News

The latest news stories and commentary on education recovery efforts.

Cardona’s Tutoring Charge, 1 Year Later: Some Progress, but Obstacles Remain

One year ago, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a charge to schools still reeling from months of remote instruction during the pandemic: Students who fell behind should receive at least 90 minutes of tutoring each week.

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Are districts frugal or simply confused when it comes to ESSER spending?

At the moment, school districts are essentially sitting on a gold mine of free money to spend at their discretion, as long as it’s used to provide relief in an area that was impacted as a result of the pandemic.

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Irked by Skyrocketing Costs, Fewer Americans See K-12 as Route to Higher Ed

Over the past three years, the pandemic has transformed American society in ways that we’re still grappling with. Now you can add one more: It seems to have devastated Americans’ belief that K-12 education should prepare young people for college.

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Schools sink money into tutoring, but some programs fall short

Tracy Compton knew her fourth-grader needed tutoring to make up for what she missed during the pandemic. But when the Virginia mother learned about the online program offered by her well-regarded suburban school system, her heart sank.

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Why Districts’ Initial Learning Recovery Efforts Missed the Mark

Districts’ struggles to implement widescale, academically intensive interventions stunted their ability to boost students’ academic performance, regardless of the recovery approach they used, according to new research.

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By The Numbers: How districts are spending ESSER funds

About 43%, or $6.1 billion, of federal COVID-19 emergency funds that states have passed on to districts were used to meet students’ academic, social, emotional and other needs.

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How 14 States Are Making Sure Teachers Have High-Quality Materials Students Need

Pickford: These state leaders are following the evidence and the expertise of local educators to help schools make up for lost learning

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Chronic absenteeism went up when COVID hit. It got even worse last year.

One in three Illinois students missed at least a month’s worth of school last year.

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Learning Loss Is Worse than NAEP Showed. Middle School Math Must Be the Priority

Wakelyn: Tracking the same students from grade to grade makes clear the decline in middle school math is four times greater than the drop in English

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‘Late-in-the-Game’ COVID Relief Fund Guidance Leaves Some Scratching Their Heads

Earlier this month, more than two years into schools’ attempts to spend an unprecedented $189 billion in COVID relief funds, federal officials released a 97-page document that “strongly encourages” districts not to spend the windfall on construction.

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Miles Ahead of Other Districts: Using New Dashboard, St. Paul Tracks Learning Recovery Spending — and Adjusts Programs on the Fly

With $300 Million in pandemic funds, 50 recovery strategies and 2 years to tweak plans, district vows to gather data, evaluate, and pivot in real-time.

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Schools Face ‘Urgency Gap’ on Pandemic Recovery: 5 Takeaways from New Study

New research on post-pandemic student achievement presents a sobering picture, offering a reality check for anyone who might think recovery is proceeding apace. The study, from CALDER, an American Institutes for Research (AIR) program working with seven universities, suggests school districts should do more. “We need more kids to get more hours of interventions,” said CALDER’s Dan Goldhaber.

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New program will pay for Indiana teachers to earn license to teach English language learners

A new program wants to help Indiana teachers get licensed to teach the state’s growing population of English language learners. The Indiana Teacher of English Language Learners (I-TELL) program will pay for tuition and fees for current educators to earn the additional licensure they need to become teachers of record for students who are learning English. It’s a partnership between the Indiana Department of Education and University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning.

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Pandemic pushed Head Start enrollment down by 33%

The pandemic hindered access to federally funded Head Start programs for young children living in poverty, exacerbating inequities in enrollment, staff salaries and quality of services, said a report released Thursday by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

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Homeless student enrollment fell 14% in first pandemic school year

Enrollment of homeless students dropped by 14% — from 1,280,886 to 1,099,221 — between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, according to data released Wednesday in one of the first official federal counts documenting how the pandemic impacted this population.

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Experts: Dismal NAEP Scores Offer Districts Chance to ‘Pivot’ on Relief Funds

Most school districts adopted their budgets last spring, long before state and national test scores laid out the extent of pandemic declines, particularly in math. That’s why some school finance experts are urging districts to redirect some of their plans for federal relief funds toward learning recovery before that money is actually spent.

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COVID-19 relief spending is influencing traditional K-12 workforce practices

School systems are using tried-and-true, along with creative, approaches to add and keep teachers, the FutureEd research found. Using information that data services firm Burbio gathered from 5,000 district ARP spending plans, as well as documents from the nation’s 100 largest school systems, researchers found myriad examples of how the pandemic funding is influencing traditional models in the teaching profession. ARP funds must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2024.

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Schools Need Billions More to Make Up for Lost Learning Time, Researchers Argue

Student recovery from the pandemic will come with a huge price—$700 billion, a new study finds—and, so far, federal COVID-relief aid isn’t covering it.

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How Have K-12 Priorities for Spending Federal Stimulus Aid Changed Over the Past Year?How Have K-12 Priorities for Spending Federal Stimulus Aid Changed Over the Past Year?

A new EdWeek Market Brief survey reveals shifts in school systems’ priorities for spending federal emergency aid, compared with a year ago.

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The Case for Curriculum: Why Some States Are Prioritizing It With COVID Relief Funds

Much of the conversation around academic recovery has focused on providing additional instructional time: strategies like one-on-one tutoring, or summer learning programs.

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How pandemic-related disturbances drove a 9% decline in public school enrollment

Recent trends indicate there’s been a significant shift in enrollment numbers among public schools since the pandemic. Unfortunately for many districts, declining enrollment is not something they can afford, and it encapsulates more than simply a decrease in student numbers.

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Schools are using COVID relief dollars to support immigrant students’ mental health

Schools have been looking for ways to support student mental health needs, and COVID relief dollars made a lot of that possible. We look at what that looks like one school in Oakland, California.

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Facing Pandemic Learning Crisis, Districts Spend Relief Funds at a Snail’s Place

Schools that closed their doors the longest due to COVID have spent just a fraction of the billions in federal relief funds targeted to students who suffered the most academically, according to an analysis by The 74.

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Analysis: Texas & Tennessee Get Tutoring Right — and Model How to Expand it Nationwide

At the conclusion of the 2021-22 academic year, I visited schools and districts in Tennessee that are a part of the statewide tutoring program, the TN All Corps. I observed many students and tutors working together in the pursuit of catching up in their math learning. At each I visited, I witnessed sparks going off. Kids were truly engaged in learning math. In the face of two-plus years of pandemic-era learning, this left me feeling hopeful.

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7 charts highlighting the pandemic’s impact on 2022 NAEP scores

When school buildings closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, educators, sector experts and researchers all had their hunches: test scores would drop, gaps would widen, achievement would reverse. Since then, a plethora of surveys and anecdotal evidence have supported those theories. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed them.

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Survey: Superintendents foresee scaling back pandemic investments

Although the ARP funds, which total $121.9 billion, were meant to be a temporary boost to school coffers in response to pandemic setbacks, district leaders said more time is needed to provide additional support to students.

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‘Nation’s Report Card’: Two Decades of Growth Wiped Out by Two Years of Pandemic

Two decades of growth for American students in reading and math were wiped away by just two years of pandemic-disrupted learning, according to national test scores released this morning.

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The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading

National test results released on Thursday showed in stark terms the pandemic’s devastating effects on American schoolchildren, with the performance of 9-year-olds in math and reading dropping to the levels from two decades ago.

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American students’ test scores plunge to levels unseen for decades

Test scores in elementary school math and reading plummeted to levels unseen for decades, according to the first nationally representative report comparing student achievement from just before the pandemic to performance two years later.

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ESSER guidance ‘desperately needed,’ 700 district leaders tell Cardona

The district leaders’ letter focuses on the liquidation — or spending — deadline for $121.9 billion for pre-K-12 in the American Rescue Plan, also known as ESSER III. Districts would still need to obligate — or commit to spending — those funds by the Sept. 30, 2024, deadline, but the extension deadline could allow them to draw down those funds until March 31, 2026.

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Many Remote Learning Options Shutting Down as School Reopens for Fall 2022

Even as COVID-19 infections continue to fluctuate, roughly one-third of the country’s largest school districts are ending their remote learning programs this fall, according to a new review by the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

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Biden Administration Outlines How School Districts Should Spend COVID Aid

The Biden administration released a new tool aimed at helping parents hold districts accountable for their use of federal COVID-19 relief funds as the 2024 spending deadline approaches

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As pandemic aid runs out, America is set to return to a broken school funding system

Deirdre Pilch has spent much of her career as an educator frustrated. The superintendent of schools in Greeley, Colorado — a high-poverty district 50 miles north of Denver — has never felt she’s had the money to provide students the education they deserve. Remarkably, it took a pandemic to change this.

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Academic progress rebounds — but more recovery needed

Students have begun to narrow pandemic-era learning gaps, but the delays in learning are significant and in many cases, the recorded progress is disproportionate, several data points from the 2021-22 school year show.

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New Data: Was 2022’s Summer Learning ‘Explosion’ Enough To Reverse COVID Losses?

In Tulsa this summer, young people explored museums and grew garden veggies. In Baltimore, they built robots and learned Black history. In St. Paul, they immersed themselves in languages like French, Mandarin, Hmong and Dakota.

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Finance experts: School district budgets ‘headed for a wild ride’

Education finance experts warn that school districts’ budgets are “headed for a wild ride” in the coming years. Due to an influx of federal pandemic relief funding, most school districts are currently experiencing an increase in spending that will last until approximately the 2023-24 school year.

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Mississippi sees rebound in latest student test scores

Mississippi student test scores are exceeding pre-pandemic levels in two subjects after a decline the previous year, according to results released Thursday by the state Department of Education. The statewide results from the 2021-22 Mississippi Academic Assessment Program show a boost in test scores for English language arts and science. The percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced reached what the department said is an all-time high of 42.2% in English and 55.9% in science. Students scored 47.3% in mathematics, just shy of the pre-pandemic rate of 47.4%.

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Staffed Up: North Dakota invests in online ed prep to train rural teachers

On Monday, the superintendent of a small rural school district in North Dakota picked up a teacher at the airport who was recruited from the Philippines. This sort of outsourcing has become more common among rural districts pushing to fill workforce shortages, something that does not often happen in the more urban, larger districts, said Laurie Matzke, assistant state superintendent of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

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COVID-19 learning lags could reverse narrowed achievement gap

The research included results from a variety of widely used national assessments, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress and Long-Term Trend Assessment, as well as international assessments like the Program for International Student Assessment and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.

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Academic recovery strategies are working, according to new data

More than half of schools have implemented strategies to address mental health, meet students’ needs, and offer high-dosage tutoring. Specifically, 72% of public schools implemented strategies for mental health, 79% used diagnostic assessment data to identify individual needs, and 56% used high-dosage tutoring methods. That’s according to the latest data from the 2022 School Pulse Panel released by the Institute of Education Sciences.

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Schools Try Bonuses, Stipends to Attract & Keep Teachers in a Tight Labor Market

The competition for labor has never been more intense. In the private sector, the percentage of workers quitting their jobs recently hit an all-time high, as millions of employees searched for higher pay and better working conditions.

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Raise Your Hands for the Leaders in Education Recovery

Time for another confession: I was THAT kid in elementary school. You know the one who always raised their hand, even when they didn’t really have the answer? That was me – until around 5th grade, when that naive confidence faded and I started saving my moments for when I knew I was right.

But here’s the thing today: in the scramble to catch up from these past two pandemic-disrupted school years, we don’t have the luxury of waiting to be sure interventions are perfectly right. That’s why I’m so inspired by states and districts that are raising their hands with ideas and solutions during such challenging times.

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PRESS RELEASE: EduRecoveryHub Now Features More Than 50 Expert-Reviewed Recovery Practices

The Collaborative for Student Success added 18 new promising educational practices to EduRecoveryHub.org today, as well as updates on education recovery efforts in Connecticut, North Dakota, and Tennessee. The additions strengthen the EduRecoveryHub platform and assist state and district leaders, educators, and advocates heading into the 2022-23 school year by identifying promising practices funded by federal recovery dollars—practices that can be emulated across states.

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As states tackle teacher shortages, which plans show the most promise?

The local and regional nuances of teacher shortages mean there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to solving the problem.
“In reality, local context drives a lot more of the specific needs of schools and districts,” said Shannon Holston, chief of policy and programs at the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit that works to improve teacher quality.

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Free summer camp pays dividends: 100K Arizona children fill learning gaps created by pandemic

The hallways at Self-Development Academy in Mesa in July are abuzz. While many students across Arizona are enjoying their annual vacation, some remain in the classroom, meticulously forming handfuls of toothpicks into pyramids while others make their own traditional tunics.

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Research highlights positive impacts of math-focused summer learning

“Our results show that schools, district leaders, and community groups should consider increasing their investments in summer programs as an evidence-based strategy to aid in pandemic-related educational recovery, particularly for children whose learning has been placed most at risk,” said study co-author Kathleen Lynch, an assistant professor of learning sciences at the University of Connecticut.

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Ed Dept. Announces New Push to Expand Afterschool and Summer Programs

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Thursday announced Engage Every Student — a partnership with five leading organizations to bring information and research about out-of-school-time programs together into one “centralized, readily available location.” The department will seek applications from an outside organization for a $3-$4 million contract in next year’s budget to run the initiative.

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Despite Urgency, New National Tutoring Effort Could Take 6 Months to Ramp Up

With a third pandemic summer underway, the Biden administration’s new push to recruit 250,000 tutors and mentors is getting a late start in helping students recover from academic and social-emotional setbacks. Organizers and experts say it could be 2023 before families and schools see the impact.

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Majority of adults say too little priority given to K-12 during COVID

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of adults surveyed say the country has given too little priority to the educational needs of K-12 students during the pandemic. Close to another third (31%) say about the right amount has been given, while a scant 6% say there’s been too much priority.

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Ed Dept offers 18-month extension requests for ARP spending

Daniel Domenech, executive director of AASA, said in a statement the organization is “thrilled” with the clarity the department provided to the timeline school systems have to complete “desperately needed” school facilities projects and HVAC upgrades.

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SC after-school programs doubling down on ESSER funds

The South Carolina Department of Education is partnering with South Carolina Afterschool Alliance to disperse $14.5 million of ESSER money into after-school programs across the state.

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D.C. background check delays means fewer tutors in schools, groups say

The District’s slow background check process is preventing critical tutoring and after school programs from operating at full-capacity, according to multiple education nonprofit leaders, who say they have prospective employees and volunteers waiting months for clearance to enter school buildings.

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This Tennessee district’s grow-your-own program is set to eliminate teacher vacancies

Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, in partnership with Austin Peay State University, launched the first registered grow-your-own teacher apprenticeship program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a permanent model in January. Tennessee currently has 65 grow-your-own partnerships, which include 14 educator preparation providers and 63 districts.

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Schools are struggling to hire special education teachers. Hawaii may have found a fix

A few years after Heather Carll started teaching special education in Hawaii public schools, she called it quits. She needed a break from the meetings, paperwork and legal responsibilities that make teaching students with disabilities one of the toughest jobs in education.

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Beshear signs student mental health, health worker bills

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law Wednesday a bill allowing students to receive excused absences from school for mental health reasons.

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With Millions of Kids on the Line, Can Schools Make Tutoring Work?

Tutoring is on the brink of a national inflection point. School districts are channeling big chunks of their federal COVID-relief money into tutoring programs, relying on research that shows that the strategy can be a powerful ally in completing unfinished learning. Billions of dollars—and millions of children—are on the line.

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In Age of COVID, DOD School System Succeeds Despite Disruptions

While the rest of the nation struggles to overcome pandemic learning losses and surmount the fractiousness dogging school districts everywhere, one very large school system that services 70,000 students is succeeding despite great tumult.

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State board OKs measures to ease special ed teacher shortage

The Indiana State Board of Education this week approved initiatives aimed at increasing Indiana’s pipeline of special education teachers and addressing a serious shortage in the field.

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Teacher Job Satisfaction Hits an All-Time Low

Teachers’ job satisfaction levels appear to have hit an all-time low this year as the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage schools.

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Utah invests $8 million into free early learning program for children

The state of Utah is investing $8 million into an early childhood education program with a local nonprofit called Waterford Upstart, a program meant to expand access to pre-k and kindergarten opportunities to rural families.

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Proposal would pay SC college students majoring in education if they become teachers

As South Carolina looks to address its growing teacher shortage, educators say the problem is not worsening solely because more teachers are leaving the classroom, though that is a driver.

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Education Research Has Changed Under COVID. Here’s How the Feds Can Catch Up.

The need for remote learning due to COVID-19 has caused disruptions to data collection and education research. Now that there has been a shift in the educational landscape, the priorities for research have fundamentally pivoted to the urgent need to help schools and students recover from the extended disruptions.

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Science Can’t Be Just a Catchword in Pandemic Recovery

As a public school board member through the first two years of the pandemic, there was one word I heard more than any other in public comments about the health and safety issues before us: Science. And without getting into the politics of how that concept was tossed about, I was as focused as anyone on the need to use hard evidence for the difficult decisions we had to make.

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Millions of children will miss healthy school meals when pandemic relief expires

When schools pivoted to virtual learning early in the pandemic, the National School Lunch Program was thrown into chaos. Millions of children rely on school meals to keep hunger at bay, so school nutrition directors scrambled to adopt new, creative ways to distribute food to families. Some of these changes were improvements on the status quo, they say.

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U.S. schools are flush with cash, but struggling to spend it on schedule

It seems like a balanced equation: Schools need a lot of help, but they also have record sums of federal money to spend. If only it were that simple.

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These schools did less to contain covid. Their students flourished.

As school systems around the country were battening down for their first remote start-of-school in the fall of 2020, the Lewis-Palmer district here was embarking on another kind of experiment: Elementary students would be in class full time, sitting maskless at communal tables.

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One Year After Congress Appropriated Over $122 Billion for K-12, Many School Districts Are Struggling to Spend It

As the nation’s school superintendents gathered last month for their first in-person meeting since the pandemic began, Dan Domenech, the organization’s leader, pressed U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about an urgent issue.

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The Power of Partnership in Designing Local High-Quality Curriculum

One silver lining of the pandemic’s impact on education is found in examples of collaboration between state leaders and local educators in dedicating federal relief funding to common goals.

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How District Poverty Levels Influence Covid-Relief Spending Plans

For decades, many school districts with the largest share of students living in poverty have endured crumbling buildings, outdated textbooks and little support for students and teachers. Now, the infusion of billions in federal Covid-relief aid for schools over the next few years could change that reality.

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COVID-19 relief plans don’t reflect needs of English learners — it’s not too late to change that

How states and districts should spend their share of the $190 billion in COVID-19 funds targeted for K-12 education has dominated the education world at every level since the first distribution was announced in March 2020.

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Schools are using COVID relief for building upgrades that will take years

School districts across the U.S. are renovating their buildings and upgrading dilapidated ventilation systems with the help of $190 billion of federal COVID relief. But these improvements will take time, and some won’t be completed for years after the pandemic first disrupted schooling.

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Video: Here’s how Denver Public Schools are focusing on students’ mental health

Amid the pandemic, Denver Public Schools have a new district-wide requirement of devoting 20 minutes a day to help students develop social and emotional skills. CNN’s Evan McMorris-Santoro reports.

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Roza: Without Clear Rules, There’s No Way to Judge How School Relief Funds Are Being Spent. Setting Student Progress as a North Star Would Be a Game Changer

When it’s all said and done, how should ESSER investments be judged? That depends on what we hope to get from the $123 billion pumped into public schools. Here’s the problem: No end goal, no focused objective, no common yardstick has ever been attached to this mammoth federal investment.

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Recovery Funds Can Rocket Quality Instructional Materials

$190,000,000,000 is a tricky figure to wrap your head around. Not too many of us deal in that realm of zeroes. To put it in perspective, a person who lived 190 billion minutes would make it to age 361,492. If you traveled 190 billion miles, you could go back and forth to the moon 397,656 times.

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Covid-Aid Spending Trends by City, Suburban, Rural School Districts

The Covid pandemic can look different in a small rural school district than in a big city or suburb. Transportation challenges are often magnified with fewer students spread across wide areas. Internet access is frequently harder to find, and so are mental-health professionals to support students and staff. Such challenges —and shared priorities—are reflected in a new FutureEd analysis of how local education agencies are planning to spend the latest round of federal Covid-relief spending aid.

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Cowen, Lake & Aldeman: Recovery Funds are Driving Bright Ideas in Education. Our New Dashboard Showcases the Best — and Can Guide Schools in Their Own Innovations

From lockdowns to remote learning, everyone from scholars to politicians will be debating and dissecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on America’s students — and the federal government’s $189 billion response — for years to come.

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Collaboration Key to Stemming School Staff Shortages

At a Council for Exceptional Children conference, advocates promoted examples of staffing solutions and recommended partnerships to fill workforce voids.

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Graduation Rates Dip Across U.S. as Pandemic Stalls Progress

High school graduation rates dipped in at least 20 states after the first full school year disrupted by the pandemic, suggesting the coronavirus may have ended nearly two decades of nationwide progress toward getting more students diplomas.

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Schools May Be Open—But They’re Struggling

Schools should be open, pandemic or not, much of the public says. If only they all had what they need to function.

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Federal Investments Ignore Crucial Upgrades to School Facilities—and Students Pay the Price

This post describes recent developments in the administration’s school infrastructure proposals, highlights areas of underinvestment, and summarizes recent research on how some of these failings might impact students.

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Back to School, but Still Learning Online

The stimulus bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, will send $122 billion to schools over three years, and a sizable portion of that money will go toward tutoring.

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Rural Schools Strained by COVID Protocol Resistance, Challenges

As schools navigate another wave of COVID-19 related shutdowns, educators in rural areas are encountering resistance to precautions like masking and vaccination, sometimes exacerbated by conflicting or quickly changing guidance.

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Iowa Launches $9 Million Program Aimed at Expanding Diversity Among Teachers

Pressure to address teacher demographics in Iowa is mounting as the state’s student population continues to diversify.

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Country’s Biggest School Districts Resist Going Remote as Closures Spread Nationwide

The number of schools that have announced closures or temporary virtual instructions is in the thousands and last week reached a high for the 2021-22 school year.

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