A new calculator to estimate student learning loss — and the cost of catching up

Good morning. First up today is the unveiling of a new online calculator that estimates both the learning losses experienced by 8,000 school districts across the country and the projected costs of the tutoring that will be required to catch kids up. Spearheaded by Georgetown’s Edunomics Lab, we have a new piece describing the methodology and offering a link to try the tool yourself.

Also new this morning, the final installment in our series “Weaving a Stronger Society — Beginning in Our Schools,” produced in partnership with The Aspen Institute. We’ve traveled the country over the past two months and today we sit down with our last inspiring community builder in the Atlanta area.

Beyond that, new school performance data from Indianapolis, new strategies to support student mental health in Texas, an in-depth interview with former Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard & more. Here’s your Thursday rundown:

Learning Loss

New Edunomics calculator estimates COVID learning losses by district, and costs of catching kids up

Our friends at Georgetown University's Edunomics Lab are launching an eye-opening new tool today that will allow parents and policymakers in 8,000 school districts to estimate how much help area students will need in recovering from COVID learning losses, how much that learning acceleration might cost in the form of tutoring, and then how these costs compare with the federal relief funds recently distributed to the district. Read more about how these estimates are calculated, and give the calculator a spin for yourself — All you need is a state and district name. Read today's breakdown of the new effort.

  • Reflections on 700 Days Since Lockdown: Educators, parents, researchers talk about pandemic's 'seismic interruption to education' (Read more)
  • Literacy: Pandemic continues to push young readers off track, new data shows (Read more)


Living and learning among refugees in the 'Ellis Island of the South'

Allie Reeser is more than just an afterschool director in a Clarkston, Georgia, apartment complex that is home to a large refugee population. She’s a five-year resident of Willow Branch and an indispensable guide through the bureaucratic thickets of its families’ adopted country. She strengthens her community through offering assistance with activities ranging from getting a driver’s license to communicating with doctors. To Reeser, the daughter of a local minister, living with immigrant families and offering their children a welcoming place to learn is simply an extension of the values she grew up with. “It shows that we’re equals,” she told reporter Linda Jacobson. “I’m not trying to do some great thing, just be a good neighbor.” Read our latest Weaver profile — and check out a few of our other recent installments:

  • Nebraska: A rural teacher challenges students & her community to wrestle with the world (Read more)
  • Documentary: A teacher in Philadelphia helps his community capture hope & promise in art (Watch here)
  • New York: Helping first-generation students reach college — and build community on the way (Read more)
  • Weave Founder David Brooks: An interview on  education, cultural divides and how the Weavers in our schools will help heal America (Read more)
  • Go Deeper: Weaving a stronger society (See the full series)


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74 Interview

Paymon Rouhanifard on Boston, tribalism and the dangers of COVID 'groupthink'

After leading a district under state control for five years, former Camden schools chief Paymon Rouhanifard took what he thought would be a “sleepy, wonky” position on the Massachusetts state board. It’s been anything but quiet. In an interview with reporter Linda Jacobson, he discussed the future of another troubled district — the Boston Public Schools — as well as his views on COVID policies, the media and his new role with Propel America.

  • From 2018 — Exit Interview: Camden’s Rouhanifard reflects on 5 years of surging student achievement, expanding parental choice in one of NJ’s poorest districts (Read more)


New CREDO study: Indy charter schools 'move the needle' on student achievement

Students who attended charter or charter-like “Innovation Network Schools” in Indianapolis are posting better results across virtually every demographic, according to a new study. The report from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that in the 2018-2019 school year, charter school students learned the equivalent of 64 more days of instruction in reading and 116 days in math, compared to their district school peers. Greg Toppo reports on the findings.

Mental Health

Using talking circles to help students break out of COVID isolation — and remember how to be friends

As students returned in person to Crockett High School in Austin, Texas this past school year, many struggled to readjust. They didn’t know how to ask for help, and had no capacity to offer it. But restorative justice specialist Iztac Arteaga, has taught them how ceremony has kept Indigenous communities strong for centuries, and how talking circles can bring them back to each other.

  • Mental Health Struggles: A cry for help from teen boys in Austin is answered (Read more)


NEA calls for end to school police policies union previously supported

Last year the National Education Association created a task force to form a new policy on “safe, just, and equitable schools,” resulting in a 79-page report that formalized the union’s support for “evidence-based behavioral practices centered in the philosophy of restorative justice over the criminalization and policing of students.” But, as Michael Antonucci notes in his latest Union Report, nowhere in the report will you find any mention of NEA’s role in advocating for efforts to put more cops in schools. That includes the reported 2001 endorsement of a multi-year appropriation introduced by then-Senator Joseph Biden for the federal Cops in Schools program. “Finding a proper security balance that keeps students and teachers safe, while greatly reducing abuses, is a daunting task,” Antonucci writes. “But we should be skeptical about recommendations from the same folks who helped bring us to this pass.” Read the full essay.

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