Month: April 2020

For all the popularity of STEM activities outside of school time, engineering remains a neglected stepchild. Out-of-school programs are ideal vehicles for introducing kids to engineering. Free of standards-driven teaching pressures and penalties for failure, they offer safe spaces for students to explore, stumble, and regain their footing in a new area of learning.

In response to COVID-19, Congress passed the CARES Act last month, which provides $13.5 billion to public school budgets through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Although none of this money is earmarked for special education, states and districts can and should allocate a significant portion of this money to special education and adaptive technology, specifically to ensure that all students have the technology they need to fully participate in distance-learning opportunities.

New research from NWEA’s Collaborative for Student Growth Research Center suggests that when students head back to school next fall, overall they are likely to retain about 70% of this year’s gains in reading, compared with a typical school year, and less than 50% in math. “The main message from this research is we’re in a moment,” says Chris Minnich, CEO of the nonprofit assessment and research organization NWEA. “This won’t be back to school as normal. Figure out what you want school to look like in the fall now.”

Simon Rodberg, a former charter school principal and author of a forthcoming book from ACSD, “What If I’m Wrong? and Other Key Questions for Decisive School Leadership,” predicts that this period of forced homeschooling will lead parents to demand different things from schools once they reopen. He argues that school leaders should start planning now for how to deal with the fact that students are getting very different quantities of learning while schools are closed.

Right now students are out of school in 185 countries. According to UNESCO, that’s roughly 9 out of 10 schoolchildren worldwide. There is no situation that is precisely similar to what schools around the world are going through, but there are some lessons education in emergencies experts have learned from other education emergencies.

Nearly 22 million students nationwide rely on free and reduced-price meals at school, but school closures from COVID-19 have put school meal programs at risk of failing to meet the needs of eligible children. While most decisions about school meals are made locally, states can play a critical role in supporting communities and schools during emergency conditions by giving them the flexibility to deliver meals to students in a comprehensive, safe, and sustainable way.

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