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Connect Students to the Power of Data 

Discover Data, developed in collaboration with the Nielsen Foundation and the National AfterSchool Association, offers exciting, relatable resources to introduce middle and high school students across the country to the power of understanding data. Why, you ask? 

Data Science is one of the twenty fastest growing occupations in the world, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That said, nearly EVERY high-growth career uses data in some way on a regular basis. Whether you are in sales, teaching, or computer programming, many professions require the collection and analysis of data. We created the Discover Data program to empower educators to engage students and help them see how they can use data to solve problems and make decisions in school, at home and at work (one day not too far in the future!). 

Discover Data offers a suite of educator resources resources that make teaching data easy, engaging, and interactive. If you’re an educator seeking turnkey ways to infuse data concepts into your lessons, the site offers instructional support, real-world data sets, and multimedia content to bring data and data-driven careers to life for your students. 

Here are just a few of the classroom resources available for grades 6-12: 

  • Curriculum Connectors provide several beginner and intermediate-level activities tied to a specific theme (holidays, gender equity, sustainability) and give educators the opportunity to integrate real-world data sets into existing curriculum or programming. 
  • Video Career Profiles highlight the diverse personalities and careers in data and showcase ways that these real-world professionals use data both in and out of work. 
  • Community Briefs allow learners of all ages across  communities to explore the world of data and get involved, no matter their level of experience. 

In a new feature, students can now even submit a question for a real-world data expert directly from the site, as well as explore existing answers to questions submitted by their peers. If you want to extend the learning even further, you can request a virtual volunteer visit with a data professional. Ready-to-use activities, a student interactive, and classroom activities are also available for students to get involved individually and with their peers. 

Data can be fun and interesting no matter the setting. Whether in or out of school, data can be used to explore everything from sports to business trends to our own personal habits and preferences. Connecting data with students’ lives and interests will help them to create a better understanding of what data is, and a greater motivation for them to learn about the capabilities and potential of data for their everyday lives and futures. 

Get your students started today at DiscoverDatainSchool.org or in the Discover Data channel in the Discovery Education learning platform. 

 




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Lincoln College, a predominantly Black institution, to close in May

Dive Brief:

  • Lincoln College, a small, private nonprofit institution based in central Illinois, will close in May, citing a recent cyberattack and pandemic-induced challenges that worsened its financial position.
  • The 157-year old college said it pursued fundraising efforts, employee consolidation and the sale of assets to try to stabilize its finances, without success.
  • It will formally shut down May 13. All employees will be laid off by that date. Officials did not announce arrangements for current students to complete their studies at another institution but said they’re planning an on-campus fair in April for them to meet with other colleges.

Dive Insight:

The pandemic stretched many colleges’ finances, but among those hit hardest were small, private nonprofit institutions.

Such was the case at Bloomfield College, a private nonprofit in New Jersey that was drowning financially until a nearby institution, Montclair State University, pledged to support it as the two work out a merger deal. Bloomfield refers to itself as the only four-year predominantly Black, Hispanic- and minority-serving institution in the state.

At Lincoln College, which is considered a predominantly Black institution, around two-thirds of students belong to racial or ethnic minority groups, and more than 40% are first-generation. 

The college experienced record enrollment in the fall of 2019, officials said. Federal data from fall 2019 shows more than 1,000 students enrolled. But as the coronavirus began to spread, the pandemic curtailed fundraising and campus life. 

“The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position,” a statement posted to Lincoln’s website reads.

Then, in December, the college fell victim to a cyberattack that rendered inoperable its systems required for recruitment, retention and fundraising. No personal information was exposed, officials said. But it left “an unclear picture” of fall 2022 enrollment projections.

The college restored those systems in March. However, by then projections suggested significant enrollment shortfalls that could only be made up by “a transformational donation or partnership” to keep the institution afloat.

None materialized.

“Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years,” David Gerlach, its president, said in a statement. “The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense.”

Students who don’t finish their degrees by the end of the spring term will need to do so elsewhere. Some colleges arrange teach-outs with other institutions when they close, but no such partnership has been announced for Lincoln. 

College officials have not shared what institution will handle requests for transcripts and other records once it shuts down. 

Lincoln will provide employees with two months of severance pay if they meet certain requirements and stay on through the closure date of May 13. 

Meanwhile, Lincoln Christian University, a private institution a couple of miles away, is also pursuing austerity measures. It is ending almost all of its undergraduate programs and athletics, may reduce the size of the campus, and is homing in on graduate programs and its seminary.


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State of Utah Approves Funding for Continued Use of YouScience Discovery Statewide

AMERICAN FORK, Utah, March 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ —  YouScience, the only provider of a fully-integrated platform for aptitude-based assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry-recognized certifications, today announced that the Utah State Legislature has approved funding for the continued use of  YouScience Discovery through the 20222023 school year. As part of Utah’s  Student Credential Account and Aptitude Assessment, nearly 300,000 middle and high school students as well as teachers, counselors, and administrators will have access to  YouScience Discovery in addition to  Precision Exams by YouScience.

“College and career success starts with a student understanding their aptitude at an early age. This information can help eliminate biases and remove career exposure gaps impacting the trajectory of students today,” said Edson Barton, Founder and CEO, YouScience. “We would like to thank the State of Utah for recognizing the importance of YouScience Discovery along with Precision Exams by YouScience. We are honored to continue our work together during the next school year to empower students throughout their academic journey.”

YouScience Discovery has been in use across Utah since the beginning of the 2021–2022 school year, and has already helped more than 35,000 middle and high school students better understand their own talents and identify future opportunities. The aptitude assessment, which is built on learnings from 50-plus years of scientific research, helps students identify where they have a natural talent, and matches these talents with in-demand careers and educational pathways. As a result, students are more aware of their natural strengths and the opportunities they may afford.

“We look forward to continuing to work with YouScience to meet the needs of the students in Utah,” said Thalea Longhurst, Director of Career and Technical Education at the Utah State Board of Education. “This funding helps students discover their natural talents and receive better direction toward meaningful CTE classes and pathways, and future education and careers.”

A recent analysis by YouScience highlighted the impact of YouScience Discovery in the state. The company  analyzed the anonymized YouScience Discovery test results of more than 23,000 Utah middle and high school students. The findings of its  Utah Talent Report showed that while students possess the necessary talents needed for the state’s in-demand careers, many do not show interest in these areas — in some cases due to lack of exposure to the career opportunities within the state. YouScience Discovery helps eliminate this career exposure gap and highlight students’ college and career opportunities, connecting them to desirable and in-demand jobs.

“Having spent many years of my career as a high school career counselor, I know the most important thing we can do is help our students recognize their natural aptitudes and envision the careers they can build from them,” said Senator Derrin Owens, who championed the appropriation with the Utah Legislature. “As a state, we invest heavily into education with an eye on driving our economy now and in the future. We already see a significant return on our investment in the aptitude assessments and I expect that to grow as the program is fully integrated across Utah schools.”

In addition, YouScience has been the chosen provider of industry-recognized certifications, through Precision Exams by YouScience, in Utah since 2006. Since its deployment, more than one million certificates have been administered across the state. These certifications help students validate their skills and knowledge learned in career and technical education (CTE) and other elective courses, as well as showcase their soft skills.

For more information on YouScience and its solutions, please visit  www.youscience.com.

About YouScience
YouScience is the only provider of a fully-integrated platform that delivers highly accurate aptitude-based assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry-recognized certifications, empowering individuals in their educational and career pathways. Leveraging proven research and industry input, YouScience helps individuals identify their natural talents, validate their skills and knowledge, and get matched with real-world educational and career pathways in high-demand occupations. YouScience is the preferred choice of individuals, parents, educators, and counselors to guide and support educational and career pathways, currently serving more than 7,000 educational institutions and nearly one million users.

SOURCE YouScience

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Jury finds University of Miami professor has no pay bias claim

Dive Brief:

  • The University of Miami paid a female political science professor less than a male professor in her department, but that wasn’t because of her sex, a federal jury found March 11 (EEOC v. University of Miami, No. 19-23131 (S.D. Fla. March 11, 2022)).
  • The female professor said she learned from an inadvertent email in 2018 that for the 2017-2018 academic year, the university paid the male professor $137,366, nearly $25,000 more than what it paid her ($112,400). Both professors had doctorate degrees in political science and both taught the same level of courses in the same department, court documents said. They were promoted to full professor at the same time, and both were on tenure tracks and bound by the same requirements and expectations.
  • In pretrial motions, the university argued that it had nondiscriminatory reasons for the difference in pay: He taught different classes, specialized in a different area, published in more prestigious journals and drew attention to the university’s program. The university also said market considerations supported their different starting salaries: $50,000 for her in 2000; $81,000 for him in 2007. A jury found that the female professor was not paid a lower wage for doing equal work and that sex was not a motivating factor in the university’s decision to pay her less.

Dive Insight:

The case illustrates that pay decisions, even those based on multiple, nondiscriminatory factors, carry some risk.

The university explained in court documents, for example, that it considers numerous factors when making faculty pay decisions. With a potential new hire, administrators look at the salaries of comparable professors within the department and other institutions, as well as the candidate’s credentials, past teaching experience, research record and publications, it explained in court documents. To determine raises, it considers a professor’s teaching, service, research, publications, performance and the department’s salary structure. It also considers counteroffers or potential poaching by another institution.

But employees paid less than a co-worker perceived to be similarly situated may believe they’ve been wronged and want recourse. Pay equity audits can help minimize that risk by identifying and addressing pay discrepancies unrelated to job factors. They also can bolster worker trust, a 2021 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found. 

However, before committing to an audit, employers should consider using legal privilege, which protects against disclosure during legal proceedings; develop accurate comparisons; and conduct a statistical regression analysis, a management-side attorney said in a recent webinar, adding that it’s also important for employers to follow through on the results.


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We need support and empathy to prevent teacher burnout

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the world. Its impact on the educational profession, though, is unique. Every educator has an impact on children–the future adults. In a time of fear and uncertainty, our students turn to us; we are the moms, dads, and guardians away from home. We spend several hours a day with our students. Parents entrust us with the most precious things in their world–their children. This is a humbling fact.

Teachers are not robots–they, too, are human beings with feelings, fears, insecurities and lives. A teacher’s day is beyond classroom hours, and at the same time, teachers have to take care of themselves. When teachers don’t do this, they experience teacher burnout.

A nationally representative survey of teachers by RAND Education and Labor in late January and early February 2021 found that educators were feeling depressed and burned out from their jobs at higher rates than the general population. In the survey, one in four teachers–particularly Black teachers–reported that they were considering leaving their jobs at the end of the school year. Only one in six said the same before the pandemic. So, what can be done?

I have been teaching in a public elementary school for 23 years. I have had an impact on hundreds of children during this time–and anyone who sits at my desk and looks at my walls will see this–dozens of notes, poems, little books written to me over the years by my students, thanking me for all I’ve done to help them learn to read. When I’m having a day that makes me ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” I reread these notes, poems, little books and remember why–I am making a difference in a “kiddo’s” life.

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New Online Platform from Vernier Boosts High School Students’ STEM Learning with Fun, Interactive Investigations and Projects

BEAVERTON, Oregon, March 31, 2022 — Leveraging standards-based instructional content and its award-winning technology, Vernier Software & Technology is announcing Vernier Connections, an innovative web-based platform to engage high school students in hands-on STEM learning and exploration. Vernier Connections emphasizes fun and interactive investigations and projects, and it gives educators the ability to assess student comprehension across all science disciplines.

“Academic recovery post pandemic is a national imperative and supporting educators with this gargantuan task is a must. Vernier Connections provides comprehensive, critical support to science educators to help students catch up in their learning,” said John Wheeler, CEO of Vernier Software & Technology. “It also promotes STEM literacy, that is, the ability to think critically and work with others to find innovative solutions to complex challenges. To that end, Vernier Connections gives students the ability to study the real world in their own context, collect and analyze data as they investigate natural phenomena, and take part in experiential and three-dimensional STEM learning.“

This new platform draws on the decades of STEM expertise that Vernier Software & Technology has, bringing together relevant hands-on technology and high-quality resources to save educators time and deliver instruction in a fun and modern way. It includes robust content, resources, assessments, and management tools.

In the platform, educators can create their own instructional content or access science investigations and projects—which can be used with or without Vernier probeware—to meet the unique needs of their students.

All this content, which educators can easily customize, is designed by STEM educators and leaders, supported by the renowned technology support and professional development of Vernier Software & Technology, and aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. The content can also be aligned to a district’s scope and sequence, removing the guesswork for teachers.

While participating in the platform’s investigations and projects, students can use Vernier apps to collect, display, and analyze data as they learn important science concepts. Many of the investigations promote collaboration, problem-solving, and the development of critical-thinking skills—all of which are crucial for success in college and the future workforce.

Additionally, students can submit their work via Vernier Connections, which helps educators easily track learning progress. Educators are also able to determine students’ comprehension through the platform’s formative assessments, which are specifically designed for three-dimensional learning.

Vernier Connections initially works on macOS, Windows, and ChromeOS, with more platforms coming later, and is curriculum agnostic, making it easy for educators to integrate into their science curriculum. It will be available to schools and districts later this year.

To learn more about Vernier Connections and to sign up for updates on this state-of-the-art platform, visit http://www.vernier.com/connections.

About Vernier Software & Technology

Vernier Software & Technology has led the innovation of educational, scientific data-collection technology for over 40 years. Vernier was founded by a former physics teacher and employs educators at all levels of the organization. The company is committed to teachers and to developing creative ways to teach and learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) using hands-on science. Vernier creates easy-to-use and affordable science interfaces, sensors, and graphing/analysis software. With worldwide distribution to over 150 countries, Vernier data loggers are used by educators and students from elementary school to university. Vernier technology-based solutions enhance STEM education, increase learning, build students’ critical-thinking skills, and support the science and engineering practices detailed in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Vernier business culture is grounded in Earth-friendly policies and practices, and the company provides a family-friendly workplace. For more information, visit http://www.vernier.com.

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How to focus on classroom accessibility

The interruption of in-person learning environments due to COVID-19 impacted everyone, but it particularly challenged those with specific learning needs.

In fact, equity became one of the top issues as the pandemic spread across the globe. Educators in every building acknowledged the continuing need to create more equitable education environments.

Students deserve the resources and support they need to fully engage in learning, and when you design for inclusion, everyone benefits.

Do you need to evaluate your district’s classroom accessibility? Check out this eSchool News webinar to learn how to develop and enable a more inclusively and accessibly designed classroom that provides each student the tools and supports they need – from built-in technology tools to making open education resources more accessible.

Laura Ascione
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More from eSchool News

As schools move toward making masks optional for students and teachers, concerns are turning to the best ways to mitigate COVID-19 infections–and indoor air quality is a major concern.

Teachers are not robots–they, too, are human beings with feelings, fears, insecurities and lives. A teacher’s day is beyond classroom hours, and at the same time, teachers have to take care of themselves. When teachers don’t do this, they burn out.

School district leaders across the country are cautiously looking forward to post-pandemic teaching and learning–but they are also eyeing what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to upgrade their technology infrastructure and classrooms with interactive displays, laptops, and more.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the importance of instructional audio solutions. With mask mandates and social distancing, instructional audio solutions play a critical role—projecting educators’ voices and ensuring every student can hear and understand what’s being asked of them.

The role of elementary teachers has never been more important, especially as kindergarten through fifth grade students today are facing more change than ever before–from the effects of the pandemic to social media and stressful current events being right at their fingertips.

Getting There: Innovations in Education

Getting There: Innovations in Education

All in your head: Essential post-pandemic mental tactics for education leaders







/

The interruption of in-person learning environments due to COVID-19 impacted everyone, but it particularly challenged those with specific learning needs.

The sudden switch to remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic caught plenty of school districts off guard, and they scrambled to find devices that were up to the task.

How much would you pay for a crystal ball that could foresee the next education crisis? Though the ongoing pandemic has been referred to as a ‘once-in-a -lifetime crisis for school,’ we know that future crises are, unfortunately, inevitable. What schools, educators and families have experienced over the last two years has radically changed our understanding of what it means to truly care for students and teachers.

The power of human connection is a transformative element that is deeply wired into our collective DNA. With so many teachers experiencing burnout, I can’t help but recognize a strong link between human connection and the challenges facing teachers today.

As the CDC shifts its recommendations and schoolchildren are no longer required to wear masks in many parts of the country, questions remain about how aging school infrastructure can support the health and safety needs–including air quality–that accompany reduced precautions.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.


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Dollar General Literacy Foundation Makes Nearly $5 Million Investment in Literacy Solutions Following New Research Report

Goodlettsville, Tennessee – March 31, 2022 – The Dollar General Literacy Foundation (DGLF) announced a commitment of approximately $5 million in grants to five national organizations working to address the critical literacy needs identified in its new State of American Literacy Report released today. The grant recipients, including Save the Children, The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, DonorsChoose, Discovery Education and the Children’s Defense Fund, are focused on advancing literacy instruction and access, developing learning tools and technology and providing professional development for instructors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has set back many in their education and literacy learning efforts and threatens to deepen the literacy crisis,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and vice president of corporate social responsibility at Dollar General. “We know the devastating impacts of low literacy on an individual’s quality of life – limiting opportunities for advancement in the workforce, access to higher education, engagement in civic activity, and even effects on health. Through our research we are better able to understand the needs of the field and empower teachers, students and communities to harness the power of literacy and education at this critical juncture.”

State of American Literacy Report Findings

The report, which includes surveys and interviews with more than 1,200 students, parents, teachers, adult learners and experts in adult and youth literacy from October to December 2021, underscores the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on literacy learning for both adults and youth K-12. This disruption has impacted access to quality instruction, remediation and intervention. Low literacy was already an issue prior to the pandemic, with more than 40 million adults in the U.S. possessing low literacy skills and youth reading levels stagnating. 

Key findings from the report include:

  • Literacy Skills are Critical for Success: Students, parents, teachers and principals all view reading and writing well as the single most important factor to a child’s success in life, ahead of other factors like technology skills.
  • More Students are Struggling: Nearly three quarters of teachers surveyed indicated they were teaching more students now who have difficulty reading than before the pandemic.
  • Lack of Staffing is a Challenge:Among K-12 educators, a lack of staffing – particularly of reading specialists and tutors – ranked among the top challenges faced, along with lack of professional development.
  • Flexible Support for Adults is Needed: Adult learners struggle to fit improving reading into their work and life schedules – and are looking for more accessible and flexible solutions.
  • Improving Reading and Writing Became Harder: For adults, the ability to improve reading and writing skills is among the top issues made worse by the pandemic.
  • A Technology Silver Lining: Many instructors have become more adept at virtual instruction, and thus new tailored tools now exist for online and blended learning that are well-suited for the busy schedules of adults and parents and their children, opening the door for increased access.

A Commitment to Support Literacy Advancement

On the heels of its State of American Literacy Report, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation remains committed to strategic investments and grantmaking for students and educators across four key impact areas:

  • Professional Development: Investments geared toward helping instructors more efficiently address literacy issues in classroom and small-group literacy instruction for youth and adults.
  • Accessible Adult Learning: Delivery of high-quality literacy instruction that is available at times convenient for adult learners. This may include in-person and/or online instruction and technology-enabled solutions.
  • High-Quality Reading Instruction: Access to high-quality reading instruction through grants, particularly in rural communities that may lack access to technology and other services. 
  • Volunteer Tutors: Investment in efforts to recruit, train, and place volunteer tutors within literacy programs in K-12 and adult literacy programs.

Taking Action with Nearly $5 Million in Immediate Grants

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation will provide approximately $5 million in grants across five national organizations to further support students and educators:

  • Save the Children: Providing support for in-school and afterschool programming for K-3 students, inclusive of digital book access, training and technical assistance and support for the Rural Library Network.
  • Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: A two-year commitment to support implementation of the National Action Plan for Adult Literacy, with a focus on boosting literacy organizations, advancing professional development for teachers and identifying opportunity gaps.
  • DonorsChoose: Matching donations on all book-related projects posted by teachers across the U.S. on DonorsChoose.org.
  • Discovery Education in Partnership with National Afterschool Association: Launching a no-cost, nationwide literacy platform focused on supporting teachers with research-based micro-learnings, providing standards-aligned resources to advance the application of new strategies, and create equitable access to tools and resources for under-resourced communities, both in and out of school.
  • Children’s Defense Fund: Funding the southern expansion of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools® program, which provides high-quality, culturally responsive academic enrichments to K-12 grade students nationally.

Dollar General and Literacy

Dollar General’s co-founder, J.L. Turner, was functionally illiterate and never completed a formal education. In 1993, J.L.’s grandson, Cal Turner, Jr., founded the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to honor him and support others’ educational journeys. Over the past 28 years, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has donated more than $203 million to provide funding and resources to support literacy advancement and has helped more than 14.8 million individuals learn to read, prepare for the high school equivalency or learn English. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is currently accepting applications for youth literacy grants through Thursday, May 19, 2022, until 10 p.m. CT. Grant applications may be found online at  http://www.dgliteracy.org.

For additional information, , please visit Dollar General Newsroom or contact 1-877-944-DGPR (3477) or email dgpr@dollargeneral.com.

About the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since 1993, the Foundation has awarded more than $203 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 14.8 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. Each year, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation provides financial support to schools, nonprofit organizations and libraries within a 15-mile radius of Dollar General stores and distribution centers. To learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation or apply for a literacy grant, visit www.dgliteracy.org.

About Dollar General Corporation

Dollar General Corporation has been delivering value to shoppers for more than 80 years. Dollar General helps shoppers Save time. Save money. Every day.® by offering products that are frequently used and replenished, such as food, snacks, health and beauty aids, cleaning supplies, basic apparel, housewares and seasonal items at everyday low prices in convenient neighborhood locations. Dollar General operated 18,130 stores in 46 states as of January 28, 2022. In addition to high-quality private brands, Dollar General sells products from America’s most-trusted manufacturers such as Clorox, Energizer, Procter & Gamble, Hanes, Coca-Cola, Mars, Unilever, Nestle, Kimberly-Clark, Kellogg’s, General Mills, and PepsiCo. Learn more about Dollar General at www.dollargeneral.com.

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Making indoor air quality a top priority

As schools move toward making masks optional for students and teachers, concerns are turning to the best ways to mitigate COVID-19 infections–and indoor air quality is a major concern.

With students back in physical classrooms, air quality must take priority regardless of a district’s mask policy. But how can district leaders address the varying degrees of improvements schools may need to update their indoor air systems?

Join this eSchool News webinar to learn about:

  • health and safety risks associated with impure air and the need to “up our game” in classroom air purification
  • regulatory guidelines on indoor air quality and a practical guide to evaluating your present air purification system(s)
  • your peers’ experiences going through a recent upgrade to fix air quality concerns
Laura Ascione
Latest posts by Laura Ascione (see all)

More from eSchool News

The interruption of in-person learning environments due to COVID-19 impacted everyone, but it particularly challenged those with specific learning needs.

Teachers are not robots–they, too, are human beings with feelings, fears, insecurities and lives. A teacher’s day is beyond classroom hours, and at the same time, teachers have to take care of themselves. When teachers don’t do this, they burn out.

School district leaders across the country are cautiously looking forward to post-pandemic teaching and learning–but they are also eyeing what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to upgrade their technology infrastructure and classrooms with interactive displays, laptops, and more.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on the importance of instructional audio solutions. With mask mandates and social distancing, instructional audio solutions play a critical role—projecting educators’ voices and ensuring every student can hear and understand what’s being asked of them.

The role of elementary teachers has never been more important, especially as kindergarten through fifth grade students today are facing more change than ever before–from the effects of the pandemic to social media and stressful current events being right at their fingertips.

Getting There: Innovations in Education

Getting There: Innovations in Education

All in your head: Essential post-pandemic mental tactics for education leaders







/

As schools move toward making masks optional for students and teachers, concerns are turning to the best ways to mitigate COVID-19 infections–and indoor air quality is a major concern.

The sudden switch to remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic caught plenty of school districts off guard, and they scrambled to find devices that were up to the task.

How much would you pay for a crystal ball that could foresee the next education crisis? Though the ongoing pandemic has been referred to as a ‘once-in-a -lifetime crisis for school,’ we know that future crises are, unfortunately, inevitable. What schools, educators and families have experienced over the last two years has radically changed our understanding of what it means to truly care for students and teachers.

The power of human connection is a transformative element that is deeply wired into our collective DNA. With so many teachers experiencing burnout, I can’t help but recognize a strong link between human connection and the challenges facing teachers today.

As the CDC shifts its recommendations and schoolchildren are no longer required to wear masks in many parts of the country, questions remain about how aging school infrastructure can support the health and safety needs–including air quality–that accompany reduced precautions.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.


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The Higher Education Model is Broken. Together We Can Fix It.

We’re familiar with the higher education headlines. Growing student debt, declining college enrollment, faculty layoffs and department closures, to name a few. The world’s complexity has been catapulted to a new level, and higher education is feeling the repercussions like never before.

In 2015, I wrote a book responding to the declining-enrollment crisis faced by many small liberal arts colleges throughout the country. Soaring operational expenses and shrinking government support has led to higher attendance costs for students, and as a result, to lower enrollment numbers.

The root causes of this crisis have not changed much over the last seven years. However, what has changed, from my perspective, is a willingness to navigate these headwinds collaboratively as a sector, as opposed to in isolation. At conferences and on calls I see innovative presidents, administrators and faculty sharing ideas and solutions that we all used to hold close to our chests.

The solution is within reach. It’s time we, as higher ed leaders, reinvent our institutions through intelligent collaboration.

It’s possible to preserve the best parts of our colleges, their values and the experiences they provide, but we have to do it while expanding access and reducing costs to serve those who need us most—our students.

The Problem With Tuition

Running a college is like running a small city—a really expensive small city. There are costs and demands associated with its infrastructure to keep buildings, classrooms, streets, dining facilities, science labs and athletics departments updated and operating well. Many of these small cities have been magical, transformative places for well over a century, but these cities can’t be run—and thrive—on the backs of students and their families taking out large loans to make it work.

This is especially true as escalating tuition costs are outpacing both the average household income and the rate of inflation. Add in demographic changes, and it’s no surprise that demand is falling for the traditional college experience.

Growing debt burdens across the board and rapidly changing workforce expectations are placing more pressure on students and families each year as they face the reality of what it takes to get a college degree and wonder whether that degree is worth the cost. Today’s prospective college students are closely watching the previous generation contend with student loan issues and seeing how debt affects financial security post-graduation.

These issues are not simply a temporary consequence of the unimaginable pandemic that no one saw coming, but inherent problems in the financial model that has sustained our schools for hundreds of years. Tuition, taxpayer funding, and donations/grants have long provided revenues. Most of the costs are fixed, with little flexibility. Not to mention, a grueling financial aid application process is difficult for students and parents to navigate and has also contributed to a student debt crisis that has disproportionately left borrowers struggling to keep their heads above water.

The days of annual cost increases in tuition have to be over. We can no longer assume that the incremental rising tuition costs will continue to be sustainable for families in the decades to come.

What’s Affecting Enrollment?

Many colleges across the country are facing the same problem—enrollment numbers are down, and campuses are left scrambling to fill classes and provide the same level of service and educational excellence. What’s clear, however, is that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t actually cause these pain points. It simply accelerated a problem for higher education that already existed. From 2010 to 2019, college enrollment nationwide fell about 11 percent, according to analysis from NPR, due to changes in the labor market that incentivized working over studying; lower birth rates several decades ago; and increased tuition costs. Now, 1 million fewer students are enrolled in college than before the pandemic.

Many students base their college search on the type of programs offered within a given major. In fact, according to research from New America, the academic programs offered are the most important decision factor for a student’s specific college choice. Small colleges tend to offer fewer majors than large universities do. While the quality of education offered at private colleges is unsurpassed, many students end up at large state schools solely because they want to pursue a degree that the smaller private schools don’t offer.

Meanwhile, the construct of the four-year college experience being “essential” is coming under scrutiny. Success today looks different and more diverse than it did in years past. With the rise of online learning, there are more options to help students achieve academic success, and it’s time to offer more of these channels to our students before they look elsewhere. Otherwise, the financial pressure grows more intense and our business model falls further into disrepair.

What Students Want

Liberal arts colleges are scrambling to increase enrollment, but can’t afford the upfront investment and fixed costs required to create new degree programs. While some institutions believe lavish perks and amenities are the answer, the true key to increasing enrollment numbers and setting students up for success is demonstrating new-age value through innovative solutions.

We need to recalibrate by asking one simple question: What do students actually want?

The quintessential college experience is still in demand. Many students want to return to on-campus and in-person social activities. They want to experience dorm life and tailgating on the weekends. They’re still excited for that four-year Norman Rockwell college experience that’s been painted for them.

However, what unites all students, from the 18-year-old to the working adult, is that they want their education to be future-proofed with opportunities after graduation. They want jobs. The data here is about as conclusive as it gets. From New America to Populace to College Pulse, I’m not sure I’ve seen a study where students don’t rank jobs No. 1.

We are seeing the most tech-savvy generation of students navigate different modalities of remote learning. While they want the on-campus experience they have come to know and expect, students today are open to a more hybrid model, both online and in-person, that delivers more efficiency and convenience.

So, how do we accommodate?

One answer, which I have been fortunate to play a part in on our campus at Adrian College, comes from the Lower Cost Models Consortium (LCMC) in partnership with Rize Education, a higher-education technology platform powering the development of academic programs. The LCMC is a new way forward in helping institutions come together to establish new, enrollment-driving majors and minors that are affordable for the institution and its students.

It’s a consortium that brings together presidents, chief financial officers, chief academic officers, provosts and engaged faculty members and administrators to:

1) share information on each college’s cost-cutting programs

2) discuss important curricular initiatives that are in the active planning phase; and

3) set in motion the possibility of additional shared initiatives.

The LCMC helps liberal arts colleges offer top-quality, competitive, hybrid degree programs that integrate online courses with the face-to-face learning already offered at institutions. These are degrees that prepare students for great jobs, in disciplines like cybersecurity, supply chain management and data analytics.

This course-sharing model, with classes taught by professors and adjunct faculty at member institutions, leverages online learning to innovate more quickly and circumnavigate the barriers of upfront investments and fixed costs that typically freeze small colleges in place. For every course that is exchanged between member institutions within the LCMC, a portion of the tuition goes to the teaching institution to cover instructional costs and another portion goes to Rize to support the online-learning platform operations.

It is on us as liberal arts institutions to show students that a combination of a core liberal arts education with technological skills and applied learning is a formidable foundation to thrive in the digital workplace. By working together, we can provide our students the desired, quintessential small college experience without compromising on offering the most cutting-edge academic programs—and we can do it in a transformative, less costly and more creative way.

The good news is that there is still time to fix the problem. If college leaders can come together in the spirit of collegiality and innovation, we can appeal to student demands and ensure the long-term financial future of our venerable institutions. In doing so, we also will ensure that today’s wonderful young adults can also experience the transformative college experience that was so important to all of us.


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