Sharing what we do — with federal help

As schools find their way through the pandemic, meeting the needs of all students has become more important — and harder for educators to do. That’s why City Connects and the Center for Optimized Student Support, both part of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development, are empowering educators across the country to rethink their approaches to providing student support.

The U.S. Department of Education is helping us share what we do by featuring the City Connects model in the newly released “ED COVID-19 HANDBOOK: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs,” Volume 2

The handbook covers how to create safe and healthy learning environments, address lost learning time, and support the stability and well being of educators and school staff. 

In a section on addressing resource inequities, the handbook says in part: 

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The Weekly Connect 5/3/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Schools can use federal Covid relief funds to invest in integrated student support programs like City Connects.

To better target resources, educators should look at students’ academic and health metrics.

President Joe Biden plans to expand universal preschool.

New York City will conduct mental health screenings of all its students and have social workers in every school.

To read more, click on the following links.

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A new article: pandemic recovery and integrated student support

As the country steers through the pandemic, successfully rebuilding schools is essential. Students, families, teachers, and school staff members have spent more than a year dealing with the chronic physical and emotional challenges of pandemic life, from losing contact with friends to losing jobs to losing loved ones.

A new article published by the Washington, D.C., think tank Brookings explains how schools can meet these needs by becoming more powerful and effective.

K-12 schools can, the article explains, use more than $190 billion in federal relief funding to “transform the hodgepodge of services and programs available to students into powerful systems of learning and opportunity.”

The article’s co-authors are Joan Wasser Gish, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Boston College’s Center for Optimized Student Support, home to City Connects, and Brooks Bowden, a University of Pennsylvania Professor and the Director of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education (CBCSE).

The outcomes of providing evidence-based integrated student support are impressive. Student attendance and achievement improve. Schools are using the model to navigate the pandemic. And as the article notes, CBCSE has studied City Connects and found a substantial return on investment.

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The Weekly Connect 4/26/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Gifted education programs provide little or no academic boost to students.

Schools must design effective plans for using federal Covid-relief funding.

The pandemic is making the transition to kindergarten harder

To read more, click on the following links.

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Noman Khanani talks about data — and transforming education

Noman Khanani Noman Khanani never expected to work in educational data analytics. But this spring he’s part of the research team that dives deep into City Connects’ data, and he’s sharing some of the results at national conferences. 

“I had always been interested in data,” he recalls. “When I was younger, I always enjoyed math and statistics, but I never really thought of pursuing this as a career. It was just something I was good at in the classroom.” 

Khanani enrolled in graduate school at Boston University’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies master’s degree program. He thought he would go on to work in administration. 

Then he got a job as a research assistant. 

“That was my first exposure to education research and the use of quantitative analytics and statistics to measure student learning and understand the impact of programs and interventions. This work combined my interests in statistics with working for social good.”  Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 4/20/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Schools can help students navigate the mental health challenges caused by the pandemic.

Trans students need the support of educators, especially as legislators are filing bills that would limit the right of trans people. 

Addressing COVID-19 attendance barriers.

To read more, click on the following links.

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Tigers make the week better

City Connects Coordinator Shannon Underwood needed a way to boost students’ morale in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her students were back at Immaculate Conception Parish School in Revere, Mass., in person and full time. They were wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, and sitting behind plexiglass shields that had been attached to each of their desks. Afterschool programs had been cancelled because of Covid. And work with the school’s community partners had been curtailed.

So Underwood implemented the idea of naming a “Tiger of the Week,” a student who demonstrated excellence through service to others. Students get a certificate and a small trophy. A tiger is the school’s mascot.

“I wanted to incentivize random acts of kindness,” Underwood says.

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The Weekly Connect 4/12/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Pre-k may boost students’ math scores as much as eight years later.

Eighty percent of K-12 educators have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As schools move through the pandemic, they should factor in the impact of adult stress on students

To read more, click on the following links.

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