News Briefs | FYI
October 30, 2023
Study: Certain investments can greatly improve test scores
Investing in school facilities works as a lever to increase student test scores, especially when those investments are targeted to certain types of projects and certain groups of students, according to a recent study.
Fixing leaking roofs or failing HVAC systems is shown to have a positive impact on student performance, while investments in new athletic facilities or expanded classrooms doesn’t necessarily have the same impact, according to the study, which also analyzed whether investments had an effect on home values.
“Investments in school infrastructure such as HVAC, plumbing, roofs, and furnaces produce large increases in test scores, likely because they improve students’ learning experiences. However, they do not produce any effects on house prices, possibly because they are not ‘visible’ to taxpayers without school-age children,” according to the study.
The study, “Effectiveness and Efficiency of School Capital Investments Across the U.S.,” was authored by Barbara Biasi, Julien Lafortune and David Schönholzer and published in July.
While the authors state that previous studies have had conflicting conclusions on whether school infrastructure spending had positive effects on test scores and home prices, this study focused on “the what and the who of school capital investments” — what the money is spent on and the demographics of the students who stand to benefit.
The authors also found that districts that serve more socio-economically disadvantaged students tend to pass more bonds with larger impacts on both test scores and house prices — “as a result, low-SES and minority students see the largest benefits from bond authorization.”
Read about the study at www.edweek.org/leadership/these-school-building-improvements-are-most-likely-to-boost-test-scores/2023/10.
New REACH Network will work to reduce school suspensions
Aiming to reduce out-of-school suspensions for students in Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grades and promote alternatives to punitive practices, California’s legislature awarded $1 million over three years to the newly created Race Education and Community Healing (REACH) Network led by the UC Berkeley School of Education and UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools.
The funding will enable the REACH Network to work across California with public and charter schools, local education agencies, community-based organizations, and universities to develop alternatives to out-of-school suspensions and engage directly with teachers and school leaders to establish public schools as hubs for racial and community healing.
“Teachers need tools to improve their practice. Principals need tools to support teachers. How do we gather these tools? We come together with individuals who have the same north star and we learn from and with them,” said UC Berkeley School of Education Associate Professor Travis Bristol, who will co-lead the project with UCLA Professor Tyrone Howard. “You can tell educators to end suspensions, but that’s not enough. Educators need opportunities to learn how to create school and classroom environments that engage students’ minds and not police their bodies.”
The project is aligned with state Sen. Nancy Skinner’s SB 274, which is designed to keep students in school by eliminating suspensions for “willful defiance” or low-level behavior issues in TK through grade 12. The bill was signed earlier this month by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“Policy is only a start to ending the overuse of punitive practices in schools that disproportionately impact students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and historically marginalized groups in California. Schools and educators need greater capacity and tools to promote positive and healthy relationships,” said Joseph Bishop, executive director & co-founder, UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools.
The REACH Network will launch communities of practice for educators statewide to develop and document evidence-based models for alternatives to suspensions, expulsions and criminalization practices in schools. The network will also curate resources and concrete prevention strategies for educators and school leaders and build school-university-community partnerships to promote healthy, safe learning environments to address past punitive harms to students of color and other students who have been disproportionately affected.
The REACH Network will work with a geographically diverse set of schools across California to lower suspension rates and to generate recommendations to expand the efforts across schools statewide.
A Request for Proposals and application are available online for schools interested in participating. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Nov. 17.
Federal officials tour Bay Area schools on Green Strides Tour
Officials from the U.S. Department of Education recently toured schools in the San Francisco Bay Area to learn and share practices for combating climate change.
U.S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Glenna Wright-Gallo joined California Department of Education Deputy Superintendents Malia Vella and Abel Guillén, as well as other federal, state and local officials in September to tour schools as part of the annual U.S. Department of Education Green Strides Tour.
This year’s theme is “Schools for Climate Solutions.” As climate change continues to accelerate, schools and families are greatly impacted. Climate change has disproportionate effects on historically under-resourced communities and communities of color and perpetuates existing challenges for schools to maintain healthy learning environments. To address climate change, schools are working to mitigate impacts and adapt to current and future changes.
“The summer of 2023 was the hottest on record, so everyone needs to act to address the climate crisis and our schools play a major part of the solution,” said Deputy Superintendent Guillén.

“Climate change education connects to all subject areas, prepares students for college and career pathways in the green economy, and provides opportunities for civic learning.” Schools on the tour are embedding climate solutions into their facilities management and curriculum, thereby ensuring that students and communities are healthy.
One school actively addressing climate change that was visited is Edison Elementary in Alameda, where Vella resides and serves on the City Council. “I’m proud of what our local students are doing — fifth-grade ‘Go-Green Helpers’ at Edison Elementary help with sorting compost/recycling and also assist with ‘food share,’ or left-over food that gets shared with other students or sent to the Alameda Food Bank at the end of the week,” Vella said.
Learn how students can be part of Jacobs Institute’s Teen Innovation Challenge The Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education at the University of San Diego is calling for middle- and high-school educators to join an effort to make a local and global impact. In the 2024 Jacobs Teen Innovation Challenge, educators and teenagers will develop an innovator’s mindset and the skills to create solutions to local and global problems. There is no cost to participate and ongoing support is provided to educators through a series of webinars. The challenge culminates in May with a virtual pitch competition. Informational meetings will be held in November and December. Apply at www.pactful.org/jtic24/.
Online special ed workshop will be held Nov. 8 and 15
Join Charity Hennings and Eli Gallup for two engaging online sessions, held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Nov. 8 and 15, and walk away with best practices to help students with disabilities. Topics include inclusive practices, mental health (supporting students and staff), equity, instructional strategies and practices, ADR and student discipline, conducting and facilitating IEPs, Section 504/ADA, and funding. This workshop is for new, aspiring, or veteran special education administrators. Registration is $99 for ACSA members. Visit onlinelearning.acsa.org/courses/leading-best-practices-for-students-with-disabilities.
Nominate top negotiators for award by Dec. 1
ACSA is accepting nominations for the 2024 Negotiator of the Year, which will be presented during the Negotiators’ Symposium in San Diego Jan. 17-19, 2024. This recognition is awarded by the ACSA Human Resources Council to the person serving as chief negotiator for a school district or county office as a full-time employee of that district. For more information, visit www.acsa.org/negotiatoraward. Nominations are due Dec. 1, 2023.
K-12 Site Administrators Leadership Network
Join this virtual networking series for site administrators. Each session will feature an essential leadership priority based upon statewide input from school site leaders. Learn practical strategies and resources while networking with colleagues from throughout the state. Next meeting is Dec. 6 on ACSA’s Online Learning Center. Participation is free. Register at onlinelearning.acsa.org/courses/2023-24-k-12-site-administrators-leadership-network.