November 24, 2020

November 2020 Research Rundown

By Krista Kaput

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

  • A national analysis of 2020-21 reopening plans, 
  • Research on the scale of COVID-19 attendance crisis for students at the margins of our education system, and 
  • An impact study of an alternative teacher preparation approach to recruiting and training teachers.
1. National Analysis of 2020-21 Reopening Plans 

Center on Reinventing Public Education, October 2020

The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) analyzed the 2020-21 reopening plans for 106 districts around the country. When compared to plans from the spring, there were large gains in the percentage of districts that indicated they were going to take attendance (87% v. 32%), grade student work (80% v. 51%), and provide live instruction (92% v. 21%). With that said, they also found many areas for improvement, including student engagement, high-quality online programming, and meeting the needs of students with disabilities

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

Many of the celebrations and areas for improvement identified by CRPE aligned with our analysis of fall learning plans in Minnesota. A strong point of the plans was that many more districts (75% v. 23%) indicated that students would have access to live instruction and required daily interaction between students and teachers (67% v. 35%). However, only 40% of the plans explained how they would meet the needs of students with disabilities and only one-fourth described how they would support English Learners. Finally, only two districts plans mentioned doing some type of diagnostic assessment to measure where students are, and only four mentioned addressing learning loss. As the vast majority of Minnesota schools move into distance learning, it’s imperative that they continue to evolve and adapt their learning models by implementing what’s worked elsewhere and moving away from what hasn’t.
Read the report

2. Missing in the Margins: Estimating the Scale of the COVID-19 Attendance Crisis

Bellwether Education Partners, October 2020

COVID-19 school closures have a disproportionate impact on traditionally underserved student groups—from access to technology to more drastic learning loss. To better quantify the impact, Bellwether Education Partners analyzed media reports, survey data, and federal sources to estimate how many of our country’s highest-need students have not had any formal education, whether it be in-person or virtual, since March. In total, Bellwether estimates that as many as 3 million students from specific demographic groups—students in foster care, students experiencing homelessness, English learners, students with disabilities, and students eligible for Migrant Education Program—are either offline, hard to find, or have transitioned more permanently away from school engagement. 

The researchers note that the reasons for this go beyond access to the internet and laptop, noting: 

  • For many English Learners and students with disabilities they are not receiving the proper educational accommodations and services that they are legally entitled to; 
  • Some young people have transitioned to work or are providing full-time primary care for their siblings; and 
  • Children who are in foster care or homeless had educational barriers prior to COVID-19, which have likely been exacerbated.

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

Bellwether estimates that, in Minnesota, as many as 52,250 students from these high-need groups have not received any type of formal education since March. And locally, a recent report by Foster Advocates highlights that more than 80% of Minnesota foster care students were negatively impacted by COVID-19, with many reporting that they were concerned about their living situations, affording basic needs, and being exposed to the virus. 

As more districts and charter schools move to distance or hybrid learning (or pause plans to bring students back),  policymakers must consider how they will effectively serve traditionally underserved students and work to prioritize those most likely to have been disconnected from learning when it comes to resources and policy decisions. It will be critical to re-engage these students as soon as possible, and from there, to directly address the needs that have emerged during the pandemic with targeted supplemental programming and support.
See the analysis

3. Growing Teachers from Within: Implementation Impact, and Cost of an Alternative Teacher Preparation Program in Three Urban School Districts

RAND Corporation, October 2020

A recent study on the impact of TNTP’s Teacher Effectiveness and Certification (TEACh) Initiative—which works to recruit, train, and license teacher candidates through programs within specific districts—found that the program contributed substantially to the supply of teachers and increasing the racial diversity of the districts they were working in. Furthermore, the TEACh candidates were certified to teach in hard-to-staff positions, like bilingual and special education. The researchers also found that TEACh candidates remained in the district at similar rates to their peers. The researchers also found that TEACh candidates were more effective in raising math and English achievement than their counterparts, a similar finding from another study on the impact of TNTP’s Teaching Fellows program.

WHY THIS MATTERS IN MINNESOTA

TNTP is one of four alternative teacher preparation programsalong with Lakes Country Service Cooperative, Learning Disabilities Association of Minnesota, and Southwest West Central Service Cooperativethat Minnesota has approved since 2017 legislation allowed programs to launch without a higher education affiliation. This type of research affirms the promise of programs like TNTP, and sets the bar for the type of outcomes-based research we should be using to understand and improve teacher prep across the state.

The research is timely as PELSB continues working to finalize rules for teacher prep approval, and in light of lingering concerns about the objectivity of PELSB’s approval process. Minnesota must pay particular attention to expanding programs that support teacher diversity and nontraditional pathways to the classroom. From 2009 to 2017, enrollment for Minnesota’s traditional teacher preparation programs has decreased by 39%, with enrollment for teachers of color declining by 10%. Of note, enrollment has decreased by 31% for Black candidates and 52% for Native American candidates. And even though the overall percentage of students of color enrolled in traditional teacher preparation programs increased from from 8.5% to 12.5%, this is due to the declines in white enrollment rather than from efforts to recruit and retain teachers of color. PELSB should work to ensure that their process is objective and legislators should reinvest in the alternative teacher preparation grant.
Read the study