News Briefs | FYI
March 25, 2024
NCTQ report looks at states’ focus on science of reading
New data and analysis from the National Council on Teacher Quality show that while many states seek to improve literacy outcomes for students, they focus too little on a key component to strong implementation and sustainability: effective teachers.
The NCTQ report, “State of the States: Five Policy Actions to Strengthen Implementation of the Science of Reading,” highlights five key policy actions states should take to strengthen teachers’ reading instruction and examines the extent to which states focus on them. The five policy actions are:
  • Setting specific, detailed reading standards for teacher prep programs.
  • Reviewing teacher prep programs to ensure they teach the science of reading.
  • Adopting a strong elementary reading licensure test.
  • Requiring districts to select a high-quality reading curriculum.
  • Providing professional learning for teachers and ongoing support to sustain the implementation of the science of reading.
Given that there are 1.3 million children who enter fourth grade each year unable to read at a basic level (nearly 40 percent of all fourth graders) and that this number climbs even higher for students of color, those with learning differences and those who grow up in low-income households, states have a responsibility to ensure teachers are well prepared to support students to learn to read.
“Helping all children learn to read is possible when you have teachers who’ve been prepared in the science of reading,” said Heather Peske, NCTQ president, in a news release. “Much like an orchestra needs each section of instruments to come together to successfully create music, states need to implement multiple teacher-focused reading policies that work together to improve student outcomes.”
In addition to the report, NCTQ produced individual state profiles that provide a snapshot of the reading policy landscape and recommendations for each state and a State Reading Policy Action Guide that identifies concrete steps states can take to strengthen reading instruction and examples of states that are doing it well.
California received a “moderate” rating from NCTQ, which called upon the state to make a number of changes, including establishing a process for reviewing elementary preparation programs for alignment with the science of reading.
Read the report online at www.nctq.org/dmsView/Reading_Policy_Action_Guide_2024. California’s report is available at www.nctq.org/dmsView/CaliforniaSOTSReadingProfileUpdated.
New data looks at the age of school facilities across U.S.
New federal data show that the average age of main instructional buildings in U.S. public schools is 49 years old, with 38 percent of schools reporting their main instructional buildings were built before 1970.
The findings were released in February as part of an experimental data product from the School Pulse Panel. These SPP data examine topics on public school facilities and learning recovery, including teacher planning time, the availability of instructional coaches, and parental engagement strategies schools are using during the 2023-24 school year, as reported by school leaders in U.S. public schools.
Almost all public schools have one or more permanent buildings in use at their school (96 percent); 31 percent of public schools have one or more non-permanent (portable) buildings in use.
Forty-seven percent reported that their main instructional building has undergone a major renovation since it was built, with 29 percent reporting this renovation has occurred since 2010.
The data also reveal schools that are more or less likely to have dedicated library space available.
Although most public schools have dedicated library space available (89 percent), lower percentages of public schools with the following characteristics reported having dedicated library space available:
  • In cities (84 percent).
  • In high-poverty neighborhoods (81 percent).
  • With a student body made up of 76 percent or more students of color (80 percent).
  • High/secondary schools (80 percent).
  • With 0-299 students (77 percent).
All data released can be found on the School Pulse Panel dashboard https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/spp.
K-12 Site Administrators Leadership Network
This virtual networking series is sponsored by the ACSA Elementary, Middle Grades and Secondary Education Councils in collaboration with the National Associations of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (NAESP & NASSP). Each session will feature an essential leadership priority based upon statewide input from school site leaders. Breakout rooms will be available for grade span specific focus. Learn practical strategies and resources while networking with colleagues from throughout the state. Monthly meetings are held on ACSA’s Online Learning Center. The next session on April 10 will focus on “Planning Meaningful Professional Developments Aligned to School Needs.” Participation is free. Register at onlinelearning.acsa.org/courses/2023-24-k-12-site-administrators-leadership-network.
Youth Mental Health First Aid Training coming soon
Registration is open for five virtual training sessions on Youth Mental Health First Aid. This CDE program teaches adults how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health challenges in young people. This training, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will give adults the skills to reach out to young people, provide initial support, and help connect them with appropriate care. It’s all about building a community that cares for the well-being of our youth. Register via Google document for trainings on April 20, May 3, June 7, July 12 and August 2. Email any questions regarding this training to Diana Silvestre, Associate Governmental Program Analyst, CDE Office of School-Based Health Programs, at YMHFA@cde.ca.gov. Visit https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/mh/documents/ymhfa2021flyer.pdf for more info.