• Florida teachers on edge as mask war, COVID surge mark first weeks of school
    Teaching

    Florida teachers on edge as mask war, COVID surge mark first weeks of school

    HOMESTEAD, Fla., Sept 4 (Reuters) – American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten crouched to sit at a first-graders’ table in a Florida school, chatting with masked 6-year-olds about books and their former kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Smith.

    Lillian Smith, a local union steward who taught at William A. Chapman Elementary in Miami-Dade County for more than 30 years, died last month of COVID-19. At least four Miami-Dade County teachers or staff have died from COVID so far this school year, as cases and hospitalizations in Florida have soared.

    Weingarten, in Miami on Friday as part of a U.S. tour to support COVID-safe back-to-school measures like masking, told Reuters that Florida is “a place where you have a governor who is more concerned about his political aspirations than the safety and the wellbeing of the people he was elected to serve.”

    Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in July issued an executive order barring school mask mandates. DeSantis has said parents should decide if their children wear masks. The governor’s spokesperson said in a statement that DeSantis was committed to safely reopening schools without mask mandates and in turn accused Weingarten of acting on political motivations.

    Parents in Florida and across the United States have clashed with school and health officials in what has become a politicized tussle over COVID precautions.

    Miami-Dade is among several districts that imposed mask requirements in defiance of DeSantis’ order. This week, the state Department of Education withheld funding from two of those districts, though a state judge ruled last week that the state does not have the authority to ban mandates. read more

    Two small districts that did not require masks have had to shut down because of soaring COVID cases. With staff members sick or quarantined, bus driver and teacher shortages have led to overcrowding on buses and larger class sizes, making social distancing harder, Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said.

    “Districts are just trying to do the best they can, but it’s challenging when we’re not getting the support from the state,” Spar said.

    Valda McKinney, a local teachers’ union organizer at Chapman, said the loss of her friend Lillian Smith – who according to Weingarten and local news reports had not been vaccinated – made COVID-19 feel more threatening.

    “Teachers are anxious,” McKinney said.

    In the first-grade classroom on Friday, national union leader Weingarten handed out new books.

    “This is our honoring Mrs. Smith,” Weingarten said. “One of the things she wanted more than anything else was for all of you to succeed.”

    Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Donna Bryson, Leslie Adler and Grant McCool

    Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

  • Student Teaching in Spain in the Time of COVID
    Bilingual Education

    Student Teaching in Spain in the Time of COVID

    The European Quality Chart on Internships and Apprenticeships describes higher education and vocational school practices in participating companies and entities as a training-oriented component of students’ coursework (European Youth Forum, n.d.). In the educational realm, these experiences help teacher education candidates develop and refine their professional competencies and provide them with an easier transition to the job market, increasing their chances of finding quality, stable jobs (European Youth Forum, n.d.). These practices are known in Spain as the practicum.

    The practicum, a required subject in the coursework of both early childhood and primary education BA degrees, consists of a series of collaborative activities between teacher training and education colleges and professional development schools, aimed at offering student teachers the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the realities of teaching in the early grades en route to adopting and developing their own teaching styles. Its formative objective is to provide student teachers with the opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired in their academic training to real classrooms and thereby acquire the necessary skills and abilities to foster their professional preparation and improve their employability prospects (Real Decreto 592/2014, 2014). To regulate the experience, universities sign MOUs with the Departments of Education of the different regional governments describing, among other things, the role of student teachers in the delivery of instruction and classroom organization, the duties of supervising school and university mentors, and the number of credits earned at the completion of the experience. Student teachers are also required to participate in university seminars as part of the practicum to reflect on aspects related to the realities and challenges of the job, their own performance during classroom presentations and explanations, and discrepancies in the theory–practice connection (Guía del Practicum, 2021).

    While the benefits of the practicum for student teachers have been documented, information on its impact for placement school mentors is scant. Obtaining more information on the latter was therefore the objective of two of the authors, professors at the University of Extremadura in Spain. They decided to investigate the extent of student teachers’ cooperation with, and support for, their respective mentors in Extremadura during the extended nationwide COVID-19 mandated lockdown, when online teaching was the only instructional delivery mode allowed, as well as when a decrease in the spread of the virus permitted the regional government to lift the restrictions and allow a return to face-to-face instruction. Participants were 15 early childhood and primary education veteran school mentors with student teachers in their classrooms. Their responses appeared to point to the following three areas:

    Support for “fatigued” teachers: One year after the beginning of the pandemic, the mentors agreed they were experiencing “fatigue,” described by Michie, West, and Harvey (2020) as “a presumed tendency for people to naturally become ‘tired’ of the rules and guidance they should follow to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” They alluded to episodes of fear and anxiety due to both the expansion of the pandemic and the unexpected recurrent virus spikes, as well as overwhelming stress caused by their having to adopt and incorporate into their teaching routines instructional delivery modes and technological resources most of them were not familiar with. As the lockdown was progressively lifted in Spain and they had to return to the classroom, they began to show psychological effects similar to those seen in health-care workers in potentially unsafe conditions (TFA Editorial Team, 2020), namely exhaustion and fear (Duffy and Allington, 2020). These effects were especially prevalent among veteran teachers, many of whom decided to resign and apply for early retirement. In fact, according to Núñez (2021), 2020 early retirement figures in the region showed a 30% increase over those in 2019. It was not therefore surprising, given this context, that the mentors interviewed appreciated having additional help in their classrooms, as the presence of student teachers provided much-needed assistance controlling students and making it easier to pay more individualized attention to those needing extra help or identified as having learning difficulties or disabilities. Moreover, the energy, novel approaches to teaching, and innovative tech tools, software, and activities brought and implemented by student teachers helped their respective mentors partially overcome their own tech deficiencies, acting as a singular vaccine against the latter’s previous fear, exhaustion, doubts, and even apathy.

    Support with virtual learning and IT: The teaching force in Extremadura is aging. Thus, during the 2013–2014 academic year, 33% of its teachers were more than 50 years of age and just 2% of the total were under 30, compared to 25% and 12% respectively in 2004–2005 (Moral, 2015). A subsequent report placed Extremadura among the autonomous communities with the fewest young teachers in both primary and secondary education (Infoempleo, 2017). Despite significant efforts reinforcing the importance of the integration of information technologies in the educational system of the community (Fundación Maimona, 2014), many veteran teachers still have difficulties incorporating tech resources into their teaching routines. Fortunately, the student teachers in this project were able to offer their struggling mentors ongoing individual, specific support that allowed the latter to revamp numerous lessons for use in both synchronous and asynchronous meetings. They taught their mentors the basics of innovative software and tech tools such as Flipgrid, Genially, ClassDojo, TED, The Primary Box, Educaplay, MapTool, Kahoot!, Mentimeter, and eXeLearning, among others. Student teachers also helped their mentors incorporate project-based learning, flipped classrooms, and gamification into their lessons, creating a more engaging and appealing classroom environment that increased the motivation and interest of students, who were equally tired of the pandemic. As an added perk, thanks to their familiarity with the above tools, student teachers confined at home continued to be able to support their mentors remotely and even lead lessons in some cases, as seen in the example graphic above, created with eXeLearning by one such student who was commissioned to teach an art class on impressionism.

    Support with logistics: Student teachers had to add logistical help to their academic duties, given mandated restrictions and safety protocols inside and outside classrooms and schools to prevent the spread of the virus among students, staff, and parents. Some of these daily tasks included ensuring students maintained the required social distance while entering and leaving school grounds, playing in the yard, and during bathroom breaks; checking students’ temperature, distributing hydroalcoholic gel, and disinfecting lunch areas at required times and on an as-needed basis; monitoring students during individual and small-group work; managing small and large group configurations; working with students needing additional help in homogeneous ability groups; providing specific individual reading, writing, and academic instruction; reporting assigned students’ progress at the end of the school day; or observing students’ socialization and interaction patterns during whole-class instruction in order to identify students needing help as well as those able to help others during follow-up assignments.

    The practicum is beneficial for all parties involved. Feedback from mentor teachers helps the Teacher Training and Education Colleges at the University of Extremadura improve the student teaching experience. Mentor teachers enjoy the benefits of student teachers’ additional help managing their classrooms and introducing them to innovative tech tools to create more engaging lessons for their students. Student teachers gain practical experience and become more attuned to the realities of the classroom. In the time of COVID-19, student teachers constitute a valuable resource for an exhausted teaching force working under strenuous circumstances. Mentor teachers should be encouraged to openly communicate with them, request their help when needed, and take advantage of the opportunity to learn about new resources and methods that can make their lives easier.

    References
    Duffy, B. and Allington, D. (2020). “The Accepting, the Suffering and the Resisting: The different reactions to life under lockdown.” King’s College London: The Policy Institute. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/policy-institute/assets/Coronavirus-in-the-UK-cluster-analysis.pdf
    European Youth Forum. (n.d.). European Quality Chart on Internships and Apprenticeships. https://www.youthforum.org/sites/default/files/publication-pdfs/European%20Quality%20Charter.pdf
    Fundación Maimona. (2014). Estado de las TIC en Extremadura. Badajoz, Spain: Fundación Maimona, CREEX, Fundación CRESEM.
    Guía del Practicum (2021). Prácticas externas: Curso 2020–2021. https://www.unex.es/conoce-la-uex/centros/profesorado/informacion-academica/practicas-externas/practicas-externas-20-21/practicas-externas.-curso-2020_2021
    Infoempleo
    . (2017). Evolución del empleo por edad. Mercado Laboral. https://www.infoempleo.com/guias-informes/empleo-educacion/mercado-laboral/mercado-laboral-empleo.html#reparto-comunidad
    Michie, S., West, R., and Harvey, N. (2020). “The Concept of ‘Fatigue’ in Tackling COVID-19.” BMJ Opinion. https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/10/26/the-concept-of-fatigue-in-tackling-covid-19/
    Moral, G. (2015). “Uno de cada tres profesores de la región supera los 50 años de edad.” El Periódico Extremadura. https://www.elperiodicoextremadura.com/noticias/extremadura/uno-tres-profesores-region-supera-50-anos-edad_883609.html
    Núñez, C. (2021). “Las prejubilaciones de docentes se doblan en Cáceres a causa de la COVID.” Hoy. https://www.hoy.es/caceres/prejubilaciones-docentes-doblan-20210122074948-ntvo.html
    Real Decreto 592/2014. (2014). Real Decreto 592/2014, de 11 de julio, por el que se regulan las prácticas académicas externas de los estudiantes universitarios. Madrid, Spain: BOE.
    TFA Editorial Team. (2020). “Tackling COVID-19 Fatigue as a Teacher: How educators can build resilience amid the pandemic.” Teach For America. https://www.teachforamerica.org/stories/tackling-covid-19-fatigue-as-a-teacher

    Francisco Ramos, BA, MA, MSc, PhD, is a professor at the School of Education, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA, where he teaches courses on bilingual education, bilingualism and biliteracy, and methods of teaching in L1 and L2 in bilingual settings.

    Gemma Delicado, BA, MA, PhD (University of Chicago, 2007), is currently the director of international affairs and a professor in the English Department at the Teacher Training College, University of Extremadura (Spain), where she teaches courses on bilingual education, English, and Spanish language and literature for U.S. study abroad students.
    Laura Alonso-Díaz, BA, MA, PhD, is the director of internships and employment and a professor in the Education Department at the Teacher Training College, University of Extremadura (Spain). Her research interests revolve around teacher training, virtual educational environments, training for employment, internships, and bilingual education.

  • Numerade Opens Free Online STEM Summer Bootcamps to Help MS and HS Students Overcome COVID Learning Loss
    Bootcamps

    Numerade Opens Free Online STEM Summer Bootcamps to Help MS and HS Students Overcome COVID Learning Loss

    Get essential education news and commentary delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up here for The 74’s daily newsletter.

    Summer is a time for students to explore personal interests, and for an expected 100,000 students, free STEM bootcamps will provide a chance to expand their understanding of everything from calculus to chemistry, biology to algebra.

    For the second straight summer, Numerade is offering free summer bootcamp courses as a way to combat pandemic learning loss. The eight-week video-based online classes are geared toward middle and high school students, using a web-based virtual learning platform. There are 20 courses, offering access to some of the company’s more than 1 million short-form educational videos — created with input from over 1,000 educators — covering STEM courses as well as SAT and ACT test prep.

    When students sign up for the free courses, they are placed into cohorts with other students. “They key to the learning process,” co-founder Nhon Ma says, “is the content created through educators and a sense of community with the students.” Students can interact with others in the same bootcamp via the online Discord server, ideally helping one another answer questions and discuss the content. Each week, students get a sequence of videos aligned to the curriculum, designed to be watched at their own time and pace. At the end of the week, quizzes track students’ understanding, and at the end of eight weeks, participants can earn a certificate of accomplishment for completing the course.

    The rolling course offerings start every week, and Ma says students are encouraged to take multiple classes through the summer. Last summer, 30,000 students participated, and he’s expecting around 100,000 this year.

    “We give encouragement and support and the resources students need for their grades and confidence to improve greatly,” Ma says. “There is a positive benefit that happens for the students and their community.”

    The free summer program also serves as an introduction to Numerade and the $9.99-per-month subscription fee to access its entire library of content.

    Founders Ma and Alex Lee, both from south central Los Angeles, started working together eight years ago, after scholarship opportunities allowed Ma to attend and graduate from Columbia University. He then worked in finance and served as a product lead for programmatic ad design at Google. It was there that Ma decided he wanted to instead focus on closing gaps in educational opportunities.

    After first creating an online tutoring platform, the pair learned that students were routinely going back into recorded tutoring sessions to replay them multiple times. “What is foundational for the learning process, especially for STEM, is repetition,” Ma says. “Students need to get the reps in as much as they can, and in a safe space where they are not judged.” That insight led to Numerade, which launched in 2019, allowing students 24-7 access to the short-form video resources.

    The free summer bootcamps started in 2020, and, “with learning loss accumulated, we felt a huge responsibility to help students close any learning gap as much as possible and get ahead,” Ma says.

    The desire to build an interest in STEM led the company to focus videos on children as young as middle school. “If students don’t get the reinforcement and support they need in middle school, often they drop out of STEM entirely,” Ma says. “What we want is to make sure students have the confidence to continue on their journey.”

    For the summer bootcamps, courses cover physics, math, chemistry and biology. Chemistry 101 offers an introduction to reactions, aqueous solutions, thermochemistry, electronic structure, the Periodic Table, chemical bonding and gases. Chemistry 102 covers liquids, solids, solutions, kinetics, chemical equilibrium, acids and bases, aqueous equilibria, thermodynamics, electrochemistry and nuclear chemistry.

    The biology summer camp features understanding of cellular respiration and fermentation, the cell cycle and cellular reproduction, photosynthesis, cell signaling, gene expression and viruses.

    The Physics 101 Mechanics course studies motion, energy, forces and momentum while Physics 102 Electricity and Magnetism creates a virtual lab to understand temperature, heat, electricity and magnetism. A Physics 103 course puts a focus on differing waves, whether mechanical, sound or light, and quantum mechanics.

    Math courses range from algebra to precalculus and geometry to calculus, the most popular. The summer programs also include test prep for both the SAT and ACT.

    Related

    Sign up for The 74’s newsletter

    Submit a Letter to the Editor

  • Student special education plans expired during COVID in Chicago
    Special Education

    Student special education plans expired during COVID in Chicago

    Before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools last year, David Rushing was an energetic 15-year-old who liked to play basketball and baseball. He was an avid swimmer and a member of the Jesse White Tumblers — performing high-energy stunts like backflips and somersaults, sometimes in front of large audiences.

    Then COVID-19 swept across the country and forced Chicago schools to close, leaving David, who has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, unable to participate in sports and without the proper support to help him focus in online classes.

    At the beginning of his freshman year at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy last fall, David’s Individualized Education Program, a legally binding document known as an IEP that outlines what special education services and interventions a student should receive, was set to expire on Nov. 5, 2020. He was to be re-evaluated for a new plan the month before. But that didn’t happen.

    Within a matter of months, David’s life spiraled out of control.

    Yvonne Bailey, David’s biological grandmother who adopted him at a young age, noticed David behaving differently.

    David “got involved with the wrong people in the neighborhood,” Bailey said. “He was running away from home and staying out all night.”

    David’s case is not isolated. The pandemic year has uprooted support for students with disabilities in Chicago and nationwide, creating a backlog of old IEPs that could lead to widening academic gaps for students in need of special education services. Students with disabilities make up 14.6% of Chicago’s enrollment, almost 50,000 students. Nearly half of those students are Latino, and about 40 percent are Black.

    New data obtained by Chalkbeat shows that during the 2019-20 school year — which saw an 11-day teacher strike and COVID-19 school closures — more than 10,050 re-evaluations, initial evaluations, and annual reviews were incomplete, a more than threefold increase over the previous school year. More than 3,500 students, like David, were waiting for a re-evaluation that is required by federal law.

    The data shows improvements during the 2020-21 school year, but 1,768 students were waiting to be re-evaluated and 230 were waiting for an initial evaluation to get an IEP.

    Hidden from public view

    Delays in IEP re-evaluations were a pre-pandemic problem that landed Chicago Public Schools under state review. In 2018, the state board of education appointed a monitor to ensure that Chicago was not denying or delaying special education services to students. In June of this year, the state board of education approved another year of state oversight.

    Even though the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult to conduct IEPs in person, schools were still responsible for updating the plans and had to provide remote evaluations. Yet despite issuing waivers for such activities as standardized testing, the U.S. Department of Education never waived any part of federal law meant to protect students with disabilities.

    Correspondence between Chicago, the state board of education, and special education advocates in the city shows that as far back as September, officials had evidence that the pandemic had disrupted students’ services.

    In a September letter obtained by Chalkbeat through an open records request, the district’s Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services acknowledged that some evaluations were left “indeterminate.” The district promised in the letter that all evaluations would be completed during the 2020-21 school year.

    Some parents and advocates say that did not happen, and data released by the district show some students were still left waiting during the 2020-21 school year. But the full scope of the problem is not clear because Chicago Public Schools continues to withhold key data points that indicate compliance with federal special education law, including the race of children whose families seek evaluations and how many referrals were initially requested by parents or educators.

    Chalkbeat sent Freedom of Information Act requests to both the state board of education and Chicago Public Schools in March asking for data on how many students were waiting for initial evaluations to create an IEP and how many students needed to be re-evaluated to update their current IEPs during the 2018-2021 school years.

    The state board referred Chalkbeat back to Chicago Public Schools officials, saying that the state only has limited access to the district’s database that tracks the status of students’ IEPs. Chicago Public Schools extended the information request deadline several times. In April, Chalkbeat went to the state’s Attorney General Public Access Bureau for assistance, but the district still refused to provide the data. In late July, the district partially released data weeks after Chalkbeat filed a lawsuit against the school district in the Cook County Circuit Court. (Chalkbeat is represented by Loevy & Loevy, a civil rights firm.)

    The data Chicago released in late July offers a first public look at end-of-year numbers for the 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 school years and shows how many re-evaluations, initial evaluations, and annual reviews were completed and how many were left incomplete. Across the three categories, students in need of annual reviews were most likely to face delays, with about 8.7% of eligible students waiting in 2019-20 compared to 1.7% the year prior.

    Rates of incomplete education plan re-evaluations in Chicago schools

    Network 2021 Incomplete 2020 Incomplete 2019 Incomplete
    Network 2021 Incomplete 2020 Incomplete 2019 Incomplete
    Other 66.08% 62.41% N/A
    AUSL 18.53% 40.63% 8.16%
    Options 17.61% 45.89% 20.48%
    Network 15 17.54% 14.44% 1.80%
    Network 3 14.02% 24.76% 1.06%
    Chicago Average 13.13% 25.14% 7.75%
    Network 16 12.44% 15.97% 6.79%
    Network 13 12.43% 36.47% 0.82%
    Network 6 12.14% 24.39% 2.65%
    Network 11 10.88% 31.53% 2.02%
    Network 10 10.84% 32.46% 1.10%
    Network 12 10.70% 26.49% 3.67%
    Network 17 9.75% 18.36% 0.87%
    Charter 8.48% 17.80% 5.40%
    Network 4 8.37% 29.57% 0.23%
    ISP 8.28% 21.37% 1.03%
    Network 9 8.23% 28.40% 0.90%
    Contract 8.22% 13.33% 1.49%
    Network 1 7.37% 27.18% 0.79%
    Network 8 5.70% 18.04% 0.25%
    Network 7 4.58% 23.05% 0.69%
    Network 14 3.58% 12.05% 0.51%
    Network 2 3.57% 28.07% 1.91%
    Network 5 3.23% 21.19% 1.53%

    NOTE: “Other” includes students who are enrolled in a separate day school, have been evaluated but have not yet enrolled, or attend a private school but receive services from CPS, such as therapeutic day schools.

    Annie Fu, Chalkbeat

    According to the data provided by the district, broken down by network, the 2019-20 school year saw the highest numbers of students waiting for a re-evaluation. The number of students waiting depended on where they attended school in the city and what type of school it was. Students who attended schools in Networks 11 and 13 — the former spans Englewood and parts of the Southwest Side and the latter cuts across neighborhoods on the city’s far south and far east sides — were unlikely to be re-evaluated during the school year.

    Also, the district’s turnaround school operator, the Academy for Urban School Leadership, or AUSL, which was tasked with managing some of the lowest-performing schools in Chicago until the district decided to phase out the program earlier this year, had a higher rate of non-compliance during the 2019-20 year, with 40.9% of re-evaluations left incomplete. Charters as a whole tended to perform better than city averages during 2019-20, with 17.8% of re-evaluations incomplete compared with a citywide average of 25%. The following year, however, charters did not comply as well as most of the district-run networks, reporting some of the highest numbers of incomplete annual reviews and initial IEP evaluations and reporting middle-of-the-pack numbers for re-evaluations.

    Chicago Public Schools denied a Chalkbeat request to interview a representative from the district’s special education department. However, district spokesman James Gherardi said there were complications re-evaluating students with disabilities due to the pandemic and a year of related school closures.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic added a layer of difficulty to the evaluation process that our school leaders and staff are still working through to ensure each student that needs an evaluation receives one,” said Gherardi.

    Families search for options

    (Left to right) Yvonne Bailey poses for a portrait with her adopted son David and her husband, Terry Bailey in front of trees and a small pond on a sunny day.

    Dunbar High School freshman David Rushing (center) was one of over 3,500 students affected by Chicago Public School’s failure to re-evaluate IEPs for its students in a timely manner.
    Courtesy of Yvonne Bailey

    That still leaves family members such as Yvonne Bailey, David Rushing’s mother, desperate to find help for struggling students.

    Bailey went to Equip for Equality, a nonprofit legal service organization, to get help with getting David’s evaluation. With Equip for Equality’s help, David was re-evaluated in the spring and a new IEP was written in April.

    Unlike Bailey, many Chicago parents are not able to access legal services. Instead, some have decided to leave the school district to ensure that their child receives special education services.

    For some families, the issue wasn’t the timeline. It was poor execution.

    Courtney Aviles moved to Cincinnati after spending a year trying to get her 5-year-old son re-evaluated for an IEP. When her son was in preschool, a teacher raised concerns about his fine motor skills, especially his ability to write.

    Before schools shut down in March 2020, Aviles’ son had an annual IEP meeting to assess current goals, at James B. McPherson Elementary School, on the city’s north side. Aviles, a former teacher in Florida, was taken aback to see that her son’s teachers and case manager, who previously worked with him, were not there to speak about his needs in the classroom. Legally, schools are required to have teachers and case managers present at IEP meetings.

    “As a former teacher myself, I feel that it greatly impacted our ability to conduct the IEP meeting,” said Aviles. “Having his teachers there to share their experience with and to advocate for my son would have made the meeting more productive.”

    During the annual meeting, Aviles and the IEP team agreed that her son would be evaluated for occupational therapy to help him write. However, schools across the state were shuttered in response to the coronavirus pandemic and Aviles’ son did not receive special education services for the remainder of the year.

    At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, Aviles transferred her son to Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies. Prior to the start of the school year, Aviles emailed the school’s case manager to inquire about the occupational therapy evaluation discussed at her son’s last IEP meeting in August.

    Aviles did not hear back from the case manager until October.

    The case manager emailed Aviles to say that her son’s previous school had not finalized the assessment plan needed to get him evaluated for occupational therapy. Aviles signed a consent form to be connected with the school’s occupational therapist for an evaluation.

    However, Aviles’ son, who was supposed to be evaluated by Jan. 22, 2021, never received an assessment. In February, Aviles and her son’s IEP team again gathered to update his program. The team concluded that Aviles’ son would need a full re-evaluation — but that didn’t happen.

    By March, the family moved to Ohio. Aviles called it a “spur of the moment” decision after visiting friends for her son’s birthday. Aviles and her husband felt that they could make a good life for their children in Cincinnati. She said that while she loved Chicago, struggling to get special education services for her son was a major factor in her decision to move to another state.

    Aviles wished she would have pushed harder for her son’s services, but felt she had to maintain a good relationship with the school’s staff. “It could be a really delicate balance,” she said.

    A national problem emerges

    Rachel Shapiro poses on a sunny day outside of her Chicago home, cars lining the street behind her.

    Rachel Shapiro, an attorney at Equip for Equality, believes that schools in Chicago used the pandemic to cover their shortfall in evaluating IEPs.
    April Alonso for Chalkbeat

    The stakes for students who do not receive a re-evaluation are high, according to Rachel Shapiro, an attorney at Equip for Equality.

    “We explain it to parents that your child’s development could progress or there could be regression,” said Shapiro. “We have no way of knowing that without having some kind of standardized data.”

    When the district delayed special education services for David Rushing and Aviles’ son, both boys saw a regression in their skills and changes in behavior. David started to run away from home and Aviles’ son struggled to learn how to write.

    While working with parents, Shapiro claims that schools in Chicago were using the pandemic as a cover to only review IEPs and not perform evaluations.

    “Part of the evaluation is that it has to be thorough and contain multiple different assessments because we don’t want to diagnose students based on one assessment,” she said.

    A student’s IEP team — which includes teachers, case managers, and therapists — are supposed to meet every year to review a student’s progress, address any concerns, and update that student’s goals. The state requires re-evaluations every three years. Parents must be proactive in ensuring that their child gets what they need, said Shapiro.

    Shapiro suggests parents document requests in writing and ask for standardized assessments, progress data, and requests for IEP meetings. If things don’t go well, Shapiro says, parents can request a mediator from the state board of education or file a complaint with the board.

    According to Lindsay Kubatzky, policy manager at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, an advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., school districts across the country have a backlog of evaluations due to the pandemic. Also, some school districts were concerned about the validity of doing evaluations remotely.

    Kubatzky recommends that school districts communicate with parents about what to expect from the evaluation process this year.

    “We see that the strongest indicator of whether a school district is doing a good job at evaluating or re-evaluating is whether parents have the information that they need and have a good understanding of what the process will look like,” said Kubatzky.

    Kubatzky also urged school districts to use emergency federal funding to increase staff for evaluating students.

    “So one thing that they could do is hire additional paraprofessionals to work with students to do some of the evaluations or contract with outside evaluators to help with the workload,” said Kubatzky. “There’s resources outside of the school building that could be beneficial for students and families.”

    Chicago Public Schools said that it will spend $17 million to hire 78 nurses, 44 social workers, and 51 special education case managers for next school year.

    What’s next for students

    Since leaving Chicago, Aviles has turned to private occupational therapy for her son and has seen a lot of growth in his writing skills. In the fall, the 5-year-old will be attending kindergarten at a smaller school district in Cincinnati.

    “At CPS, he couldn’t even hold a pencil. He can write his name, he’s writing letters and he’s recognizing letters,” said Aviles. “It’s a huge amount of growth in a super short period of time and it’s really unfortunate that it took a move to do that.”

    Yvonne Bailey’s son, David, has been doing much better since he received an updated IEP. At the end of the school year, Bailey signed him up to attend in-person school two days a week. This summer, David was enrolled in the school’s football camp.

    David will be returning to Dunbar for his sophomore year. Bailey feels that in-person learning will be better for him, especially when more students are at school.

    “David does well around people. He likes hanging out with the kids like any kid at this age,” said Bailey. “So I think it’ll be better.”

    Samantha Smylie began this project at Chicago Headline Club’s FOIAFest 2021 Boot Camp under the mentorship of journalist Angela Caputo, an investigative reporter at APM Reports.

    Having trouble viewing our survey? Go here.

  • LA-based education platform Numerade offers free online STEM bootcamps to help MS and HS students overcome COVID learning loss
    Bootcamps

    LA-based education platform Numerade offers free online STEM bootcamps to help MS and HS students overcome COVID learning loss

    (Numerade)

    Summer is a time for students to explore personal interests, and for an expected 100,000 students, free STEM bootcamps will provide a chance to expand their understanding of everything from calculus to chemistry, biology to algebra.

    For the second straight summer, Numerade is offering free summer bootcamp courses as a way to combat pandemic learning loss. The eight-week video-based online classes are geared toward middle and high school students, using a web-based virtual learning platform. There are 20 courses, offering access to some of the company’s more than 1 million short-form educational videos — created with input from over 1,000 educators — covering STEM courses as well as SAT and ACT test prep.

    When students sign up for the free courses, they are placed into cohorts with other students. “They key to the learning process,” co-founder Nhon Ma says, “is the content created through educators and a sense of community with the students.” Students can interact with others in the same bootcamp via the online Discord server, ideally helping one another answer questions and discuss the content. Each week, students get a sequence of videos aligned to the curriculum, designed to be watched at their own time and pace. At the end of the week, quizzes track students’ understanding, and at the end of eight weeks, participants can earn a certificate of accomplishment for completing the course.

    The rolling course offerings start every week, and Ma says students are encouraged to take multiple classes through the summer. Last summer, 30,000 students participated, and he’s expecting around 100,000 this year.

    “We give encouragement and support and the resources students need for their grades and confidence to improve greatly,” Ma says. “There is a positive benefit that happens for the students and their community.”

    The free summer program also serves as an introduction to Numerade and the $9.99-per-month subscription fee to access its entire library of content.

    Founders Ma and Alex Lee, both from south central Los Angeles, started working together eight years ago, after scholarship opportunities allowed Ma to attend and graduate from Columbia University. He then worked in finance and served as a product lead for programmatic ad design at Google. It was there that Ma decided he wanted to instead focus on closing gaps in educational opportunities.

    After first creating an online tutoring platform, the pair learned that students were routinely going back into recorded tutoring sessions to replay them multiple times. “What is foundational for the learning process, especially for STEM, is repetition,” Ma says. “Students need to get the reps in as much as they can, and in a safe space where they are not judged.” That insight led to Numerade, which launched in 2019, allowing students 24-7 access to the short-form video resources.

    The free summer bootcamps started in 2020, and, “with learning loss accumulated, we felt a huge responsibility to help students close any learning gap as much as possible and get ahead,” Ma says.

    The desire to build an interest in STEM led the company to focus videos on children as young as middle school. “If students don’t get the reinforcement and support they need in middle school, often they drop out of STEM entirely,” Ma says. “What we want is to make sure students have the confidence to continue on their journey.”

    For the summer bootcamps, courses cover physics, math, chemistry and biology. Chemistry 101 offers an introduction to reactions, aqueous solutions, thermochemistry, electronic structure, the Periodic Table, chemical bonding and gases. Chemistry 102 covers liquids, solids, solutions, kinetics, chemical equilibrium, acids and bases, aqueous equilibria, thermodynamics, electrochemistry and nuclear chemistry.

    The biology summer camp features understanding of cellular respiration and fermentation, the cell cycle and cellular reproduction, photosynthesis, cell signaling, gene expression and viruses.

    The Physics 101 Mechanics course studies motion, energy, forces and momentum while Physics 102 Electricity and Magnetism creates a virtual lab to understand temperature, heat, electricity and magnetism. A Physics 103 course puts a focus on differing waves, whether mechanical, sound or light, and quantum mechanics.

    Math courses range from algebra to precalculus and geometry to calculus, the most popular. The summer programs also include test prep for both the SAT and ACT.


    This article was published in partnership with The 74. Sign up for The 74’s newsletter here.

  • College Guidance and Counseling

    Accessible Teaching In The Time Of COVID

    For greater than a decade, Steam has dominated the LAPTOP gaming market. It isn’t sufficient just to like the subject material: Nice teachers additionally share a love of scholars. We are the home to award-successful digital textbooks, multimedia content material, and the largest professional development community of its type. Different value savings include cheaper textbooks, particularly if on-line learners should buy digital versions.

    He additionally predicts that college students, many of whom are protesting in the streets, are additionally more likely to push educators to do extra teaching about racism. AP Pc Science Rules introduces college students to the central concepts of pc science and computational thinking. It is an built-in method to studying that encourages college students to assume more broadly about actual-world issues.

    Breaking from its origins in the classroom, The Great Programs removes the trappings of the college lecture corridor while offering you with an engaging and informative instructional expertise. Free Via December 31, 2020: To help our group keep learning, we’ve made a number of widespread courses completely free through December 31, 2020. Be taught what it is prefer to take a category online, tips for excelling in an internet studying setting, and extra.

    National Training Affiliation NEA serves greater than three million lecturers in 14,000 communities throughout the country. Schooling correct now’s inseparable of know-how especially multimedia. It’d merely contain ‘exhibiting learners what to do whereas speaking them by the exercise and linking new learning to previous by way of questions, sources, actions and language’ (Zwozdiak-Myers and Capel, S. 2013 location 4568).

    When lecturers undertake specific teaching practices they clearly present students what to do and methods to do it. Teaching unions and the Labour occasion fiercely oppose using unqualified academics in schools, arguing that they’re a risk to high school requirements. Purposes are welcome from all teachers, educators and lecturers within the formal and casual science schooling professions, reminiscent of science teachers, museum educators and science training leaders.

    Whereas many public libraries require a grasp’s degree in library science, many states offer endorsement programs for licensed teachers. We assist faculties in providing a holistic educational method. Due to the drag-and-drop characteristic, you’ll be able to get your customized digital courses up and operating without the need for any particular design abilities. 7 Satria E 2017 Initiatives for the implementation of science technology society approach in primary concept of pure science course as utility of optical and electrical devices’ material Journal of Physics: Conf.

    Presented on this part are opinions of studies on the results of the STEAM initiative in three features: teacher growth in STEAM, meta-evaluation of STEAM influence on pupil learning, and college students’ perceptions of STEAM lessons. Combine Teaching Channel’s content material into your group’s learning plan. Hollins Faculty college students taking the Vital Pondering course submit two copies of their papers.