Free internet could erase the digital divide

Local leaders must play a critical role in closing the digital divide for 18 million American households that have access to the internet but can’t afford to connect, according to a new report.

The urgent prompt comes from EducationSuperHighway, a national nonprofit with a mission to close the broadband affordability gap. The organization released its second No Home Left Offline report on the action needed to accelerate Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) adoption.

The ACP is a $14.2 billion federal broadband benefit funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that provides eligible households with a monthly discount of up to $30 per month (up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands) and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. 51.6 million households, including 17.7 million unconnected households, are eligible for the ACP, yet only 13 million (25% of those eligible) have enrolled.…Read More

South Carolina Adds Classworks® Universal Screener to State-approved Literacy Screener List

Duluth, GA – Classworks Universal Screener for Reading, an NCII-validated formal assessment used to measure grade-level readiness, is approved by South Carolina as a high-quality Literacy Screener. The best-in-class academic screener is on the  approved list for the 2022-23 school year.

In 2019, South Carolina implemented Act 213, requiring all districts to implement Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). When implemented effectively, an MTSS framework addresses the whole child, including students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs. To support school districts in choosing high-quality resources to support MTSS, the state provided a list of approved screeners. 

“Classworks is a perfect fit for the South Carolina Literacy List list due to the validity and reliability of our widely-adopted screening assessment,” notes Melissa Sinunu, Classworks President and Chief Operating Officer. “As an all-in-one MTSS solution, we share South Carolina’s vision to address the needs of the whole child. We look forward to working closely with South Carolina districts to achieve that goal using Classworks. Our platform makes it simple for teachers and effective for students.”…Read More

Special education students need a whole child approach

In early 2020, 7.3 million students received special education services as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s 14% of K–12 students in public schools in the United States who depend on additional—and often very specialized—services to support their ability to learn and live their lives fully.

But once the pandemic set in and schools closed their doors, the elaborately precarious systems that have been constructed to meet the needs of these students collapsed.

In October 2020, a little more than two- thirds of K-12 principals estimated that their students with disabilities would perform somewhat or much lower than they had before the pandemic. A year later, a November 2021 survey by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates—an advocacy group for students in special education and their families—found that 86% of parents reported that their child experienced learning loss, skill regression or slower-than-expected progress in school.…Read More

Kentucky Department of Education Approves Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready® Assessment for Grades K–3 as a Universal Screener for Early Literacy

NORTH BILLERICA, Mass.—The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) recently named Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready Assessment for Reading as an approved universal screener for early literacy. Now, districts across the state can use data from the online program as part of a multi-tiered system of supports for students in Grades K–3 as outlined by the state’s Read to Succeed Act. Today, i-Ready serves more than 11 million students and approximately one-third of all students in Grades K–8 in the United States, including more than 80,000 students across Kentucky.

“Early screening is the first step to helping young learners on their path to reading success,” said Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates. “The data from our i-Ready Assessment will help Kentucky educators understand where students are in their reading and develop a reading improvement plan, if needed, to help students meet reading goals.”

As part of the Read to Succeed Act, all superintendents in the state must select at least one universal reading screener to administer to all students in Grades K–3 by January 1, 2023. Superintendents can choose from the approved list of screeners, all of which underwent a rigorous review by the KDE. KDE’s approval process, which is guided by the National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institutes for Research’s Screening Tools Chart Rating System and the Institute for Education Sciences, examined measures for classification accuracy, reliability, validity, and representative sample.…Read More

Are you teaching with Minecraft and Roblox? You should be

Millions of students use Roblox and Minecraft to create characters and build entire worlds. As educators search for ways to boost student engagement as they inject real-world relevance into their lessons, finding creative reasons to use these platforms in the classroom becomes their goal. Should you start teaching with Minecraft and Roblox?

“Why Minecraft? Why Roblox? Your students are already on these platforms and they absolutely love them. That doesn’t necessarily make for a great teaching tool right off the bat, but the engagement is there,” said Matthew Kreutter, a product manager for Connected Camps, during an ISTE Live22 session.

A Connected Camps team led session attendees through some brief examples of how they can begin teaching with Minecraft and Roblox with simple coding and building activities.…Read More

Edsby Introduces ‘Perspective Analyze’ to Help Teachers Make Evidence-Based Instructional Decisions

ANDOVER, MASS (June 2, 2022) –  Edsby®, the award-winning social learning environment designed for K–12 education, today introduced  Perspective Analyze, helping teachers make informed decisions based on multi-dimensional assessment data. The new tool offers teachers visibility into several types of student assessments, integrating both learning evidence and gradebook scores within one place in the Edsby platform.

Edsby’s new Analyze view enables teachers to visualize student performance through a new lens to spot trends, patterns and areas of concern—helping teachers act on instructional decisions for individual students or groups of students. This new extension within Edsby classes gives teachers broader access to classroom-level analytics at no additional cost.

“I’m excited about this new feature as it will help teachers visualize data in new and powerful ways,” said Joe McRae, Math and Computer Science Program Area Leader at Lakefield College School. “It will help me assess students against course learning goals throughout the year and identify opportunities where students can improve. I look forward to building my assessments with this in mind next year.”…Read More

Can web filtering really harm the kids?

Web filtering is undoubtedly an essential when it comes to school cybersecurity. However, when the service is not set up correctly or a number of blocked categories is way too high, it starts to annoy both staff, and kids. Let’s see how to use web filtering to stay safe out there on the internet and make full use out of it.

Starting with the basics, it makes sense to remind ourselves what CIPA is. The Children’s Internet Protection Act, signed into law in 2000, is a document that regulates the exposure of inappropriate content to children. To be precise, the content that shall be filtered or blocked is divided into 3 groups: obscenity, child pornography & content harmful to minors. To receive funding, an educational institution must follow the guidelines of the act. The easiest way to comply with it is to purchase a web filtering solution. Needless to say, K-12 schools must be CIPA compliant to use E-Rate discounts, but those schools and libraries that do not receive the fundings do not have this obligation.

Web filtering solutions work on a DNS level, blocking all unwanted websites: both malicious ones with viruses lurking around, and all kinds of explicit content. In a nutshell, the DNS system matches IP addresses and the names of the websites working as a phonebook of the Internet. DNS filtering, however, also categorizes the website to see if it belongs to any restricted groups. This part is usually customizable: you choose which type of sites you want gone (or vice versa – you create an Allow list, which contains only the resources you want your students, staff & guests to see, and everything else is blocked), and leave it be.…Read More

IRIS Debuts Powerful New Application Where Students Use Seismic Waves Data to Learn about the Layers of the Earth

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 3, 2022) — The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) has created an online version of its popular activity “Determining and Measuring Earth’s Layered Interior” to challenge students to use evidence in the form of earthquake data to understand the Earth’s interior layers. This free web-based tool for Earth Science classrooms was funded in part by the National Science Foundation. 

The activities contained within the tool emphasize the use of models and the importance of using empirical evidence to make discoveries in Earth Science. When using the tool, students act as scientists as they discover and analyze real-world data. This exploration encourages independent thinking, data analysis, and engineering and design, as it builds an understanding of this dynamic planet and its internal engine.

“Students today have unprecedented access to seismic data and web tools that allow them to explore fundamentally big ideas such as the predictive power of models to help explain the Earth’s system and to measure the Earth’s core,” said Michael Hubenthal, Senior Science Education Specialist at IRIS. “The “Determining and Measuring Earth’s Layered Interior” tool allows students to explore and analyze the data that scientists use to understand the layers of the Earth.”…Read More

Why evidence-based solutions are critical for edtech buying

As districts budget for the 2022-2023 school year, they’ll have some additional funds to spend thanks to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

To ensure that these funds are well spent and will benefit students, Congress has mandated that 20% of district funds and 5% of state funds must be spent on evidence-based programs to recover from learning loss; plus additional funds for evidence-based enrichment, summer and afterschool programs.

When it comes to early childhood STEM resources, evidence of efficacy is more than just a stamp of approval. Evidence gives confidence that those products will lead to the buzzing environments we want for our youngest students, full of playful learning, collaboration, and the kinds of concrete engagement that come with hands-on manipulatives.…Read More

Leading Education Organizations Applaud Spending Increase for Social and Emotional Learning in FY2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act

March 17, 2022 — The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and Committee for Children strongly applaud the passage of the FY2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act which provides increased funding for a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative to support SEL and “whole child” approaches to education.

This critical funding for SEL is part of a $2 billion increase over the fiscal year 2021 enacted level for students’ learning and development in K-12 education, including students with disabilities. Related to SEL, the bill provides:

  • $82 million for evidence-based, field-initiated innovations that address student social, emotional, and cognitive needs (increase of $15 million) within the Education Innovation and Research program;
  • $85 million for the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program with a priority for teacher professional development and pathways into teaching that provide a strong foundation in implementing SEL and “whole child” strategies (increase of $5 million);
  • $111 million within School Safety National Activities for Mental Health Services Professional Demonstration Grants and School-Based Mental Health Services Grants, to help LEAs directly increase the number of mental health and child development experts in schools (increase of $95 million); and
  • $75 million for Full-Service Community schools to provide comprehensive services and expand evidence-based models that meet the holistic needs of children, families, and communities (increase of $45 million).

“Policymakers join in the growing support from educators, parents, students, and employers in advancing students’ overall well-being and success – academically, socially, and emotionally,” said Dr. Aaliyah A. Samuel, President and CEO of CASEL. “We believe these resources will support and expand safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environments for our nation’s learners.”…Read More