News Briefs | FYI
July 27, 2020
Report: 60 percent of LAUSD students active online
On average, only 60 percent of students in LAUSD were active in daily online learning during the spring 2020 closure of schools, according to a new report from the district’s Independent Analysis Unit that also reveals disparities in which students were accessing the district’s learning management system.  “Compared to more advantaged students, fewer middle and high school students who are Black, Hispanic, living in low-income households, classified as English learners, have a disability, are in the district’s homeless program, or are in foster care participated,” according to the July report from the independent unit, which reports directly to the LAUSD Board of Education.  For the period of March 16 to May 22, weekly activity by Black and Hispanic students was 10 to 20 percentage points lower than their peers. Less than half of English language learners logged on each week, a 20 percentage point difference from their English-proficient peers. Participation from disadvantaged student subgroups also dropped off as the distance learning period stretched beyond seven weeks.  The report distinguishes student activity (those who may have logged on and accessed content) from student participation (those who took tests and submitted assignments). The report doesn’t criticize distance learning in spring 2020, but offers concerns about how to increase participation in the fall. Senate Bill 98 requires districts to verify daily participation during distance learning in the 2020-21 school year. The report also shares prototypes for new reporting requirements under SB 98.  “If the levels of daily participation in the spring of 2020 were to persist in the 2020-2021 school year, not only would the district’s chronic absenteeism rate and average daily attendance likely be affected, but many students could continue to lose learning opportunities,” according to the report available at
SBE adopts arts and world language instruction guidance
On July 8, the State Board of Education adopted new K–12 guidance for educators to provide high-quality instruction in the arts disciplines of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts and for educators to provide high-quality world languages instruction and make classrooms more inclusive. These guidance documents, which are called frameworks, are the result of an exhaustive public vetting process overseen by the SBE and the California Department of Education.  The arts framework provides guidance for all arts educators in implementing state standards so that all California students can develop foundational knowledge and artistic literacy in the arts. The world languages framework includes guidance to help educators ensure more California students have pathways to learn a world language. Both frameworks can be found at
California AG files suit over CARES Act schools rule
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading six attorneys general in a lawsuit against U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, claiming she is unlawfully siphoning pandemic relief funds away from K-12 public schools.   According to a July 7 news release from Becerra, DeVos’ interpretation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act runs counter to efforts to ensure that students and schools with demonstrated financial need get the resources they have been promised. Becerra said tens of millions of dollars in California alone could be diverted away from taxpayer-funded public schools in the poorest school districts to private institutions — in violation of the requirements established by Congress, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the U.S. Constitution.  On March 27, 2020, Congress enacted the CARES Act in response to the ongoing pandemic and its impacts across the country. Under the act, DeVos is required to allocate funding to help schools prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. As part of the CARES Act, Congress set forth a formula, through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, for the distribution of $13.2 billion in aid to K-12 schools nationwide — with about $1.5 billion for public schools in California. As part of the act, aid to K-12 schools is required to be distributed in line with Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Title I funds are generally aimed at aiding children from low-income families across the country. Under the CARES Act, private schools are only eligible for funds in certain circumstances in line with Title I criteria. However, Becerra said the Department’s interim final rule requires the inclusion of private schools based on the total population they serve, instead of income as dictated by the CARES Act. This rule allows private schools — with tuitions more akin to private colleges — to demand these emergency funds, leaving the poorest school districts with less.  “This pandemic has exacerbated the inequities that impact our most vulnerable students, and our public schools need every last dollar to safely and effectively resume learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, in a news release. “We fully support this legal action because we agree it is unconscionable to divert funds from the students who need these resources the most.” 
PPIC: 2,000 cases of child abuse may have been missed 
Data collected by the Public Policy Institute of California suggest that as many as 2,000 cases of child maltreatment may have been missed in California due to COVID-19 school closures.  In a June 26 blog post, authors Caroline Danielson and Paulette Cha use historical data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System to calculate that educational personnel may have made 34 percent fewer reports of child abuse during the 2019-20 school year.  “Teachers can readily observe and report potential cases of child abuse and neglect when students are in the classroom,” the authors wrote. “But from mid-March through the end of the school year children had no in-person interactions with educators and staff who could monitor threats to student mental and physical well-being.”  The authors note that risk factors for child abuse include job loss and economic hardship, which could increase as families deal with the impacts of the pandemic. This comes at a time when educators — who make up the largest group of child abuse reporters at 16 percent — are cut off from their students due to social distancing, creating what Brookings calls a “perfect storm” for an increase in unreported child abuse incidents.   While the state budget compromise stipulates teachers are to engage with each student every day, whether online, by phone or in person, school staff must remain vigilant.  “Establishing best practices for detecting maltreatment in these challenging times — such as identifying families who need extra support and developing methods for students to securely communicate distress — would also help staff maintain their sentinel role virtually and continue to do their part to improve children’s safety,” the authors wrote. 
Read the full blog
CDE holds webinars on Learning Continuity Plans
The California Department of Education has two upcoming webinars to assist Local Education Agencies in developing Learning Continuity and Attendance Plans, which LEAs must submit in lieu of the 2020–21 Local Control and Accountability Plan and Annual Update. Webinars are scheduled for 11 a.m. July 28 and 2 p.m. Aug. 4. Find links to the webinars and a draft template of the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan at
Seniors can earn scholarship by preparing for college
The College Board Opportunity Scholarships program is open to all students from the class of 2021 and guides them through important steps in the college planning process at their own pace at home. When students take the first two steps — exploring college and practicing for the SAT — they’ll qualify for $500 and $1,000 scholarships. And they don’t even have to get off the couch. It’s important to encourage students to complete the first step — building a college list — by July 31 so they don’t miss out on a chance to win $40,000 for college. Students can head to
to get started.
Looking ahead: Observances in August 
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and officials at the California Department of Public Health are warning that the statewide stay-at-home order is leading to some children missing their vaccines that are required to attend school. Find resources, including sharable social media graphics, at the National Immunization Awareness Month website,
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