COVID Brief: Ad Campaign Tells Parents Kids Have Fallen Behind in School

A weekly roundup of headlines about how the pandemic is shaping schools and education policy, vetted by AEI Visiting Fellow John Bailey

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This is our biweekly briefing on the pandemic, vetted by John Bailey. See the full archive.

This Week’s Top Story

New Campaign Tries to Convince Parents Their Kids Have Fallen Behind

  • Via EdWeek
  • “The advertising campaign will target the six cities — Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Sacramento County in California and Washington, D.C. — with displays of side-by-side data showing the percentage of students proficient in math or English in that city and the percentage of parents who think their child is at or above grade level in that subject.”
  • “A recent survey by Learning Heroes — a nonprofit focused on ensuring parents have accurate information about students’ progress — found that 92% of parents believe their children are at grade level and doing fine in the classroom despite evidence that a majority of students are struggling.”
  • More here: Go Beyond Grades

The Big Three

What We Know So Far: Post COVID-19 Test Score Recovery

  • Initial Evidence from State Testing Data: NBER paper from Clare Halloran, Claire Hug, Rebecca Jack and Emily Oster.
  • “We use state test score data to analyze patterns of test score recovery over the 2021-22 school year.”
  • “On average, we find that 20% of test score losses are recovered in English language arts (ELA) by 2022, compared to 37% in math.” 
  • “These recovery rates do not significantly vary across demographic characteristics, baseline achievement rates, in-person schooling rates in the pandemic school year or category-based measures of recovery funding allocations.”
  • Related: The COVID-19 School Data Hub team, led by Oster, is seeking input from education professionals, researchers and journalists who work with state assessment data, via a brief survey. The purpose of this survey is to better understand how the data are being used and to better understand areas for growth. 

Six Budget Considerations for Districts as ESSER Fiscal Cliff Looms

  • “With the last federal COVID-19 relief fund deadline approaching in 18 months, district financial teams should prepare for financial stress over the next two years that could be worse than the last recession, according to Marguerite Roza, an education finance researcher and director of Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab.”
  • “While most district leaders don’t yet have a game plan, budgeting decisions made by districts later this spring — as well as earlier decision-making, like where they invested ESSER funds — will determine how well they are able to weather the storm.”
  • K12 Dive shares recommendations from Roza and the Edunomics team.

National COVID Emergency Ends

COVID-19 Research

School Closures During COVID-19: An Overview of Systematic Reviews

  • Via BMJ: “Both school closures and in-school mitigations were associated with reduced COVID-19 transmission, morbidity and mortality in the community. School closures were also associated with reduced learning, increased anxiety and increased obesity in pupils.”

Scientists Continue to Debate COVID-19 Origins

City & State News

Florida: Officials cut key data from vaccine study.

  • “An analysis that was the basis of a highly criticized recommendation from Florida’s surgeon general cautioning young men against getting the COVID-19 vaccine omitted information that showed catching the virus could increase the risk of a cardiac-related death much more than getting the mRNA shot, according to drafts of the analysis obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.”

Tennessee: A state law could hold back thousands of third-graders in bid to help kids recover from the pandemic.

California: 33,000 students show up for voluntary “acceleration days” during spring break in Los Angeles Unified.

These 15 states could take the biggest hit as ESSER funds expire: EdWeek reports on a new ERS report.


America’s Teens Are in Crisis. States Race to Respond

  • Washington Post editorial: “Responding to clamoring from parents, and dreadful stories of youth suicide and hospitalizations, leaders in both parties convey an increasing sense of urgency to address epidemic levels of teenage anxiety, depression, loneliness and lashing out.”
  • Related: Teen mental health crisis pushes more school districts to sue social media giants, via The 74

Rewrite Attendance Laws to Promote Learning, Not Seat Time

  • Checker Finn in EdNext: “Two depressing developments of the past couple years have given birth to a radical idea: Let’s rethink state ‘compulsory attendance’ laws so that they’re phrased in terms of kids learning rather than years in school.”
  • First: “Evidence that lots of students are not availing themselves of high-dose tutoring when it’s available, no matter how much they need and would benefit from it, and they’re not signing up for summer school, either.”
  • Second: “The growing number of districts and schools that are moving to four-day weeks, ostensibly to deal with budget woes and teacher shortages, ease burn-out and forestall quitting.”
  • “Maybe, finally, today we’ve reached an inflection point where, with the help of better assessments, lots of 24/7 technology and much greater concern with ‘readiness,’ we should ease off the focus on time and refocus instead on mastery.”
  • Related analysis via The 74: Students in 4-day-a-week schools can suffer COVID-level learning losses

…And on a Lighter Note

It’s Officially Spring: Which means all the dads are like …

For even more COVID policy and education news, subscribe to John Bailey’s daily briefing via Substack.

Disclosure: John Bailey is an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation, which provides financial support to The 74.

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