October 21, 2021
NASBE State Ed SmartBrief
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Top Story
More districts are setting class size limits
(Pixabay)
The percentage of school districts that have set limits on class sizes has grown from 68% in 2016 to 87% in 2021, but of those schools, only prekindergarten limits have gone down from an average of 20 to 17 students, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. The pandemic and virtual learning have led to increased attention to class sizes, and some schools are using federal relief dollars to reduce the number of students per class.
Full Story: K-12 Dive (10/18) 
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Great teachers build great connections.
Innovative solutions from Verizon can help your students thrive. See how we connect them to the tools they need to succeed. Learn more.
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Policy & Legislation
Lawmakers in the US Senate will consider an appropriations bill for fiscal year 2022 that would double federal spending for students who are disadvantaged and would provide more support for special-education programs by adding about $2.6 billion -- for a total of $15.5 billion -- to fund Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants to states. In addition, the proposal would provide $820 million to place more mental-health professionals in schools.
Full Story: Education Week (10/18) 
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The Biden administration says the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed to trusted sites, including school-based clinics, children's hospitals, pediatricians and pharmacies, as soon as the vaccine is available for children ages 5-11. Under the plan, schools will play a role in outreach and vaccine education efforts, however, polls continue to indicate that many parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children.
Full Story: Education Week (10/20),  Chalkbeat (10/20) 
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Taking a Multisensory Approach to K-5 Reading
Elementary school is a crucial time of growth in the educational journey of children, and strong literacy skills are a key facet of that journey. Using a multisensory approach to K-5 reading can lay a foundation for reading proficiency that lasts a lifetime. Learn how!
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State Board News
The Illinois State Board of Education is allowing teacher evaluations to be optional for the second year in a row. Districts are given the flexibility to not evaluate teachers given that school continues to be disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Full Story: Chalkbeat/Chicago (10/20) 
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The Missouri State Board of Education has created an emergency amendment to offer a faster training path for substitute teachers, altering requirements so as to improve recruitment. The amendment, scheduled to take effect Nov. 2, will allow those who hold a high-school diploma or the equivalent to be certified as substitutes after 20 hours of approved training.
Full Story: News Tribune (Jefferson City, Mo.) (10/19) 
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Connecting to Tech Industry Professionals Matters.
Students with STEM career knowledge are more likely to choose a STEM career, according to the International Journal of STEM Education (2018). Amazon Future Engineer offers virtual career talks and panel events with Amazon engineers, designers, interns and more.
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Trends & Research
Research continues on value of gifted classes
(Pixabay)
Many programs for gifted students concentrate on enrichment activities while keeping student instruction at grade level, rather than teaching advanced material, according to a 2019 survey. Experts question the value of gifted programs in general, citing inequity in racial distribution and unclear evidence that they improve student achievement.
Full Story: The Hechinger Report (10/18) 
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Why Education Leaders Need Coaches, Too
Teachers and staff carry an ever greater responsibility for student success. And if there was ever a time when leader coaching and professional development were needed, it's now. Read this SmartFocus to make sure your leader PD and coaching has the potential for greatest impact.
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NASBE News
NASBE policy update: Using federal funds to remediate lead
Recent federal and state action shows bipartisan consensus on the need to do more to ensure clean drinking water in schools and communities, according to a new NASBE analysis. The report highlights ways state leaders can leverage the current policy climate and available federal funds to better support school districts in lead remediation so that all children have access to clean drinking water in schools. And, join us Nov. 3, for a webinar release of a new NASBE landscape analysis of state policy and best practices for addressing lead in drinking water at schools.
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October webinars on principal pipelines and school health youth-adult partnerships
On Oct. 27, NASBE will host William & Mary's Dr. Paul Manna for a presentation of his new report "How Can State Policy Support Local School Districts Develop Principal Pipelines?," commissioned by the Wallace Foundation. During the webinar, Dr. Manna will identify the key policy levers state board members can pull to drive comprehensive, aligned principal pipelines and the opportunities for state and local partnership to create an ecosystem that develops, supports, and sustains excellent principals. Join us the following day, on Oct. 28, for a discussion on strategies for youth-adult partnerships to improve school health. Learn more and register here.
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How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
Paul Bowles,
writer, composer
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