Covid-19 Policy Update #639
Many Kids Are Struggling in School. Do Their Parents Know?: Via The AP.
"Evena Joseph was unaware how much her 10-year-old son was struggling in school. She found out only with help from somebody who knows the Boston school system better than she does."
“Parents can’t solve a problem that they don’t know they have,” said Cindi Williams, co-founder of Learning Heroes, a nonprofit dedicated to improving communication between public schools and parents about student academic progress."
"The progress report for Tamela Ensrud’s second-grade son in Nashville shows mostly As and a B in English, but she noticed her son was having trouble with reading. She asked to discuss her son’s reading test scores at a fall parent-teacher conference, but was only shown samples of her son’s work and told, “Your son is doing well."
"Metro Nashville Public Schools said it posts student test scores online for parents to see. “To our knowledge she has not shared any of those concerns with the school administration and if she had, they would be able to share information about these resources,” spokesperson Sean Braisted said. Ensrud has looked at the scores online and found them impossible to interpret."
Jaded With Education, More Americans Are Skipping College: Via the AP.
"What first looked like a pandemic blip has turned into a crisis. Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022, with declines even after returning to in-person classes, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The slide in the college-going rate since 2018 is the steepest on record, according to the BLS."
"At worst, it could signal a new generation with little faith in the value of a college degree. At minimum, it appears those who passed on college during the pandemic are opting out for good. Predictions that they would enroll after a year or two haven’t borne out."
"Fewer college graduates could worsen labor shortages in fields from health care to information technology. For those who forgo college, it usually means lower lifetime earnings — 75% less compared with those who get bachelor’s degrees."
"Even more alarming are the figures for Black, Hispanic and low-income students, who saw the largest slides in many states. In Tennessee’s class of 2021, just 35% of Hispanic graduates and 44% of Black graduates enrolled in college, compared with 58% of their white peers."
Levers of Change How State Policies Support District Innovation: Via Bellwether.
Pilot programs, waivers, and additional funding are the most common levers states use to catalyze district-level innovation.
Most states’ policies provide flexibility from common barriers to innovation, including seat time requirements, graduation requirements, and assessment and accountability structures.
Personalizing learning and rethinking assessment are primary goals of states’ innovation policies.
Innovative solutions should be co-created with the community.
Poor policy design and communication can hinder states’ efforts to catalyze innovation.
A cohort model and partnerships with outside organizations provide the support and technical assistance districts need to innovate.
A culture open to change, an early champion, and political backing are necessary conditions for district level innovation.
Efforts to incentivize innovation often happen in silos within the education sector, but truly innovative and transformational approaches require multiple players at the table.
NCES: Launches Challenge to Test AI Scoring for the Nation’s Report Card
This data challenge invites members of the AI community to develop predictive models for scoring open-ended NAEP mathematics assessment items.
The total prize purse for the challenge will be $100,000. The application deadline is April 17, 2023.
Congress: Problem Solvers Caucus adds 24 new members, including 18 freshmen. The group now boasts 63 total members, an increase from 58 last Congress.
Democrats: Angie Craig (Minn.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Don Davis (N.C.), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.), Greg Landsman (Ohio), Donald Norcross (N.J.), Wiley Nickel (N.C.), Mary Peltola (Alaska), Brittany Pettersen (Colo.), Hillary Scholten (Mich.), Emilia Sykes (Ohio) and David Trone (Md.).
Republicans: Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (Ore.), Juan Ciscomani (Ariz.), Anthony D’Esposito (N.Y.), Chuck Edwards (N.C.), John James (Mich.), Tom Kean (N.J.), Nick LaLota (N.Y.), Mike Lawler (N.Y.), Nancy Mace (S.C.), Marc Molinaro (N.Y.) and Brandon Williams (N.Y.), in addition to Del. Jim Moylan (Guam).
White House: President Biden released his budget today (Blog / Details / ED statement)
Proposes $20.5 billion for Title I, a $2.2 billion increase above FY 2023.
Provides a total of $578 million, with $428 million dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of students, school staff and teachers by increasing the number of school-based counselors, psychologists, social workers, and other health professionals, and proposes a new $150 million investment to support colleges and universities develop campus-wide strategies to address student mental health needs including hiring additional providers on their campuses.
The Biden budget proposal will never become law, of course, but it's useful to get a sense of the Administration's preferences and priorities heading into appropriations negotiations, the Debt Ceiling debate, and his reelection campaign.
Lessons from the Covid War: Via Covid Collaborative:
"In September 2020, we asked a long-time colleague, Phil Zelikow, to join our COVID Collaborative to lead an effort that we hoped would evolve into a National COVID-19 Commission. One of Phil’s many superpowers was leading highly successful commissions, such as the bipartisan, independent 9/11 Commission created by Congress and the bipartisan, private Carter-Ford-Baker Federal Election Reform Commission. Both commissions generated exceptional reports — and in the case of the 9/11 Commission, a best-selling book — with recommendations that were implemented to improve systems."
"Covid Collaborative joined with supportive foundations to create a Covid Commission Planning Group, led by Philip. At the time we tapped Phil, we believed that The White House, Congress or an independent group would create such a National COVID-19 Commission for a comprehensive review of the pandemic to improve future responses. That did not happen."
"With an official commission nowhere in sight, the group—renamed the Covid Crisis Group—decided it was in the public interest to speak out. The result — Lessons from the Covid War — is the first book to distill the entire COVID-19 story from ‘origins’ to ‘Warp Speed.’"
26% of Parents Lied About Child's COVID Status: CIDRAP on a new study.
25.9% said they had lied about their child's COVID-19 status or failed to adhere to at least one of seven recommended behaviors meant to curtail viral transmission.
The most common untruth was not telling someone who was going to spend time with their child that they knew or suspected the child had COVID-19, and the most common adherence failure was allowing their child to break quarantine rules. A total of 19.4% of parents didn't have their child tested for COVID-19 when they suspected infection.
Just over half of parents who lied (52.4%) said they exposed others to their ill child because they wanted to exercise their parental autonomy, while others said their child didn't feel very sick (47.6%), they didn't want to miss a fun event to stay home (44.4%), or they didn't want their child to miss school (42.9%).
Where Were You When the Pandemic First Felt Real?: Via Kristen Soltis Anderson
"We have also mostly moved on from the pandemic itself. There are still some “please stand six feet apart” decals on the floors of stores and office buildings that nobody has taken the time to remove because nobody even notices them anymore. COVID-19 health centers are winding down. Some people still wear masks from time to time, but they’ve largely disappeared from public life. Yes, Novak Djokovic still can’t come to the U.S., but many other entities have dropped vaccine requirements."
"Now, in the midst of deep polarization, it feels like the two parties have completely different views on the pandemic, but at the time the differences were not so great. We asked in late March 2020, if voters thought people were generally exaggerating the risk of the coronavirus, not taking it seriously enough, or getting it about right. The partisan difference on this question is more muted than you might expect, with Republicans evenly divided between the three responses and only slightly more likely (31%) than Democrats (21%) to feel the situation was being exaggerated."
"The findings for me that are the most shocking aren’t the ones that found us all in the same boat early on. As hard as it is to imagine now, our data from March 2020 found 86% of Republicans along with 92% of Democrats agreeing with statements like “Staying home is essential to slowing the spread of the coronavirus in my community.” We found similar slim majorities of Republicans (51%) and Democrats (54%) saying they would be “more likely” to vote for an elected official who put their community into lockdown."
"Last fall, economist Emily Oster wrote a thoughtful piece in The Atlantic that we should declare a “pandemic amnesty”, to be forgiving of one another for choices made in the early days of the pandemic that have turned out to have been misguided. “But the thing is: We didn’t know,” Oster writes."
"I don’t fully concur, at least insofar as there are plenty of institutions that don’t get to claim “we didn’t know”, institutions that should have known better, institutions that muddied the waters on what the science did (and did not) say as a means to achieve ideological or other ends."
"But upon looking back at this data, at this snapshot of a scared public trying to figure out what life would look like in the coming days, having no idea that we’d be talking about this pandemic in terms of years, not weeks or months, I can’t help but feel badly for everyone, even those whose views would prove wrong."
Declining Trust in the CDC: Axios on a new study.
Missouri: Students did worse across the board on the latest round of standardized testing, with 112 districts and charter schools scoring low enough to be classified as provisionally accredited.
Oregon: As Portland Public Schools prepares to close its Online Learning Academy program at the end of the school year, parents, staff and students are taking their concerns straight to the school board.
Why the Recession Is Always Six Months Away: Via WSJ.
"Wall Street economists began 2023 broadly anticipating a recession by midyear caused by the weight of the Fed’s rapid interest-rate increases. Some still expect that could happen. Many now think it will take longer to cool the economy and will lead the central bank to raise rates to higher-than-expected levels."
"Three factors illustrate the peculiar nature of today’s economic recovery. First, Washington’s reaction to the initial shock of Covid-19 in March 2020, including holding interest rates at very low levels and showering the economy with cash, left household, business, and local government finances in unusually strong shape."
"Secondly, shortages of materials and workers have made the rate-sensitive housing and auto markets more resilient to higher interest rates—for now."
"Thirdly, U.S. consumers, throwing off their pandemic caution, have ramped up spending on services that require lots of workers—think dining out and travel—another example of pent-up demand interfering with the typical business and interest-rate cycle."
Raspberry Rally Inflation: "Single boxes of the cookies, which have a crispy raspberry-flavored center coated in chocolate, cost from $4 to $7, but they are selling for as much as five times the usual price on the secondary market."
2024 Budget Preliminaries: Via Burbio
"This week we look at budgets from four states where we have found preliminary 2023/24 budgets that have been announced... for now note double-digit projected increases for several large districts."
"This week we also have updated our blog from August where we looked at expenditure increases in school districts from 2022/23 (this current year) versus two years ago (pre-pandemic). Over 60% of the districts in the survey have seen an increase of 15% or more during that time, with 16.6% of districts (the two bars on the right) increasing by more than 30%."
Parent Polling: New EdChoice/Morning Consult polling.
Almost half of parents have at least one child taking a gifted, advanced, or honors class at their school.
Slightly more than 33% of Americans believe that their local school district is heading in the right direction. This is one of the lowest levels Ed Choice has found since March 2020.
Just over half of school parents were worried about a violent intruder entering their child’s school.
Unaccountable Philanthropy Please: Via Andy Rotherham.
"The federal government does have a role to play in R&D and in innovation. But what the federal government is really good at, especially where social policy is concerned, is writing checks. As we’ve discussed here this is why unflashy but effective programs like Social Security are so important. And it’s why in education perhaps scaling effective ideas is a more important and has a better record in terms of the federal federal role than trying to be an innovator."
"What does this mean for philanthropy? Well for starters, the philanthropic sector is a place (at least in theory) where you can take a risk. Both because you can and because you must."
"Right now we basically have it backwards. Government takes the risks, often badly. Philanthropy often addresses public sector shortfalls – and not just in education but across a range of social policy issues."
"Philanthropic capital is risk capital, especially in a sector with a lot of market gaps and externalities and screwed up systems given the haphazard nature of the system. And we really need some risk taking because even at its best the current model is not delivering the results people want to see."
Done Right, Tutoring Can Greatly Boost Student Learning. How Do We Get There?: Via Kevin Huffman in The 74.
"I worry that policymakers will pretend high-dosage tutoring is happening at scale and then, when student outcomes do not measurably improve, declare that it hasn’t worked. "
"Early evidence suggests there are multiple ways to effectively deliver tutoring — not just the frequent, in-person, one-to-one or small group models that have been tested in the past. We have grantees using in-person instruction, remote delivery of person-to-person tutoring, artificial intelligence-enabled programs with human facilitation and additional hybrid models."
"States can remove barriers and issue specific guidance on grant and funding opportunities. They can offer models and waivers for implementing tutoring during the school day. And they can set expectations for accountability and reporting student progress. "
Expert Matthew Kraft on How the Right Tutoring Materials & Training Can Help Students Make: Via The 74.
Along the Road to Recovery: How ESSER Funds are Making an Impact: The Coalition to Advance Future Student Success is sharing stories of how ESSER funds is making an impact in schools.
Audits of Covid-19 Aid for Schools Find Millions of Dollars Misspent: Via the WSJ.
"The U.S. Education Department’s Office of Inspector General examined a sampling of the spending attached to more than $280 billion in federal pandemic funds, and identified faulty awards, double payments and improper contracts, according to reports recently released by the office. "
"The audits showed, for example, that state governments in Oklahoma and Michigan together paid out more than $36 million to schools and programs in ways that were found to be questionable."
"The office of the inspector general audits have so far looked at spending in three states—and 46 districts nationwide. The agency is working on at least nine audits of pandemic-related programs, and plans to release a report on technology spending in the coming months, according to officials."
"The office of the inspector general has yet to complete any audits of the American Rescue Plan funds, which represent the largest disbursement of relief money for public schools. That funding must be spent by 2024."
Teacher Turnover Hits New Highs Across the U.S.: Via Chalkbeat.
Golden Retriever Reaction: To his mom taking over his bed.