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How One Company Adapted Its PD for COVID and Beyond: A Case Study

Achieve3000’s efforts during the pandemic offer a window into how education businesses have sought to overhaul support for teachers to suit virtual environments.

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What State and Local Ed Tech Directors Worry About as Schools Return to In-Person Learning

The new executive director of the organization representing the state’s ed tech directors says teachers will need myriad forms of support as their schools return more fully to face-to-face instruction.

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How Many Students Will Be Forced to Repeat Courses and Grades Next Year?

An EdWeek Market Brief survey of district and school officials finds many predicting that the number of students being forced to repeat courses after this year will jump.

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Inside Khan Academy’s Expansion Into School Districts, and Online Tutoring

interview with Sal Khan

Khan Academy educational videos have long been a staple of student learning away from school, but it is now ramping up its efforts to work directly with school systems.

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Richard Robinson, CEO of Children’s Publishing Giant Scholastic, Dies at Age of 84

Scholastic Chairman and CEO Richard Robinson, who oversaw the company’s emergence as a major force in educational and children’s publishing over nearly five decades, died unexpectedly over the weekend.

Robinson, who was 84, had been in good health before he passed away, the firm said in an announcement.

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson,” Scholastic’s board said in a statement. “Dick was a true visionary in the world of children’s books and an unrelenting advocate for children’s literacy and education with a remarkable passion his entire life. The company’s directors and employees, as well as the many educators, parents and students whose lives he touched, mourn his loss.”

Scholastic was created 100 years ago, and is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, as well as a provider of literacy curriculum, professional services, classroom magazines, and other children’s media.

Scholastic’s Class A shareholders and board of directors will meet independently to select an interim operating head and chart the company’s direction, the announcement says.

In the meantime, a group of four executives will work to ensure that “day-to-day operations continue without interruption,” Scholastic said.  They are James Barge, Scholastic’s lead independent director; Iole Lucchese, executive vice president and chief strategy officer; Andrew Hedden, executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary; and Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Cleary.

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A Changed K-12 Market: What Education CEOs See on the Horizon

As students in many states return in person to classrooms, executives of education technology companies say they are dealing with a market that has been altered in a number of key ways.

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California Governor Makes Push for Open Educational Resources

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at Hanzo Sushi Thursday, April 29, 2021, in San Fernando, Calif. Businesses could be spared billions of dollars of higher taxes in coming years as a result of federal coronavirus relief funds flowing to the states. Newsom announced a budget plan this spring that would use $1.1 billion from the latest federal COVID-19 relief law to bolster a depleted unemployment compensation accounts. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, file)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s is calling for channeling $115 million to openly licensed resources at the college level, an effort that some advocates say could shape K-12 materials, too.

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The Challenge for Companies: Supporting Teachers in a Chaotic Era

Businesses in the education market face new and unfamiliar obstacles in delivering product support and professional development that spans remote, hybrid, and in-person learning environments.

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Learning Loss During COVID Will Fuel Economic Losses, Business Leaders Predict

The impact of learning loss during the pandemic won’t just be felt in the classroom. It could also saddle the future economy.

That was the core argument put forward recently by a group of eight business leaders from North Carolina, who made a public plea for state policymakers to address students’ academic slippage during COVID.

Among their recommendations, laid out at a recent online event, were for state policymakers to set up a recurring funding stream to train all of the state’s educators, and to move from a “student tutoring model” for literacy education to a model that supports educators based on the “science of reading.”

Reading proficiency among North Carolina 3rd graders slightly worsened during the pandemic.

According to a report last month by the (Raleigh) News & Observer, accounting for 67.7 percent of 3rd-grade students who had taken midyear assessments, 75.4 percent of 3rd graders were not reading at a proficient level, compared to 73.6 percent last school year.

“Let’s be clear: This is not just a North Carolina problem,” said Kelly King, chairman and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Truist Financial Corp., a consumer and commercial bank holding company. “This is a national problem.”

The impact of learning loss does not appear to be hitting all U.S. school communities equally. A report released by McKinsey & Company in December found that there was a 10 percent drop in average K-5 reading levels among majority-white schools during COVID, but a 23 percent drop in average K-5 reading levels among minority-majority schools.

Another participant in the North Carolina event, Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk, noted that COVID has likely accelerated the need for higher educational attainment, a demand that is unlikely to abate. Honeywell, headquartered in North Carolina, is a conglomerate with a heavy focus in aerospace and building technologies, among other industries.

Investing in early reading proficiency is integral to weathering a changing economy, and for students to gain education and skills to meet the needs of businesses, Adamczyk said.

“The recommendations we’re making today will address inequities in our workforce and help us develop a strong, diverse, and resilient talent pipeline well into the future,” he said.

In addition to recommending recurring state investments in teacher training in reading, the leaders called for North Carolina policymakers to maintain and even expand funding for pre-K access in the state and to eventually accomplish the goal of enrolling 75 percent of the state’s pre-K-eligible children, and to ensure that every county hits that benchmark.

The state currently funds pre-K programs at about $154 million per year.

Fred Whitfield, president and vice chairman of Hornets Sports & Entertainment, noted that about 9,100 fewer children enrolled in North Carolina pre-K for the 2020-2021 school year compared with the previous school year, eliminating all of the enrollment gains made in the state over the last four years.

Before COVID, enrollment in the state’s pre-K had topped 31,000 children — about 50 percent of the children eligible for the program statewide, he said. Now, pre-K programs in the state are serving only 36 percent of eligible children.

A Big Focus on Pre-K

“The drop in enrollment should not be viewed as a decrease in demand or need for North Carolina pre-K,” Whitfield said. “To the contrary, although we have much to overcome, this proven high-quality program, targeted at some of our most at-risk children, is needed now, more than ever.”

In addition to calling for more support for pre-K, the business leaders are asking state officials to inflation-adjust North Carolina’s pre-K funding for the first time in nine years, to require an annual such inflation adjustment, and to modify county-state cost sharing percentages to help economically disadvantaged counties cover program costs, Whitfield said.

During their presentation, the business leaders cited a 2016 CEO action plan to support improved U.S. literacy rates put forward by Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs at leading U.S. companies.

North Carolina business leaders were inspired by the action plan to initiate several pro-education initiatives, including creation of a comprehensive aligned education system for grades pre-K-3, as well as launching a data methodology to ensure that children stay on track to achieve reading proficiency, said Dale Jenkins, CEO of Raleigh, N.C.-based medical malpractice insurance provider Curi.

A “robust data system” is scheduled to roll out later this year, Jenkins said.

In 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly formed the Birth through Third Grade, or B-3, Interagency Council, which is a joint council between the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The goal of the effort was to create a vision for a birth through 3rd-grade system of early education, and a system of accountability tied to it, including standards and assessment, data-driven improvement and outcomes, and teacher and administrator preparation and effectiveness.

“We’ve made progress on these goals through the B-3 Interagency Council that was created in 2017 to address these issues among others,” Jenkins said. “We applaud the General Assembly and the governor for moving this forward together.”

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How School Districts Will Spend Money From the New Federal Stimulus

How will K-12 districts spend federal stimulus funding?

School systems are expected to have broad latitude to spend money from the American Rescue Plan on classroom and non-academic needs.

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