

ESSER funds not invested in districts are kept by states as \”state-reserve\” funds. States can spend ESSER 1 and 2 state-reserve funds on emergency needs to address issues related to coronavirus (and a small amount on administrative expenses). ARP ESSER state-reserve money is susceptible to specific spending requirements. In the ARP ESSER state-reserve, states must spend 7 percent from the state's total ARP ESSER allocation for evidence-based activities: Five percent to address learning loss, 1 % for summer enrichment, and 1 percent for comprehensive after-school programs. States may spend the rest of the ARP ESSER state-reserve funds on emergency must address issues related to coronavirus (along with a small amount on administrative expenses).

Before states and districts can understand what can be done under ESSER, they first have to comprehend the program's rules, including timing and permissible spending options. ESSER can support many activities traditional U.S. Department of Education grant programs cannot, and, most important, misunderstandings about existing programs could shape ESSER implementation in ways that limit its potential.

States and districts have a limited time to invest ESSER funds, and understanding these timelines is vital for making decisions about which types of activities to support so when.

Each round of ESSER money features its own \”period of availability.\” This means, briefly, that ESSER funds are only able to purchase work performed in that period, contracts entered into during that period, or certain activities carried out in that period. These are referred to as \”obligations,\” that is a technical term under federal law.

Administrators come with an extra year to invest the 3 rounds of ESSER money beyond what is designed in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, and ARP because of a law outside of ESSER called the General Education Provisions Act. Which means ESSER 1 is available for obligation until September 30, 2022, ESSER 2 until September 30, 2023, and ARP ESSER until September 30, 2024. ESSER funds should be liquidated within 120 calendar days following the end of every applicable obligation deadline.

States possess a narrower window to make some important spending decisions, however. States have one year in the date they received each ESSER grant to select whether or not to award state-reserve funds with other entities through grants and contracts in order to spend funds directly.

ESSER differs from traditional U.S. Department of Teaching programs in 2 important ways. First, unlike many U.S. Department of Education programs which are restricted to certain students (like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for college students with disabilities) or schools (like Title I for schools with certain poverty levels), ESSER can benefit any or all students, staff, and schools. This means states and districts can invest in systemwide initiatives to equitably improve outcomes for all students, target funds to students with specific needs, or do both. Second, ESSER supports activities that some traditional programs cannot, like core instruction, facilities upgrades, and construction.

Taken together, what this means is states and districts have to think differently about ESSER spending. For example, in general, federal education funds cannot be employed for districtwide high-quality core curricula. This limitation does not apply to ESSER, however, plus some states already are taking advantage of this flexibility. The Tennessee Department of Education is applying ESSER along with other U.S. Department of Education funds for its statewide Read 360 initiative, which includes tutoring and online supports to help develop systematic foundational literacy skills, high-quality phonics-based instructional materials, along with other resources to support strong reading instruction. The Nebraska Department of Education is using ESSER funds to supply statewide access to high-quality math instructional materials.

States and districts may also use ESSER funds for school facility and infrastructure improvements to lessen health risks, mental health supports for students and staff, extending learning time or reorganizing the college day to accelerate learning, extending broadband and device access, and much more.

For as many spending options as ESSER offers, though, but that will affect state and local spending choices. Chief of these may be the many federal administrative regulations that apply to ESSER, such as federal procurement rules districts are required to follow when purchasing services or goods with ESSER money, federal rules for construction, federally funded employee compensation, and more. These rules are manageable, but states and districts might be sensitive to the methods they complicate certain spending choices.

Even though ESSER isn't susceptible to exactly the same kinds of constraints as other U.S. Department of Teaching programs, misunderstandings about those programs could end as barriers to ESSER innovation.

Even though ESSER funds are given to states and districts based on Title I allocations, for instance, ESSER funds are not susceptible to Title I's spending rules-a point that is confusing to many.

Long-held misunderstandings about traditional U.S. Department of Education programs-particularly the two largest, people with Disabilities Education Act and Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act-could also limit ESSER spending in unexpected ways, which can be more significant. Some state and district leaders mistakenly believe that an IDEA-funded service for college students with disabilities cannot be presented to other students through another funding source. Some also believe that any service sent to both students with and without disabilities can't be considered a special-education service, it doesn't matter how it is funded. Neither of those beliefs is true, however they will make some districts reluctant to use ESSER funds in innovative ways.

One district considered using ESSER funds to expand using occupational therapists in its elementary schools to aid students' social and emotional needs after the return to in-person learning. Leaders in this district, however, were concerned that, because some students with disabilities receive occupational therapy as a special-education service, they couldn't offer services to non-disabled students without running afoul of federal special-education laws. This is not correct, but the district's equivocation shows how misunderstandings about existing programs could inadvertently incentivize things as they are and limit ESSER's potential for innovation.

How, then, can ESSER funds be spent in a way that makes sense for every district and allows for innovation? First, states and districts should determine local needs and identify some potential approaches to meeting those needs. States and districts then need to do their research. Those approaches which are infeasible or that policy doesn't permit should be eliminated; the requirements of ESSER do constrain these decisions but eliminate surprisingly few options. Finally, spending should be prioritized in cost-effective ways.

ESSER is designed to permit various kinds of spending, and there's not one \”right\” choice that applies everywhere. To maneuver beyond simply identifying needs and towards determining the easiest method to address them, states and districts should think about multiple ways of address each plausible issue, instead of starting with one favored candidate. The purpose here isn't to seek out one permissible silver bullet, but to develop a robust set of alternatives to consider. Therefore, it is important to solicit and think about a diverse selection of perspectives about needs.

Many analyses concentrate on how student outcomes vary across demographic groups. For more actionable results, districts might consider how student outcomes differ with access to school-based resources, like experienced teachers, enriched instructional offerings, or counseling staff.

With a list at the ready, leaders should begin to gather info on each option. Now is the time to answer two big questions. First, what can it decide to try implement this strategy well? Many strategies are evaluated in a smaller scale than leaders may envision, so they should consider whether they can implement at their desired scale. Space, transportation, staffing, scheduling, and technology are all required and really should be included in cost calculations, as well as the resources that are offered but would be diverted using their company uses, like staff time.

Timing of spending in addition to total costs should be thought about. This really is straightforward for one-time costs, like a single year of summer school or extended learning time. But for changes that would reverberate into future budgeting, what will happen, instructionally and contractually, when the ESSER funds run out-especially for districts with particularly large ESSER allocations? This is a great reason to mirror not just on which something totally new districts would like to acquire, but also how existing spending patterns are working out. Are there less effective practices taking up resources that, with time, might be freed up for brand new uses?

If the strategy seems feasible, leaders can proceed to the 2nd big research question: what can happen when the strategy was implemented well? What this means is considering evidence based on what's happened elsewhere, with an eye to how convincing and relevant it is. Considering how likely the outcomes result from the strategy requires thinking through a counterfactual scenario.

Many studies compare test scores at the start of the school year with scores at the conclusion and implicitly or explicitly attribute all of that growth over the year to the use of a specific curriculum or intervention, but a better approach is always to compare test score changes during the period of the year in settings using different interventions. This gets closer to approximating a counterfactual outcome: how did test scores change fall to spring with, say, one math curriculum in position versus another? Ideally, research takes care of the \”selection problem,\” or why different schools choose to use different interventions, by introducing variation that's random, or close to it, where interventions are utilized.

Some options simply can't work, either as their implementation requirements are infeasible inside a given context, or because federal law (and sometimes state regulations or policy) preclude them. Generally for ESSER, though, getting good information on what is permissible is likely to rule options in rather than out.

What constitutes a strategy permissible when it comes to ESSER's evidence requirements, which affect the required set-aside spending categories described above for states and districts? All of these use the Every Student Succeeds Act's meaning of evidence. ESSA has four \”tiers\” of evidence but, with regards to understanding ESSER, all that you should understand is its most flexible option. Carrie Conaway has described this fourth tier as ESSA's \”hidden gem.\” In her own words, it applies to \”programs and practices that are informed by research and seem reasonably likely to succeed.\” Being informed by research is different than to be the subject of research. A district could adopt a brand new core reading curriculum that includes elements research has recognized as essential for helping students learn how to read to exchange a current curriculum that's lacking them. This really is okay under ESSER, even if that specific new curriculum isn't within the The things that work Clearinghouse.

ESSA's numbered tiers imply a hierarchy, however the technical aspects of research that define the tiers determine just a fraction from the practical significance of research findings. For instance, many districts are especially interested in resources to assist students with disabilities and English learners, to whom the past year has been particularly bleak instructionally. Yet the research base at the highest tiers of evidence on what works for these groups is especially weak. This doesn't mean districts should leave behind their needs and values. Instead, they should understand and embrace the broad look at evidence permitted under the law.

With any luck, at least one good option has survived to this point. Leaders can use the study they've assembled to think about how effective each option is likely to be alongside your buck. This step may seem obvious as it pertains in this sequence, but frequently, the sources consulted won't even mention costs.

It's true that this process will take more than running the very best contender or two with the What Works Clearinghouse or is just doing a fraction from the \”do your research\” step and nothing else. Still, perfect doesn't have to be the enemy of the good here: a light, quick form of this framework can help states and districts make better ESSER funding decisions.

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Four Steps to Effective and Cost-Effective Special Education


When I discontinued to college, my father provided simple, time-tested advice. \”Nate,\” he explained, \”You will come across lots of new people, and if you want to get along, just don't discuss politics, race, or religion.\” Decades later, when I headed off and away to my first day like a school district superintendent, Dad updated his advice and counseled, \”Whatever you need to do, don't mess with special ed if you wish to get along.\”

Dad's caution says so much concerning the state of special education in America then and today. Even when some are unhappy using the current situation, it strikes many as treacherous territory into which they will never dare enter. But, there are important issues to tackle, especially amid pandemic-era budget pressure and widespread learning loss.

Despite increasing school-district spending, students with disabilities tend to have lower levels of educational achievement. This uptick in special-education spending has also had adverse consequences towards the remaining schooling ecosystem, for example increasing class sizes, squeezing out arts programs, and hampering new efforts to offer behavioral supports or courses centered on science, technology, engineering and math.

Two things are true: Youngsters with disabilities deserve better, and much more spending has not helped them. There is little change reason, then, to assume more dollars later on will turn the tide. By the same token, simply reducing special-education staff or services will only make a bad situation worse.

So, what should we do? First, we have to get comfortable referring to special-education spending. We ought to not vilify your budget staff who say cost is rising, disparage board members who lament that special-ed spending is squeezing out other important needs, or malign any idea that saves money badly for children. We have to be able to discuss helping kids and the budget in the same conversation.

We should also focus on one overarching goal: enhancing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of serving students with special needs. Fortunately for kids and taxpayers alike, my colleagues and that i, dealing with pioneering districts across the country, have discovered a method to do both simultaneously. There are four key steps for districts to follow along with to achieve this goal: know what works for raising achievement, be aware of actual cost of specific services and strategies, shift resources to services and strategies that improve outcomes at reasonable price, and rethink how special education is managed.

Thanks to meticulous research by individuals like John Hattie and groups like the What Works Clearinghouse and the National Reading Panel, a definite set of guidelines for raising achievement has emerged. The following tips focus on students with mild-to-moderate disabilities, who constitute roughly 80 % of kids with disabilities. These are the students with individualized education plans (IEPs), who are able to and should go to college and/or have rewarding careers. Guidelines of these students include:

Unfortunately, probably the most common and costly efforts in use today have been in direct conflict using what works. These efforts include: pulling students from core instruction in reading and math to supply them special-education services; undermining the significance of reading on grade level through the use of unskilled paraprofessionals to aid reading; relying too much on \”push-in,\” the concept of giving extra help by sending another adult into the classroom during core instruction, which doesn't provide extra instructional time; and assigning special-education teachers and paraprofessionals to academic support, no matter their training, skills, or aptitude within the subjects being shown.

Historically, more districts have embraced these less-than-best practices than have shifted to the things that work. This preference for such practices stemmed in the false thought that more adults and smaller group sizes mattered a lot more than time spent on learning and also the skill from the teacher. Happily, the total amount seems to be moving in the right direction.

One district I visited in Vermont, for instance, exemplifies how far many schools have strayed. A well-run, high-spending district was committed to helping youngsters with disabilities. It embraced inclusion and cared deeply. It should happen to be an excellent place to become a student with a mild-to-moderate disability, however it wasn't.

Students with IEPs were always included in the general-education classroom, but paraprofessionals provided many of their reading instruction. Special educators who had struggled in high school math tutored math. The classroom teacher assumed the special-education staff provides most of the instruction to trap kids up. Even worse, the scholars were often were pulled out of core instruction for speech therapy and other services. In a nutshell, children who struggled got less core instruction than classmates who did not struggle. They received instruction from adults who have been caring although not content-strong teachers (or even teachers whatsoever), plus they never got additional time to learn. They got more adults although not more learning.

Yet doing the right thing works only if to control your emotions well. Poor implementation and inappropriate IEPs undermine effective and cost-effective strategies. Measuring academic return on investment, or AROI, closes the loop on doing what works and doing the work well. AROI may be the systematic, structured procedure for understanding what works, at what cost, for which kids. The idea is straightforward: Gather baseline data on student amounts of content and skill mastery, identify or create a control group, measure growth, and find out whether outcomes actually improve while making sure to trace the price associated with serving each student.

The challenge is the fact that few school systems gather such data. Too many rely primarily on professional judgment, observation, and faith within their practices. Youngsters with disabilities deserve better.

When districts do take the time and energy to determine the things that work, insights abound. One district, for example, was implementing a well-designed reading program but was puzzled about why results did not improve over time of hard work and professional development. On review, district leaders learned that teachers and principals thought they were following the new plan to the letter, but in fact, many old habits had crept back in. Instead of trashing this program and purchasing a replacement, district leaders recommitted towards the existing program but with more objective monitoring of fidelity. Inside a year, reading levels climbed.

Another district happily discovered that a secondary math-intervention program got excellent results-18 months of growth on average. A deeper dive in to the AROI data revealed positive results for children who were 2 to 3 years behind but not for kids who had elementary-level skill gaps like fractions and number sense or who failed math because they disliked school. Nobody best practice is the best for every child who struggles. That district kept its math intervention for many kids, instituted another for other people, and switched from math assistance to counseling for any third group. As result, all three categories of students started attaining greater than a year's growth, and the achievement gap began to close.

Districts cannot thoughtfully manage special-education spending if they seldom talk about costs or if they do not have the requisite cost data. While kids with disabilities deserve more and better services, providing them inside a cost-effective manner is definitely an act of kindness, not cruelty. Getting good comfortable talking about spending and shifting the conversation from total spending to cost per service helps expand services rather than reduce them. First, though, districts leaders need to know how much things actually cost.

One district, for example, learned that two of its schools used different processes for supporting students with disabilities who struggled to see. Each school had one full-time staff member dedicated to this effort. School A followed the National Reading Panel's recommendations, while school B embraced Reading Recovery. Both of them are best practices based on the The things that work Clearinghouse, and AROI data showed that both achieved a year and a half of growth for the typical struggling student.

Though both programs were similar in effectiveness, they differed significantly in cost. Reading Recovery cost $5,000 per student, as the equally effective National Reading Panel alternative cost $1,875. Fiscally, it appears wasteful to invest 2.5 times as much to get the same result. Moreover, when schools embrace high-cost strategies, they inadvertently ration these types of services. In class A, where costs were lower, 40 kids got high-quality reading help. In class B, just 15 did. Each school had one full-time equivalency teacher, but one teacher could serve more students in School A. In School B, where there weren't enough certified members of staff to help, struggling readers got push-in the aid of a less-skilled paraprofessional and fell further behind.

Knowing the price per service provided to each student likewise helps build support for increased investment in highly trained staff rather than paraprofessionals, who seem to have an effect that's neutral at perfect for kids with mild-to-moderate disabilities.

In spite of minimal impact, the number of special-education paraprofessionals increased by 22 percent in the last 10 years that we have data, while student enrollment has inched up just 2.6 percent, during the same period, based on the National Center for Education Statistics in 2021. While paraprofessionals are critical and valued for youngsters with severe disabilities, they are less ideal for students who find it difficult to master grade-level content. When my firm collected schedules from nearly 20,000 paraprofessionals from a lot more than 125 districts across the country, we saw that many paraprofessionals spend most of their days providing academic support.

In one school, for example, 74 percent of all elementary paraprofessional hours were focused on academic instruction, mostly in reading. When asked why they used paraprofessionals (who the college employed many) and never certified reading teachers (who the college employed few), school leaders' answer was simple: They couldn't afford a higher quantity of certified staff members.

A cost-per-student-served analysis was startling for college and district leaders, because they had underestimated the price of paraprofessionals to begin with. They thought paraprofessionals earned only $11,000 a year and thought about a few were paid $15,000 annually. Most paraprofessionals, however, actually earned about $39,000 annually with health insurance and seniority increases factored in. This really is less than the cost of a professional teacher, although not as much less as leaders had thought. Still, if we stopped the analysis at cost per adult, paraprofessionals could be less than teachers.

But what goes on when the conversation shifts to cost per service, per student served? Within our example school, each paraprofessional helped about 10 students, for around $3,900 per student. The district kept para-supported group sizes small, at typically one or two children at a time. District leaders hoped this concentration of support would counterbalance the lower level of skill from the instructor. Within the same district, a full-time reading teacher or special educator with strong reading expertise earned about $85,000, including benefits, but that person helped 35 students. Categories of four to five kids, all with similar academic needs, weren't any problem of these teachers. These highly trained teachers are less expensive than $2,500 per student served-a better bargain far better for children. This type of cost-per-student-served analysis was initially delivered to K -12 schools by Marguerite Roza.

Armed with this understanding, the district swapped one-third of its paraprofessionals for certified staff, which increased the amount of students with skilled teachers. Reading proficiency increased by 5 points. It also freed up funds to employ mental-health counselors. These positive results were caused by a financial analysis that aimed to assist, not harm, kids with disabilities.

Getting comfortable collecting cost data and discussing the relative costs of various strategies should be encouraged. From both legal and moral perspectives, kids with disabilities shouldn't be denied services in line with the cost, but those costs should still be tracked and discussed. Often, a win-win is possible. An intervention strategy can be ideal for kids and great for the budget.

Ultimately, the only way to ensure that all students are ready for success after graduation would be to shift spending from practices which are ineffective or cost-ineffective. The important thing word here is \”shift.\” As districts follow guidelines for raising achievement, they will have to add staff in certain areas, however they may also be able to cut back staff in others.

Making special education more cost-effective for students also needs to make the lives of special educators better. Increased spending to support teachers is needed, but offsets are possible so the extra help both kids and staff need could be cost-neutral. Districts that have embraced these practices and seen achievement rise spend their money very differently.

The major increases in spending include:

Such more information on added staff might surprise readers expecting a call for lower spending in special education, though I really hope it comforts those focused on improving and expanding services. Fortunately, both taxpayers and students can usually benefit from cost-effective strategies.

While some areas require more spending and staff, these additions could be offset by: slightly larger groups of students with like needs; fewer paraprofessionals for academic support; fewer generalist special educators; and fewer meetings and fewer paperwork.

Streamlining meetings and paperwork by 20 percent, for instance, adds the same as four teachers to a district of 5,000 pupils. Staff morale usually rises, too, because special-education teachers reach do much more of the things they love, which is help students. Besides, in every district I have studied, some staff have already figured out how to reduce meetings and paperwork by 30 percent or more compared with others in the district. This can be a path that already exists.

Best practices cost the same as, and in some cases less than, traditional practices, but they help kids much more. Nevertheless, shifting resources is hard and could be anxiety-producing. New and better services should therefore be added before, or concurrent with, reducing current services. Fears that cuts are definite, while additions are just a promise, rightly worry many.

Yet no one must lose their job to fund these shifts. Given how difficult the job is, many staff leave their district or even the profession each year. All the shifts could be paced to complement attrition. There isn't any reason to fear, as many do, that such shifts eliminate all paraprofessionals or decimate the ranks of special educators. Small shifts through attrition can produce a big impact for children and also the budget, without negatively impacting hard-working adults.

Perhaps probably the most overlooked facet of cost-effectively serving students with disabilities is the modified role of leaders and managers. Cost-effectiveness does not just happen. It's managed day in and day trip. To ensure that you implement the first three steps, districts must rethink how special education is managed and who's part of the leadership team. Too often, managing special education is siloed with techniques that aren't good for kids, adults, or the budget.

Typically, a special-education director manages just about everything, including academics, finance, staffing, and compliance. Within the vast majority of districts that I've worked, the chief business officer receives the special-education budget instead of partnering with the special-education director to build up it. Special-education staff in many districts also get less help, direction, feedback, and guidance; they are merely forwarded to a specific school and inspired to make everything exercise and schedule all services to help keep in compliance.

To close the achievement gap and increase equity of access and outcomes, and also to achieve this cost-effectively, districts have to manage special education differently. The new best practices can't be effectively implemented via the old organizational structure. Two changes to how special education is managed will smooth the path toward more efficient and cost-effective services: helping manage staff time actively and integrating special-education leadership.

Special-education staff deserve more support and guidance compared to what they receive in lots of districts. This can be a contributing step to our prime burnout of special educators.

Most often, special educators are handed a caseload and inspired to make it all work. Instead of leaving it to each person to balance IEP meetings, evaluate IEP eligibility, provide services to students, and take care of myriad other tasks, districts should set guidelines for how better to use the time available. Frontline staff ought to be area of the conversation. In the many a large number of focus groups I've led, special educators believe that their time is not optimized and they are stretched thin.

These guidelines have to address how many hours each day special educators should work directly with students, the number of hours a week a college psychologist ought to provide counseling, and just how many students ought to be in a \”small group,\” as mentioned within an IEP.

In the nearly 200 school districts I have studied, fewer than a handful of leaders have set such guidelines for that staff they manage. With no collective answer, staff members are left to find it out for themselves on their own. This isn't cost-effective or great for kids. It's also stressful for staff.

It is very difficult to implement thoughtful guidelines for that utilization of staff time if scheduling is not treated as strategically important. The schedule is how guidelines become reality. Creating the schedule should not be delegated to every individual special educator. Building schedules in partnership with a manager along with the help of a specialist scheduler is really a key ingredient in managing special education cost-effectively.

I can consider no job more stressful than leading a special-education department. A director may have 40 to 60 direct reports. Most unhappy parents eventually land in their office. The state department of education monitors compliance like a hawk. The staff is burning out. Then, during budget season, lots of people blame the director for cuts elsewhere within the district. By the way, the students continue to be struggling academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. Everyone wants the director to fix this, but few view it his or her job to help in that effort. It's a no-win situation.

Just as academic best practices demand an important role for general education, the result is that general-education leadership is going to be important to boost the cost-effectiveness of serving students with disabilities. Chief academic officers, assistant superintendents for learning and teaching, as well as their ilk are the experts in academics and should drive this important work. Special-education leaders would be the copilots.

In elementary schools, general-education leaders, namely, principals, assistant principals, and reading coaches, must also lead the effort to make sure that all kids can see and know very well what they read. Separate is never equal, but often, it seems that elementary schools have forgotten this lesson.

Other departments also need to integrate more closely with special education. Including the measurement, accountability, and business offices. If we want special education to pay attention to the things that work, it seems reasonable that people been trained in collecting and analyzing data and program effectiveness must do this for those programs, including the ones that serve students with special needs. In the same spirit, the company office should be an active partner that adds value in predicting special-education staffing and helping track and manage spending. This might seem like good sense, but it's not currently common practice. Making special education more cost-effective is no easy task, also it requires a team effort. Formally tasking these departments with assisting to manage special education is essential to managing rid of it.

The world is different. The children visiting school today convey more needs, but schools have fewer resources. A focus on improving the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of special education may be the only path forward that doesn't result in worse outcomes, fewer services, and better teacher turnover. Fortunately, this journey could be good for kids, staff, and taxpayers, all simultaneously. It will be challenging to embrace new approaches, get comfortable referring to costs, and focus on which works, however this is not a trip special educators need to take alone. General-education leadership, general-education teachers, and other managers will lighten the responsibility and make it a team effort.

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A Test for the Test Makers


The newest outpost from the College Board, the American standardized-testing organization, lies nearly 7,300 miles east of the nonprofit organization's headquarters in New York City. Opened in 2021 within the Mahrauli section of Delhi, the four-person office of school Board India commands an enviable look at Qutub Minar, the earth's tallest brick minaret-a 240-foot marble-and-sandstone structure created to honor the sultan who brought Muslim rule towards the Indian subcontinent in the 12th century.

College Board India, a wholly owned subsidiary from the American nonprofit, has established a beachhead in the organization's little-noticed find it hard to expand its reach, sustain its $1 billion a year in revenue, and preserve its legacy at any given time it seems to be facing an unprecedented threat.

Test-optional and test-blind admissions policies accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic would seem to imperil College Board's SAT college-entrance exam, the rival ACT, as well as their respective parent organizations. This state of affairs follows years of complaints that the exams favor the affluent. And, actually, both of the notoriously secretive testing companies face significant problems, including some not widely understood.

Reports of their demise, however, may be premature. Just because many colleges have stopped requiring the tests doesn't mean students have stopped taking them. Whether or not the number of test takers does drop permanently, both College Board and ACT happen to be quietly preparing for that possibility by finding untouched markets, introducing more products, and doubling down on the most successful of their existing services.

The College Board, located in Lower Manhattan near New York's World Trade Center, is advancing into south and central Asia, where it's building an alliance of universities that have agreed to accept the SAT in admissions where it's pushing its other tests, including the PSAT and Advanced Placement, or AP, exams. It has been expanding the AP and moving versions from it and the PSAT into earlier grades. And it is been locking in contracts with states and districts that have decided to purchase the SAT and administer it free to students on school days, a method pioneered by ACT that the College Board has stealthily co-opted.

The smaller Iowa City -based ACT, originally American College Testing, continues to be trying to diversify, buying up education companies and hiring international specialists to break in to the trendy fields of personalized and adaptive learning. ACT's goal is to deploy its longtime specialty of testing to evaluate how well primary- and secondary-school students are mastering a subject, after which provide lesson plans and homework assignments tailored to every student's skill and knowledge level. ACT can also be trying to get ahead of the potential decline of standardized testing. It's been gauging interest in such ideas as collecting student \”superscores\” for overworked admissions offices by combining grades, results on tests of \”soft skills,\” along with a dashboard of student, neighborhood, and high-school characteristics.

The educational implications are as significant as they've been little noticed. Any new way of sorting applicants to colleges, which both companies seem to be working, will probably invite new kinds of scrutiny of their fairness. Both ACT and the College Board are finding ways to use assessments in earlier grades, most unrelated to college admission. ACT is also developing ways to help teachers identify their students' strengths and weaknesses, harnessing technology to create true types of long-sought personalized and adaptive learning. Workforce development offers other potential markets. Even though the pandemic has taken a toll on both the ACT and SAT exams, the crisis has additionally indicated that consumers and policymakers aren't ready to abandon the tests completely.

In the meantime, ACT and the College Board, both tax-exempt nonprofits, still maneuver in sophisticated ways usually more usual for private companies. Their balance sheets also resemble those of for-profit enterprises. Within the years preceding the pandemic, the school Board and ACT had annual revenues of the combined $1.5 billion. Both seem going to preserve their bottom lines.

Of the two companies, ACT is more susceptible to the pushback from the tests, heavily dependent as it is on its principal product, the ACT, for many of their $400 million in revenues. It saw a steady decline in the number of applicants, to less than 1.8 million in 2021 from the peak in excess of two million in 2021. And that was before the pandemic prompted a record nearly 1,700 universites and colleges to stop requiring the tests, for the time being, and forced ACT to shut a number of its testing centers and reduce capacity in others.

The quantity of students using the SAT, by comparison, was rising within the years before the pandemic, to a record 2.2 million within the class of 2021-4 percent more than within the class of 2021-and even held steady one of the people in the category of 2021, before crashing up against Covid restrictions. Even the pandemic didn't stop greater than a million students from taking the SAT in the summer and fall of 2021. Some families have been visiting whatever open testing centers possible, and tutoring and test-prep companies are reporting all-time-record business. Regardless of new test-optional policies and all the challenges to locating and taking the tests, 46 percent of students who had applied by mid-March to enter college through the Common Application submitted standardized-test scores.

There are some reasons for this endurance. One is that universites and colleges make use of the tests for other reasons than choosing whom to confess, including deciding on scholarship awards and determining which supports students need after they enroll; 67 percent of institutions in an internal ACT survey in February said test scores were too useful to abandon. One more reason: The school Board continues to be steadily getting into contracts with states and school districts to administer the SAT to each student, often under-bidding ACT, which first developed the idea. \”Part of this growth is finding new clients for their product,\” said Akil Bello, education consultant and senior director of advocacy and advancement for the equity-in-testing organization FairTest.

In seven states, high-school students are required to take the SAT and in four others, either the SAT or the ACT. These mandates keep the testing numbers high, although the companies make less cash from selling the tests wholesale to states than from selling these to individual students for $49.50. (Meanwhile, the College Board has lost a few revenue streams from the tests. In January 2021, it jettisoned the SAT essay option, that was expensive for score and which many colleges didn't count anyway, although its own research discovered that it effectively predicted first-semester performance in college, especially among Black students and non-native-English speakers. It also eliminated its SAT subject tests, that have been declining in popularity by double-digit percentages from their peak and overlapped using the organization's more lucrative AP exams.)

The policy of making the ACT or SAT mandatory seems to encourage more high-school students to visit college, several studies have found. In Colorado, students who were designed to take the tests became more prone to attend private, four-year institutions. In Illinois, the amount who chose four-year universities and colleges rose, when compared with those choosing two-year vocational schools. In Maine, college-going went up 3 percentage points, driven mainly by students in rural areas and small towns who previously would not have taken the tests. And in Michigan, the proportion in men and poor students who continued to school increased 1 percentage point. It is also logical to conclude that, with increased students taking the test and choosing their scores to be shared with admissions offices, colleges are identifying and recruiting students they otherwise would never have found.

Even as more institutions go test-optional, many families think submitting a good score can continue to work in their student's favor. After many years of disclosures about special treatment for athletes and the kids of donors and alumni, culminating in the Varsity Blues scandal of federal criminal charges in admissions-influence schemes, students don't seem to think admissions officers' insistence they won't be penalized if they don't submit test results. \”The question is, will families trust that they'll get in with no test score?\” Jim Bock, v . p . and dean of admissions at Swarthmore College, told a conference of education journalists.

Still, the numbers seem eventually bound to meet up with the College Board and ACT alike. Many institutions that went test optional for that pandemic are expected to carry on that policy afterwards, ACT's internal survey found. The 300,000-student University of California system, four fifths of whose applicants take the SAT, decided this past year to suspend considering test scores entirely for at least 2023 and 2024 (as well as, due to Covid-19, for that fall of 2021). Colorado legislators introduced an invoice in January that would require public universites and colleges there to go test optional. 60 % of Americans in a Harris/Yahoo Finance poll released in January said they think admissions offices should stop requiring the ACT and SAT. Even when much more of them don't, new projections from the Western Interstate Commission for Advanced schooling reveal that a declining birth rate will mean a shrinking number of high-school students-and potential test takers-nationally, starting in 2026 and thru 2037.

These changes affect not just the admissions tests but also another less well-known though significant supply of revenue for the testing companies: the sale to college-enrollment managers, for recruiting purposes, from the names of test takers, through ACT's Interest Inventory and also the College Board's Student Search. Student Search, by far the bigger of the two, sells-or \”licenses,\” in College Board parlance-the names of students taking the SAT and PSAT tests, for 47 cents per name, often dozens of times over. They are known in the admissions world as \”the lists,\” and they're necessary to colleges; public universities purchase a median of 64,000 names apiece each year, the enrollment-management company Ruffalo Noel Levitz estimates.

While public attention is focused on if the test-optional movement might reduce test taking, what's less widely understood is how this could affect the lists and the huge amount of revenue they represent-reportedly a lot more than $100 million annually towards the College Board alone. The less students go ahead and take tests, in the end, the fewer names there are to market. Digital-savvy Gen Z SAT takers have already been declining to allow their names be sold, knowing the result will be a flood of unsolicited ads. However the same demographic trends that are affecting the availability of high-school students are also leaving admissions offices at all but the most elite colleges eager for leads.

New competitors see an opening. Cappex, an internet site used by 1.5 million students a year to look for colleges, was acquired last year through the education-consulting firm EAB. The most popular Application also provides universites and colleges using the names of participating students who create accounts but have not yet submitted applications, a spokeswoman confirmed. The National Association for College Admissions Counseling this season started letting students who registered for virtual college fairs choose to get their names provided to admissions offices. The College Board is now mining its BigFuture college-search website for names to market, from among users who subscriber.

The College Board's biggest product is the AP exam, which has grew even larger. Nowadays there are AP courses in 38 subjects offered at 22,152 high schools-up from 18,920 high schools when the College Board's current CEO, David Coleman, took over this year. The amount of AP exams taken rose 21 percent during that time, to almost 5 million, costing from $95 to $143 per test, depending on the subject. AP exams brought in $483 million in 2021, the last year for which financial documents are available, and have come to take into account nearly half of the College Board's annual $1.1 billion in revenue.

\”There's recognition that this may be the golden goose, the SAT, you may make cash on it on the way down, but [that] assessment does not have a long-term future,\” said Jack Buckley, former senior vice president of research at the College Board.

The AP has some competition, but not much. The International Baccalaureate exam, while growing, will come in under one tenth as many U.S. high schools; 82 % of high schools now offer ever more popular dual-enrollment programs, which provide an identical route to early college credit, but they don't necessarily supply the same advantage in admissions as high AP scores.

\”The College Board has been pretty vigorous in marketing [the AP] and in some cases lobbying states to want their state institutions to give credit for AP scores,\” said Chester Finn Jr., former president of the Fordham Institute and co-author of Learning within the Fast Lane: Yesteryear, Present, and Future of Advanced Placement. \”There's also a large amount of pull, because unlike many tests, that one has real-world payoff. Doing well on an AP test might help you save money. It might enable you to get out of a boring course.\”

The only real limitation on AP is that it's difficult for that College Board to introduce more subjects. No schools offer anywhere near all the 38 already available-the average is 10 per school, and of students who take AP courses, only a fifth take a lot more than two, which means the only real route to expansion is to sign on more schools and add more students. In 2021, the school Board debuted a pre-AP program for high-school freshmen and sophomores, for which it charges schools $3,000 per course, each year. And it's been positioning the PSAT, now offered as early as grade 9, as a kind of pipeline to AP classes, bulking up participation both in; the school Board has additionally introduced still other products for even younger students, including SpringBoard, a math and English program that begins in grade 6. (Soon you will see a \”PSAT in utero,\” FairTest's Akil Bello joked.)

The College Board's most ambitious expansion strategy seems to be outside the country, however, in huge markets such as India. The business has been busy there opening College Board India, its first-ever office outside of the Usa (its Latin America branch relies in Puerto Rico), and allowing the India Global Advanced schooling Alliance of 40 top universities, with affiliate members in Hong Kong and Singapore, that have agreed to accept the SAT and thereby \”simplify the process for all students and expand access to high-quality undergraduate education for underserved students.\”

Behind the general public mission statement lies an ambitious strategic business plan the College Board laid out in employment description for its senior director for south and central Asia. This new operation, it said, would \”increase the school Board's reach . . . in India and over the region.\” The alliance along with a related initiative to waive exam fees for lower-income applicants \”has potential to expand the College Board's engagement.\” The Delhi-based staff would be responsible for \”a strategic sales growth intend to drive adoption of College Board programs (AP, pre-AP, PSAT, SAT) over the South & Central Asia region to meet volume & growth goals\” and \”manage existing and build new relationships with key influencers in schools, educational agencies and institutions (e.g., national & provincial ministries of education) . . . with the express objective of growing using College Board programs.\”

The timing, for the College Board, is good. While in the United States the organization's college-admissions tests often symbolize the unfairness of the education system that better prepares higher-income students, standardized exams are seen by universities elsewhere like a fairer way to evaluate applicants than existing methods, which in many countries involve a mishmash of requirements for different programs, institutions, states, or provinces.

\”A large amount of all of those other world is in a different place in terms of the swing of the pendulum,\” said Buckley, who traveled to Germany to talk with higher-education officials about admissions. \”Their concern was that their system was not fair, and they wanted an SAT-like test simply because they thought it would be more fair.\”

In January, the head of Britain's University of Birmingham raised the thought of an American-style standardized test to replace A-levels, the greater advanced of his nation's two national qualification examinations. The formal New Education Policy adopted in India last year requires just one test for admittance to the country's largest universities, which now use a jumble of separate tests and standards. These mixed measures, in turn, have driven grade inflation in high schools that's forcing universities to repeatedly raise their cutoff grades for admission; an economics program at Delhi University that took students with a 90 average about ten years ago, for instance, now needs a 98. So strongly is the SAT considered a strategy to this issue that a major Indian newspaper editorialized in favor of an \”Indian SAT.\”

\”In some of the countries [the College Board is] looking at, primarily the Parts of asia, which have both a large number of students along with a large number of students who go abroad, there's a strong testing culture,\” said Rajika Bhandari,

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Condition Covid Aid on Opening Schools


To his credit, President Joe Biden makes reopening schools for in-person instruction a visible priority for his new administration. On his first full day at work, Biden issued a professional order directing the U.S. Department of Education to establish national reopening guidelines, support contact tracing in schools, and gather data around the pandemic's impact on students. The stimulus bundle he's proposed to Congress includes $130 billion that schools can use to upgrade ventilation systems, increase testing, or hire additional staff. The aim, the administration's plan says, is to \”safely reopen most K -8 schools in his administration's first 100 days.\”

That goal may be less ambitious than it sounds. Most obviously, it leaves out high schools. Additionally, it doesn't define what \”reopen\” means. Will it imply that some students-perhaps only very young students and people with disabilities-are able to attend personally? Does using a hybrid model count? Or will it imply that a lot of students should have a choice of while attending college in person full-time? Organizations for example Burbio that are tracking school schedules are convinced that most public schools nationwide were offering at least some in-person instruction even before the November election, suggesting that Biden's team may have no trouble arguing they have met their stated goal.

Biden is hardly the first new president to create policy targets that defy falsification. And one could easily understand a desire for vagueness in defining this goal, because of the current challenges for you to get more students inside of schools. Covid-19 case counts remain near all-time highs through a lot of the country. New, more-contagious variants of the virus threaten to hasten its spread. Vaccine distribution is running behind schedule. It is understandable, if also tragic, that conversation in some quarters has considered mitigation measures that may need to be in position within the 2021 -22 school year.

And then there's the politics. The teachers unions resisting reopening are key people in Biden's electoral coalition. Within 24 hours the president issued his executive order, Dr. Jill Biden, herself a member of the National Education Association, hosted the organization's president, Becky Pringle, and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers at the White House. In a statement, Pringle praised the president's reopening plan but cautioned that \”right now, the reality in too many schools and institutions better education is that effective distancing, mask-wearing, ventilation, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and other crucial mitigation strategies aren't in position.\” Days later, in the nation's third-largest school district, 71 percent of voting members of the Chicago Teachers Union rejected the district's plan to return to in-person instruction on February 1. It isn't only teachers who're opposing coming back to college; some parents, too, are unwilling to send their children back, considering that no vaccine has yet been authorized to be used on U.S. children 15 or younger.

Viewed in context, then, the fact that obama has chosen to prioritize school reopening whatsoever is remarkable-and praiseworthy. The most recent survey data gathered by Education Next, reported in this issue (see \”Pandemic Parent Poll Finds Perverse Pattern\”), give a baseline for assessing the administration's progress. Additionally they reveal just how badly progress is needed. Lately November, 53 percent of American students were receiving fully remote instruction; just 28 percent were in the classroom full-time. Black and Hispanic children were less apt to be learning in person full time, at 18 percent and 22 percent, respectively. The mother and father of 60 percent of all students are convinced that their son or daughter is learning under the child would have if the pandemic had not occurred, and fogeys express increased worry about how Covid mitigation measures have affected their children's social relationships and physical fitness. Yet reports of learning loss along with other adverse effects are far less frequent for students while attending college in person.

What actions can the brand new administration take to change this picture? Clear federal guidelines on reopening would be a welcome start but they are unlikely on their own to work in overcoming union resistance. That need 't be the only real tool in the administration's disposal, however. The $130 billion for schools within the president's proposed stimulus bundle would amount to some $2,300 per student. With approval from Congress, the administration could require school districts in communities where safety conditions are met to provide all students the option to attend school in person to be able to receive those funds. And just what about students in districts that cannot safely reopen this school year-or won't do so? Parents might be given their share from the funds directly, to use as they decide to help their children catch up.

Martin West

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States Grapple with Standardized Testing during Pandemic


One year ago, worry about Covid-19 closed schools nationwide, forcing then-U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to allow all 50 states an unprecedented one-year waiver on federal requirements to manage state-level, end-of-year K -12 standardized tests.

A year later, with mass vaccinations bringing hope the pandemic might end someday soon, education officials in the state level are once more facing a decision: To test or otherwise to test?

The Biden administration is sending an indication it wants testing to proceed, even when inside a highly altered form.

In a letter to convey school chiefs, the acting assistant secretary at work of elementary and secondary education, Ian Rosenblum, said state accountability systems \”play an important role in advancing educational equity.\” He requested \”the maximum available statewide data to inform the targeting of resources and supports.\”

But Rosenblum also told state leaders the administration would give them flexibility \”based on the specific circumstances across or inside the state.\”

Millions of scholars remain from school buildings. Remote learning remains the norm in many districts. Some state chiefs say they remain dedicated to gathering students for testing this spring, several have said recently they are not so sure teachers should break the seal on 2021 tests.

When the Council of Chief State School Officers, or CCSSO, polled state-level testing directors late last year, the great majority said they're pushing ahead, said the group's deputy executive director of programs, Scott Norton.

\”States are, for the most part, looking to get the kids up there to accept test within the easiest way they can,\” he explained. \”They’re just doing the very best they can with the tests they've.\”

A handful of states are thinking about fully online assessments. Many more are altering their usual administration plans \”to attempt to have more kids into the test,\” Norton said. Those include a few innovative ideas, for example extending testing windows and adding testing sessions on nights and weekends inside a bid to lessen the pressure on schools. In many states, educators by law must get students to show up for in-school testing sessions.

In Texas, lawmakers have previously extended testing windows for that State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, with plans to spend millions of dollars more post-2021 to transition for an almost entirely online system. State Education Commissioner Mike Morath has said schools this spring won't get traditional \”A -F ratings,\” as the pandemic \”has disrupted school operations in fundamental ways that have often been away from charge of our school leaders.\”

In Texas as elsewhere, educators will also be scouring non-school facilities looking for socially distanced testing venues. This spring, districts can offer STAAR tests at places like hotels, rec centers, or theaters. High schoolers that do not appear might not be in a position to graduate.

In Florida, state officials on February 15 said they'll give schools two extra weeks to manage Florida Standards Assessments. In an emergency order, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the expanded testing windows would \”ensure that each student can be safely tested.\”

In Massachusetts, state Secretary of Education James Peyser in January said the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System testing window will actually be shortened this spring. Educators will require students in many grades only to take a area of the test in each subject, in what state officials are calling a \”session sampling approach.\” Other tests, such as the state's 9th-grade biology test, is going to be offered in June instead of February.

But a few key holdouts-including education officials in New York, California, Nj, Michigan, Georgia, and Sc, among others-have said they'll ask the us government for waivers from testing.

They would appear to possess a large amount of leverage to face up to or at least delay testing far into the fall, because the Biden administration is extremely unlikely to chop off funds to poor children in the middle of a pandemic.

In his February 22 letter, the U.S. Education Department's Rosenblum acknowledged the difficulties states face, saying they might administer shorter versions of tests, as Massachusetts is proposing, or extend testing windows \”to the best extent practicable,\” including moving test administration into summertime or even into the start of the 2021 -2022 schoolyear.

That might not satisfy the holdouts, such as New York Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr., that has said the tests \”cannot be safely, equitably, and fairly administered to students in schools over the state.\”

Testifying before state lawmakers in mid-February, Christine Burton, the superintendent of the Millburn, Nj, school district, suggested that the results of testing would not be a surprise: \”Isn't it obvious that there's likely to be a delay in what they have been able to learn?\” she asked. \”Does standardized testing students to reveal the most obvious pose a much greater detriment to students' mental health?\”

In Michigan, Superintendent Michael Rice has said the computer-based Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress, or M-STEP, cannot be administered fairly and safely while students stay at home. To begin with, he said, many don't have reliable Internet service or perhaps a quiet spot to have a high-stakes exam.

\”There's no way to manage, validly and reliably, state summative assessments this season,\” Rice told state lawmakers via teleconference in a joint House-Senate hearing in early February. He noted that, for those its bravado around state testing, the us government shelved plans to administer the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, this year, suggesting that the issue is certainly not simple.

\”If you can’t administer NAEP validly and reliably to some sample, it’s difficult to imagine the way we can administer and M-STEP validly and reliably to an entire student population,\” he explained.

The debate over whether or not to resume these legally required tests in lots of ways recreates the bigger one which has played out around assessment in the last 2 decades: teachers' groups are urging caution, while activists for low-income and disadvantaged students are pushing for testing to resume.

Scratch underneath the surface, however, and things get interesting.

DeVos in September warned states they shouldn't expect another waiver to postpone what have become longstanding, large-scale tests. But weeks later, the federal government itself did just that for NAEP, its own large-scale test, saying it might take a year off to permit \”conditions on the ground to stabilize.\”

Ironically, losing NAEP until 2022 has prompted a few accountability hawks to state it's now all the more important for schools to obtain outcomes of state-level tests. Meanwhile, a few leading conservatives have joined liberals in warning about both safety and usefulness of wide-ranging testing during a pandemic.

In the September 2021 letter, DeVos told state school chiefs that statewide assessments, \”are one of the most reliable tools available to allow us to know how children are performing in school.\” Parents, she said, should know not just how their kids are performing, but additionally how one school's performance comes even close to those of others.

Michigan's Rice said the tests \”shouldn’t function as the assessment tail that wags the instructional dog, appearing out of a pandemic.\” Instead, he explained, teachers ought to be given the opportunity to \”pour time into instruction, not pour the time into another assessment.\” They ought to have a tendency to the academic, social, and emotional needs of kids struggling with the pandemic.

In January, South Carolina State Superintendent Molly Spearman said giving students the tests would increase the stress of the unprecedented schoolyear.

\”I'm not against the gathering from the data,\” she told lawmakers throughout a remote hearing January 20. \”You've got to know where your kids are. But I think we all do have a big question to say, 'Does this pandemic, and every one of these circumstances, bring us to make a different decision early in the year as to how we assess our kids?' In my opinion it does.\”

A state House measure, which Spearman opposes, seeks to require the publication of faculty report cards for the 2021 -21 schoolyear, but allows districts to waive school-performance ratings. The Palmetto State Teachers Association has joined Spearman in opposing the measure. Patrick Kelly, an association district director, said time to manage statewide summative assessments \”is not throughout the moment of crisis. It's once the crisis ends, and we return nearer to normal.\”

Former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who as White House Domestic Policy Council director in 2001 helped forge the legislation that became No Child Left Behind, said in an interview that she's happy her home state of Texas is pushing ahead with plans to resume testing this spring.

\”Both business leaders and the civil rights community realize that whenever we don’t measure, minority and poor students get left out,\” she said, noting that Morath, Texas' education commissioner, loves to say, \”Teaching without testing is talking.\”

Texas' spring testing \”is going to take place, in-person,\” Spellings said. \”And they’ll get it done in ways that’s safe. I am talking about, if you can visit the grocery store, you need to be able to go and have a test safely.\”

A statewide survey last October showed that only about 1 / 2 of Texas' 5.5 million students were learning on campus, but guidance the state released in January requires that students in grades 3 through 12 show up in-person to take STAAR tests this spring.

The policy director at Georgetown University's Edunomics Lab, Chad Aldeman, said that while states should find a way to test students this spring, \”I also don’t think it’s a good idea to force kids to take the tests in-person if their schooling continues to be all remote this season. So my preferred solution will be a shorter, online test that may be administered virtually.\”

Another concern: pretty much every state will fail to meet a current federal threshold that requires 95 % of students to consider annual state tests. Most school districts, obviously, are can not have that many students to attend daily classes.

Actually, DeVos made it simple to bypass this requirement, streamlining the procedure to find accountability waivers, CCSSO's Norton said. \”We know most states are going to make the most of that,\” he said.

But even while states push for testing to resume, many accountability hawks admit the results pose problems of their own and in all likelihood shouldn't trigger the sorts of consequences they typically do for college students, schools, and educators.

In most states, graduation requirements along with other high-stakes consequences will almost certainly face opposition and is waived ultimately, Norton said. Most educators and lawmakers realize that this is a year like no other, and that the outcomes \”are probably going to be somewhat compromised. You don’t wish to put a large amount of pressure on those scores if you’re not necessarily sure how good they represent exactly what the kids really know and may do.\”

In Florida, lawmakers have already filed legislation to sever testing results from consequences for schools, teachers, and students.

Researchers for months have warned of dire consequences for kids who weren't in a position to attend class regularly. A recent analysis by McKinsey and Company predicted that students' learning loss might be \”substantial,\” particularly in math. It said students may likely lose five to nine months of learning after the 2021 -21 schoolyear, and that students of color will finish up 6 to 12 months behind their typical achievement levels.

\”It's bad,\” Spellings said. \”But we’re not going to deal with the problem rightly and effectively if we don’t know where we are and who needs resources and who needs intervention and so on. So, i believe, testing is absolutely necessary.\”

Like many, however, she agreed that the results shouldn't have the same consequences, at least temporarily.

Terra Wallin, associate director for P -12 accountability at The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for low-income students, said \”time-limited, narrow flexibility\” is appropriate this spring.

\”We think it’s really essential that we have data, both to determine where individuals need additional supports, but also to see if you will find places that had promising results therefore we can learn from those places and figure out how we might use that continuing to move forward,\” she said.

\”We’ve seen a lot of research and estimates concerning the impacts of unfinished instruction,\” Wallin said. \”We know they’re likely to be worse for that students who already face inequities in use of diverse teachers, high-quality curriculum, grade-level content. But the best way we’re actually going to understand how much this crisis exacerbated inequities is actually to determine student learning. And there’s not another tool or system in position that can permit you to do this at scale across a situation.\”

Before President Biden asked him to become U.S. education secretary, Miguel Cardona, Connecticut's state school chief, established that he wanted districts to administer the state exams this spring, but the results shouldn't be accustomed to rate teachers, schools, or districts.

Cardona called annual state tests \”important guideposts to our promise of equity,\” saying the data are the most accurate tools available to track achievement regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, English proficiency, along with other indicators.

During his February 3 confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Cardona signaled support for spring 2021 testing, telling lawmakers, \”If we do not assess where our students are as well as their level of performance, it will likely be difficult for us to provide targeted support and resource allocation in the manner that can best support the closing of the gaps that have been exacerbated due to this pandemic.\”

But Cardona also asserted if conditions prevent students from being in school, \”I don't think we need to be bringing students in only to check them.\”

He also told lawmakers decisions should be left as much as states, including if the results should matter in state accountability systems.

North Carolina's Senator Richard Burr, the ranking Republican around the committee, expressed support for extending DeVos' 2021 waivers, saying: \”While we do need to know how much educational harm has happened, I'm not sure the federal accountability system and existing state exams are the right thing within this moment.\”

Burr said he expected the committee to possess \”an adult conversation about academic testing\” for the 2021 -21 schoolyear. That included attorney at law about \”whether we have to pause for just one more year the accountability and testing requirements as we grapple using the pandemic.\”

Burr said he considered it a states' rights issue, instructing Cardona, if confirmed, not to \”impose a bunch of conditions on states seeking these waivers.\” He added, \”Some of the predecessors thought they could use the need for waivers to bully states into submission on some of their preferred policy objectives that weren't in the law. What the law states does not permit you to do that, and I hope you will respect those limitations.\”

By contrast, certainly one of Burr's key Democratic colleagues, Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, who chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor, has said spring exams really should not be waived. \”I believe it is a bad idea to enter the next few months without knowing who's behind or how far behind,\” he told reporters at the begining of February. \”If you don't have any assessments, how do you know who needs help throughout the summer?\”

Unions, typically, have supported continued waivers. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told Education Next that teachers need data about student achievement but suggested that testing students this spring could simply provide more proof points of worsening inequality. School districts which are wealthy enough to put in place social distancing and extra in-school learning spaces will be places where \”kids have done much better,\” she predicted. \”It’s hard to have a real analysis of those numbers for any kind of purpose this year.\”

If, out of the box likely, the tests do move forward in many states, The Education Trust's Wallin said families should get ready for harsh results. The data, she said, may offer stark contrasts between white students and students of color, as well as between students from high- and low-income families. \”We have real concerns the data is likely to reveal that there has been drops or that there are larger gaps than existed before. We still think that’s worth knowing, and it’s worth giving parents and families some kind of here is how their student is progressing, rather than go two full years without getting any information of quality, or that’s consistent.\”

She said the results may actually show that advantaged students, with more consistent access to instruction, did better in quarantine. The possibilities of \”the top rising and also the bottom heading down, I believe, is actually disconcerting,\” she said. \”And that’s where we want to see if that plays out. And frankly, that information is vital that you know whenever we think about driving resources continuing to move forward.\”

She advises that states not do what they usually do and take months to analyze the testing results. Rather, she said, they ought to act around the data as quickly as possible.

\”Frankly, it must inform how to approach summer,\” she said. \”Let’s hope for an ideal world where some students will get in-person instruction or perhaps continue distance education within the summer to help make up some of the time that they’ve lost. But when we don’t have the assessment data over time to do that, it loses a number of its value.\”

Whether states can use the information they get to make a difference remains a wide open question.

Michigan's Rice told lawmakers in February that the state's M-STEPs are \”postmortem tests\” that will not be useful to determine which ought to be done, for example, with students this summer. \”By the time (the scores) return, in aggregate, your kids has progressed to the following grade. They’re not helpful the way we would like tests to be helpful in education, for quick determinations of where kids are and quick movements of instruction to address those needs.\”

He faced resistance from Republican lawmakers-one of them, Representative Pamela Hornberger, who represents an area in eastern Michigan, said she was disturbed by Rice's \”advocacy for which I'd call a lack of accountability.\”

\”We have a whole group of parents and students and families across our communities, across our state, that are really struggling right now to understand why they should keep their kids in public places education,\” Hornberger said. \”And it is a difficult sell. They feel like they’ve been shortchanged.\”

Rice noted that Michigan still intends to administer less-invasive benchmark tests that state lawmakers have mandated. The benchmark \”dipstick\” tests will give educators a feeling of \”roughly where kids were coming out of a pandemic.\”

That, he explained, can give teachers exactly the information they have to recalibrate instruction going forward.

\”Benchmarks are critical,\” Rice said. \”States summatives? Not so much, in a pandemic.\”

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What Teachers Spy in Homes over Zoom Ends up in Court


The widespread utilization of distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic is generating a new supply of controversy around school discipline. In the event across the country, schools have punished students for allowing glimpses of guns or Trump signs to be visible within the backgrounds of their video feed during remote lessons.

In October 2021, a 12-year-old middle-school student, Cole Mayer, was taking part in a remote-learning class in Columbia, Illinois, when he stood up, revealing a gun behind his bed. An instructor captured a screenshot of the moment, and the school dispatched law enforcement to Mayer's home to investigate. After discovering that it had been merely a pellet gun, the police officers didn't article a report and actually conversed with the boy about dove hunting. School officials initially considered expelling Mayer but instead chose to suspend him for 10 days.

Similarly, in Louisiana, 9-year-old Ka'Mauri Harrison was suspended for six days through the Jefferson Parish School District. In September 2021, the 4th grader was participating in a digital class and taking a web-based test when certainly one of his brothers tripped on the BB gun on the ground of the shared bedroom. Harrison moved the gun taken care of but left the barrel visible towards the camera. The teacher tried to get his attention, but because Harrison was going for a test, the student had muted the sound on his computer. The college district defended the choice to suspend the boy by saying he had violated its policy against having weapons at school. Inside a behavior report, the Louisiana Department of Education said that the student's possession of the BB gun was a violation of federal law. The district school board didn't permit him to appeal the suspension. Ka'Mauri Harrison's family sued in federal court, claiming a civil-rights violation. Under U.S. Top court doctrine, schools must provide rudimentary due-process rights to students receiving suspensions of fewer than 10 days. Harrison's attorney asserts that the school didn't meet those requirements. In November 2021, in response to the school board's intransigence, the Louisiana legislature passed the Ka'Mauri Harrison Act, which increases due-process protections for students facing disciplinary measures during remote learning. Too, Louisiana's attorney general has filed a motion in support of Harrison's lawsuit, arguing the school board repeatedly violated state law.

These cases indicate the possible lack of clarity round the question of how far schools can justifiably extend their policies into private homes. Put one other way, the remote teaching environment throughout the pandemic has raised the issue of what counts as \”the classroom.\” Many families do allow guns, whether toy or real, in their homes. These families may find it intrusive to possess schools treating their houses as extensions from the physical school. What's more, the disciplinary actions in these instances neglect to take into consideration the cruel circumstances both parents and children are facing with remote learning. Ka'Mauri Harrison, for instance, shares his bedroom with two brothers. Common sense and compassion would suggest that youngsters really should not be punished for not keeping a room as tidy as school officials might like. Zero tolerance, which hardly makes sense in normal times, is even less workable throughout a pandemic.

Students have also found themselves in danger for displaying Trump signs during distance learning. In October 2021, for instance, a high school chemistry teacher at Toms River High School North in Ocean County, New Jersey, kicked out a student, Anthony Ribeiro, who refused to take down a Trump banner from his bedroom wall, based on local press accounts. The teacher said there was \”no room\” for politics in his classroom, Ribeiro told the Asbury Park Press. An English teacher also asked Ribeiro to take on the banner during an online class since it may cause a disruption. Similarly, in September 2021, a chemistry teacher in Colusa, California, threatened to remove a student in the digital classroom if the student didn't defeat a Trump banner. A student chose to log out before the teacher could eject him.

In both cases, the teachers have the symptoms of violated their school districts' policies as well as U.S. Top court doctrine. In the New Jersey instance, officials later acknowledged that the student had not violated school rules. As well as in California, a student handbook said the district \”respects students' rights to express ideas and opinions, take stands on issues, and support causes, even when such speech is controversial or unpopular.\” That policy had allowed students to put on items such as political buttons and insignias while while attending college personally. The Supreme Court has stated that, under the Constitution, schools are only able to restrict student speech when it causes a substantial disruption, violates the rights of others, is lewd, is school sponsored, or is pro-drug. While Trump evokes strong feelings, neither of those cases fits into among those categories. Simply claiming that student speech may cause an interruption is insufficient reason to limit it, particularly if a school allows other viewpoints to become displayed. If a Trump banner actually caused an online lesson to descend right into a flame war in the Zoom chatroom, then schools could conceivably require students to have a plain background during such lessons. But picking and selecting which perspectives to censor violates First Amendment jurisprudence, which requires government officials to stay neutral toward varying viewpoints and content.

Instead of suspending students or kicking them from class, teachers and school officials would do well to make use of these events as teachable moments by not overreacting and by reminding students and themselves the Constitution applies, even in online classrooms throughout a pandemic.

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What's Next in New Orleans


\”Bad old OPSB.\”

When I began being employed as instruction reporter in New Orleans in late 2012, I heard that phrase again and again. The city was then seven years in to the post-Katrina education revolution that wrested control of the general public schools in the seven-member Orleans Parish School Board. Unheard-of academic gains followed the city's switch to a near-universal charter-school system, yet returning to failure always felt as near as the next hurricane. Give OPSB power again, people said, and the schools would slide right back where they started.

School-board candidates who wanted the district to resume its old role and who railed against charters, giving them a call privatized education benefiting billionaires, lost in election after election, including in fall 2021. But as schools shuffled students backwards and forwards between in-person and virtual schooling, amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases and revitalized requires racial justice, something unexpected happened. After Fifteen years of hemming within the district, people started wanting it to do more.

Academically and financially bankrupt, under federal investigation, at best ineffectual and at worst corrupt, the pre-2005 New Orleans school district was the worst in Louisiana. Almost half of its 66,000 students attended a school that earned under 50 points around the state's 200-point report card. Only 54 percent graduated from high school. Many people fled: enrollment fell by 15,000 students in the 10 years before Hurricane Katrina.

Teachers struggled to do the things they could, driven by desire for the job or, in some instances, only the steady paycheck. Many people tried to attack the issue from a new angle. Several groups started charter schools, gaining the freedom to employ, fire, and teach as they wanted. At the same time, Louisiana created the Recovery School District to consider over and charter out struggling schools. But there was no sign that any major power shift loomed. Once the 2005 -06 school year began, the Recovery School District controlled only a handful of schools. Then, during the last week of 2006, Hurricane Katrina hit.

With hundreds of thousands of residents evacuated and campuses flooded with up to 12 feet water, the college board abandoned ship. It said there wasn't any method to reopen schools that academic year. The Orleans Parish School Board let go a lot more than 7,000 employees, sending pink slips to mailboxes that had been literally washed away. However the school closures exposed an opportunity for change. The Recovery School District seized four fifths from the city's schools, and most of the schools remaining underneath the OPSB's auspices went charter as well. The city eliminated traditional student assignment by home address and instituted universal school choice, allowing any student to use to any school.

It was one of the greatest transformations in U.S. education, arguably surpassing the 25-year state takeover in Newark: there, at least the buildings stayed mostly the same, whereas the decrepit New Orleans campuses took this type of hit within the storm and flood that FEMA allotted $1.8 billion to rebuild.

Support poured in: foundation money, federal grants, eager young teachers. Many schools never reopened, including the New Orleans Free School, a location where students got written evaluations instead of grades and called teachers by their first names. Logan Crowe, a teacher there, described the school as \”alternative prior to the word 'alternative' meant prison.\” Orleans Free started privately on the ground floor of the commune, then fought to keep its creative approach going once it joined the district. After it closed, Crowe signed on as assistant principal at Alice Harte Elementary and then became principal and CEO from the Recovery District's Andrew H. Wilson Charter, inside a newly renovated building. \”Orleans Parish schools needed to change,\” Crowe said, in hindsight now. \”And I believe many of them did.\”

Charters stayed running a business only when they met academic benchmarks and attracted enough students. And, indeed, scores increased. The city saw a \”stretch of improvement I've still never seen anywhere else,\” said Doug Harris, director of the Education Research Alliance for brand new Orleans at Tulane University. Those results were real, his team concluded-not caused by changed demographics, largescale cheating, teaching towards the test, or increased funding. \”I thought, this can not be right. There must be something else happening here that we're not seeing. But we just couldn't find anything like this,\” Harris said.

Where was the Orleans Parish School Board in all this? Squabbling over crumbs. In combative meetings, the members fought over who would be superintendent. They disparaged the Recovery School District charters and the children inside them. They fought with RSD within the FEMA rebuilding plan. Two Orleans Parish School Board members visited prison, 5 years apart, on federal conspiracy charges.

Successful Recovery charters had the choice revisit Orleans Parish oversight and declined, fearing it would damage their gains.

Finally, 10 years after Katrina, the school board hired Henderson Lewis Jr. as superintendent and fell in line behind him. Lewis was a new kind of superintendent, have less charisma, not a king, but a supervisor who had taught in the Recovery system and embraced the so-called portfolio model. Actually, he chartered the district's final traditional schools. The school board began passing policies like the Recovery School District's-for instance, requiring all its charters to join the computerized common-enrollment system once the schools' contracts were renewed. School board meetings became normal, even boring.

In spring 2021, Lewis and Patrick Dobard, superintendent of the Recovery District, went prior to the Louisiana legislature and asked lawmakers to turn back post-Katrina takeover. I was told that that OPSB would run such as the Recovery system, giving wide latitude to the charters-that parents and students wouldn't even notice the difference. It would be a new kind of decentralized district, one that would regulate, not rule. They promised that OPSB would not screw it up.

\”We are prepared,\” Lewis said.

Even an advocate of the reunification bill, New Orleans State Representative Walt Leger, sounded less than enthusiastic. \”There are lots of people, parents yet others, who are not thrilled about schools going back to the Orleans Parish School Board,\” he explained, but \”at some time, whether we like it or otherwise, the colleges need to be returned to the local authority, and now is as good a time as any, in my opinion, to begin with that process.\” The legislature approved no more the takeover, with a two-year runway. In 2021, the district reunified. (A handful of state-authorized charters that had never been a part of Orleans Parish remain underneath the oversight from the state's board of elementary and secondary education.)

To herald the brand new era, the district rebranded the machine as NOLA Public Schools. For about two years, things ran pretty smoothly, using the usual fretting over test scores and charter renewals. Then Covid-19 hit, intensifying the underlying problems. The district stepped forward to coordinate the response. And the people I interviewed for this article began wanting the district to wield more power again, to step up and create a vision and a guide for a city whose schools truly flourished.

In November 2021, the very first time since before Katrina, all seven school board seats were contested. Three members won re-election: Ethan Ashley, John Brown Sr., and Nolan Marshall Jr. They were joined by newcomers Katie Baudouin, Olin Parker, J. C. Romero, and Carlos Zervigon. Have the ability to and have had children in New Orleans public schools.

Among the unsuccessful candidates, Kayonna Armstrong favored returning to a method of schools directly run by the school board, Chanel Payne required a moratorium on charters, and Antoinette Williams supported direct-run schools along with independent charters. All of the winning candidates favored maintaining the all-charter model.

Olin Parker left his job running charter schools for that State of Louisiana to run for that school board seat. \”I saw the limits of what you can do from the state government side,\” he explained. \”I think OPSB continues to have a huge role to play.\”

In 2021, that would have sounded faintly ridiculous or perhaps a little threatening. Not anymore.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, academic improvement had stalled in New Orleans. In fact, it \”pretty much plateaued around 2021,\” Harris said (though he also suggested that \”you could reframe 'stagnation' as 'maintained improvement.'\”) As of 2021, 16 percent from the city's 16- to 24-year-olds were neither in school nor working, based on the Opportunity Index. Finally count, 1 / 3 of students attended schools rated D or F by the state. For the most part New Orleans high schools, the category of 2021, whose entire academic career took place within the post-Katrina system, averaged just one 17.5 out of a potential 36 around the ACT. That's lacking to obtain a student admitted to either of the city's four-year public universities.

The mediocre scores aren't any secret. \”We all say the same thing: We've come a long way, but there's a lot to become done,\” said Caroline Roemer, director from the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.

What's more, Harris's Education Research Alliance discovered that most of the academic improvement happened when a new charter group took control of a school. Although the school board lets students stay at their school when management changes, takeovers are grueling for those involved. Teachers often lose their jobs or leave; students need to acclimate to changes in school operations and culture; parents suffer from a brand new set of administrators, and everybody has to live with the fear the takeover won't help, because sometimes they don't. Joseph Craig Charter is on its third manager in 15 years, and 42 Charter School is on its fourth. Also, takeovers don't happen very often now, unlike in the early years of Recovery School District operation. Just one from the city's charters is changing hands during the summer of 2021: Crocker, moving to the third manager.

The shortage of good schools puts pressure on parents. Newly elected board member Katie Baudouin said she began thinking about running for the office during the tension of awaiting her older child's results on OneApp, the computerized common application that matches students with seats. Although the system allows preferences for siblings and children who live near a college, for many families it is a game of roulette, with bad odds which are more popular schools. The parents of 830 four-year-olds applied for A-rated Hynes Charter's 55 open kindergarten seats for fall 2021, and almost 2,500 rising 9th graders sought 262 spots at A-rated Warren Easton, the district reported. Many parents told Tulane's Cowen Institute that they didn't like the OneApp common-enrollment system, but many asserted was simply because they didn't obtain the school they wanted. A large number of families continue to opt from the public system altogether: one quarter of New Orleans children currently attend private school, according to the Cowen Institute.

While the Orleans Parish School Board is officially in charge, its ability to remedy a school's ills is very limited. That's because the state legislation that restored local control also prohibited the district from doing a lot of the job that districts traditionally do-including exercising authority over charter schools' \”programming, instruction, curriculum, materials and texts, yearly school calendars and daily schedules, hiring and firing of personnel, employee performance management and evaluation, terms and conditions of employment, teacher or administrator certification, salaries and benefits, retirement, collective bargaining, budgeting, purchasing, procurement, and contracting for services other than capital repairs and facilities construction.\” If student test scores start slipping, solutions are as much as the charter manager.

In an all-charter system, \”the role from the board becomes selecting operators and determining what sort of schools you want to have and who's likely to run them,\” Harris said. \”They're always grappling at the margins.\”

However, OPSB can help all schools to address the problems that hurt students across the board, former Recovery superintendent Dobard said, for example inadequate preschool services and teacher turnover.

These efforts have started in a tiny way. The prior board chose to use tax dollars to improve teacher recruitment and retention across the system and to train school staff to assist traumatized children. Many school board candidates, successful and never, promised to focus on students' mental health. \”It's no secret that there's a lot of trauma within our school system,\” board member Parker said.

Data in the city's Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies back that up. Among 2,800 middle- and high-school students the institute surveyed over many years, 27 % said they were subjected to violence against a parent or sibling; 12 % said they'd considered suicide; and 46 percent said they had experienced the murder of somebody close to them. Even before Covid-19 knocked parents unemployed, Louisiana considered 84 percent of the city's public-school students to become \”economically disadvantaged,\” a category that includes those who are eligible for a variety of public benefits as well as students who're homeless, in state custody, or not fluent in English.

Jamar McKneely, head from the InspireNOLA charter group, is among many charter leaders who focused for years on addressing problems within school walls. He's now referring to tackling poverty and homelessness directly. He's been in education of sufficient length that he's now seeing the children of his original students. All too often, those parents haven't managed to fulfill their dreams, he said.

\”We must many Black and brown families who are underneath the poverty line. The incarceration rates are still excessive. After i consider the homeless rates, they're still too high. That implies that not just from an academic standpoint, but from the social-economic standpoint, there's still lots of work to do this I would love to check this out board start to tackle,\” McKneely said. OPSB \”can't you need to be a board focusing strictly on academics.\”

Among those societal problems, one stands out as the biggest, or maybe the most foundational. The town is experiencing two pandemics, board member Ethan Ashley said: Covid-19 and \”the pandemic of systemic racism.\”

Although New Orleans takes pride in its long history of gens de couleur libres-free people of color-generations of racial discrimination have led to persistent poverty and lack of progress.

The school system also offers past racial inequality and unfairness. During the Jim Crow era, the all-white OPSB invested in white campuses while squeezing Black children into shabby buildings for part-day shifts. In 1948, 1,000 students attended Sylvanie Williams Elementary, where 3 classrooms had electric light, based on historian Walter Stern's 2021 book Race and Education in New Orleans.

After four brave Black girls enrolled at two white schools in 1960, what resulted was not integration but white flight. In 2005, 7 percent from the student body was white, and 9 in 10 of these white students attended the top-ranked schools, most of which had entrance requirements. Fourteen years later, white students made up 9 % from the student body, and 8 in 10 attended schools rated A or B, according to data in the Louisiana Department of Education. 4 % of white children, but 41 percent of Black children, visited a D or F school. Like the city itself, the school human population is significantly less Black now, however the difference is due to increased Hispanic enrollment, that has risen to 11 percent from 1 percent.

In addition, the folks waiting in front of and behind those students don't reflect the students' diversity. Being an employer, the pre-Katrina district was the backbone from the Black middle-class; indeed, some critics have charged that the goal of their state takeover was to disempower African Americans. Now a bare most of teachers and principals are Black; fewer than 4 in 10 charter groups possess a Black CEO; and 14 percent of charter groups have both a Black CEO along with a Black-majority board, according to Black Education for New Orleans.

Being taught with a proportionally diverse number of educators can produce a difference for Black children. Cultural competence \”is different from rapping a math lesson,\” said Adrinda Kelly, the director of Black Education for brand new Orleans. Research has shown a variety of benefits for students of color whose teachers look like them, from fairer discipline to higher test scores and greater enrollment in gifted classes. Inside a survey by Doug Harris's group, New Orleans students rated their teachers lower on quality than the national average. Half the Black respondents thought their teachers showed concern for their well-being or valued their ideas.

Some organizations will work on diversifying the teaching corps. Black Education for New Orleans coaches educators at Black-governed schools while offering professional development for Black teachers. New Schools for brand new Orleans runs an instructor residency with Xavier, the country's only historically Black Catholic university.

The school board is acting on this problem too. The previous board hired Beloved Community, a Black-led anti-racist education consultancy, to carry out a districtwide racial-equity audit that addresses both the central office and individual schools. All seven of the present board members have pledged to handle Beloved Community's recommendations and to create incentives for schools to enhance racial equity. Board member Ashley said he's excited about the audit, that they calls \”historic.\”

Facing these challenges, charter schools in New Orleans need OPSB now because they haven't before. Charter leaders for example FirstLine Schools CEO Sabrina Pence and charter fans such as former Louisiana state education superintendent John White are asking for leadership from the board, but another kind of leadership this time-not with the iron fist wielded by bad old OPSB, but through a new concentrate on collaboration, inspiration, and vision.

For progress to resume, the colleges are going to need money. School funding depends on sales and hospitality taxes, and gas and oil revenue, all of which are suffering. \”The financial picture is kind of grim,\” said Pence. FirstLine's founders opened the city's first charter school in 1998; the network now runs five schools.

\”We're going to have to ask for help from your elected officials to effectively buy the bacon,\” board member Ashley said.

Charters also need flexibility in academic standards. Currently, charter renewal relies almost entirely on a school's performance score, which derives from students' standardized test scores, graduation rates, and also the amount of advanced coursework a college offers. In New Orleans as with all of those other nation, youngsters are losing ground because of the pandemic's educational and private disruptions, and charter authorizers will need to take that context into consideration.

No one accustomed to talk about accountability more than former state chief White, who resides in New Orleans with his young family. However he's talking about the need to have a broader view. \”We're going to have a lot of youngsters with a lot of challenges at home who require to learn to read and who weren't consistently in class,\” he explained. \”How will we define recovery? What exactly is it that schools should be focused on?\”

Pence agreed. That old model fails at this time, she said. And also the solution can't be top-down. \”The community has ideas by what a great school is beyond academics,\” and they want input, she said.

Logan Crowe couldn't agree more. The school he ran, Andrew H. Wilson, lost its charter in 2021 over low performance, and InspireNOLA took it over. Several jobs later, Crowe has returned to his roots with The NET's new alternative junior high school. (The network's name stands for \”meeting Needs, raising Expectations, Practicing life.\”) Most New Orleans schools are similar to one another, and not everyone fits their mold, he said. \”I think that's shut a lot of people out,\” he explained. \”There have to be more selections for students and families who just want something different.\”

Though the hallmark of charter schools is autonomy and competition-and Pence, for just one, still wants to run her own bus routes-an all-charter district can't be each out for its own, said InspireNOLA's McKneely. \”We need to start looking at this from the systematic standpoint, not just one organization. I think if we do that more, then holistically our city will fare a whole lot better.\”

Charter groups happen to be cooperating and with the district for several years now, first to build up the common-enrollment system, then to sort out the details from the reunified district, and now to coordinate services during the pandemic. The work done throughout the crisis illustrates an especially public and efficient model for cooperation. The initial ramp-up for remote learning and teaching \”was definitely a collective process,\” McKneely said, involving many, many conference calls. The district led the push for technology, swiftly acquiring 10,000 laptops and 8,000 hotspots, which charters given to needy students, based on a district press release. Charters caused their own meal providers to get food to families, and also the district ran interference to make sure that the colleges would be reimbursed with the federal lunch program. Lewis and also the previous board kept up using the latest Covid-19 information from the city and healthcare systems, and hang reopening timelines and protection guidelines using the charter leaders' consent. For the first time, almost all the city's charters agreed to a typical school calendar and made a unified decision about whether or not to hold classes virtually or in-person. It might not be considered a coincidence that parents' goodwill toward the school system has gone up, based on an October 2021 poll through the Cowen Institute.

\”They just hit it of the ballpark,\” said the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools' Caroline Roemer of the transition to distance education. \”So many districts didn't perform the basics.\”

The school board can't force this kind of collaboration, because legally it does not have much muscle. But the board can persuade. It may advise. It may convene meetings to look for solutions. \”You're not forcing people. You're bringing them together,\” White said.

The fear of what happens if OPSB doesn't act has started to overshadow anxiety about what might happen whether it does act. \”The city, as with every cities, needs leadership at this time,\” White said. \”These are really the challenges. They might require collective solutions and collaboration . . . [and] really, just the superintendent and the school board are empowered to facilitate that kind of solution at that scale.\”

\”I would like to see them really produce a bold vision that would carry us beyond the progress that has been made yesteryear Fifteen years. And it's time for it now,\” McKneely said. He added a concept that will once have been anathema for any charter CEO: in a pandemic or perhaps a hurricane, \”some people still think that there's nothing wrong at certain times for that superintendent of Orleans, that has been appointed through the board, [to] make some decisions that are important to the wellbeing of the whole system.\”

\”There's a real opportunity for building and setting the vision for the next 5 years, for the city. That's got to become the primary priority,\” Pence said. \”Strong community engagement is critical so that people really have deep confidence in what that system appears like.\”

The elected, local school board is \”accountable towards the community,\” she added. \”And using a path forward that's charted out [and] that has had wide engagement I believe could be a huge, huge win.\”

Can big, bad old OPSB, now responsible for shiny NOLA Public Schools, meet those hopes?

Superintendent Lewis agreed, which the Covid-19 response showed it. \”We're in a position to bring people along,\” he said-to convene a college community around common problems, build relationships, and assist with resources. \”The last thing I wish to have to say is, 'My role is regulation and authorization, I'm just likely to relax and wait until you fail.'\”

Board President Ashley agreed with Lewis' assessment. The new board is \”up towards the task,\” he said. \”But it will not be simple.\”

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The Tarnished Shield of Qualified Immunity


The tragic killing of Daunte Wright as a result of a Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer, even as former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin stood trial nearby for that murder of George Floyd, has resulted in renewed requires federal legislation aimed at reducing police violence. Efforts to enact such legislation stalled in Congress during the waning months of the Trump administration last year. Among activists' top priorities at that time, however, was the removal of \”qualified immunity,\” the legal doctrine that usually shields cops and other government officials-including educators-from financial liability for violating citizens' civil rights.

In this issue's cover story, Yale law professor Justin Driver examines the origins of qualified immunity and also the case for reform, with special attention to the implications for K -12 education (see \”Schooling Qualified Immunity,\” features). Readers may be surprised to understand that cases involving teachers, principals, and school board members happen to be central towards the doctrine's evolution. Noticably would be a 1975 Supreme Court case involving the suspension of three Arkansas students for spiking the punch in a high school social. It was if so the court first articulated the standard that plaintiffs cannot overcome the shield of qualified immunity unless they show the federal government official under consideration violated \”clearly established constitutional rights.\”

As Driver reports, this narrow standard has transformed qualified immunity from a sensible protection for officials undertaking their public duties in good faith into something approaching blanket immunity from legal accountability. If plaintiffs cannot identify a binding precedent involving a government official who violated the Constitution in a nearly identical manner to their personal circumstances, they're doomed to lose. This standard has shielded educators who've engaged in \”heinous conduct that, properly understood, contravenes clearly established law,\” Driver writes. Courts have even granted immunity to educators who've strip-searched students to consider minor contraband, simply because there wasn't any previous case in which someone had infringed on a student's rights in precisely the same way.

In June 2021, as a direct consequence of George Floyd's killing, the nation's Education Association and also the American Federation of Teachers both signed onto instructions contacting Congress to enact police reform. Among their demands was to \”end the qualified immunity doctrine which prevents police from being held legally accountable once they break what the law states.\” An invoice that passed the House of Representatives last summer, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, might have done just that by eliminating qualified immunity like a defense from liability for police officers only. Another bill introduced in both chambers, the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, might have curbed the defense for those government officials, including educators.

Driver points out there are top reasons to think separately about cops and educators when it comes to qualified immunity. Unlike the daily work of cops, teachers' responsibilities are not \”inherently imbued with legality and constitutionality.\” A teacher's infringement of her student's rights is far less likely to guide to the loss of life. Finally, the constitutional case law that applies to police is well toned, while the law pertaining to teachers is sparse-and riddled with thorny questions regarding, for example, the actual scope of students' free-speech rights both within and beyond school settings (see \”What Teachers Spy in Homes over Zoom Ends up in Court,\” legal beat).

With Congress to date neglecting to act on calls to overhaul qualified immunity, some states are taking matters into their own hands. In April 2021, for instance, the New Mexico legislature passed a law authorizing citizens to file a lawsuit government employers under hawaii constitution if your state or local worker violates their rights. The measure applies equally to police departments and school districts, also it bans using qualified immunity like a defense. Nick Sibilla from the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law practice that testified in support of what the law states, notes that the legislation's supporters spanned the ideological spectrum, in the liberal American Civil Liberties Union towards the conservative Americans for Prosperity.

The impulse for sweeping reform is understandable, but there may be some help to delaying in the federal level to see the effects, if any, from the state legal changes. Will these laws translate into measurably improved police or teacher behavior? Or can they just mean more costly insurance costs for local governments (that's, the taxpayers) and greater paydays for plaintiffs' lawyers? Like so many matters associated with education policy, they are empirical inquiries to which experience will provide better answers.

Martin West

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Watch: Rio Ferdinand shares his experience of bullying #Back2School


Rio Ferdinand, James McVey from The Vamps, Marcus Butler, Jessie J, Riyadh Khalaf amongst quite a few other celebrities help #Back2School.? MP’s from all parties, all over the UK, join your campaign.

This September encounters over 10 million small children going back to school, all sorts of feeling anxious around being bullied and over half of them are going to be affected by bullying. A recently available survey of just about 2,000 men and women about their experiences regarding bullying in school plus the workplace, conducted by just YouGov for The Diana Award, uncovers the shocking impact it still has on his or her lives today.

Over 64% declare it’s negatively impacted their confidence together with 60% their self-esteem. 35% say it possesses negatively affected astounding to trust other people in addition to 35% believe that bullying patterns occurs in their recent place of work.

The Diana Award operates the leading Anti-Bullying Campaign in the united kingdom giving young people, specialists and parents the skills, self-assurance and training for you to tackle all types of bullying as Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.

To tag the start of the school twelve months, on Monday Fifth September 2017, a host of models are reliving their experiences of being bullied in school for The Diana Award’s #Back2School campaign. Persuaded by a photo of them in their school standard, their experience is definitely captured on flick in a classroom establishing seen here

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Salford park vandals 'have squandered 1.3k of taxpayers' money'


Mindless vandals who ripped inside the surface of a local community park in Salford currently have cost the city over 1,000 in improvements, say Salford council businesses. were sent pictures of Riverbank store on Littleton Road within Kersal after reports the particular playground had been intentionally shut for problems.

The rubber surface of the play ground under the swings, roundabouts as well as climbing frame which offers a safe landing pertaining to local chidren has been drawn apart and thrown around the park.

Small pieces also look like they’ng been burned together with melted.

Signs posted indicating: ‘Please don’t use’

Chunks connected with play surface were ripped out

Parts of the rubber look like they’ve ended up melted

Exasperated local police published on GMP Salford East: “This is our community, who would achieve this on a children’s area?

“The Parks Division are aware and have shut the park to get repairs, but cannot give a date once it heats up will re-open, as you can see the harm is quite extensive.”

“If you have any information connected with who has caused this damage please send an email on the usual Info or Crimestoppers on 0800 111 555.”

The park currently provides 24-hour access but the authorities may have to rethink this kind of to protect the equipment to get local children.

Patch-up career on the playground with Riverbank Park

Council workers have now finished surface patching vehicle repairs at a cost of 1,300.

Councillor Mark Lancaster, Salford’s lead member for environment along with community safety, stated it was “a i am sorry waste of public money” which could have been more effective spent improving the area.

Cllr Lancaster said: “Unfortunately it is not the first time vandalism has happened here.

“This time around the vandals damaged the protection surface under the have fun with equipment which meant it was not safe to use and forced the short term closure of the recreation area for repairs.

“I’d personally appeal to the community to prevent an eye on the car park and if they have studies which would help the police arrest to prosecute those people responsible to contact law enforcement or Crimestoppers anonymously.”

Riverbank Store is now due to re-open inside the week starting Saturday 5 September.

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