February 2024


Assessments should be more inclusive to reflect all students’ cultures, experiences, North Dallas Gazette, 02/29/24
“Research tells us that learning is inherently cultural,” said EdTrust Assistant Director of P-12 Policy Nicholas Munyan-Penney, one of the report’s authors. “In other words, we connect new information to what we already know, including our experiences, social constructs, and personal perspectives. Attempts to remove culture from assessment questions in the name of objectivity not only privileges White perspectives but is out of step with how students learn and demonstrate their knowledge and skills.”

OP-ED: Investing in Louisiana’s Earliest Learners: A Clear Path to Academic and Economic Prosperity, BIZ Magazine, 02/27/24
“This is why the allure of affordable and high-quality early care and education lies in its dual impact: it delivers both immediate and long-term benefits, not just for the young children enrolled in the program, but for their parents, who can more consistently attend work or college, setting them up for long-term economic success. If we are genuinely committed to reforming our education system, breaking the cycle of generational poverty, and helping families recover from pandemic losses, early intervention must be prioritized,” Tramelle Howard, Louisiana State Director of EdTrust.

Voucher Discussions Finally Begin in Legislative Committees, Nashville Scene, 02/27/24
Gini Pupo-Walker, a former Metro school board member and current executive director of the Education Trust in Tennessee, says Lee’s plan reflects the national universal voucher movement, which “is really not interested in accountability or testing or public reporting — for good reason — because the research shows it doesn’t work.” “The amendment the House filed today is 39 pages long for a reason,” Pupo-Walker tells the Scene. “They needed many additional items in order to garner votes for passage. … Unfortunately, the debate will be muddied due to a wide range of other important education policy considerations that are now folded into this bill, making it harder for Tennesseans to truly understand the impact of the voucher bill on their schools and communities.”

Another Downside of Book Bans? They Stunt Reading Ability, Word in Black (also featured in 2 other outlets), 02/27/24
“This is actually a very preventable problem,” says Allison Rose Socol, vice president for P-12 policy, research and practice at Education Trust. Studies show that “if (students) are given access to texts in which they see themselves reflected, that they will not only want to read, but they will develop a love of reading.” But “the access and availability of culturally relevant, rich texts are not happening in a lot of schools,” Socol says. “And that is disproportionately affecting the fundamental reading skills of many students of color.”

A Reckoning in Cleveland: COVID Cuts Slash Laptops, Summer School, After-School, The 74, 02/25/24
“For many of those districts, it made up an outsized percentage of their usual budget, which we think from an equity perspective, was a great thing because it allows those districts to make investments that they have long needed,” said Qubilah Huddleston, who works on school funding issues for the Education Trust. “That said, they are also now faced with making some of the toughest budget decisions that they probably had to make in a while.” Huddleston also cautioned that other factors, including state aid changing as enrollment fell across the country, are adding to districts’ budget troubles.

Despite top ranking, state sees AP course equity gaps, News 22 WWLP, 02/23/24
The pending House bill would create a uniform structure for accepting exam scores, as lawmakers look to improve equity and transparency at colleges and universities. About half of Latino students and 61 percent of Black students scored a 3 on AP tests in 2021-22, according to research released last month by the Education Trust, a national nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps.

Low-Performing Schools Are Left to Languish by Districts and States, Watchdog Finds, EdWeek, 02/23/24
But, given that most plans were missing at least one basic element, it seems unlikely that foundering schools are receiving significant support, said Nicholas Munyan-Penney, the assistant director of P-12 policy at the Education Trust, a research and advocacy organization that works on behalf of disadvantaged students. “Based on what we’re seeing here, that [states and districts] are not able to thoughtfully and thoroughly plan for improvement, it’s unlikely that they’re actually doing the types of improvement activities that we would like to see in these schools,” Munyan-Penney said.

Teachers Say They Have Little Influence in Curriculum Debates, EdWeek, 02/22/24
“When we’re finding that teachers, even when they are not subject to laws and regulations, are still censoring themselves, then that’s a big indicator of the power that teachers feel they have in these debates, and the consequences of fears of professional reprimands, even when they don’t explicitly have those [laws and regulations],” said William Rodick, the P-12 practice lead for the Education Trust, an advocacy and research organization.

For Black women educators — and for America’s future — let’s turn down the racket and promote equity’s promise, The Grio (also featured in 3 other outlets), 02/20/24
“A few years ago, the moniker “The Future is Female” took hold nationwide. Unfortunately, for Black women who buck the status quo, the future is not promised. But in the face of the mounting racket of today alongside memories and motivation of yesteryear, we will journey on. We will continue to believe in America’s promise — even if, at times, things seem out of kilter — because we have come too far to allow anyone to turn us back now.” Op-ed by Denise Forte, President and CEO of EdTrust.

Advocates and educators weigh in on incorporating culturally responsive teaching, EdNC, 02/19/24
Mays said that their organization has done work and research around proving that a diversified educator workforce benefits all kids’, not just students’ of color, achievement as well as their social and emotional well-being. “Once you get a pipeline of diverse teachers of color into the school system, another important thing to show is that there is an effective mentorship program. We want to make sure that their grade school principals, teachers, and leaders are there to support first-year educators and they’re learning and understanding the mastery of their craft,” Mays said.

SXSW EDU Cheat Sheet: 18 Key Artificial Intelligence Workshops & Conversations to See in Austin Next Month, The 74, 02/15/24
AI: Avoiding the Next Digital Divide: This panel discussion, led by The Education Trust’s Dia Bryant and Khan Academy’s Kristen DiCerbo, will look at whether emerging uses of AI in schools could create a new digital divide. It will explore the intersection of AI and education equity and AI’s impact on students of color, as well as those from low-income backgrounds. The session will offer steps that educators and policymakers can take to ensure that schools factor in the culture and neurodiversity of students.

Report: Educators, focus on these 5 concepts to make testing fairer, District Administration, 02/12/24
That practice, however, may be making these sometimes high-stakes tests less fair for Black, Latino and other underrepresented students because it simply reinforces “the dominant culture of whiteness,” a new Ed Trust analysis cautions. That’s also because “learning is inherently cultural,” said EdTrust Assistant Director of P-12 Policy Nicholas Munyan-Penney, one of the report’s authors. “We connect new information to what we already know, including our experiences, social constructs and personal perspectives,” Munyan-Penney contends. “Attempts to remove culture from assessment questions in the name of objectivity not only privileges white perspectives but is out of step with how students learn and demonstrate their knowledge and skills.”

Math Tracking Starts as Early as Elementary School, a New Study Finds, Ed Week, 02/07/24
“We know that there are real opportunities for gatekeeping by accelerating students in middle school. When we don’t accelerate students equitably, we’re shutting doors to students’ futures,” said Kristen Hengtgen, a senior analyst on the P-12 policy team at the Education Trust, a group that advocates for marginalized students. Hengtgen was not involved with the report.

Culturally Blind Standardized Tests? More Like Culturally Biased, Word in Black (also featured in 3 other outlets), 02/05/24
Further, the report, produced by the nonprofit organization EdTrust, makes the case that parents and education activists should pressure officials to overhaul the tests and make them more culturally and racially inclusive. “By updating these assessments, students of color can more fully demonstrate what they know and can do, giving parents, policymakers, and educators a more accurate picture of how schools are serving all students,” according to the report.

How one district has diversified its advanced math classes — without the controversy, The Hechinger Report, 02/05/24
“There are many Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds who have demonstrated an aptitude and are yearning for more — yet they are systemically denied access to advanced math courses,” wrote the authors of a December 2023 report from nonprofits Education Trust and Just Equations. “This practice — and mindset — must change.” “This will remain murky,” said Kristen Hengtgen, a senior analyst with the Education Trust. “Detracking seems to have good intentions, but we just haven’t seen it work conclusively yet.”

Tennessee governor’s universal school voucher details are being heavily debated — but not in public, Chalkbeat Tennessee, 02/02/24
“This debate deserves to be held sooner than later and conducted in the light of day — not in back rooms at the Capitol,” said Gini Pupo-Walker, director of The Education Trust in Tennessee. When the voucher amendment is introduced, public debate can kick off in legislative committees, and lawmakers can hear directly from their constituents about what parts of the proposal they like and don’t like.

Black Congresswoman Slaps “House GOP Lies” on Critical Race Theory, 2 paragraphs, 02/02/24
Contradicting the perception that CRT was embedded in American schools, Denise Forte, President and CEO of the Education Trust — called as an expert witness — told the Congress members that critical race theory is not what is being taught in K-12 education curriculums. When House Oversight Committee member Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) asked Forte, “Critical race theory, is that typically taught in K-12?”, Forte replied, “No.”

Houston ISD parents, students weigh expansion of New Education System with mixed feelings despite ‘encouraging’ test gains, Houston Public Media, 02/02/24
“That raising the floor piece is really, really critical because it allows students to access curriculum on grade level,” said Gómez’s predecessor, former trustee Judith Cruz, who is also an HISD parent and Texas Assistant Director for The Education Trust. Houston ISD recently released an analysis of results from the NWEA MAP exam, which was administered at the beginning and middle of the school year.

Teaching Honest History – Kids Can Handle the Truth, Word in Black (also featured in Seattle Medium), 02/01/24
“Children deserve to learn the complete and honest teaching of history, not only Black students like me who need strong examples of the success of proud, intelligent Black leaders of our past, but also non-Black students who benefit from seeing complex and diverse perspectives of different cultures. To water down these lessons can lead to a lack of engagement and lower achievement for students of color, and misplaced aggression that leads to violence and discrimination derived from the notions of white supremacy” (Op-Ed authored by Eric Duncan, P-12 Policy Director).

Many schools want to keep tutoring going when COVID money is gone. How will they pay for it?, Chalkbeat, 02/01/24
States could help by providing school districts with more guidance on how they can combine those pots of money, said Allison Socol, a vice president at The Education Trust, which recently published a guide for making equitable budget decisions as COVID aid runs out. “One of the things we’ve heard directly from district leaders and school leaders is struggles with rethinking how those dollars are spent,” Socol said. “Status quo is hard to change.”

Higher Education

Latinos Underrepresented at Selective Privates, Inside Higher Ed, 02/27/24
“This report shows that despite being the fastest-growing demographic since 2000, Latino students have lacked access to some of the country’s most prestigious institutions,” said Sandra Perez, report author and policy analyst at EdTrust. “Failure to address the historic exclusions of these marginalized communities at elite universities will have a collective impact on our nation’s social and economic prosperity.”

Biden admin’s botched financial aid rollout under investigation by watchdog, FOX Business (also featured in 3 other outlets), 02/21/24
“This is going to limit students’ ability to comparison shop between institutions,” Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president at Education Trust, told FOX Business in an interview. “If you get one offer of financial aid from this institution and not this other one, I think that it’s going to be hugely detrimental to people trying to figure out what’s the best affordable option for me when considering higher education.” “There are states for example like Illinois where their financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those students who were delayed in completing the FAFSA or have had challenges completing the FAFSA may lose out on state aid as a result of some of the missteps by the Department,” Del Pilar said.

College admissions face new turmoil after Biden’s Education Department fumble, POLITICO (also featured in 4 other outlets), 02/20/24
Career advisers and advocacy groups for disadvantaged students worry that the FAFSA chaos will discourage some students from pursuing a college education. “This is going to hurt students,” said Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president at Education Trust, an advocacy group. “These delays — when we’ve known this [new form] has been coming for three years — are really hard.”

15 Online Programs With the Most Faculty of Color, U.S News & World Report, 02/16/24
At the college level, faculty diversity can improve student completion. Engagement with diverse faculty also builds empathy, creativity and respect for others, and improves problem-solving skills, according to a 2022 Education Trust report.

The new FAFSA was supposed to be easier to use. Technical glitches have made it anything but, The 19th (also featured in PBS News Hour and 2 other outlets), 02/16/24
“It’s a huge problem,” said Wil Del Pilar, senior vice president of the Education Trust, which advocates for students, especially those of color or with low incomes, to achieve academic excellence. “It’s going to create equity issues, especially for those students who are the most dependent on financial aid, and we know that low-income students and students of color depend more on financial aid to finance their college education. If you don’t know before you have to make a deposit to an institution if you’re going to have enough aid to go, why would you do that? I’m concerned that it’s going to significantly impact the college-going decisions that students are making.”