July 29, 2021
NASBE State Ed SmartBrief
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Top Story
Studies offer insight into pandemic learning loss
(Christof Stache/Getty Images)
First- through sixth-grade students ended the previous school year on average five months behind in math and four months behind in reading, according to an analysis released Tuesday by McKinsey. A separate study released Wednesday by NWEA found students on average were 3 to 6 percentile points behind in reading and between 8 and 12 points behind in math -- with the steepest declines seen among younger students.
Full Story: Chalkbeat (7/28),  The New York Times (7/27) 
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What States Want Kids to Know in History & Civics
The tattered condition of civics and U.S. history education constitutes a national crisis. A bipartisan team of veteran educators and experts found that over 30 states have mediocre or inadequate standards in these two subjects. Click here to read how your state ranked and how it can improve!
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Policy & Legislation
CDC: Wear masks in schools
(Pixabay)
The CDC on Tuesday reversed its previous guidance on mask-wearing, because of the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and is recommending wearing masks indoors in some cases, including in schools. The CDC now recommends everyone in K-12 schools "wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Full Story: Chalkbeat (7/27),  U.S. News & World Report (7/27),  National Public Radio (7/27),  Education Week (7/27) 
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The US Education Department has approved federal education relief spending plans -- part of the American Rescue Plan Act -- for Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas and New Mexico. Delaware plans investments in tutoring and other supports, and Georgia has used federal funds, in part, on summer programming.
Full Story: District Administration (7/22) 
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Improving Teacher Wellness and Self-Care
As teachers prepare to head back to the classroom, many are looking for ways to manage and protect their mental and emotional health, especially after what has been an incredibly taxing past year. Join SmartBrief on August 26th as mental health experts offer practical tips and ideas to help teachers and school leaders. Register Now
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State Board News
The Illinois State Board of Education is following the CDC's lead, recommending in a tweet that students and staff wear face masks indoors at schools to reduce the spread of the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant. "School boards that choose not to implement public health guidance are putting their students and staff at risk and should consult with their insurers as to potential liability," state board spokesperson Januari Trader says.
Full Story: Chalkbeat/Chicago (7/28) 
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Only 1.5% of public school students in Maryland have signed up for online classes this fall, according to figures the Maryland State Board of Education released Tuesday. Twenty-two school districts have arranged for an online option, but some may cancel the programs if enrollment is lacking, according to Carol Williamson, the state's deputy state superintendent for teaching and learning.
Full Story: WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.) (7/28) 
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Trends & Research
"No harm" grading widespread amid pandemic
(Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
About 85% of teachers say their schools adopted "no harm" policies to avoid harshly penalizing students for poor grades and attendance amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Lora Bartlett, associate professor of education at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In this commentary, Bartlett writes that her research shows that many teachers received little guidance from districts on how to handle teaching and learning in an online environment brought on by school closures.
Full Story: Education Week (7/26) 
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NASBE News
Webinar on principal impact
Effective principals have an even greater impact than previously thought, benefiting not only student learning and attendance but also teacher satisfaction and retention, according to two-decades of synthesized research published by The Wallace Foundation earlier this year. Join NASBE Aug. 5 as we explore the findings from important research and have a conversation about preparing and supporting a high-quality principal workforce and the implications for state policymakers as they support school reopening and spend federal recovery funds to transform public education systems so that all kids can succeed.
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Staff wellness
During a recent NASBE webinar, Susanne Schmal with the Heathy Schools program at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction noted the importance of supporting not only student wellness, but staff wellness too. NASBE's got five questions to ask on the subject. Read our analysis here.
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If the ends don't justify the means, then what does?
Bob Moses,
civil rights activist, educator
1935-2021
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