Research Digest — February 2021

A monthly digest for state education agency staff, highlighting research and resources supporting state priorities.

How Principals Affect Students and Schools: A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research

The Wallace Foundation released a report summarizing what researchers have learned about the connection between school leadership and student achievement and other outcomes in the United States since 2000, picking up roughly where Leithwood and coauthors (2004) left off in their influential Wallace Foundation–commissioned school leadership research review. This updated synthesis draws on 219 high-quality research studies about school leadership published in the 20 years since 2000, the latter end of the period covered by the earlier review. Among the studies are six, all published since 2012, that examine principal impact by taking advantage of school and principal longitudinal data unavailable 20 years ago. The report finds that effective principals have positive impacts on student achievement and attendance, as well as teacher satisfaction and retention.

Using Chronic Absence to Map Interrupted Schooling, Instructional Loss and Educational Inequity: Insights from School Year 2017-18 Data

Attendance Works released a report providing a national and state analysis of how many schools face high levels of chronic absence and shows how chronic absence data reported prior to the coronavirus pandemic can help guide strategies to address the learning loss that has been further exacerbated by Covid-19. The report offers key recommendations school districts and states can take to turn around low attendance during the pandemic. State data reports for all states* and the District of Columbia, and an interactive map from The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, allowing anyone—from parents to policymakers—to explore the scale of the chronic absence problem documented in the 2017-18 school year data at multiple levels: school, district, state and country.

Supporting Young English Learners at Home: Family and Caregiver Activities

Recognizing the important role family members play in a child's learning (especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic), REL Northwest in collaboration with REL West and REL Northeast & Islands, developed a resource comprising nine activities that families can use to build on students' assets and home language to ultimately help them develop their English skills. The activities draw on recommendations from Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School, a What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide.

K-12 Funding Policy Responses to COVID-19

The Education Commission of the States released a policy snapshot providing examples of legislation in 13 states that have proposed or enacted legislation addressing the following principles of K-12 funding models: attendance and enrollment, revenue, and equity-based initiatives.

School Leader Digital Learning Guide

The U.S. Department of Education released a guide to help school and district administrators consider, plan, fund, implement, maintain, and adapt learning programs that meet the unique needs and requirements of their students and teachers. The guide is oriented toward digital learning principles and practices that enable and empower students and teachers of all abilities and zip codes while advancing student agency (i.e., initiative, intention, and responsibility in pursuing their education), their personalized learning, their mastery of skills and competencies, and protecting their privacy.

Toolkit for Assessing Learning Changes After Spring 2020 COVID-19 School Closures

REL Midwest released a resource in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to help public school districts better understand how their students are faring after widespread school closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This toolkit is a step-by-step guide for districts that want to:

  • Learn where learning changes may have occurred.
  • Understand how to use that knowledge to inform decisionmaking.
  • Identify next steps for future analysis and planning

How Are School Districts Addressing Student Social-Emotional Needs during the Pandemic?

The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) released a brief examining how their nationally representative sample of 477 school districts attended to students’ social and emotional learning and well-being in fall 2020.

Students’ social and emotional learning and well-being were a concern before the COVID-19 pandemic and are an even bigger issue now, as students and teachers cope with the pressures of not only the pandemic and social isolation, but also the nation’s reckoning with law enforcement violence against Black people, an ongoing economic crisis, and threats to American democracy.

In light of these challenges, CRPE wanted to see whether districts’ remote learning and school reopening plans mentioned social and emotional learning and, if so, in what ways.

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