Important Considerations for the New K-12 School Year Ahead

Important Considerations for the New K-12 School Year Ahead

Lloyd Jacobs
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In 2023, educational institutions are exploring avenues to make up for lost classroom hours and deliver impactful teaching. Many are reassessing their scheduling approaches.

Although the standard school year traditionally spans 180 instructional days, most school districts maintain a 10-month calendar with an extensive summer break, providing opportunities for both schooling and enrichment. To counteract summer learning setbacks, year-round schedules, with their inherent advantages and drawbacks, spread the 180 days across various models, offering different structural frameworks without increasing the number of teaching days. Notably, in 2019, Texas endorsed a funding formula known as the Additional Days School Year, permitting an additional 30 half days of instruction in elementary schools.

After the Covid era, schools aim to expand instructional hours while remaining mindful of expenses. Many states have used federal Education Stabilization Funds for tutoring services like Tennessee’s TN ALL Corps Model or to waive summer school fees. Richmond Public Schools in Virginia added 20 instructional days to the 2023-24 calendar, aiding two elementary schools with many economically disadvantaged families. Although funded by Covid-19 stimulus funds, the costliness of this logical pilot program raises questions about sustaining it post-expiration without state and local legislative support.

Entering the 2023-24 school year, schools grapple with their existing financial, material, and human resources. Teacher vacancies are a pressing concern as institutions strive to extend teaching hours and foster impactful learning. The discourse and statistics on the teacher shortage crisis continue to escalate, with 4% of teaching positions and 6% of non-teaching positions vacant in U.S. public schools in 2022. These shortages, particularly in special education, English as a Second Language, and computer science, disrupt school operations alongside supply chain and food services disruptions.

Freshly released Learning Policy Institute data indicates over 300,000 positions were either unfilled or occupied by inadequately certified teachers, representing roughly 1 in 10 teaching positions nationally. This shortage is unevenly distributed across regions and demographics, prompting states to reevaluate teacher certifications. The presence of underqualified teachers in classrooms raises concerns, as the reliance on underprepared educators might exacerbate turnover and achievement gaps.

Teacher turnover negatively impacts student achievement in various subjects, especially in schools with sizable populations of low-performing and Black students, as evidenced by an eight-year study of New York City fourth and fifth graders. Considering these factors, addressing the decline in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores attributed to teachers becomes crucial. It prompts reflection on how future educators might alter this trend and how to curb turnover as more teachers enter the profession with inadequate preparation.

The education community, encompassing parents, students, school leaders, legislators, and others, values aspiring educators but faces the task of ensuring all educators possess the necessary skills and qualifications. The urgency of these issues demands significant attention in K-12 education. For those enamored with cooking competitions, think of this article as a teaser—a glimpse into the discussions ahead.

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Lloyd Jacobs
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Lloyd Jacobs

Seattle-based software engineer Lloyd Jacobs, driven by passion and curiosity, excels in coding, UI design, and backend optimization, blends tech expertise with nature exploration and mentoring. More About Me

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