May 2024


Do state assessments need an overhaul?, K12 Dive, 05/31/24
The report also notes that civil rights, equity and parent advocacy groups have been reluctant to abandon state assessment accountability systems due to the lack of alternatives, especially ones that ensure underserved student populations “are not falling through the cracks.” “I don’t want to give up on 3 to 8 testing until we have a roadmap or indicators that are going to produce the information that we need to be able to drive resources, or drive diagnostics, in a way that meets the needs of different levels of the system,” said Education Trust President Denise Forte, in the FutureEd report.

America’s critical shortage of school counselors, Axios, 05/26/24
Stunning stat: Nationally, there are an estimated 8 million students without access to a school counselor, according to The Education Trust. Of those students, 1.7 million attend a school with police but no school counselor on campus, demonstrating a focus on policing over mental health or college preparedness.

Seattle Schools Community Forum, Save Seattle Schools Blog, 05/26/24
“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.”

Cutting Through the Noise: What Mattered for Kids in the 2024 Legislative Session, EdAllies Blog, 05/24/24
“Automatic Enrollment: While this important policy was heard in both the House and Senate laid over for inclusion in both chambers’ omnibus bills, it did not make the cut this year—likely the victim of limited funding being pulled in many directions. Evidence shows that automatic enrollment policies increase access to rigorous coursework for students of color, low-income students, and other students underrepresented in these classes.”

Black and Latino access to certain STEM courses still inequitable, K12 Dive, 5/22/24
The Education Trust, which advocates for equity in education, suggests that students of color should be exposed to rigorous STEM courses starting in middle school, a time when students begin to develop career interests. “Access to advanced coursework and rigorous STEM experiences in middle school can also set students up for success by earning college credits in high school so they can graduate quicker and take on less student debt,” the organization said in a 2023 brief.

Black Students Are in Crisis. These School Leaders Are Helping, Word in Black (also featured in Dallas Weekly), 05/20/24
“Black female superintendents like Dr. Anderson and Dr. Battle — who represent just 1.5% of school district leaders — have decades of experience addressing both the educational concerns and cultural challenges that students of color face every day. Black female superintendents are uniquely equipped to lead because of their own experiences of overcoming the larger societal ills of racism, classism, and sexism,” Augustus Mays, EdTrust’s vice president for partnerships and engagement.

Poll: Most Massachusetts parents think state should require the ‘science of reading’ in classrooms, Boston Globe, 05/14/24
The poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group between April 8 and May 2, found a combined 84 percent of parents believe schools definitely or probably should be required to use “evidence-based” reading curriculum, or teaching materials supported by a vast amount of scientific research. The results come as a bill to require evidence-based reading instruction sits idle in the Massachusetts Legislature, even as a growing number of states have passed similar laws. Currently, curriculum decisions in Massachusetts schools are left to local districts. A 2023 Globe investigation found nearly half of all districts in the state were using a curriculum the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education considers low quality for promoting discredited teaching practices.

Poll finds widespread concern about reading education among Massachusetts parents, WVCB 5, 05/14/24
“The sobering reality that a majority of Massachusetts children are going to school without learning basic literacy skills is deeply troubling, but also completely preventable,” said Jennie Williamson, state director for EdTrust in Massachusetts. EdTrust is pushing for Massachusetts to use an “evidence-based reading curriculum” and said their poll found that 84% of parents definitely or probably believe schools should be required to use such systems. Respondents were told that such programs mean “materials that are proven to work in teaching students how to read.”

In January, The Education Trust shed light on the deeply rooted systemic issue of denying educational access to Black individuals, a troubling legacy woven into the fabric of the nation’s history. Oppressive anti-literacy laws once barred enslaved and even free Black Americans from acquiring reading and writing skills despite many courageously defying these unjust regulations at immense personal peril. In the aftermath of slavery’s abolition in 1865, when Black communities established freedpeople’s schools, white Southerners responded with violence, attacking or razing more than 600 schoolhouses, perpetuating the cycle of marginalization and suppression.

HISD will overhaul how students get into the hardest high school classes, Houston Chronicle, 5/02/24
In March, the Education Trust, a national education advocacy nonprofit, released a report that found racial and economic disparities in dual-credit enrollment across the state of Texas. That pattern holds true at HISD as well, where only about 25% of Black 11th grade students were on track to graduate with college credit, compared to the district average of about 36%, according to the February report. Judith Cruz, former HISD trustee and assistant director of the Houston region at the Education Trust, called HISD’s new policy a “step in the right direction” and predicted it will help more students make it to college or find gainful employment after graduation. “So many students are looked over for advanced coursework when it comes to strictly teacher recommendations and grades, but when you have an auto-admission policy… a lot more students of color and working backgrounds will be able to access advanced coursework,” Cruz said.

Higher Education

Education Department: ‘FAFSA is up and running’ after challenging rollout, UPI, 05/31/24
The Education Trust created a hub to help guide borrowers through the FAFSA application because, as Martinez-Alvarado highlights, it can be difficult to parse the large amount of information provided by the Department of Education. “We have also been hosting quite a few webinars in the education policy, nonprofit space,” she said. “We recognize a lot of families just need someone to walk it through with them.” Martinez-Alvarado stressed that there is a counselor crisis in schools, making it difficult for counselors to work one-on-one with students struggling through their applications. With high schools across the country finishing their spring terms in the coming weeks, it is a critical time to ensure applications are completed. She said it is much more difficult to urge students to complete their applications when there is not a point of contact, such as a counselor.

Rethinking DEI in Higher Education: Should the ‘I’ Stand for Integration Instead?, Diverse Issues in Higher Ed, 05/21/24
“Integration in higher education would require an overhaul of curriculum, pedagogy, and institutional culture so that they reflect and respect the diverse backgrounds and experiences of all students. Rather than expecting underserved students to conform to the existing norms, integration would challenge these norms to evolve and embrace a multiplicity of perspectives while eschewing preconceived notions. This approach promotes a richer, more complex understanding of diversity that includes not just racial and ethnic backgrounds, but also people’s socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, age, as well as the experiences of others who have been traditionally excluded from higher education,” Wil Del Pilar, EdTrust’s senior vice president.

Student Debt Is Taxing Young People’s Mental Health, Teen Vogue, 05/16/24
The expense could also exacerbate existing disparities in access to mental health care and who is most profoundly impacted by the student debt crisis. As reported by The Education Trust, Black borrowers are among those most negatively impacted by student loans, and 64% of survey participants reported that student debt negatively impacted their mental health.

Colleges should keep prices down, The Boston Globe, 05/05/24
A fall 2023 poll done by the MassINC Polling Group for the Education Trust in Massachusetts found that only 57 percent of respondents think their child would be interested in starting a bachelor’s degree after high school graduation. When asked if the long-term benefits of a degree make the costs worthwhile, 13 percent said it would not be worthwhile for anyone or just for a few people and 43 percent said it would be worthwhile for just some people.