April 6, 2020

AP alters exam plans amid pandemic

Advanced Placement exams will be held next month but will be modified to allow them to be taken online at home. The College Board says it expects “the vast majority of higher education institutions” will honor credits earned from the exams as they have in the past.

Full Story: EdSurge (4/3)


Sudden surge in Zoom use proves problematic

The abrupt shift to remote learning has led to an increased use of Zoom, including 90,000 schools in 20 countries. The sudden adoption has overwhelmed the company’s customer service team, and led to complications for schools amid concerns about privacy, hacking and even unapproved use of the platform.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/3)

Shift to virtual school board meetings raises concerns

School boards and other governing bodies have adopted virtual meetings to comply with social distancing guidelines. The move to virtual meetings has raised concerns over transparency in government and whether such meetings are in compliance with states’ “sunshine” laws.

Full Story: Chalkbeat (4/3)



April 7, 2020


Districts halt use of Zoom for online lessons

Some school districts that adopted Zoom in their sudden efforts to provide remote instruction — including Las Vegas, New York City and Washington, D.C. — have announced they will discontinue their use of the platform. At issue, they say, are concerns about privacy, harassment and security.

Full Story: National Public Radio (4/6),  Chalkbeat/New York (4/6),  Tech & Learning online (4/6)


Will coronavirus affect Census participation?

School districts say they are concerned that the coronavirus pandemic could have a chilling effect on participation in the US Census. At issue, they say, is that reduced participation could affect funding for schools and have long-term implications when the country is facing a potential recession.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/6)


CDC: Children less likely to experience severe COVID-19

A study in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that children infected with the novel coronavirus were less likely to develop shortness of breath, cough or fever, and they were less likely to need hospitalization, compared with adults. The findings, which experts cautioned were based on incomplete data, suggest that many pediatric COVID-19 cases are undetected or mild, and infected children could be spreading the virus to others.

Full Story: The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (4/6)


April 8, 2020

Unions seek more than $200B in federal funds

The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, backed by other education organizations, are requesting more than $200 billion in new federal emergency aid for education amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to lawmakers, the groups assert that at least 90% of such funding should be earmarked for local districts.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/7)


Online education platforms see increased traffic, costs

The sudden shift to remote learning has driven up traffic for online education providers. Providers — including cash-strapped startups — say the heightened use is boosting costs for servers, staff and other resources.

Full Story: EdSurge (4/7)


Outbreak expected to take toll on school budgets

During the country’s last major economic downtown, school districts’ budgets were affected, with high-poverty districts losing about $1,500 per student, compared with $500 per student in more affluent districts. Now, as the coronavirus outbreak stands to greatly affect state tax revenue, lower-income districts, which rely more heavily on state funds, are expected to again bear the greater brunt of budget cuts.

Full Story: Chalkbeat (4/7)


April 9, 2020

Data: Male students more confident in STEM

Seventy-six percent of male students say their engagement in math and science classes is “frequent and confident,” compared with 58% of female students, according to a survey by the Society for Industrial Applied Mathematics. Data also shows female students are less likely to pursue STEM degrees and careers.


Federal aid may not prevent cuts to schools

Education advocates are warning that the $13.5 billion in coronavirus relief aid for schools that has been approved by Congress will not be enough to prevent cuts to school spending. An analysis by Michael Griffith, a veteran school finance consultant, finds that the package accounts for about 2% of school spending.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/7)


April 10, 2020


Analysis shows scope of pandemic-related learning loss

Learning loss during prolonged school closures because of the coronavirus pandemic could be more severe than previously believed. An analysis from the Northwest Evaluation Association finds that students could retain about 70% of reading progress and lose as much as half of their academic growth in math.

Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/9)


From: Education Week’s EdWeek Update

April 7, 2020

Schools Concerned About Effects of Coronavirus on Census Participation

Officials are concerned that the coronavirus crisis will hinder efforts to ensure a complete count on the U.S. Census, which is used to allocate billions of dollars of federal funding to schools.


April 8, 2020

Coronavirus Aid Might Not Prevent Cuts to School Funding, Analysis Shows

Depending on how much states cut their own funding in the face of a downturn, the billions approved by Congress so far may not be enough to avoid reductions in per-pupil spending.


April 9, 2020

School Closures May Go Into the Fall If Coronavirus Resurges, State Chiefs Warn

Schools may have to continue closures in the fall if the coronavirus resurges, state schools chiefs in Maryland and Washington said. The warnings came the same week that a key federal official predicted schools would be able to reopen for the 2020-21 school year.


Academically Speaking, the ‘COVID Slide’ Could Be a Lot Worse Than You Think

New projections suggest learning loss related to these pandemic-related school closures would be worse than the typical academic backsliding students experience over the summer break.


Survey Finds Many Parents Shrug Off Coronavirus’ Impact on Learning

There is also a sharp political divide in how concerned parents are about the impact of the coronavirus on their children’s education, a Gallup survey shows.


April 10, 2020


Betsy DeVos Urges Schools to Teach New Material Amid Coronavirus Turmoil

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said she hopes that “students would not only maintain their current level of learning, but continue to expand.”


From: Special Education Smartbrief

April 8, 2020


Advocacy groups ask feds to maintain special-ed laws

More than 70 disability rights groups have asked the US Education Department to uphold existing special-education laws — and not provide compliance waivers — during school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other groups have asked the department for the waivers that would give schools more time to comply with special-education laws, including those that spell out timelines, evaluations and data collection.

Full Story: EdSource (4/7)


From: ASCD’s Educator Advocates Capitol Connections

April 10, 2020


DeVos Offers States More K-12 Funding Flexibility

Education secretary Betsy DeVos has authorized new flexibility states may request that would “allow schools to repurpose existing K-12 education funds for technology infrastructure and teacher training on distance learning, among other flexibilities to move resources to areas of highest need during the national emergency.”


Specifically, the flexibility will allow states to waive the 15 percent carryover limit on Title I funds, extend the time limit for the use of prior year funds for ESSA’s Titles I-V, waive the needs assessment for Title IV funds, and waive the cap on Title IV funds available for technology infrastructure. In addition, the flexibility will waive the definition of “professional development” in Title II that may impede educators from quickly learning about distance education practices.


Learn more about the flexibility being offered to states here.


From: Whiteboard Advisors Weekly Notes

April 9, 2020


NGA Seeks More than $30 Billion For Federal Relief Funding for Schools: Last week, the National Governors Association (NGA) sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking that the more than $30 billion allocated in the CARES Act be allocated to schools and governors within two weeks. On Monday, DeVos announced governors could repurpose existing K-12 education funding for technology infrastructure and teacher training on distance learning during the ongoing crisis. However, NGA does not feel this move addresses the needed rapid disbursement of billions of dollars in new federal aid. [Washington Post; New America]
Stimulus Bill Allows DeVos To Waive Special Education Obligations: A provision in the federal CARES Act permits Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to seek congressional approval to waive parts of the federal special education law in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As schools scramble to transition to online learning, the possibility of special education services being waived has caused a rift between school administrators, parents, and special education teachers. DeVos has 30 days to ask Congress for the authority to waive the law. [New York Times; The Hill]


Fall School Closures Possible Amid Fears of COVID-19 Resurgence: As COVID-19 has spread across the United States, so have school closures. So far, according to Education Week’s tracker, 17 states and 2 U.S. territories have ordered or recommended school closures until the end of the academic year. So far, two State Superintendents, Karen Salmon of Maryland, and Chris Reykdal of Washington State have expressed concerns over the safety of reopening schools in the fall. While they both stressed that their main focus is ensuring high-quality online education through the end of the year, they are planning for the potential of an increase in the spread of the virus in the fall, especially if too small a portion of the community has herd immunity, and there is not a viable treatment or vaccine available. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been cautiously optimistic. stressing that American life will not return to “normal” until there is a widespread vaccine, but suggesting it is likely that schools will be able to resume session in the fall. [Education Week; subscription required]


Four in 10 Teens Are Not Participating in Online Learning: Common Sense Media conducted a poll that looked at the impact distance learning has had on teenagers across the country. Although the data shows that four in 10 teenagers are not online, it may be because of spring break or schools not having launched regular online classes. However, the one concern shared with more than half of the respondents was their ability to keep up with schoolwork while fully online. [NPR]


Unemployment Claims Skyrocket for Another Week Due to Coronavirus: Over 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28, setting a new record for the second straight week. In just two weeks, over 5% of the U.S. labor force applied for unemployment and the U.S. economy lost more jobs than had been created in the past five years. The overall unemployment rate is now approximately 10%, nearly three times what it was just two months ago (3.5%). [The Washington Post, subscription required]

The Economic Impacts of Coronavirus Are Especially Painful for Millennials: In the coronavirus pandemic, many millennials are experiencing the first severe economic crisis of their adult lives, and many of them lack the financial resources to weather the storm. In 2008, Gen Xers were about the same ages as millennials are today, but Gen Xers had twice as many assets on average. Today, Gen Xers have roughly four times as many assets and over twice as much in savings compared to millennials, and they are less likely to have part-time or gig economy jobs, which have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. [The New York Times, subscription required]


From: The Council for Exceptional Children’s Special Education Today

April 10, 2020


U.S. Department of Education Continues to Provide Flexibility to States

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education announced new flexibilities to use federal education dollars for technology infrastructure and educator training on distance learning.


Amid Coronavirus Shutdown, States Tweak Graduation Requirements for Class of 2020: More than 30 states have already moved to create more flexible graduation requirements as education leaders move swiftly to smooth the transition for this year’s senior class.


Survey: Superintendents want assessment, accountability flexibility during coronavirus closures: In an AASA survey, some district leaders also report plans to bridge equity gaps by distributing Wi-Fi hotspots or working with providers on service affordability.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education announced new flexibilities to use federal education dollars for technology infrastructure and educator training on distance learning.