June 26, 2020

June 2020 Research Rundown

By Krista Kaput

Welcome to EdAllies’ June Research Rundown; our curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. This month, we are highlighting: 

  • The impact of police violence on Black and Latino students,
  • Teacher perspectives on educator layoffs, and 
  • Findings on inequities in distance learning. 
1. The Effects of Police Violence on Students 

Harvard University, June 2020 

New research from Harvard finds that police violence has a negative and disproportionate impact on Black and Latino students. From analyzing student data on more than 700,000 high schoolers in the context of over 600 police officer-involved killings, the research found that students who lived near an officer-involved killing experience significant decreases in their grade-point average and increased incidence of emotional disturbances that last for several semesters. These findings varied across lines of race and ethnicity: While white and Asians student outcomes were unaffected, Black and Latino students were strongly and negatively impacted by these events, particularly when they involved unarmed people of color. Ultimately, students exposed to police violence were significantly less likely to graduate from high school or to enroll in college.

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

This study highlights the importance of supporting students in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. There must be intentional and collaborative work done between youth, families, and educators to create environments that are student-centered.  This starts with listening to the needs of their students, and particularly students of color. According to Minnesota’s 2019 Student Survey:

  • 37% of Black and Latino students, and 41% of Native American students do not think their teachers are interested in them as a person, 
  • 37% of Black and Native American students, and 32% of Latino students do not think the school rules are fair, and 
  • 20% of Black and Native American students, and 16% of Latino students do not think their teachers care about students. 

It’s time for Minnesota to listen to students of color and work with them to advance solutions that support their social-emotional, mental health, and developmental needs, while also bringing an end to police violence. 
Explore the findings

2. Voices from the (Virtual) Classroom

Educators for Excellence, May 2020 

Educators for Excellence surveyed a nationally representative sample of 600 full-time public school teachers to learn about their experiences with distance learning during COVID-19. The survey asked about a wide range of topics: student participation and attendance, teacher layoffs, assignment completion rates, instruction, internet and device access, and more. These findings are important for building immediate action plans for the fall, and for larger policymaking considerations. For example, as we head into a likely economic downturn, 64% of teachers in district schools think teacher layoff decisions should be based on multiple factors, including both performance and seniority, and another 17% think the decisions should be based on teacher performance. Furthermore, 46% think that districts should avoid layoffs at schools that serve the most vulnerable student groups. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

With a projected state deficit of $2.4 billion, Minnesota districts may be forced to make budget cuts in the coming year, likely resulting in layoffs. Usually, when there are layoffs due to a recession, schools that serve high populations of low-income students are disproportionately impacted, facing staff reductions, cuts to important services, and hard-to-staff positions staying open. Minnesota school leaders should be able to retain the very best educators for their students, looking at multiple measures and not just seniority. Educators that Minnesota schools most desperately need—teachers of color, educators qualified to teach College in the Schools, and other hard-to-staff positions—should be protected during layoffs, as should schools that serve large populations of traditionally underserved students, where we should be working to stabilize churn and staff turnover. The survey findings demonstrate support in the educator community for doing things differently, and policymakers should step up to help schools retain the teachers they need most.
Read the report

3. Too Many Schools Leave Learning to Chance During the Pandemic

Center for Reinventing Public Education, June 2020 

The Center for Reinventing Public Education analyzed approaches to distance learning in a nationally representative sample of 477 school districts and determined that many districts have not provided the level of support needed for meaningful student learning during the COVID-19 closures. Their analysis found: 

  • Only one-third of districts expected all of their teachers to continue to engage and interact with all of their students around the curriculum content,
  • 37% of districts required teachers to check in one-on-one with their students on a regular basis, and 
  • Only 42% expected teachers to collect student work, grade it, and include it in final course grades for at least some students. 

Their analysis also found some glaring gaps between rural districts and their urban and suburban counterparts. In particular, they found glaring differences between the internet infrastructure, which creates huge barriers to distance learning. Moreover, they found that only 27% of rural and small-town districts expect teachers to provide instruction, compared to over half of urban districts. The researchers concluded that school districts must prepare now to limit learning loss and address individual student needs. 

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

In mid-June, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) issued planning guidance for public schools for the 2020-21 academic year. And MDE asked districts to develop three potential scenarios: in-person, hybrid, or full distance learning. As districts develop their plans, it’s critical that they do them in concert with families and students, while also elevating best practices. An important part of this is understanding emerging models and trends from spring distance learning plans. We conducted a local  analysis of 91 Minnesota districts’ distance learning plans, honing in on those with the largest low-income student populations, and found that: 

    • 41% of Minnesota districts offer student’s office hours, 
    • 23% specifies that students will have access to live instruction, 
    • 40% describe their grading policy, and 
    • 36% indicate that students will be taught new content. 

Learn more