Get smart fast, vol. 4

The pandemic and school closures fueled a major drop in the percentage of students identified as homeless, the Associated Press reports.

Many students aren’t identified as homeless when their parents or guardians enroll them. At school, teachers, cafeteria staff, aides or bus drivers often notice other students whose well-being may need looking into. Students may have unwashed clothes, or many late arrivals or absences.

But with children learning online, teachers and staff often didn’t see those things.

Overall, the drop in the student homelessness count began before the pandemic, but it was much steeper in the first full school year after COVID-19 hit. The percentage of enrolled students identified as homeless in the U.S. dropped from 2.7% in 2018-2019 to 2.2% in 2020-2021.

Why it matters: This is one example of ways the pandemic and school closures still threaten lasting generational harm.

Key findings

A new study finds students who are suspended from school see an increase in future absences.

Research has long shown that Black students benefit from having a teacher of the same race. A new study finds they even benefit from having a teacher of the same race in the same grade, even if they aren’t in their class. Another new study finds Black and Hispanic students are more likely to find teachers who match their race or ethnicity in charter schools.

A new report from Amplify on early literacy finds current third graders, the cohort whose reading skill development was most disrupted by the pandemic, are making a slower recovery.

Federal pandemic relief funding fueled a major increase in state support for summer learning programs.

Numbers to Know

28: Decline, from 1998 to 2010, in the percentage of full-day kindergarten teachers who reported their students spent an hour or more on student-directed activities. More on the decline in self-directed and play-based learning.

44: Percentage of school districts that say they provide equal support for college and non-college options post-graduation.

18: Number of minutes elementary teachers report spending on science instruction.

27: Percentage of survey respondents who feel like American K-12 education is headed in the right direction.

43: Percentage of parents of school-age children who feel that way. More here.

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BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at)

One Comment

Thanks for the information. Great to get all the data here in such short snippets.

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