Weekly NewsBrief 10/26/20 - 11/1/20

News Clip


NYC schools will offer flexibility on grades. Are the changes here to stay? - By Reema Amin and Christina Veiga, Chalkbeat

New York City officials said Monday that schools cannot give most students failing marks this year and that parents will be able to choose whether or not their child’s transcript reflects more than a passing grade.

The long-awaited grading policy, which could affect the city’s competitive admissions process for middle and high schools, urges schools to consider the uncertainty students may still face seven months into the coronavirus crisis. Even now, children may have spotty access to reliable internet and devices. Some teachers appeared to be caught off guard by the new guidelines, even though report cards are due soon at some schools.

While no student’s GPA will include a failing grade, eighth graders and high school students will be required to make up incomplete course requirements or risk being held back. High school students will not receive credit for an incomplete course if they don’t do the outstanding schoolwork. That won’t affect their GPA but could leave them short of graduation requirements, as it would in normal times.

“This year’s grading policy maintains a high bar for student achievement and keeps our students engaged, while being responsive to the flexibility our families need in the ongoing pandemic,” wrote Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the education department, in a statement.


Families of some special education students in Texas may be eligible for $1,500 in aid to offset pandemic challenges - By Stacey Fernandez, The Texas Tribune

Families of some students with disabilities may be eligible for $1,500 per child in aid to use toward services including tutoring, therapy and digital resources, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency said Wednesday.

The Supplementary Special Education Services program is intended to offset pandemic-related learning disruptions, officials said.

"This program is a win for Texas families and children with special education needs, many of whom have endured education disruptions due to COVID-19," Abbott said in a statement.

When schools shuttered in the spring, many families were left to manage their children’s learning and seek out special services, like therapy, on their own. Many parents said their children missed out on essential services as schools struggled to adapt students’ individual learning plans to a virtual world.

The aid can only be used to buy services and resources from TEA-approved vendors. Families will be able to make purchases, with no upfront cost, through an online portal that will launch later in the year. Parents have until Jan. 31, 2022 to use the funds. The state will not retroactively pay for expenses.


Reading Scores Fall Among U.S. High School Seniors – By Laura Camera, U.S. News and World Report

THE AVERAGE READING score for high school seniors declined between 2015 and 2019 and remained unchanged in math, while the country's lowest performing seniors saw their scores drop in both subjects.

Overall, just 37% of 12th-graders reached or exceeded the academic preparedness benchmarks for both math and reading that would qualify them for entry-level college courses – a figure unchanged since 2015.

Those are the major takeaways from the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation's Report Card, which was released Wednesday by the National Center for Education Statistics.

"The decline in twelfth-grade reading scores resembles the declines in fourth- and eighth-graders' reading scores, where we saw the largest declines among the lowest-performing students," Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner for assessment at NCES, said. "This pattern of decline concentrated among lower-performing students – across grades and across subjects – is a troubling indication that too many students are falling behind."


Pinellas School Board approves raises for all employees – By Jeffery Solochek, Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas County School District employees will see their paychecks grow in November after the School Board approved raises across the board Tuesday evening.

All teachers will get raises of at least 3.45 percent, while all other staff will receive 3.25 percent more. Retroactive pay will arrive for most employees on Nov. 13, with some a week earlier and others a week later.

“We’re thrilled to be able to provide raises to all of our valuable employees,” board chairwoman Carol Cook said after unanimous votes authorizing the pay hikes for different collective bargaining groups and for non-bargaining staff.

Board member Nicole Carr praised all involved for working collaboratively to reach accords this early in the year. All employee groups ratified the negotiated deals with more than 90 percent backing.


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