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: Tracking Student Engagement When They Go Remote and Teacher Shortages Impact Connecticut Schools.
Tracking Student Engagement When They Go Remote
Over the summer, the State of Connecticut worked with school districts to provide them with the technology and support needed to facilitate online learning this school year. While accessible technology is essential to ensure students are engaged in remote learning, school administrators in Connecticut and across the nation are still struggling to connect with large numbers of children on a consistent basis. The New York Times describes the challenges of finding these “lost students,” and points to a variety of reasons, including students who lack a computer or stable internet; who need to work or care for younger children; or whose families were evicted and had to move. In New Haven, one of Connecticut’s largest school districts that opted for a fully remote return to school this month, leaders acknowledged that up to 23% of all students were not fully engaged in learning in the first week of school. Earlier this month, the Connecticut State Department of Education announced plans to require districts to track student participation, whether they are full time in person, hybrid, or remote. According to Commissioner Miguel Cardona, “During this most important school year of our lifetimes, we want to make sure all of our students are accounted for and engaged with equitable access to meaningful educational opportunities — regardless of learning model.” The reporting of data for September student engagement is due for release in early October. More on Tracking Student Engagement:
As Schools Go Remote, Finding ‘Lost’ Students Gets Harder (New York Times)
23% of students are not fully engaging in online learning, New Haven says (WTNH)
Teacher Shortages Impact Connecticut Schools
While the dire warnings of teacher retirements and departures due to COVID-19 did not materialize, there is consistent reporting on a shortage of available substitute teachers, floating aids, and supporting staff. The challenge of teacher and staff shortages in Connecticut public schools was recently studied by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. They identify causes that pre-date the pandemic, including: a decline in enrollment in teacher preparation programs, an increase in Connecticut teachers leaving the profession, a shift in the socioeconomic backgrounds of students, and persistent shortages in key specializations including bilingual education and special education. Reflecting on the Rockefeller study, the Connecticut Department of Education released its own report in 2020, Identification of Teacher Shortage Areas, which concluded, “Connecticut has a distributional problem: The demand for more teachers, for certain specializations, and for increasing diversity in the teacher workforce is concentrated in a few urban, high-poverty districts that are already challenged in recruiting and retaining teachers.” More On Connecticut Teaching Staff Shortages:
CT Department of Education Identification of Teacher Shortage Areas
Rockefeller Institute - State of the Connecticut Teacher Workforce
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