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Stem Education Issues May Be Long-Lasting

STEM education is certainly in the forefront for middle level and high schools, but issues with student achievement in this area may actually begin very early in the educational process, according to a new report published by the Early Childhood Quarterly Journal.

Students who have learning difficulties and executive function impairments in math and science in the early grades are more likely to experience problems in this area later on, according to the recent report from researchers at Penn State University. The research examined executive functions related to working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control to determine the onset of STEM education issues.

Specifically, the study analyzes data from more than 11,000 students who participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics’ Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.

NSCC Reveals Major School Climate Report

The National School Climate Center (NSCC) has issued an important study that details the school climate initiatives being conducted in six school districts across the country and includes best practices to help other school districts create more engaging and safer school communities.

“Creating School Communities of Courage: Lessons From the Field” includes case studies from Center City Public Charter Schools (Washington, D.C.); Monroe-Woodbury School District (NY); Parkway School District (MO); Schuylkill Technology Centers (PA); Simpson County Schools (KY); and West Sonoma Union County High School District (CA).

The report cites that innovative and collaborative leadership galvanizes school community engagement. It also states that schools need committed and trusted adults to be catalysts for change and that these adults are central to student success. The report is available at https://schoolclimate.org/summit.

Michigan Schools Will Receive Letter Grades

Michigan has become the 16th state to adopt A–F letter grades for schools (not students), a concept that had its impetus under the educational reform initiatives implemented by Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

However, Michigan’s measure is significantly different from those other 15 states. The legislation mandates that schools receive five distinct letter grades, rather than one overall grade, which will look more like the report cards students receive.

The separate letter grades include assessments of how a school met fixed achievement benchmarks, how the school helped students progress in their learning from year to year, and how a school stacked up against others with similar student demographics.

Gates Foundation Announces Teacher Training Grants

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has added to its philanthropy efforts in education by announcing new grants that will enhance the training of teachers in implementing high-quality curricula.

The grants will focus on the foundation’s somewhat controversial belief that when you teach educators about the best tactics to deploy for modifying existing high-quality curricula, you can have a bigger impact on student achievement than by the development of curricula by itself. Existing research has found that most professional development results in uneven success.

According to information contained in the foundation’s request for proposals, some findings show that it can be more expensive to develop and cover licensing fees for the professional learning the foundation aims to fund.