Equity & Access | Mar - Apr 2021

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Equity&Access PRE K-12 FROM ACE-ED.ORG








How to Reopen Schools so Learners Thrive

Fielding International is a global architecture practice with uniquely integrated teams of Architects, Educators, Planners, and Interior Designers with one primary goal in mind — Designing Schools Where Learners Thrive. Our firm’s mission is to move school design out of the mid-1950s into the rapidly changing world. This means a paradigm shift from the “cells and bells” model to a more collaborative model. New schools should support multiple modalities of learning including, collaboration, student-directed learning, and many other key 21st century skills. Schools should be nurturing and engaging places for all students and teachers. Most importantly, learning environments must resemble the world we live in now and point to the future, not the past. In addition to designing schools, we also carry on research, teacher training, and coaching. To understand COVID-19, our teams worked together to develop a set of flexible options that address the various levels of risk involved in the reopening of schools to maintain a sense of safety, belonging, and community.

“A Day in the Life” was developed as a learning tool to help teachers orient themselves in space and time, use school facilities for active, collaborative learning, and demonstrate how COVID safety measures, educational best practices and social and emotional well-being can all be addressed when using the Full Return and Hybrid Scenarios.



Learning Zone 3

4th Grade Student Eden Park Elementary Cranston, RI

4th Grade Eden Park Elementary Cranston, RI

A Day in the life of Alex in the Alternating Return Model

8:00 - 8:15 AM Breakfast and Attendance It is important to build in social and emotional wellness for students.

After Alex arrives at school, he moves to his color-coded learning zone

Full Return Approx. 95% of Students return to in-person learning 5 days a week.

8:15 - 9:00 AM Advisory

9:00 - 9:05 AM Bathroom Break

Advisory is attended synchronously.

When Alex finishes, he washes his hands but forgets his mask. His teacher provides him with a new mask.

Alex needs to use the restroom

9:00 - 9:30 AM Academic and Instructional Assessment

9:30 - 10:30 AM ELA Literacy

Alex transitions to a learning studio in his zone for literacy instruction and individual practice

10:30 - 12:10PM Math Workshop and Rotations

Hand & desk sanitation measures are taken throughout the day.

12:15- 1:00PM Lunch and Recess

Alex has lunch in his learning studio. The teacher distributes the meals and Alex eats at his desk.

The small group room in Alex’s is used for zone for math instructional assessments and peer-to-peer support.

Math is held in one learning studio. Learning stations and small-group practice using hands-on manipulatives and devices.

It is important to ventilate enclosed and move activities outside whenever possible.

1:00 - 2:25PM PBL Prototyping and Teacher Workshops

2:25- 2:35PM Cleaning Alex returns to his learning zone with his class. They clean their spaces and pack-up to leave for the day.

Alternating Return On alternating days, approx. 50% of Students attend inperson, the remaining 50% engage in enrichment activities remotely.

After recess, the students move to an outdoor learning space. The teacher launches a Social Studies project-based learning entry event.

Flexible Return Students who require in-person attendance attend in-person, the remaining engage in blended learning.




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CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY - 22 David Adams | Ashley Rogers Berner | Melissa Brown | Daniel de los Reyes Jessica Forte-Paul | Nellie Pagán | Jason Stark | Kate Eberle Walker

FROM THE ASSOCIATIONS Council of Chief State School Officers - 12 | National Virtual Teacher Association - 32 ACT's Center for Equity in Learning - 52 American Psychiatric Association Foundation - 66

THE ACE-ED.ORG EXECUTIVE TEAM Publisher & Director of Sales LARRY JACOBS 978-712-8187

VP & Editorial Director MAIA APPLEBY 561-427-5092


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2021 WELCOMES A NEW U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION The American Consortium for Equity in Education joins educators across the country in celebrating the appointment of Dr. Miguel Cardona, an experienced educator, a fierce advocate for ALL students, a steadfast supporter of public schools, and the United States’ first Latino Secretary of Education.



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By Nichole A. Berg & Kimberly Howard

Portland, Oregon: In a city known for its spirit of environmental stewardship, progressivism, and activism, it makes perfect sense that students in Oregon’s largest public school district would lead the charge for a systematic development and implementation of K-12 climate change and climate justice curriculum, and that strategic community partners would step up to support them. In response to student activism in the spring of 2016, the Portland Public Schools’ Board of Education passed Resolution 5272, calling for a critical review of district-wide curricular materials, to eliminate outdated texts that offered inaccurate and insufficient information about the climate crisis, and “[directing] the Superintendent, in collaboration with PPS students, teachers, and community members to develop an implementation plan so that there is curricula and educational opportunities that 8

address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.” Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero began his tenure in PPS in 2018. Through an extensive visioning process, the PPS Board of Education and Superintendent engaged thousands of stakeholders in multiple community meetings to envision the future of Portland Public Schools that would create the necessary conditions for everyone to thrive and for graduates to be compassionate critical thinkers, able to collaborate and solve problems, and be prepared to lead a more socially just world. Climate change and racial justice became focal points identified by the community regarding the current and future context in which students would need to develop and apply their skills: The Vision is informed by Portland’s history and

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its future aspirations. It makes a bold statement about committing to racial equity and ties that equity to one of the most significant challenges facing our world: global climate change. Portland may very well become a place to which climate refugees will migrate in the coming decades. Now is the time to bring environmental stewardship, foresight, and an objective, informed view of the world to create a bright, sustainable future for our young people. --PPS reImagined, p. 8 To tangibly enhance and support the synergy between the youth advocacy of 2016 and PPS reImagined (2019), and in response to another demonstration of youth climate activists in 2019, the PPS Board of Education approved the hiring of PPS’s first-ever Climate Change and Climate Justice Programs Manager and earmarked funds for the following investments: • Creation of a plan to address deficits in Climate Justice curriculum development and support teacher professional development • Investing in professional development • Planning for the development and articulation of a high school climate justice transdisciplinary elective course • Planning for the development and integration of a climate justice curriculum unit for science and social studies across all grade levels K-8 • Convening, at a minimum, quarterly meetings of a diverse and student-led Climate Justice advocacy group (Source: “PPS Board Response to Students on Climate Justice,” 5/28/19) The seed funding successfully yielded the hiring of the Programs Manager and the initial plan for curricular integration and youth advisory, which was presented to the Portland Public Schools’ Board of Education on January 21, 2020.

Strategic Partnerships - PGE Project Zero Offers Funds to Advance the Work and Connect Youth with Industry Experts To help accelerate this work, Portland General Electric made an investment of $250,000 over three years via the Fund for PPS, an organization that aims to “create, coordinate, and facilitate public, private, and philanthropic partnerships that foster equitable opportunities and benefits for PPS students” in service to the PPS Graduate Vision. In addition to funding, as part of PGE’s multi-pronged, multi-year approach to partnering with the local community--an initiative named PGE Project Zero--PGE committed human resources to support this work as well. A robust team of content experts was identified to offer students real-world opportunities to learn about the clean energy sector through (at this time virtual) field trips and guest speakers, have mentors from the field offer thought-partnership on student-driven projects and proposals, and discuss the ways in which they approach climate change mitigation and climate justice through their daily work.

Summer Design Institute to Create a Transdisciplinary Climate Justice High School Elective In order to operationalize two key system shifts in PPS reImagined—Transformative Curriculum and Pedagogy and Support for Global Stewards and Ambassadors (two shifts that specifically name climate change, activism, and racial justice)—and to authentically put students at the center of the work developing the high school elective, the institute design team crafted an innovative application process to identify teams of educators and students from each high school that would collaborate to create the high school elective course. The teams would intentionally be composed of one science educator, one social studies educator, an optional special educator or bilingual/ESL educator (to offer multiple



instructional lenses) and three to five youth from the school community, specifically inviting students with a range of life and learning experiences (to offer multiple perspectives on the curriculum and instructional practice). The intent of this cohort design was to ensure, to the best extent possible, a truly human-centered design process that prioritized the consideration of multiple perspectives and students’ academic needs over the content of the course. Teams of educators and students from four PPS high schools joined the design institute, and for 10 days, they collaborated via virtual meetings to apply the Rigorous Curriculum Design process to develop an inquiry-focused transdisciplinary course that addressed both science and social studies standards through multiple iterations of project-based learning. These meetings were facilitated by a team of instructional leaders from the district central office: the Programs Manager for Climate Change and Climate Justice, and Administrators in Science, Technology and Engineering, Secondary Humanities, and Social Sciences/Ethnic Studies. At the end of the institute, strategic community partners joined the teams to share their climate justice work and ways in which students could authentically partner with them throughout the course to learn more about how to take action toward climate solutions in Portland and beyond. These partners represented community organizations serving frontline communities (IRCO - Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, APANO - Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and Verde - an organization dedicated to building environmental wealth through social enterprise, outreach and advocacy), the energy industry (Portland General Electric), and public policy (City of Portland). 10

For the 2020-2021 school year, the course is being piloted in six PPS high schools, one of which is an alternative setting and another that is an International Baccalaureate site. Students in the course are experiencing the connections between science and social sciences/ethnic studies, as they are introduced to the following units and topics:

Launch Unit In this unit, students will build community and practice routines and procedures that will support them in engaging in complex topics related to the intersectionality of climate justice, issues of power and privilege, and build skills in empathy, perspective-taking, and personal reflection.

Intro to Climate Change and Climate Justice Students are introduced to the historic perspectives and experiences of traditionally marginalized groups in the context of global environmental conflicts. They will then research current stances and systems, as well as possible solutions derived from the groups in question (e.g. if examining impact on native groups, examine solutions put forth by that group or that bring justice to that group). Finally, students will design a system or solution and evaluate it using real-world data and supporting resources. They will refine their solution and present it to the community through a medium agreed upon with their teacher.

Climate Science and Climate Resilience Students use core competing models represented in the 2018 UN Special Report on Global Warming to 1.5 and Indigenous Resilience Plans to identify core science in global systems and the leadership roles of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in understanding the science of resilience planning. Students will understand the scientific relationship between natural systems and human activity. Students will engage in three

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mini-projects focusing on climate science and impacts using primary science documents.

Climate Change Effects, Impacts and Solutions Students will research the causes and effects of a local case study involving climate justice, and study how they exacerbate and/or create detrimental impacts upon local environments and communities. In addition to this, students will be asked to draw connections between the local case study and the greater issue of climate change as a whole, as well as study the existing solutions frontline communities are advocating for. Students will share their research and understandings with others.

Climate Justice Politics and Economics Students will research a specific climate law, policy or legal action, analyze its pros and cons, impact on the environment and on minority/frontline communities. By the end of the unit, students will understand the stances politicians and political parties have regarding climate issues, understand and discuss the efficacy of different bills, their pros and cons, how they interact with each other, and connect to larger changes like the Green New Deal.

Capstone Project In this unit, students will select an area of interest related to climate change and climate justice and conduct an independent project about it to be shared with the community in a format of the student's choosing.

Moving Forward Through a Professional Learning Community of the educators teaching the course and students from the summer design institute, the facilitators of the summer institute are offering support and applying lessons learned to future course improvements. The team envisions the potential for this course to connect students

with a myriad of community partners, including Portland General Electric, who can support their learning as they choose their projects and engage in research. They are already learning that there is more content in the course than time for teaching and learning, especially in the current distance teaching and learning environment in which many are operating for now. The team is looking forward to continued collaboration and revisions that will take place in the summer of 2021, so that the course can be picked up and taught in all PPS high schools. Once lesson plans are finalized and materials and resources are vetted, the course will be made publicly available for anyone anywhere to teach. Nichole Berg is the Climate Change and Climate Justice Programs Manager in Portland Public Schools. A former bilingual (Spanish/English) paraprofessional, educator, new educator mentor, and assistant principal, and avid traveler, explorer, and blogger from Madison, WI, Nichole brings a range of personal and professional experiences to her new role in the Pacific Northwest. Follow her on Twitter: @NicholeABerg. Kimberly Howard is the program manager for Portland General Electric’s Project Zero, empowering the next generation to create cleaner, greener, more equitable communities. As part of the Community Impact Team at PGE, she also provides leadership, project management and community engagement strategies for education and workforce development. Kimberly currently serves as chair of the Oregon State Board of Education.



VIEWPOINT FROM CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers)


As the United States develops plans to emerge from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, career readiness education can be a vehicle for economic recovery. Youth unemployment, higher than the national average before the pandemic, has increased in recent months. Freshman enrollment in colleges and universities is down 13% this year, and FAFSA submissions by current high school seniors are down 14% as of early December. A national reimagining of what career education looks like for young people can help close these gaps. For far too long, career education has carried the stigma that it was for those who could not or would not achieve academically. This hurt all students, with lowered expectations and resources for students in those career education pathways and a more limited view of career possibilities for students who went directly to college. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the state chiefs we represent believe all children should have an equitable educational opportunity that prepares them for success in college, careers, and life. Although there’s now a sharper economic imperative to career readiness work in light of the pandemic, we’ve been working for several years to build a strong foundation that will ensure all students have a full array of opportunities available to them after high school. 12

During the past decade, great strides have been made to enhance the quality and outcomes of career exploration and education pathways. The fact is, today students have more options. Rather than proceeding directly to a four-year college, they can pursue a two-year degree, career certification, or apprenticeship, or begin work directly in their chosen career, aided by a certification they received in high school. Some may return to finish a four-year degree, while others will remain in the workforce. Students who choose to pursue a degree immediately or later in life will find themselves better prepared, proactive and engaged in their educational journey. At CCSSO, we have built on the work of our 2014 report, “Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students”. Through our Career Readiness Collaborative and other efforts, states have worked to set strong standards, engage stakeholders in the business and civil rights communities, improve the quality of career education with labor market information, and disaggregate data about career education pathway quality and availability to help shut down low-performing programs and mitigate other areas of inequality. To create a seamless pipeline to the future of work, it is critical that industry, government, and all education sectors work together to develop policies and direct funds toward paid

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work-based learning opportunities like high school internships and post-secondary apprenticeships, prioritized by all levels of government. These groups must also develop a common understanding of which skills and credentials will be valued in this new economy. In support of that effort, we’ve been pleased to work with Credential Engine and other education partners toward a one-stop shop for each state’s career credential information. Pulling data from a variety of sources, these resources will offer vital information for students and other job-seekers about what credentials are needed to pursue a particular career and the education required to get there. Although many are all eager to get back to “normal” after a tumultuous year, we must acknowledge that the traditional system was not meeting the needs of many students. At CCSSO, we will continue our strong focus on

equity and strive to take all that we have learned throughout this pandemic to create a more equitable education system. In career education, this means continuing the bold work of many states to ensure access for students traditionally left out of these opportunities – Black and other students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, and students who have been involved in the criminal justice system. We look forward to continuing to work with partners at the national and state levels to make outstanding career education a reality for every student.

Najmah Ahmad is the director of career readiness initiatives at the Council of Chief State School Officers.




At-Home Learning Program Changes Lives for Native and Rural Families Author: Kim Fischer

The COVID-19 Learning Slide The COVID-19 pandemic has brought education inequities to the forefront and it’s an issue we can’t waste time in addressing. Many families do not have the resources needed to adequately prepare their young children for the coming school year which could have dire consequences for these young learners. Experts, like Dr. David Lawrence of The Children’s Movement, believe that this issue may affect children’s academic performance over the long term. “...a ‘COVID slide’ in which children could miss out on formal school for up to six months

could look more like a ‘COVID cliff,’ ” says Dr.

Lawrence. “We shouldn’t let that happen.” And, unfortunately, as the pandemic progresses, children may not enter or return to school for much longer than six months. Many schools transitioned to online learning in the fall and remained that way while others resumed in-class teaching, only to return to remote learning as local cases rose. While school-aged children may receive virtual support from their teachers, preschool students are being

impacted before their formal education even begins as in-person options are forced to close their doors. Early education is a critical period in a student’s academic journey, and largescale disruptions may have long-lasting repercussions. Without the right support during those crucial early years, children will start school at a serious disadvantage. And those who were already at risk of academic gaps are also those who may be most impacted by the COVID slide.

Educational Inequity in Rural Communities The issue is particularly dire in rural areas, where early learning resources are already limited. Mother and healthcare worker Cornelia Yellowman knows this struggle only too well. Living in a small Navajo Nation town near Southern Utah, the YellowmanWilliams family are grateful to have the outdoors right in their backyard. As Cornelia prepared her daughter Kenzie to start school, she wanted to secure a bright future for her. “She told me that she would like to be a doctor,” Cornelia said, “so I have that huge hope for her.” “I hope to see [Kenzie] have a good life,”

agreed Kenzie’s father, James Williams.


“You know, you always want your children to succeed in life.”

While their rural backdrop provides unlimited beauty, its remoteness presents certain access barriers. Without Internet and digital resources in their home, Kenzie could not access the same learning resources as her peers, and Cornelia herself had to finish her online college courses from her work’s parking lot, the only place she could access Wi-Fi. Cornelia’s family is one of many in the Navajo Nation unable to access educational resources from home. Between school closures and limited digital access, these families are left even more behind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, schools in rural areas often function on limited budgets that may be strained even further this year, leaving little room to serve children who have not yet entered school as they struggle to support existing students. Despite these challenges, Cornelia prioritized Kenzie’s education, even to the point of delaying her own degree. “It matters a lot to me because it’s a struggle, especially for this generation. You have to have… some kind of educational background behind you to basically get a job.”

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Waterford’s Summer Learning Program Waterford.org is a non-profit whose mission is dedicated to ensuring educational equity and access for students. Through their kindergarten readiness program, Waterford Upstart, children learn key reading, math, and science skills the year before kindergarten to prepare children for school. The program costs participating families nothing, regardless of location and background. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and with generous philanthropic support, the organization provided an accelerated version of Waterford Upstart to families of incoming elementary students through their 2020 Summer Learning Path.

Additionally, qualifying participants received Internet access and all technology needed to complete the program from the comfort and safety of their home regardless of where they live. In total, over 13,000 families participated in the Summer Learning Path.

after completing the program, many of whom had never owned let alone used a computer.

Families in nine different states and the Navajo Nation gained access to the program’s curriculum, educational resources, and program support through personal family coaches.

In the Navajo Nation, almost 200 children were given access to Waterford Upstart. Of those participants, 91% belonged to low-income families, and nearly 89% received a computer to keep

used the program are ready for kindergarten

Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller expressed his gratitude for Waterford Upstart’s support in Navajo Nation communities: “The children who and many of them, along with their families, now have a computer and access to the internet. Ahéhee’ [thank you] for the opportunity and partnerships made.”

Yellowman-Williams Family: Digital Access in the Navajo Nation After her daughter’s teacher informed her of the Waterford Upstart program during a parent orientation night, Cornelia signed up right away. Kenzie is now learning crucial skills that will help her begin kindergarten in the fall, ready to learn. It’s also empowering Cornelia and James with the tools they need to create a strong home learning environment.

Plus, Cornelia no longer has to finish her college assignments from her work parking lot. Now, she can work on them at home and spend more time with Kenzie.

for their children through Waterford Upstart. In a community where digital and educational inequity is rampant, this opportunity could be life-changing.

The Yellowman-Williams family was one of many Navajo Nation homes who built a strong educational foundation

“It’s like a dream come true getting this software for my Kylie,” says Cornelia. “And also not just for her— for the family.”

Cornelia said of her daughter’s progress, “I just hope she can store everything, every educational thing in her brain, just so that it will help her understand what type of world she’s going to be ready for.”

Cornelia and Kenzie’s educational futures were revolutionized by Waterford Upstart’s access to Wi-Fi and technology. Cornelia understood digital literacy is an essential part of today’s education, so she knew this experience would help Kenzie reach her academic potential. “It will broaden her horizon, it will open her up to a lot of opportunities [like] experience with laptops,” says Cornelia, “but especially, she will take this learning to school.”




As one of the largest school districts in Texas with 107,000 students, Northside Independent School District has to be ready to educate young people of any ability. When it comes to math, we support our students by focusing on conceptual rather than procedural understanding, connecting those concepts to the real world, and ensuring that students have the appropriate tools to explore those concepts.


some experience using addition gives them concrete experiences to attach the vocabulary to when it is introduced.

Teaching Concepts, Not Just Procedures

This can be particularly tricky when it comes to parents, who likely learned to understand math procedurally, or by following a set of memorized steps. Sometimes they can be hesitant to help their children now because they’re afraid that if they show them the way they learned, they may not teach them the “right way” to find the answer.

Understanding the academic vocabulary of math is important, but it can also be intimidating. Introducing new math ideas conceptually can remove that barrier and help students begin to understand the ideas before they learn the words that describe them. Students don’t need to know the word “addition” to add two numbers together, and

Of course there is no “right way” to find the answer to math problems, just different ways of approaching them. It’s a good thing when children learn multiple ways to approach a problem! A conceptual approach just helps to ensure students understand not just how to work through a series of steps, but why that procedure works.

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Reverting to procedure can be tempting to teachers, as well, because it’s easier to tell a student to follow a set of steps than to explain the “why” behind them. When students get to middle school and beyond, however, the concepts they learned in elementary school will provide a bridge to that higher math, while the procedures they memorized will still only be useful in very narrow ways.

Connecting Concepts to the Real World Math can feel incredibly abstract, perhaps even more so when you focus on developing a conceptual understanding rather than the routines associated with procedural mathematics. That’s why we spend a lot of effort finding examples in the real world when we move to begin applying the conceptual understanding students have developed to actual problem solving. Texas has standards that require our curriculum to connect math with real-world problems to be solved, but we also strongly believe that these connections are what make math relevant and meaningful to students. Being able to infuse instruction with real-world applications relevant to our students is an important reason we write our math curriculum in house.

Encourage Conceptual Exploration—Even When the Concepts Are Brand New! Giving students the opportunity to explore ideas, to encounter them and poke at them in different ways, is an important part of helping them to develop their own understanding of those concepts. Making sure that they have access to manipulatives, classrooms that are math-rich environments, and games (among other things) goes a long way towards encouraging a conceptual understanding and connecting those concepts back to the real world. One tool that we’ve found particularly useful is ST Math. This program teaches students math concepts by asking them to move an animated

penguin, JiJi, from one side of the screen to the other. Since there’s no language in ST Math, it really levels the playing field, and the fact that it’s fun means that students often don’t even realize they’re learning math. They don’t get it right away. Students have to try different strategies to move JiJi, and some of them fail. As the students problem solve, however, the program provides informative feedback designed to help them understand where they went wrong so they can try a different approach. Through this process, they develop a conceptual understanding of the math, and we can then teach them the academic vocabulary (and maybe even some of those procedural approaches) once they have something to hang it on. Because it is self-paced, ST Math was an important tool when we had to pivot to distance learning last spring. We expanded access to it and went through the program to link particular puzzles to our own real-world examples in our curriculum in an effort to help our teachers make those connections. No matter a student’s abilities or preexisting knowledge, math proficiency begins with a conceptual understanding enriched with a real-world understanding of how those concepts can be applied. Tracy Gonzales-Martinez is an instructional specialist for elementary math at Northside Independent School District. She can be reached at tracy.gonzales-martinez@nisd.net.

Patricia Sanchez is the assistant superintendent for Elementary Instruction at Northside Independent School District. She can be reached at patricia.sanchez@nisd.net.




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8 Ways to Implement SEL Now

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At the core of every person, is a desire to connect be connected, and to feel like they matter. Building the skills to connect and empathize with others is something that needs to be taught — it is not inherent. Otherwise known as social and emotional learning (SEL), the importance of teaching these SEL skills is beginning to pop up everywhere. While some may consider SEL a trend, its impacts are based on research and its lasting effects are clear.

ENGAGE. Leverage technology and the power of media by inviting in others’ voices to share their learnings in school and in life. Use this multimedia whether teaching in person or remotely.

“Empathy fuels connection” – Brene Brown

CONNECT. Foster powerful relationships with role models who can highlight positive behaviors and form lasting friendships with students and teachers.

Now is the time to implement a social and emotional curriculum that works — one that will resonate with both students and teachers. Here are eight steps to setting up an SEL curriculum for success:

1 2 3

INFORM. Ground your team in research. Learn more about the need for and efficacy of social and emotional learning to strategize about how it addresses your school’s mission. Visit Classroom Champions’ website to learn more about What is SEL? And Why SEL Matters: info.classroomchampions.org/what-is-sel

CULTIVATE. Nurture a culture of growth by recognizing that a new curriculum requires a learning curve. Integrate time into your existing staff meetings to reflect, connect, and collaborate on the importance of SEL. Classroom Champions provides ongoing professional growth opportunities and customizable PD for educators to come together to talk about best practices: www.classroomchampions.org/webinars

EMBED. Weave SEL into your weekly schedule so that the learning becomes habits of mind. Build a base of understanding to best reflect your school’s mission and values.

Sign up for a free 30-day trial to explore the first of eight media-rich, thematic units, Goal Setting: teach.classroomchampions.org

Classroom Champions’ Mentorship+ Program pairs worldclass athletes with classrooms for an entire school year of virtual mentoring: www.classroomchampions.org/mentorship-sel-foundations

COMMUNICATE. Invite families into the conversation by providing them with turnkey SEL resources to rely on at home. Provide just-in-time advice and guidance , parent to parent. Share Classroom Champions’ SEL Comes Home video series with caregivers so that they can underscore the same learning objectives at home: teach.classroomchampions.org/sel-comes-home

GATHER FEEDBACK. Consider how you will gauge impact and efficacy to best understand how your students continue to grow. Align programmatic goals with your school’s vision. Check out CC’s Impact Report, assembled by a research team dedicated to improving the lives of kids: www.classroomchampions.org/impact

CHERISH THE LITTLE THINGS. Celebrate the small wins by setting and reflecting on short- and long-term goals.

Classroom Champions offers 30-minute weekly lesson plans which are easily extendable and integrate seamlessly into existing core curricular areas:

Classroom Champions and the athlete mentors consider themselves teaching partners in this effort to bring SEL to all!


Please reach out to us to learn more: Kate@ClassroomChampions.org

Elana Meyers Taylor Classroom Champions Mentor and 2x Olympic Silver Medalist visiting her mentees at Glenn L. Downs School in Phoenix, AZ.

Every student

deserves a champion. Imagine a school where kids are learning from world-class athletes, engage with teachers, and treat others with respect. Classroom Champions’ SEL programs have been proven to improve attendance and academic performance while lowering disciplinary referrals and bullying. Individual teachers, schools, and districts can sign on for a comprehensive K-8 Social and Emotional Learning Foundations Curriculum and virtual Mentorship+ Program. Classroom Champions has created a framework for social and emotional learning that embeds students in a world where they build growth mindsets, have positive classroom culture, and develop emotional literacy.




Get started today by contacting kate@classroomchampions.org or visit classroomchampions.org to learn more! Celebr ati 10 yea ng rs!


CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY Here, we celebrate the standouts who are making a true impact for equity in our schools. There far too many wonderful educators out there to list in one publication, but we want to do our part to showcase the work of as many as possible. Read. Share. Get involved. Enjoy!

Listen to podcasts with a few past Champions of Equity: Jody Nolf Kojo Quartey Marisol Quevedo Rerucha Hector Cardona Gholdy Muhammad

Know someone who would make a great Champion of Equity in a future issue? Take a minute to fill out the nomination form! We’ll be highlighting a few individuals in every issue of the journal. If your nomination is selected, we’ll contact both of you to get the information we need.



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CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY DAVID ADAMS David Adams has spearheaded multiple initiatives to support The Urban Assembly students. These include a social-emotional learning program with a student advisory system to help students build relationships and adopting the SEL assessment DESSA to measure students’ SEL competence and progress.

ASHLEY ROGERS BERNER As Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and Assistant Professor of Education at Johns Hopkins University, Ashley Rogers Berner works with her team to develop resources that schools and districts can use to close achievement gaps. “In sociological terms, the plausibility structure has changed; what was inconceivable 30 years ago is now conceivable, because we have begun to see, experience, and study it.” — Ashley Rogers Berner

“The work of equity in the public education space is to ensure that our future citizens carry the knowledge, character, and will to improve the institutions they are a part of, pursue the common good, and move our nation forward.” — David Adams David created the Resilient Scholars Program (RSP), a unique approach to integrating SEL into curriculum and classroom practices across the UA network. RSP has grown into a national program, serving schools and districts in Los Angeles, Houston, Syracuse, and other cities. Under David’s leadership, The Urban Assembly has partnered with organizations like the Black Man Can Inc. and Dangers of the Mind to invest in positive identity formation for youth of color while organizing systems to reduce disproportionality in discipline and graduation rates. Learn more about David Adams here: https://urbanassembly.org/about/staff

Ashley Rogers Berner and her team at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy have recently developed a Knowledge Map™ tool that analyzes an ELA curriculum in terms of the knowledge it offers about the world and the human condition. They have also created a best-in-class survey that identifies the alignment of a school’s mission with its practices and determines whether its practices correspond to those we know support academic achievement and civic formation.

Learn more about Ashley Rogers Berner: https://edpolicy.education.jhu.edu/ashley-ro gers-berner-phd/



CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY MELISSA BROWN Melissa is finally comfortable being an “out” educator. But she knows it’s a different, and often tragic, situation for LGBTQ youth. While teachers are huge role models for all their students, for LGBTQ students, it can be a matter of life and death. That’s why Melissa is passionate about the need for LGBTQ educators to be out and visible. “Every one of us is a better human being when we are living authentically and allowed to be who we are. If I can just impact one person’s thinking about embracing that idea, I will have done my job.” — Melissa Brown

An educator for 30 years, Melissa Brown is now Lead Director of Schools at Pearson Online and Blended Learning, including the Connections Academy K-12 Online Schools. She was the founding Executive Director at Indiana Connections Academy, which serves 5,000+ students annually statewide. Melissa has seen how Connections Academy schools are almost “accidental” safe spaces for LGBTQ youth. Dedicated to living her life so that students see everyone has value, Melissa developed inclusivity/equity best practices for LGBTQ youth, which are now implemented in all Connections Academy schools. Connect with Melissa Brown: LinkedIn: @melissa-brown-7780696 Twitter: @MBrownINCA1


DANIEL DE LOS REYES Daniel de los Reyes is an experienced educator and school leader in the third largest district in the nation amidst one of the nation’s strongest labor organizations. Driven by a passion to serve all students, their families, and his staff, he takes pride in providing the best education possible. “We center our efforts around five core paradigms drawn from Leader in Me: the paradigms of potential, education, change, leadership, and motivation. This allows us to have the same vision and values that will be reflected in our daily actions.” — Daniel de los Reyes As a Principal, Daniel’s goals include creating a holistic approach to education while developing the human capacity of all students, staff and families in the ever changing and difficult landscape of Chicago. Darwin has reached a level 1+ status, social emotional exemplary status, and is currently housing multiple teacher residents within Chicago Public School’s teacher pipeline. As a teacher Daniel has been recognized on multiple occasions for having the highest academic growth amongst his students. Learn more about Daniel de los Reyes: https://lead.cps.edu/stories/daniel-de-los-re yes/

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

PresenceLearning is Helping More Schools Serve More Students During School Closures

Our clinicians will expand your capacity to serve more students. Or, we’ll train your own team on the effective delivery of teletherapy and tele-assessment on our proprietary teletherapy platform, so you can continue to serve your students. PresenceLearning is the leading provider of live online special education related services for K-12 schools nationwide: • Speech-language therapy and assessment • Behavioral and mental health services • Psychoeducational assessment • Occupational therapy and assessment

CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY JESSICA FORTE-PAUL With the pandemic and horrific acts of racial injustice dominating our minds throughout 2020, students at Atlanta Girls’ School needed time and space. This led Jessica Forte-Paul on a path to create opportunities for students to dive more deeply into their own identity through the school’s weekly program, Education for the Development of Leadership and Service.

“It is my hope that through these opportunities, students at Atlanta Girls’ School will always know that they matter in this world.” — Jessica Forte-Paul

As a mixed-black woman who is also a part of the LGBTQ+ community, love is what motivates Jessica to be better for others and to bring that same belief system to students. Jessica believes that whether it is something they are experiencing at school, in their personal life, or just taking in all that is happening in society, every learner needs a space to process who they are and where they belong in that experience. Ultimately, creating these types of spaces is what drives her as an educator.


NELLIE PAGÁN Nellie Pagán believes in creating a classroom culture that is engaging, student-centered, and collaborative, and as a second grade teacher she succeeded in all three. This year she has begun a new role as Resource Specialist, working with different classrooms. For her efforts, Nellie was recognized as a Curriculum Associates Extraordinary Educator. “What I found, especially in the remote learning environment, was that being accessible to students and families was the most important factor in creating equity. It was something we were all going through together, and understanding that partnership was essential to reaching every family.” — Nellie Pagán As the school moved to remote learning during the pandemic, Nellie kept students and families connected. She made sure parents, many of whom are essential workers, had her cell phone number so they could always reach her at their convenience. She also recognized that learners would need support outside of regular school hours and proactively engaged them and their families in conversations around their learning to make sure everyone was safe and healthy, and that learning wouldn’t be disrupted.

Connect with Jessica Forte-Paul:

Connect with Nellie Pagán:

Twitter: @FortePaulPE IG: @FortePaulPE

Twitter: @Nellie_Nel516 IG: @the_inked_educator

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TEACHING WITH THE NEWS IN A TIME OF CHALLENGE & CHANGE Between the recent presidential election, COVID-19, and racial unrest, our students are barraged with 24/7 access to news and media that can be real, fake, or altered. According to the presenters in a recent edWebinar, sponsored by ABC-CLIO, the relationship between the terms “news” and “media” are fundamental distinctions that we need to make when working with students in the new era of journalism.

Jacquelyn Whiting, Innovation and Technology Specialist for Cooperative Educational Services, and Peter Adams, Senior Vice President of Education for the News Literacy Project, assert that while there are many credentialed journalists, there is also “a world of citizen journalists with mini computers in their pockets.”

CLICK TO VIEW THE RECORDING This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by ABC-CLIO.



CHAMPIONS OF EQUITY JASON STARK Jason Stark has devoted his entire career to ensuring equal access for students who are deaf and blind through accessible educational media. Under his guidance, DCMP brought captioned and described streaming video into classrooms and homes years before YouTube or Netflix, and became a leading authority on media accessibility. Jason has helped make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and their families and teachers by helping to make sure they have the same opportunities as their hearing and sighted peers. “High-quality accessibility features are the key to opening up a world of information for students with disabilities. Content creators, educators, and parents must each do their part to ensure these students are not left behind.” — Jason Stark Jason helped plan and design innovative technology systems that delivered the first streaming of captioned classic movies as well as the first provision of a free-loan service of streamed captioned and described educational media. Under his guidance, the DCMP platform has been expanded to include direct service to students, enabling them to take more control over their own learning both in the classroom and “on the go.” Learn more about Jason’s work at DCMP: https://dcmp.org/ 28

KATE EBERLE WALKER Kate Eberle Walker is the CEO of PresenceLearning, which provides live online therapy and evaluation services to students with special education needs. She oversees a national network of nearly 1,000 speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and school psychologists who deliver services through the proprietary teletherapy platform. “There’s a reason that there are federal mandates for schools to provide therapy to students with learning disabilities — we’re making sure that we can make it as easy as possible for the schools to do that.” — Kate Eberle Walker

Throughout her 20+-year career, Kate has actively supported early stage EdTech companies and non-profit education initiatives. With years of executive leadership and experience, she has prioritized female mentorship and leadership within companies and her broader network. Her passion for career development for talented women is what brought her to PresenceLearning, where among its network of nearly 1,000 licensed clinicians, 97% of whom are women and 75% of whom are working parents. Connect with Kate Eberle Walker: Twitter: @eberlewalker LinkedIn: @eberlewalker

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

Know What They Know and Give Them What They Need This year, balance unfinished learning with grade-level content. With i-Ready Assessment, get a clear picture of every student’s performance and an individualized pathway to grade-level proficiency.

Learn How i-Ready Can Support You in 2020–2021 i-Ready.com/Assessment

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy offers states, districts, and charter- and private-school networks resources and guidance that improve academic and civic outcomes. Our team designs each project in partnership with system leadership to deliver precise, actionable data on classroom instruction, curricular heft, and school culture across multiple domains. Our resources and policy recommendations include: School Culture 360™ Teacher Survey on Curriculum Use Knowledge Maps™ Learned curriculum, benchmarked to comparable systems Classroom Observations Focus Groups

School Culture 360™ A school survey instrument that produces an “under the hood” analysis of behaviors and beliefs that influence student success.

Teacher Survey on Curriculum Use Creates a full picture of what teachers know about standards, their use of curriculum materials, and their satisfaction level with those materials.

Learned curriculum, benchmarked to comparable systems Paints an accurate picture of academic performance in the relevant contexts and relevant subgroups.

Classroom Observations An in-person review of standards alignment and academic rigor.

Focus Groups

Knowledge Maps™ Show systems whether or not their English language arts and social studies curricula adequately build students’ content knowledge.

Uncover community judgments from teachers, principals, parents, and other stakeholders as to the conditions of schooling.


Engage Learners Anytime, Anywhere Discover how i-Ready provides motivating, personalized instruction that supports students’ growth and engages them with rigorous grade-level learning.

Learn How i-Ready Can Support You in 2020–2021 i-Ready.com/Learning



As the P-12 world continues to explore the viability of virtual instruction, one obstacle persists to create dissent among educators: equity. The Argument: Virtual Learning Supports Equitable Education On the one hand, a virtual classroom allows students to not be tethered to teachers only within their geographic region, increasing equitable access to high-quality instruction. This is especially helpful in providing equitable access to courses that may not otherwise be available to students in rural areas or in districts that may not offer certain electives, AP classes, or other unique coursework. The Argument: Virtual Learning Impedes Equitable Education On the other hand, issues of equity arise when discussing access to the equipment necessary to utilize a virtual environment. How can teachers expect to hold all students accountable for a lesson that occurred virtually when not all students had the same access to that lesson? Considering Both Sides: Solving for Equitable Instruction Until devices and internet access are available to all P-12 students, the equity concern will be relevant. However, it doesn’t mean we must halt all progress in the virtual arena. Rather, we should accommodate as many students as possible by offering alternatives to enhance their learning experience. Here are some strategies for maximizing instructional equity for all learners: 1. Record all lessons: Since you are already on camera, 100% of teacher instructional time should be recorded and stored on a learning management system (LMS). 2. Have flexible deadlines: Offer windows for submission.


3. Allow a “menu of options” for assignment: Allow deliverables to be in the form of a handwritten paper, a typed paper, a video, an audio recording, a website, an online quiz, a poster, etc. 4. Post all resources on the LMS: Include homework assignments, resource documents, text readings, links, etc. on the LMS. 5. Encourage collaboration: Allow students to partner with one another and share access to resources (in a safe and supportive environment). 6. Maintain communication with families: Communication can include emailed newsletters, paper mailed updates, phone calls, web conferencing, and in-person meetings. Discover what they have access to and how you can support them. Technology will continue to influence the world of education. As educators, we must prepare ourselves and our students on how to embrace those changes while not leaving anyone behind. Continue to seek innovative ways to mitigate issues of equity while enhancing the virtual educational experience for ALL students. Dr. April Willis is Director of Business Operations & Development for the National Virtual Teacher Association. She authored their recently published book, Virtual Instruction Standards: Optimizing Teaching & Learning. April has a doctorate and three master's degrees and has worked at the campus, district, and state levels of education. She holds certifications in the Superintendency, Principalship, and in eight teaching roles.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education


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All students deserve access to the best learning materials, and to the expectations that they are capable of critical thinking, of achieving great things with their lives, and of solving important problems not just for themselves and their families, but for their communities and society in general. That's what izzit.org © believes, and why we provide our materials, at NO COST, to educators of all types, from certified classroom teachers to at-home educators (and how many more of those are there in this time of COVID?) and those who lead small groups of students, like scouting troops or neighborhood after-school centers. Looking at our society, it's clear that we need today's students to become tomorrow's problem-solvers. And that means they need to learn to dig deeper. To ask the right questions. It's also clear we need more respectful discussion and debate, the ability to listen to those who don't think exactly the way we do and explore alternative ideas. Because as much as it doesn't feel like it sometimes these days, we are all in this together. Let us help you provide your students with what they need for future success.



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The shield protecting the First Amendment rights of young people has been splintered, if not broken, by the very real inequities in our society and our schools. Those inequities have been spotlighted and intensified by the increasing dependence on digital access to information and learning opportunities during the pandemic. The challenges to equity and access are clear. Warriors on the local and national level are taking action to strengthen their commitment to the First Amendment rights of every young person. Inequities in access to learning must be addressed simultaneously on all levels. Locally, individual needs and aspirations can be prioritized to frame the community response. Local efforts, though, must be supported by national initiatives that provide a broader framework of policy, research, litigation, coalition-building, and public advocacy. Because of my own experience as a school librarian and library administrator/educator and as president of the Freedom to Read 36

Foundation, I can offer some insight into both local and national efforts to reduce inequities and ensure the First Amendment rights of our young people. The role of school librarians as defenders of the First Amendment is often misunderstood. Certainly, school librarians provide physical and digital access to diverse resources and courageously stand up to censorship threats. More importantly, however, is their responsibility to teach the skills of intellectual access and, at the same time, to empower young people to use their voices to impact the world. On the national front, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) is a nonprofit legal and educational organization that was established in 1969 to promote and defend First Amendment rights and support libraries as institutions through which those rights are realized. FTRF is separate from, but affiliated with, the American Library Association.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

Inequities in Physical Access Physical access to information has been re-defined, of course, to include both hands-on and digital access to resources, programming, and learning opportunities. The pandemic uncovered the extensiveness of the digital-access gap, particularly in low socio-economic, urban, and rural areas as well as tribal communities. School systems struggle to deliver computers, wi-fi connections, and other technology tools to those in need, even while recognizing gaps in broadband coverage and the inability of many families to pay for wi-fi service. Educators struggle to re-envision teaching and learning for delivery via online platforms and to find effective digital resources to replace the traditional textbooks used in the classroom. Students and their families struggle to learn how to use new technologies and online platforms. Across the country, classroom teachers and students have been overwhelmed by the volume of online, but not always authoritative, information. Misinformation, biased opinions, viral theories, and incendiary tweets have permeated the social media environment. School librarians have responded by carefully selecting, organizing, and providing access to high-quality digital resources (including e-books, databases, online primary sources, apps, and engaging software) that both align to the school’s curriculum and feature diverse identities, backgrounds, and points of view so that students can see themselves (mirror) and other, very different lives (window). School librarians have extended the scope of digital access to resources by specifically targeting the needs of their students and families and strengthening connections to community opportunities. They have prepared short, how-to videos for students and families on tech tips and resource use; advocated for teens to get academic credit for part-time work, a family responsibility they assumed when parents/caregivers lost jobs; and collaborated

with community agencies to increase students’ access to resources and programming, including public and academic libraries, community centers, after-school programs, cable and telephone companies, and cultural centers like museums and zoos. Inequities in Intellectual Access School librarians form a first line of defense in ensuring that students develop the skills implicit in the First Amendment. They teach the skills and strategies necessary for students to exercise their right to read and speak – the skills of information fluency, literacy, inquiry, social responsibility, and digital citizenship – so that all students learn to find, evaluate, make sense of, and use information to build knowledge and share that knowledge with others. Librarians enable students to benefit from freedom of the press by teaching them to analyze, evaluate, assess point of view, and interpret online information published by journalists, citizen journalists, everyday bloggers, and unfiltered tweeters. Librarians are also leading their schools in designing learning environments that enable students to have voice and choice in how they acquire knowledge and in how they create, produce, and communicate their understanding. With instruction and guidance from librarians, students are learning to create videos, post online op-eds, participate in digital makerspaces, code, and express their ideas and opinions with confidence. One pandemic-related barrier to intellectual access has the potential to further marginalize some learners and increase inequities in learning success – the increased need for social and emotional skills and attitudes. Families and young people living in poverty have been inequitably affected by the loss of jobs, potential exposure to the virus (e.g., parents have jobs that cannot be done from home), stresses of home schooling, and lack of academic support. School librarians have



integrated the teaching of social and emotional skills into curriculum units (for example, talking with young learners about self-identity when reading a story or teaching empathy as a part of a social studies unit), reached out to young people and families with self-care resources, and provided opportunities for students to participate in online chats and book clubs. Inequities in Access to Content Many of the challenges to intellectual freedom and the First Amendment stem from restrictions based on content. Materials at all grade levels may be censored based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, language, and sexuality. Certainly, school librarians counter the restriction of information by actively seeking diverse resources, establishing clear policies of collection development and the process for challenging materials, and standing up to any attempts to censor appropriate materials based solely on content. Although school librarians form a local line of defense, addressing inequities in access to content requires a national network of support. The Freedom to Read Foundation has taken a leadership role in this national fight for the equitable application of First Amendment rights by monitoring and defending against challenges that have arisen through laws and litigation, governmental decision making, or restrictive policies. Legal, Legislative, and Policy Actions The FTRF works in coalition with a number of First Amendment and civil liberties organizations. Through these coalitions, FTRF joins amicus briefs, sends official letters to decision makers, and sometimes participates in litigation defending free speech, civil liberties, and privacy rights. Currently, the FTRF has sent an amicus letter to a school board in a California district that mandated the removal of certain books from the curriculum (e.g., Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) before the challenge to those 38

books had been reviewed according to the district’s own policy. FTRF is also monitoring a lawsuit by two parents in North Carolina who are seeking to ban a book, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, because it promotes “an alternative path to liberation and meaning [in life]” that conflicts with their personal Christian beliefs. Ethnic studies courses and materials are often targeted by legislators and the public. For example, in 2010, Arizona banned ethnic studies courses in the state’s public schools, specifically targeting a popular ethnic studies course in a Tucson high school about the Latino culture. The FTRF actively supported litigation to overturn this law. After ten years of litigation, the court ruled (in August 2017) that this law was unconstitutional because it was enacted and enforced with racist intent. Advocacy and Education Actions Support by the Freedom to Read Foundation for intellectual freedom, equity, and access extends beyond legal and policy battles. Each year, the FTRF investigates critical developing issues and provides webinars, conference programming, and educational materials to foster awareness and discussion. Two issues being investigated this year have implications for the PK-12 school environment: the social justice implications of limited or non-existent broadband access and the role of librarianship in promoting intellectual freedom and social justice. Perhaps the most exciting current initiative of the Freedom to Read Foundation is the formation of a task force to probe the intersection of intellectual freedom and social justice. The task force will engage in deliberative dialogue and make decisions about the actions the FTRF will pursue, some of which may specifically address inequities encountered by young people in their personal and academic lives. Actions that may be considered by the task force include supporting an increasing emphasis on diversity and social justice in a number of areas: library collections

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

and programming; publishing; new book themes and authors; and the curriculum materials used in PreK-16 classrooms. Achieving educational equity for every young person in America requires a broad coalition of individuals and organizations to maintain continual diligence and commitment. School librarians must take a leadership role in ensuring that all young people have equitable physical and intellectual access to diverse content, the right to receive and read that content, and the self-confidence and determination to exercise their right to speak. The Freedom to Read Foundation must support and amplify local efforts through sustained national monitoring, litigation, and public education and advocacy actions.

Barbara Stripling has had a long career in the library profession as a school librarian, school library administrator, and library educator. Stripling has served the profession as president of the American Association of School Librarians (1986-1987), the New York Library Association (2016-2017), and the American Library Association (2013-2014). She is currently president of the Freedom to Read Foundation.





An Integrated Approach to Teaching Students Who Learn Differently While many colleges offer special programs for students with learning disabilities (LD) and other learning challenges, Landmark College is one of the only accredited colleges in the United States designed exclusively for students who learn differently, including students with learning disabilities (such as dyslexia), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For almost 40 years, our combination of research-based learning strategies and academic support has proved successful in preparing students for the rigors of college-level work. As the field of learning disabilities and differences expanded, our approach to working with students has grown more varied, but always with a constant unyielding mission to provide best practices for all.


In addition to classes, students in their first year at Landmark College participate in weekly academic advising sessions while engaged with the advising curriculum. As students progress in their coursework, they become increasingly independent and meet with their advisor less frequently. Students pursuing their bachelor’s degree work with degree specific advisors. The academic advisor is central to the system which supports individual student performance.


Landmark College offers the same range of student services found at any college—from counseling and health services to student life and athletics. The difference at Landmark College is that these professionals, like our faculty and academic advisors, bring specific expertise in, and a passion for, working with students who learn differently. Working together, we help students discover their path as confident, empowered, and independent learners. We integrate our innovative learning strategies into everything we do.


Landmark College’s Centers for Academic Support offer unparalleled support to students who learn differently, at no additional charge. The Drake Center for Academic Support is the first place students turn for help with reading, writing, and study skills. Academic support centers within individual departments offer drop-in support and one-on-one scheduled appointments with Landmark College faculty.


Counseling Services are available to provide support to students dealing with stress and other personal, social, or academic difficulties. Health Services offers support for physical issues.


Through the office of Coaching Services, Landmark College’s Professional Certified Coaches work with students who have a variety of learning profiles and struggle with executive functioning.




Whether located on our Putney, Vermont campus or at one of our programs in California and Colorado, the instructors consist of current Landmark College faculty as well as teachers from the surrounding areas who are experienced in working with students who learn differently.

Students with autism who are academically prepared for college may still face significant challenges navigating the social curriculum and adjusting to the more fluid routine of the college student. Landmark College recognizes the need to provide additional programming to assist students with autism to meet their college goals. Our integrated services model for ASD support services provides a structured living and learning environment that combines an effective pedagogical approach with tailored social and other programmatic supports. Originally founded as a two-year college, Landmark College began offering four-year degrees in 2014. We now offer an array of baccalaureate and associate degrees, with optional minors and concentrations.

Landmark College offers summer programs to assist a wide range of students with learning differences, including middle school students, high school students, graduating high school seniors, and students enrolled at colleges around the country. All of the programs are designed to enable students to identify their learning strengths and differences. Students learn specific strategies to be successful in formal academic settings and grow personally and academically in an intentional and supportive academic community.

Landmark College offers a diverse selection of courses in anthropology, English, business, communications, humanities, philosophy, psychology, history, literature, math, science, foreign languages, theater, video, music, art, physical education, and other disciplines. For all entering students, the curriculum sequence begins with skillsdevelopment courses, designed to address the key areas of writing, reading, communication and study skills. Self-management, as well as the development of self-understanding and self-advocacy, are also important parts of this firstsemester curriculum. Initial courses are offered at non-credit and credit levels. This allows students to be placed in classes where they are able to succeed, from the start. Due to our rigorous academic standards, more than 50% of incoming students begin in non-credit courses, with most moving into credit courses after one or two semesters.


Landmark College offers several Open Houses on Saturdays each semester. You can also schedule a visit with our Admissions office any week day during regular business hours by calling 802-387-6718 or emailing admissions@landmark.edu.


Families and schools are dealing with a lot right now: uncertainty, misinformation, daycare options (or lack thereof), and worry over the school year. Educators and families alike want to make this year as successful as possible for students.

Impact and Challenges from COVID on Children with Special Needs and their Families When it was safe to attend school, students with 42

disabilities had individual education plans (IEPs). A team of school representatives guided families in getting their child the services they need to succeed. Distance learning began, throwing a wrench in the planned IEPs for the school year. Schools were scrambling to provide some kind of plan for all students when schools shut down in March and April, but students with special needs have to be individually addressed, which is logistically time-consuming.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education

“Largely lost in the rapid response to establish something – anything – that would allow students to continue learning, where students with disabilities, the very students who research shows are most negatively impacted by lost learning time.” - Lauren Camera, U.S. News and World Report Unfortunately, the previous plans being thrown out and other certain limitations make it harder to ensure accommodations are being met. Services for children with special needs are not always transferrable to distance learning or even in-person learning with social distancing. Still, the special education coordinator, the special education teacher, the general education teachers, and the school administration have a duty to get in touch with these children and their families. These students cannot afford to fall farther and farther behind their classmates.

Importance of Establishing Two-Way Communication with Families of Children with Special Needs Having positive family rapport has always been foundational to student success, but even more so for students with special needs. Having family rapport assures everyone is on the same page about the child’s IEP, and parents can sign-off on necessary testing and services. These relationships are much harder to establish between all parties when working and learning from home. In a digital environment, quality, two-way communication between families and the school is best for building trusting relationships.

Here are some basic principles to follow that will help guarantee two-way communication. • Set up consistent meetings with a frequency that works for the family

• Be flexible with families, as many parents are either working from home or having others watch their children during their work hours • Provide multiple channels of communication, including SMS, phone calls, emails, or video conferencing • Lead with positive communication and establish a regular cadence of communication Of course, different stakeholders within the school have different touchpoints with families and need additional tips.

Establishing Digital Rapport for Families with Special Needs as a Teacher As a teacher, you have a critical role in making sure families are well connected to the school. Following the principles outlined above will help get you to start creating a digital rapport with families. Still, some other best practices will help build these valuable relationships with families. The Power of a Story Just like in the classroom, teachers spend time working on routines and procedures. Take time to set up the same expectations in a digital environment. A good tip is to create a digital social story that family members can reference and use to support classroom expectations within the home. Provide supporting digital materials In the classroom, teachers often have alternative supporting materials to meet students' needs and fulfill accommodations. Open communication channels with parents, so supporting materials can be provided if they do not understand the content. Streamline Communication



Parents, and teachers of students with special needs need a streamlined way to communicate. Navigating too many platforms is confusing, especially on top of the challenges of online learning. Choosing platforms like ClassTag can help ensure parents are receiving communications and essential information. Support parents through Digital Enrichment With alternative ways of learning found online, it can be essential to direct parents to quality, teacher-approved content for their child. Parents of children with special needs may need something specific and may not know how to find online enrichment suitable for their child's needs. Note that parents should not be viewed as co-teachers. Having two-way communication in a digital environment supports children with special needs learning at home and keeping everyone on the same page. Supporting and Encouraging Digital Rapport for Families with Special Needs as an Administrator While administrators and coordinators have a more removed role in building rapport, their participation is just as meaningful. Administrators can cultivate an environment of support, understanding, and inclusivity for children with special needs and their families with these best practices: Provide Quality Training for Staff Facilitating professional development(PD) sessions focused on practical ways to reach and communicate with families will set the tone for parent engagement throughout the year. PD sessions can be invaluable in helping teachers understand how to approach and build rapport with families with special needs while also setting expectations and goals for the year.


Give Additional Support and Coverage to Special Education Teachers Administrators may need to provide additional support for special education teachers to have the ability to communicate with parents effectively. Providing teacher coverage can be especially helpful during remote learning, whereas some families may need one on one assistance. Gain Trust with Staff and Parents to Ease Difficult Conversations Teachers and families of special needs children can feel overwhelmed by the current situation and sometimes have to have difficult conversations. As an administrator, gaining trust and building relationships through open communication in advance of these difficult conversations. Whether you’re a teacher, administrator, or parent of a special needs child, the challenges from COVID can feel overwhelming. Coming together as a community and leading with compassion, patience, and trust is how we’ll make it happen! Lindsay Kapsa is the VP of Strategy and Success for parent-teacher communication platform, ClassTag. As a former elementary school educator, Lindsay knows the power of parents, teachers and administrators coming together as a community to help special needs students.

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By Anbu Subramaniyan For years, I have volunteered at an elementary school across the road from where I work at the General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas. I’ve worked on school supply drives, read to students, and even taught a class through JA (Junior Achievement). It wasn’t until working in the school’s career day that I noticed a glaring and potentially serious gap in what students learned each day: relevance. During the career day, we asked them what they wanted to do as adults. One after another, the students said a waitress, or a nail salon artist, or a car mechanic, a position likely reflected by their personal experience through a family member. I heard very few students say “an


engineer,” even though they live next door to one of the largest car production facilities in the country! Each day, more than 1,300 full-size SUVs roll off our production line and yet very few of these students considered that they could be part of designing and engineering these cars. At That Moment, I Realized Two Things First, my perceptions about American education were flawed. Second, I wanted to work with students and show them the skills, exposure, and background in math and science so they

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wouldn’t have such a narrow view of career possibilities. This Gap in the Education System Frustrated Me I grew up in India and came to the United States at 21 to earn a Master's Degree in Engineering at the University of Tulsa. Where I grew up there were a few high-quality schools, and there were vast stretches of land where rural students had no chance at a high-quality education. I was fortunate however that my parents inculcated that education leads to elevation. I mistakenly believed that children in the U.S. were far more privileged than I and had an abundance of education and access to technology. I asked the neighboring elementary school principal about this and she told me the majority of her students came from single-parent households. Furthermore, most of those parents don’t have a college degree. She also said that her students struggled mightily with Math. Realizing I could, I committed to working with her students and to share my education story so these students could see how engineering and math fit into the world (which is everywhere). I also wanted to make Math more fun. If students at Roark Elementary School didn’t overcome their fear of math before middle school, they would balk at algebraic concepts and not develop the logical thinking skills essential to being an engineer and many other jobs. I Began With Two Projects One was to work more closely with the school using an AI-inspired math learning app teaching basic math skills under the guise of

competition. Second, I started visiting the school so the students could see me as a role model. I am a woman engineer of color making the very cars students see every day on the road. They needed to see this. It is a safe guess that every student in the country has seen the vehicles that I am personally responsible for engineering. Yet very few people - especially children and those without diverse and strong role models - think about the science and engineering behind getting those cars from idea to the road. I’ve now worked with hundreds of students and their teachers and if we can make math fun and connect it to everyday objects -- like shiny new cars -- we will overcome their fear. It was easy to visit the students because they were right across the street but I have been involved in this effort nationally for many years through Nepris. Nepris connects working professionals with teachers and their students so that we can bring working world relevance to classroom learning. This has the double benefit of not only motivating students to pay more attention to their lessons but it makes it more personal. Now, rather than just looking at Math as something abstract and unattainable, Math would feel real, because a live person whom the student met uses Math every day in their work. That’s priceless. My employer, General Motors, is just as committed and in fact supports several efforts like this. General Motors provided funds that a neighboring school needed to buy NumberSense, the aforementioned math app, and train teachers how to use it. My fellow GM engineers and I also meet with students using Nepris, which is a virtual platform bringing real-world relevance to STEM in classrooms.



This two-pronged approach is important. Making Math a bit more fun might keep students engaged for a day or two. But, talking with students via Nepris gets them excited for life. The personal connection is the difference. We can show children our plant and the work we do, and it’s all virtual, which has been particularly handy in this pandemic. Students see first-hand how the math they learn in school connects to life and we engineers and scientists don’t have to leave our offices. We’re being successful in Roark Elementary School. Fifth-grade teacher Marlynn Tatum told me that all of her students showed at least 20 percent improvement in the state’s benchmark tests, with some student gains as high as 67 percent. While the experiment with NumberSense started in fifth grade, today more than 359 students and 21 teachers at Roark participate. I don’t expect all these students to be engineers like me, but I am hopeful that their improvement in math and awareness of what engineers do will expand what jobs they hope to have in the future. Knowing that I work daily with robots and that I love my job gives them a sense that they too can aim high. And, overcoming any fear of math while in elementary school sets these students up for a future where they delve deeply into STEM subjects. The reality is that more than 80 percent of future jobs, especially in the automotive industry, will touch STEM-related subjects one way or another.


When I take students on tours of our 125-acre plant that employs 5,000 people, they are amazed to see humans working to assemble automobiles next to robots. These electricians, welders, and die fitters fill high-paying jobs that don’t demand a four-year college degree. Students can learn these skills and more at local trade schools. Once I overheard a boy telling his father that the tour, and tram ride around our facility, was better than Disneyland. Between that and when a child asked me what they need to do to be an engineer like me, I know we’re making a difference.

Anbu Subramaniyan is a quality manager in the metal stamping division of General Motors. She works in the company’s Arlington, Texas, plant and is the chair of GM’s Women in Manufacturing employee resource group. As an automotive industry executive for 20-plus years, Anbu has worked in the fields of assembly, supply chain, maintenance, and quality assurance. In addition to her work at Roark Elementary, Anbu also works with high school students in her area, mentors graduate students in Dallas, and is the Dallas lead for Isha Vidhya, a nonprofit that focuses on rural education in India.

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SEL for Student and Teacher Success

GET YOUR FREE COPY Amazon Best Seller, 7 Mindsets To Live Your Ultimate Life, in our book we share key themes common among history’s most successful individuals. We’ve simplified those concepts to help guide parents and educators on how to empower students to succeed in school and beyond. WWW. 7MINDSETS.COM/FREE-BOOK

Schools, teachers, and students face challenges and pressures like never before. 7 Mindsets is a proven, researchbased social emotional learning solution that helps K-12 schools create a positive, productive environment where everyone thrives. Our unique program includes a comprehensive web-based curriculum, professional development, and coaching, nurturing both students and educators. With this program, schools can create a positive transformation, make meaningful connections, and a create an environment for success. W W W. 7 M I N D S E T S . C O M



By Chase Harman & LaTausha Bonner

Even with the pandemic continuing to impact our mental health, a social emotional learning platform can help the entire school population adopt a healthier, more positive mindset.

teacher and student wellbeing during this challenging period, we’ve integrated more social emotional learning (SEL) into our curriculum.

Let’s face it, we’re all a little burned out on remote learning, hybrid classroom environments, Zoom, and other pandemicrelated issues right now. As teachers, students, and parents, we’re all in the same boat as we work to balance the realities of our current situation with the need to keep students engaged, learning, and moving forward.

We like the results so far. Using the SEL curriculum from 7 Mindsets, we get to move beyond just knowing our students on an academic level and better understanding their diverse mindsets, backgrounds, and cultures. Equipped with these powerful insights, we can more effectively inject life skills and other non-academic lessons into the day-to-day learning.

Working collectively, we’ve been able to achieve this goal, albeit with some definitive signs of fatigue and burnout surfacing from time to time. To effectively promote both 50

For example, we recently used our SEL platform to center in on what students want to be when they grow up. Using vision boards, they

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explained their goals and dreams in detail. This really opened up a whole new opportunity for us to learn about our students and what they enjoy doing. We then used that feedback to expand our lesson plans and develop engaging lessons for them. Here are some other ways our SEL curriculum supports good mental health for teachers and students during this uncertain time:

Helps give a difficult situation a positive spin As a whole, social emotional learning lends itself to being a more optimistic (versus pessimistic) teaching approach. This benefits both students and teachers. For example, I (LaTausha) am always trying to think about it actively, trying to stay more positive, not let my guard slip, and not be negative about myself (or something that's going on). I strive to maintain that positivity as we go about our days, regardless of what type of educational delivery method we’re using.

Allows teachers to give themselves grace We’re all dealing with new issues that were nonexistent in the “traditional” classroom setting (e.g., taking a whole week to get a paper done that used to take one classroom session to complete), which has made patience a true virtue in our current educational environment. I (LaTausha) have been teaching for six years now, but when the pandemic hit I realized that I needed to be more mindful of time management and also more patient with myself. Our SEL curriculum has helped me in these areas and also helped me better understand—and have more patience with—our

parents and better understand their struggles and their aspirations.

Creates emotional bonds When our family dog passed away recently, I (Chase) had to leave school early. The next day in class, we spent time talking about the experience and also about the students’ own experiences with death (i.e., extended family members passing away, losing brothers or sisters, etc.). Being able to discuss these personal issues leads to stronger emotional bonds between myself and my English students, and it also helps me teach life skills. I’m open to listening and being understanding, both of which are especially important for me as a first-year teacher at our school.

Building relationships Social emotional learning gives teachers an effective way to engage and interact with students. It’s also a perfect opportunity to build new relationships with them. Our platform includes a “relationship builder” that we work through with our students in the morning, and we can implement similar SEL instruction into our daily lessons. A small adjustment to a more positive mindset not only helps the student in question, but that optimism can also radiate through the entire class. We all need more of that right now. Chase Harman is an English teacher and LaTausha Bonner is a social studies/science teacher. Both teach at Columbus Arts and Technology Academy in Ohio.

Learn more about this ridiculously amazing social emotional learning solution at 7Mindsets.com.




DESIGN WITH EQUITY IN MIND By Tina Gridiron In my first five months as the newly appointed vice president for ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning (Center) it has been an honor to join the great work of ACT’s 60-year history and partner with colleagues from all around the world to continue building toward ACT’s future success. As a mission driven nonprofit organization, dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success, ACT is trusted in the arena of college and career readiness. And, as a unit within ACT, the Center seeks to strengthen, deepen, and extend that trust by promoting tools, programs, policies, systems, and organizational efforts designed to address the challenges and barriers impeding opportunity and success. Specifically, the Center harnesses ACT’s commitment to holistic success and the organization’s long-standing dedication to opportunity and inclusivity, in order to fight for fairness and success for diverse racial, ethnic, income, and accessibility groups. In short, the Center engages with aligned stakeholders to eradicate deep-seated racial and income injustices in our current education and workforce ecosystems and is intentional in designing solutions with equity in mind. As an African American woman who is unapologetically committed to education, service, and equity, joining ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning has been an unexpected gift where my personal passion has joined seamlessly with professional opportunity. Some may call it serendipity and others may call it luck. But, whatever the spark, through the Center’s efforts to address systemic opportunity gaps and success barriers, I have been given the opportunity to advance programs and strategies designed to affect real change in the lives of students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. As the Center elevates research, builds 52

coalitions, and supports programs that consistently contribute to student success, we champion large scale efforts which mirror the meaningful supports that mentors, colleagues, and friends have given me throughout my education journey. The Center serves as a collaborator and bridge builder across all of ACT, strengthening and enhancing ACT’s long-standing commitment to equity in the design, development, and implementation in all that we do. In short, the Center brings the heart of ACT’s mission to life as we strive to help all individuals achieve their education and workforce goals and dreams. Without question, as ACT continues to grow, evolve and mature, future generations of individuals from low-income communities, Black/African American learners, Latinx learners, individuals who are the first in their family to seek postsecondary education, and individuals with exceptional abilities, among others, will be supported to realize their dreams. A prime example of how the Center consistently engages in efforts designed to increase student success can be seen in the many years of support and collaboration that the Center has enjoyed with Excelencia in Education, Univision, and the Association of Latino Administrators

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and Superintendents (ALAS). With each collaboration, the Center has systematically addressed sinkholes along the education pathway that disproportionately affects Latinx students. In particular, the Center has promoted data-infused strategies to fill holes in the education pathway and has partnered with others to fortify the road to success for future generations of students. Through the Center’s support for Excelencia’s Growing What Works database and the Examples of Excelencia program, along with our support for other effective college preparation, access, and completion strategies such as Univision’s parent fairs and social media engagements, and our commitment to growing a community of highly prepared Latinx leaders through the ALAS Superintendents Leadership Academy, we have placed a high emphasis on advancing strategies that matter and have made common cause with those committed to Latinx student success. In similar fashion, when addressing the education challenges and promoting the education success of Black and African American students, over the years the Center has turned to leaders like Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy (dean and professor of Education in the School of Education at American University) and Clayborn Carson (professor of History at Stanford University and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute) to better understand the current realities facing Black students’ success and ensure that we are considering strategies for system improvements. Each leader we have worked with has provided insightful perspectives on the complex reasons behind the roadblocks and speed bumps along the education and workforce pathways traversed by Black and African American students, while artfully outlining the creative strategies needed to overcome and eliminate each barrier. Whether through the promotion of self-efficacy, improvements in the cultural

competence of school counselors, and/or the dual power of peace and justice efforts, each leader has challenged our thinking and our assumptions. Through their research and advocacy, we are reminded that while change is never easy, it is always necessary if we seek to improve. ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning was launched in 2016 and strives to connect ACT’s transformational work in the areas of Learning, Measurement, and Navigation with meaningful equity-focused programs and activities across the education and workforce ecosystem. From its inception, the Center has served as a vehicle for ACT to highlight diverse voices, to collaborate with diverse leaders, and to advance diverse strategies to achieve true impact and change. Over the last 60 years, ACT has established a strong foundation and with each new day the Center builds on that foundation by designing tools and solutions for more equitable and just education and workforce outcomes. I remain convinced that the systems, policies and programs we design can light each student’s path toward success. All that is needed is a collaborative spirit, a success mindset, and an intentional design with equity in mind. Together, we are stronger. And as we look to the future, the Center is committed to building deeper connections, clearer education pathways, and easy to understand road signs so tomorrow’s students will reach their personal and professional milestones and dreams. A successful design with equity in mind. Tina Gridiron, Vice President of ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, has led grant initiatives as an officer and director for Lumina Foundation where she worked extensively with community colleges, minority-serving institutions and regional comprehensive institutions. She has also served as the acting director of the Black Community Services Center at Stanford University.



Have you moved beyond one size fits all solutions and quick fixes?

The National Center for Innovative Transformation in Education (NCITE) offers a dramatic leap forward in place-sensitive systemic transformation that advances outcomes for all. NCITE is an action-oriented national network of schools, districts, communities and other educational entities with the primary goal of building local capacity to solve personalized educational problems of practice and to share those solutions across the network and beyond. NCITE’s mission is to build sustainable educational models that: • Empower collaboration and innovation across schools, districts, and states. • Build internal capacity to utilize and share effective processes, protocols and models. • Measure evidence and impact to determine ongoing improvement. • Engage partners to accelerate progress, transform practices and systems in response to need. • Establish and expand partnerships, networks, and services to students

NCITE is driven by a fierce belief that education is critical to a vibrant, sustainable future and must include deliberate focus on equity, access, opportunity, outcomes, evidence, impact, strengths versus deficits, advocacy, and talent. In short, we believe that everyone is simultaneously a LEARNER, a LEADER and a MAKER.

NCITE was founded by the award-winning Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, with more than 50 years of experience and evidence in school and staff transformation. Learn more about KVEC.


NCITE Empowers a Systemic, Responsive Change in School Culture. Where everyone is a LEADER, LEARNER and MAKER.



Opportunities for networking with teams across multiple states/agencies to learn and grow together.





Educators within the schools engage in continuous professional learning and apply that learning to increase student achievement.



NCITE (KVEC) staff work with school teams through virtual sessions and on-site visits.





Designed around identified problems of practice and implementation of theories of action culminating in a capstone presentation.


The acronym NCITE is used to identify ourselves not just because it is quicker to say in conversation but also because it is pronounced exactly the same as two words whose definitions serve to clarify our “Why.”


In-sight (noun): the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding. In-cite (verb): to encourage or “stir up” with a purpose.




As the principal of Pike Road Intermediate School in Alabama, I'm part of an overall school culture that champions intellectual curiosity. All students are asked to take ownership of their learning and are inspired to think, innovate, and create. Engagement is essential, and teachers are asked to customize instruction to meet individual students' needs to ensure no gaps exist in a child's knowledge. As a 1:1 school, we are continually looking at education technology to enhance the learning process. Yt, interestingly, I've noticed that paper 56

materials remain key learning methods in the successful advancement of our standards-based curriculum. Before I became a principal, my special education background enlightened me to the tactile side of child learning. It stayed with me as my career developed, and it is something I believe is beneficial to all learning. When children have something tangible that they can hold in their hands, it gives them something to respond to as they select or write an answer down. The hands-on approach often makes

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learning more embedded in kids' minds rather than merely responding to a computer or device. The Teacher Benefits When students have print materials in front of them, teachers have the freedom to be less conscientious of the student falling off task. The device-driven society that we live in today has made students experts in distraction. When a student is working on a computer, they are very adept at quickly and easily swiping away from an assignment to a video game or something they shouldn't necessarily be watching. We are a 1:1 school system, and it's a real problem for us with students exploring on devices away from the assignment. When students have print materials in front of them, they are more likely to concentrate on the task at hand rather than having things that pull their attention online. Forced Remote Learning During the initial spring COVID closures, we did not take advantage of print material as best as we could have in virtual learning. When we closed our schools in March, teachers automatically went to Google Classroom to establish their lessons and provide instruction. But they also used materials from Ready Reading and Ready Math that they uploaded to Google Classroom, and parents could make copies. In retrospect, we could have done a better job of printing materials for families. It was such a scramble, and we did the best we could under the circumstances. We provided hotspots for families that didn't have access. Most families had their 1:1 devices, and we made sure

everyone had internet connections. For the families who had issues with getting set up for online learning, we inquired about devices and Wi-Fi connectivity with a form over two weeks. We provided a schedule of staggered times that parents could drive to the school and be assisted by staff. Parents came to the school and waited in a carpool line format. Our team would meet them at their cars, asking, "Who are you? What is your child's name? What devices are needed." As for those parents that did not respond to our inquiry, we reached out by phone to follow up. Observations and Areas of Research That Show the Benefits of Print Material Print material allows students to work more effectively in small groups. Even though we are in the midst of COVID, and you need to be careful, I've noticed kids' reactions in the classroom with a computer device being different than if they were creating a project with paper and pencil. There is so much research about the adverse effects of screen time on students—social skills, attention issues, and more. The computer and the internet are wonderful advancements, and we often wonder how we ever lived without them. However, at the end of the day, when you are looking to educate children best, paper and pencil is at the top. Sometimes parents aren't as savvy about accessing online materials, so when you send home actual paper copies asking that the students practice with the materials, it's more likely to be completed. Parents are more engaged to sit down and go over the materials with their children—one reason being, perhaps, that these materials feel familiar to parents from their own school experience. We’ve found that print materials help with parent communication



and intervention, among other areas. The Need for More Print Materials In the past, because we are an online 1:1 device school system, our school was not in the habit of purchasing print materials or curriculum. Established only five years ago, we are independently in control of pulling our standards and producing our curriculum. Before I came to Pike Road as a principal to start up the middle school, I had worked as a principal and curriculum specialist for a traditional school system with 21 schools. When I came to Pike Road, it was daunting to try and put together a specific, sequential curriculum and hit the necessary standards. Recently, I was searching for some good science and social studies material to help teachers so that they didn't have to rely on piecemealing materials all the time to put together a curriculum. Unfortunately, teachers are often asked to spend too much time searching for materials, taking up time that could be better used for interactive lessons. We are working on improving this area in our school. When I came here, we did not have a good benchmark of assessment. When I arrived, I was alerted to i-Ready from an educator who had gone to a reading and math workshop. For the first time, parents who were in the school system for some time were able to see their child’s progress. They could see where their children were—what their deficits were, what their strengths were. We could identify and provide enrichment and intervention with learning paths. After that, I realized there were print materials in the Ready Reading and Math curricula that would be additionally helpful and last year, we went ahead with adding those elements.

and digital resources integrated into our curriculum has helped us identify and monitor students’ needs while providing intervention. Other programs were frankly not as comprehensive and were not aligned to standards. The curriculum aspects of previous programs were piecemeal at best. It's interesting that with all the online learning taking place, especially compounded by the pandemic changes in education, a mixture of paper materials with technology-based methods seems a perfect marriage. Hopefully, as things settle down and get back to more normalcy, educators, leadership, and parents can come together and share stories on how both paper materials and online learning played essential parts in the advancement of recent student learning.

Vicki Davis is a veteran educator with a wide range of teaching experiences which includes teaching kindergarten through eighth grade as well as serving as adjunct professor for several years at the university level. She has been an administrator for the past seventeen years serving as program specialist and principal in an elementary, intermediate and middle school environment.

There are always going to be kids who will learn under any circumstance. But that does not include every kid by a long shot. Having print 58

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Accelerate writing proficiency Motivate your students to write like never before.

WriQ is a writing achievement tool that helps teachers easily produce fast, simple and consistent writing assessment, whilst providing meaningful feedback and motivation directly to students - helping to increase and improve their writing skills. Save valuable time with technologyassisted marking. WriQ allows you to quickly assess, track and analyze student writing, meaning you can spend less time marking and more time teaching! WriQ provides a standardized benchmark for writing which allows you to assess learning loss due to COVID and the summer slide. You can chart writing progress over time and compare achievement year on year, not just within a class, but through a year band or an entire school.

Find out more at: text.help/ACE-WRIQ



As someone who’s led development of education technology products at multiple companies, I always thought, and believed, that we were doing everything we should do to make our products accessible. We had the mission statements and the policies in place and we actively considered the needs of our user communities in design and deployment. I thought we were doing everything right until it was obvious that we were not. That moment came at a previous job when we hosted a webinar on accessibility where we would be demonstrating our teaching and learning technology. I joined the event and saw a blind professor start his presentation. Things were very wrong. He could not advance his slides, could not read the chat. Professionally and personally, the obvious tech failure was a slow motion nightmare.

Fortunately, he did. He helped lead us to do many good things such as forming an advisory council of users and bringing in reputable, independent accessibility experts. But the most important and beneficial thing he did was help me understand the importance of seeking, collecting and responding to the experiences of real users. It’s a foundational principle of accessibility that I’ve kept with me since. In fact, designing in and planning for direct user engagement and feedback has become one of what I call my three tenets on doing accessibility in education technology right. The other two are declaring accessibility a non-negotiable part of the company’s brand identity and allowing and inviting independent, outside review of your progress. At the time of that accessibility webinar, we were only doing one of the three. Let me share an example of how feedback from real users makes a difference.

At that point, I had a choice - crawl in a hole or deal with it. So, I called the professor and said, “We are trying. We thought we were doing well. But it’s clearly not working; will you help me?” 60

In developing new education software, we were fortunate to work with blind students at the University of Toronto - real students who were really using our products. At one point, one of them said, “I can do all the The American Consortium for Equity in Education

things I have to do to attend, go to class. I can get all the information I need to function, but I can’t do anything that’s fun.” In that product, we’d designed feedback icons to allow students to quickly click a smiling face or an angry face, that kind of thing. With that student feedback, we realized that was fun but simply not accessible to all our students. We had created an inferior experience. We built something that worked, not something that was genuinely equitable. So we went to work and when we thought we’d solved a few of those issues -- things we would never have contemplated without real user feedback -- I sent a product manager to Toronto to see that same student and record her experience with our changes. We needed to know if we were making progress in doing better. When the student tried our new designs, her face lit up. “Tell your developers this means the world to me,” she said. We showed the video to our entire company. I watched it change our company culture. It changed the reason people in our company were coming to work. Seeing the difference their work could make gave them power and purpose in ways few other things could. It was and still is a big deal. That’s when it hit me that genuine feedback from real people could not just spark

improvements or solve market problems, it could help your company at the same time. It’s the rare dynamic in which no one loses and everybody benefits. And, if you will indulge me, I’d like to add two further points about enacting accessibility instead of simply saying you will or want to.

Compliance is not Enough No one should have a goal of compliance; that goal is too low. If your company or product is merely compliant, you have not actually done anything. You have not accomplished your goal until a real user says you’ve met your goal.

Scale Matters When large companies embrace real user input and make changes, they can drive market-wide adoption by forcing smaller companies to catch up. Being more means you have to do more. As the largest education company in our space, it’s a position we’re honored to leverage. The bottom line is that thinking you’re doing right, just having the words written down, not only is not enough, but it can give you a false sense of achievement. Real users can burst that bubble in real ways and you would do well to encourage them. In my experience, it’s the best way to unlock real and necessary improvements in products and perspectives.

Valerie Schreiner leads product development and marketing at one of the largest education technology companies in the world, Turnitin. She has a long history in the education and edtech industry and has served on the board of several successful technology start-ups.



ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF STRUGGLING STUDENTS OVERCOMING CHALLENGES AND FINDING SOLUTIONS “Whether financial hardship, loss of a family member to COVID, or reactions to the boiling over emotions of Black Lives Matter, no two students will have had the same experience.” - Sam Drazin, Executive Director at Changing Perspectives This year—perhaps more than any other in recent memory—our classrooms are full of students who have all made it through the first 75% of 2020, but are unlikely to share the same story. We have spent a lot of time making sure that educators know how to engage students in synchronous sessions; that they’re able to master the tools of online learning; and they know how to set solid boundaries when communicating with learners weekly. But one topic keeps pricking at the heart: how to reach students who aren’t engaging well. We tackled this topic in the spring, but while we have made a lot of progress in day-to-day teaching during the age of COVID-19, the need for inclusion and support has only grown.

THE TROUBLE WITH HYBRID & REMOTE LEARNING In addition to the issues present with access inequality, students who need additional support in the classroom have also been disproportionately impacted by hybrid and remote learning. For many exceptional learners, a structured routine is a foundational way to ground learning. As we are all aware, structured routine was the first thing to be disrupted this year, and though the 2020-2021 school year was better planned than last spring, it is often marked by varying schedules, pivots to full online learning, and lots of home-based learning where structured support services are not available at the same level as they would be in a traditional classroom or campus. Although support services are focused on the student, when students shift to home-based learning, families are forced to play an additional role. All parents of remote learners face extra challenges this year. But there is no doubt that children who are on IEPs or 504 plans are under extra stress, and will require more support and resources to be successful.

To learn more, watch the full recording of our webinar: "Addressing the Needs of Struggling Students: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Solutions." Joining hosts Kris Murner and Dennis Yim are E. Christopher Williams, Associate Director of STEP at New York Institute of Technology, and Sam Drazin, Executive Director at Changing Perspectives.

To learn more, watch the full recording of our webinar: "Addressing the Needs of Struggling Students: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Solutions." Joining hosts Kris Murner and Dennis Yim are E. Christopher Williams, Associate Director of STEP at New York Institute of Technology, and Sam Drazin, Executive Director at Changing Perspectives. The American Consortium for Equity in Education

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“As we await Palm Beach County School District’s final decision, we must remain mindful of the endgame; delaying the return to brick and mortar campuses is crucial, but it’s just the first step. Whenever students, teachers and staff return to school buildings, they will bring with them the trauma, pain and anxieties of the last six months. Many will have experienced the virus firsthand either being sick themselves or of having seen a family or friend with it. Others will have lost loved ones- mothers, fathers, grandparents, cousins, pastors, coaches and friends. All will approach school with an apprehension that is equal to their academic needs.”

By Katrina Long-Robinson & Veronica Ramirez In 1986, Carol Fuery wrote one of the most appreciated books known to educators, titled Winning Year One: A Survival Guide for First Year Teachers. Unfortunately, nowhere in the text did it state, “Should a pandemic occur during your teaching career, you should do the following…” But what did teachers do when faced with that unsolvable problem? Well, adapt and pivot of course, as they always have. It is obvious that educators have had to possess a sense of grit and grind to push through the educational pandemic woes of 2020. Teachers have always 64

— Katrina Long Robinson on her personal Facebook page

had to wear multiple hats. Now looking forward, somehow, some way, they must adapt even further in their new and unexpected quest to become a “pandemic-proof” educator. Like many other career educators, we are concerned about losing an entire generation of students due to this pandemic. We will need leaders who understand the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic on education as the great equalizer for students. They will need to not only acknowledge, but develop and execute an aggressive plan to address injustices and dismantle biased

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systems for all students in real, palpable ways. This means: Engaging and empowering students with social-emotional learning (SEL) techniques Prior to the pandemic, charter schools and school districts began to embrace the idea that effective implementation of SEL practices was a promising way to engage all students of various learning styles to be successful in the classroom as it related to dealing with stress and barriers while balancing school and life. We believe that social and emotional learning is just as important and necessary as academic learning. Districts and charter school companies should ensure students have the ability and skill to manage relationships with peers virtually and work to maintain those relationships throughout the “virtual” academic school year. No high-stakes standardized testing or school grades Typically, school performance ratings are based on overall student achievement and growth compared to prior years’ performance. Should students be measured based on growth? Yes. Should teachers be held accountable for implementing Florida Standards? Absolutely. Should students and teachers be assessed or evaluated as they have been in the past? NO! The impact of the pandemic on education provides us with an opportunity to teach the way most educators want to teach which is to separate from the pressures to prepare students for standardized tests. Simply put, this should not be a “standardized” test year. Instead, it must be one of personal growth, academic achievement, and emotional healing. This is a critical re-starting point. But how? It will be hard. Unfortunately addressing challenges by building a foundation and starting at “square one” is no small feat. Right

now, and always, Education Policy and Procedures follow a top-down model. Ironically, assigned education task forces often include a few, if not multiple, non-career educators. Even though it is due to the work of teachers that each one of us can attribute our success, teachers and other educators are often overlooked when it comes to make these hard, informed, and important decisions related to the field of education at large. In what other field does the group of “experts” assembled to make decisions come from not just an outside organization, but an outside profession altogether? We can start by creating a national task force focused on world pandemic education systems. As all of us keep mentioning, the situation we find ourselves in is unprecedented for modern day. Yes, there are challenges, but think of the options and opportunities we have now versus societies of people who have faced epidemics and pandemics in the past. When the right team of educators is in place and the capabilities of modern-day technology are used, the learning process can continue despite all odds. Katrina Long Robinson is founder of KLR Consultants and the Douglas G. Robinson Pancreatic Cancer and Empowerment Foundation. She also serves an Elected Official in Palm Beach County. Veronica Torres is the owner and CEO of Prestige Mentors for Educators and Students. She is a passionate and experienced educator eager to deliver messages that ultimately benefit the day-to-day experiences of education’s “front line,” teachers and students. The views expressed in this commentary are their own. Follow this link to read more about the topic and ways to address pandemic education.



More than just a safe space.

A learner’s well-being doesn’t stop at physical distancing. They desperately need developmentally, socially and emotionally safe spaces as well. Though we never counted on a pandemic, we designed our spaces to move, change, and adapt to meet every learners’ needs. Especially now. As believers and disciples of agency and equity for each and every learner, we believe now is not the time to retreat into past practices, but a time to tap our collective resources to collaborate, investigate, innovate and excel like never before. Get to know us . Tour our spaces . Join the converversation of creating engaging spaces for extraordinary futures, whatever they may hold.

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INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION Amy Porfiri joined the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Foundation in 2012. Her tenure began in 2000 as Director of Finance and Administration in the APA Division of Research and American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education, the former research subsidiary of APA. In this role, she provided support to the development of DSM-5 and research grant projects. As Deputy Director, Amy directs and oversees the financial, operations, governance, and compliance functions for the Foundation. She has advanced the initiatives and goals of the Foundation by managing major projects including the reestablishment of the Melvin Sabshin, MD Library & Archives in APA’s new headquarters and the Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership. Amy is currently serving as the Interim Executive Director of APA Foundation. Amy has an M.B.A. degree from University of Massachusetts and B.A. from Carleton College.

What does the American Psychiatric Association Foundation do? People see the profound impact of mental health on their lives, families, and communities. For over 28 years, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation's community-based programs, fellowships, awards and grants, have worked to address critical mental health needs and develop resources where they are needed most. All of our initiatives focus on one goal: A mentally healthy nation for all where you live, learn, work, and worship. We have been delivering our mental health professional development curriculum to school communities for over 10 years. 70

Why should Pre-K-12 educators be aware of what you are doing regarding educational equity and access? Recently, the Foundation went through a complete evaluation and redevelopment of the Foundation’s school based mental health program to improve the effectiveness of the program and address the importance of cultural awareness. Twenty percent of school aged youth experience a mental health concern. Sadly, we know it takes 8-10 years from experiencing the first signs of a mental health concern to making a connection to care. This lost opportunity to connect students to care is what the Notice. Talk. Act.™ at School key

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framework addresses. By training staff to Notice early warning signs that are disruptive or withdrawn, to Talk to the student to show that they care, gather information and determine an appropriate referral, and to Act to connect that student to support services when needed.

delivery model can be tailored to each individual school whether it’s through direct delivery or a train-the-trainer model. The APA Foundation can also provide additional support to define the referral process and disseminate supplemental resources. What do you think is the greatest challenge in education today?

How does your program address a major inequity within the field of education? An additional aspect of the redevelopment effort was to address the “school-to-prison" pipeline. Meaning that roughly 70% of students arrested or students referred to law enforcement are Black or Latinx, far over representing their prevalence in the general population. Likewise, students with disabilities represent 12% of the overall student enrollment and 28% of students referred to law enforcement or arrested. We are also seeing over representation from students who need additional support services. When students display disruptive behaviors at school, it often means that there is turmoil in their lives. These behaviors can be caused by underlying issues that students are coping with. We want to train school personnel to see these “disruptive” behaviors as a sign for an empathetic and compassionate response, not punishment. How do you approach partnerships with schools or school districts?

We truly believe that mental health is one of the greatest challenges facing education today. With the alarming rates of youth suicide on the rise and the increase of individuals with serious mental illness landing in our local criminal justice system, we see an important opportunity to connect students with mental health needs to support sooner. We aim to train community members to notice when youth are struggling, in any capacity, to better respond to concerning behaviors, and then connect students to support services. A greater challenge for communities is to increase access to these important support services as well, from mental health professionals, housing services, and family supports. Just like mental health, these challenges should not be faced alone and we look forward to working with other organizations like the American Consortium of Equity in Education in improving support to students and communities.

We assess and meet each school’s knowledge around mental health, its impacts, and the resources that they have available. That means working with each school in its district directly if necessary, because we know that even within a district, the support services and resources can vary between individual schools. The Notice. Talk. Act at School® ACE-ED.ORG

Learn more at https://apafdn.org 71

SUPPORTING EXCELLENCE The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy is an internationally-recognized center generating research-based education policy. We analyze the impact of educational interventions, provide evidence-based counsel, create tools to evaluate curriculum and school culture, and support district, charter, and private school networks across the country. We are non-partisan, sector-agnostic, and evidence-based.

THE INSTITUTE PROVIDES: and policy recommendations to national membership organizations, including Chiefs • Research for Change, the CCSSO, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the National Council for Private School Accreditation

• Program evaluations, measuring the impact of high-quality materials on student learning • Research partnerships with several dozen state and local chiefs to support: and intellectually challenging curricula • Highly effective instruction – our teacher • Deep survey on materials creates a full picture of - through our Knowledge Maps™ in English language arts and social studies that measure content build and text quality

school cultures – with our • Strong comprehensive School Culture 360™ - a full analysis of the conditions that we know support student success

• Content-rich assessments

what teachers know about standards, their use of curricula, and their satisfaction level with materials

models that meet families' unique • School needs




A strong school culture, understood as the underlying ethical claims and habitual practices of a school, is linked to numerous positive academic and civic outcomes – from short-term assessment performance to long-term civic engagement and educational attainment. The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy has designed a best-in-class survey that identifies the alignment of a school’s mission with its practices and determines whether a school’s enactment of practices correspond to those we know support academic achievement and civic formation. In elementary schools, administrators, teachers, and parents undertake the survey; in secondary schools, students also participate.

THE SCHOOL CULTURE 360™ SURVEY EXPLORES: Academic emphasis and academic excellence Whole-student development (including practices associated with strong citizenship formation) Organizational coherence (the mission and practices align) Sense of belonging (communality) Trust and support among adults across the school community

Because COVID-19 necessitated an immediate migration to at-home learning, the Institute designed a related survey for the remote-learning context.


Dr. Ashley Berner and Dr. David Steiner join Ms. Lisa French, Director of Student Engagement and Success in the Office of Academic Content at the Louisiana Department of Education, and Dr. Eric Watts, Director of Instruction and Student Achievement for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, to discuss school culture: its key components, its role in educational outcomes, and its use as an analytical framework for assessment.




NOT ALL LEARNING IS ONLINE, BUT EVERY LEARNER SHOULD BE. By John Harrington There is a growing gap between students who have access to a fast Internet connection and those who do not. This gap is sometimes referred to as the Digital Divide. More recently, the term “homework gap” has been used. But no matter how you refer to it, for students who lack the necessary resources, the inability to get online is a barrier to their success. Like access to running water and electricity, Internet access plays a vital role in providing students a quality education. It is time for our society to address digital equity by ensuring that every learner is online. Not all learning is online, but every learner should be.

NO INTERNET ACCESS AFTER SCHOOL Funds For Learning estimates that there are 74

7.2 million family households in the United States who are not online -- millions of Americans who lack and cannot afford Internet access at home. For students, this means an inability to complete homework assignments, collaborate with their peers, review materials from their teacher, or access a Khan Academy video to help them understand a concept. They cannot check their grades, take a practice quiz, or ask a question via chat. In the best case, they can a visit the local library (inside, or, more likely, outside in the parking lot). But that is hardly an ideal learning environment.

WHAT CAN BE DONE? There is good news. The challenge facing our communities is surmountable. This is a not a

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“moon launch” situation requiring us to stretch the limits of human knowledge. No, on the contrary, we can readily address now. It turns out there is quite a bit that can be done and there are legions of individuals lining up to help. The same technologies that connect most Americans to the Internet are accessible, or nearly accessible, to many of those who do not have it already. For a broad segment of the disconnected population, the cables or wireless signals needed are relatively close by. In a study conducted by Funds For Learning in 2016, we found that there were one million Americans living in public low-income housing within a quarter mile of a school or library with Internet access. In other situations, school buses and library book mobiles loaded with Wi-Fi have been used to bring the Internet further out into the community. Cellular data plans and special “point-to-point” connections can also be used. The point is this: in almost every circumstance in which a student is offline, there exists a way to bring them back across the digital divide, and many of those options are quite affordable.

NO FEDERAL SUPPORT If the technology is there, what is stopping online education? The piece missing is a serious commitment from the federal government to address the need of off-campus Internet access for students. A lack of financial support, combined with regulations that prohibit off-campus Internet

access, is the primary barrier to closing the digital divide. There are no federal funds specifically earmarked to address this need. For years, many of us in the “EdTech” community have been calling for additional aid to help these students. But no support has been made available. Furthermore, there is a perverse wrinkle in the current federal regulations. Schools and libraries are prohibited from extending their Internet connectivity to the community around them. If a Wi-Fi signal stays on school property, that is okay. But if a student uses that Wi-Fi signal across the street, then the school risks losing federal funding.

ACTION IS NEEDED The lack of Internet access for students is a systemic problem that results in limited academic opportunities for far too many children. These impediments then fuel cycles of poverty and other social ailments. We can and should do better. It starts with understanding and communicating the need. Leaders and decision makers in Washington, DC, cannot address situations if they are not aware of them. We each have a responsibility to educate members of Congress and federal regulators to make sure they comprehend the scope of this problem, and then we need to hold them accountable to help our communities. By prioritizing federal funding and cutting through unnecessary red tape, we can help connect all students to the Internet.

John Harrington is the CEO of Funds For Learning, a nationwide consulting firm committed to helping schools and libraries connect students to the Internet. Learn more about Funds For Learning.



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