K-12 Recent News Roundup: August 17, 2018

With so many stories in the news every day, it’s easy to miss developments that are relevant to you and your district, school, or classroom. We’ve gathered a variety of highlights in education news so you can stay up to date on issues that matter to you.

California Grant Helps School Staff Become Certified Teachers

Hundreds of Californian school staff—including bus drivers, clerks, yard supervisors, and instructional assistants—are now receiving “financial and instructional support” to help them pursue their dreams of teaching, according to a recent article in The Sacramento Bee. Recipients are given $4,000 in aid annually for up to five years as they complete a bachelor’s degree plus a teaching credential.

With the statewide—and nationwide—shortage of special education teachers, the program provides districts with much-needed certified educators.

New Education Technology Keeps Students on Time and on Task

As most educators know, issues such as tardiness, plagiarism, and distractions in class can keep students from achieving their full potential. But a recent EdTech Magazine article highlights some modern-day technologies that can help combat these problems. Noteworthy devices include tablets that regulate students’ screens during tests, “tardy kiosks” that streamline attendance, and lockable phone cases that keep students on task during the school day.

Policy Paper Calls for a ‘National Strategy to Improve Resilience’

In a joint policy paper, the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust are calling for a national strategy to prevent youth suicide and substance abuse, District Administration magazine reports. The paper stresses the gravity of this issue—suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for children aged 10-14, and more than 1 million middle and high school students struggle with substance abuse.

The paper offers advice on programs and partnerships schools can turn to for support in these areas. The authors maintain that while districts will need to develop unique solutions for their communities, there are universal strategies that can benefit every student.

Coaching Principals May Be the Key to Improving Schools, Study Reveals

Thanks to a Wallace Foundation study, school leaders are reorganizing the way they structure principal-supervisor roles, Chalkbeat reports. The research showed that by reducing the number of principals that supervisors oversee and by emphasizing coaching and mentoring, districts can refocus on improving school communities, rather than on putting out fires. This, in turn, can greatly enhance student achievement.

Principle Gary Hughes, who was critical of the new initiatives at first, soon saw the benefit of the increased feedback. "This approach is about support, not compliance. It’s changed the way I think about what I do," Hughes told Chalkbeat.

Research Casts Doubt on AP Equity and Efficacy

In recent years, the College Board has reported increased levels of enrollment in Advanced Placement courses, but the impact of these courses on students’ academic achievement is unclear, according to mixed research. In an article published earlier this month, Chalkbeat outlined a new review of research on AP courses, highlighting the large number of students who take the courses but fail the exams, and the disparity between races when it comes to this failure.

The College Board points to research indicating that students who score 2 or higher on the four general subject exams (English, math, history, and world languages) perform better in that subject in college. But critics argue that it’s difficult to establish causation in this research.

The equity and efficacy of AP courses is especially important considering that many states push schools to offer them, and some even provide financial incentives to do so.

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HMH publishes a news roundup every other Friday. Check out the next one on August 31.