In Today's Issue: Schools Grapple with Whether to Hold Students Back a Grade

The following story appeared in the May 27, 2021 issue of The Daily Juice. The text is from the 9th-10th grade version. To access the other grade levels, interactive vocabulary (words in bold), quiz questions, and more, sign up for The Juice.

School districts across the country are rolling out policies to help students who have fallen behind academically due to the coronavirus pandemic. But there is disagreement over which policies will actually help kids.

Chicago Public Schools is considering automatically bumping up all middle and high school students to the next grade. The plan is to do that regardless of academic performance. In other words, even if a seventh grader failed his courses, he would still move to eighth grade. Advocates say this will avoid undermining students’ confidence. They argue that students can make up for what they missed next year. That’s when in-person learning will resume.  

But other districts are offering extra school this summer. They hope to help struggling students to meet normal standards. They are also nixing some requirements to ease the way. Both Guilford County Schools in North Carolina and New York City schools are offering a so-called “fifth semester” this summer.

Early research indicates COVID-related disruptions limited some students’ ability to learn. For example, the education research group Brown Center Chalkboard found that growth in math declined for students across grades three to eight from fall 2019 to fall 2020, when much schooling was virtual. 

Many districts, including New York City, the nation’s largest, have said they will hold normal in-person school in the fall. Federal health officials and one major teachers union have endorsed that.  

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US Politics (Grades 11-12)

Biden Executive Orders Will Reverse Trump Policies

President-elect Joe Biden plans to sign a flurry of executive orders soon after his inauguration tomorrow. He plans to address what he’s calling the four crises facing the country. They are COVID-19, the economic downturn, racial injustice, and climate change.

An executive order is a written directive from the president carrying powers similar to a federal law. Presidents have historically used these orders to push policies forward quickly because they do not require approval from Congress. The downside of executive orders is that they are easily overturned by any new president. That is not true for federal laws.

Among other moves overturning Trump administration policies, Biden’s orders will return the US to the Paris Climate Accord and to the Iran nuclear deal.

Related to the pandemic, Biden will require face masks on federal properties and during interstate travel. Other orders will be aimed at safely reopening schools and businesses.

On immigration, Biden will order agencies to determine how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the US-Mexico border. Another order will end travel restrictions targeting majority-Muslim countries.

Other orders will address “equity and support communities of color,” criminal justice reform, and access to healthcare.

Photo from Reuters.

Bold words are interactive vocab words in The Juice.

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