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A National Commitment to Accountability, the Impact of Remote Learning, and Our 2nd Literacy Forum

This weekly segment by Democrats for Education Reform CT looks at the top education stories Democrats are watching, providing bite-sized analysis and links to recent articles. On the roster this week: A National Commitment to Accountability, the Impact of Remote Learning, and a Save the Date for Our Forum on Literacy!

A National Commitment to Accountability

On Monday, the US Department of Education sent a letter to states, informing them that—after a one year hiatus—there will be no blanket waivers to the annual standardized assessment requirements of the Every Student Succeed Act. The first meaningful decision by the Biden administration on education, this is a critical move to support equity and transparency and to target education funding. We’ve been calling for the renewal of the assessments in 2021 since the pandemic first hit. (See our OpEd from April 2020 here, for example.) ERN also co-signed a letter to Education Secretary Cardona this month—along with other civil rights, social justice, disability rights, and education advocacy organizations—urging the rejection of continued statewide assessment waivers. In response to Monday’s positive news, ERN National President Shavar Jeffries pointed to a longstanding consensus within the civil rights community that annual assessments provide comparable, reliable data about learning that can ensure all students, especially those who have been historically underserved, are held to the same high academic standards. The Department’s decision still leaves room for states to request shortened assessments and other flexibilities.

New CT Report Shows Impact of Remote Learning

Also Monday, the Connecticut RISE Network released a stark report that elucidates just how damaging the effects of the pandemic have been for students. Tracking about 12,000 students from East Hartford, Hartford, Manchester, Middletown, Norwalk, Naugatuck and Meriden, the report finds that the percentage of students in danger of being held back after failing at least two courses has doubled since last year. Students attending school in a fully remote model were more likely to fail at least two courses than those attending partially in-person. Female students, students of color, and special education students were also more likely to enroll in remote learning—exacerbating inequities.

Don’t Forget: Literacy Forum Tomorrow!

In January, the Right to Read CT Coalition launched a series of forums on literacy. Tomorrow evening, part two will cover the topic of “Connecticut’s Homegrown Literacy Solution.” Panelists—including Superintendents, literacy experts, and the CT State Department of Education—will discuss a research-based literacy intervention that was built and piloted in Connecticut, CK3LI, and how it can be used to build a strong foundation for all future learning. This series of forums

dovetails with a legislative effort to better prepare Connecticut educators and students, based on the science of reading. The proposed legislation before the General Assembly, which was introduced by Representative Pat Billie Miller, would systematize a statewide response to literacy.

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