The Weekly Connect for 10/11/16

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Education Reform

Beyond test scores: The right way to assess students and schools
The Washington Post: A new FairTest report guides states and districts in moving toward teacher-led, student-focused, classroom-based performance assessments. Assessment Matters: Constructing Model State Systems to Replace Testing Overkill describes a system that could be built under ESSA. Its primary purpose is to support high-quality, truly personalized student learning. To fulfill ESSA’s public reporting and accountability requirements, the model system relies primarily on classroom-based evidence. Teachers prepare a summative evaluation of each pupil. This includes a determination of the student’s level of proficiency, based on state standards, as required by federal law. The data are aggregated and then broken out by demographic groups. See related article: Bellwether Education Partners “Grading Schools: How States Should Define ‘School Quality’ Under the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

Supreme Court to Weigh FAPE Mandate
Disability Scoop
: For the first time in more than three decades, the U.S. Supreme Court says it will consider how much educational benefit schools must provide students receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The nation’s high court said that it will hear arguments in a matter known as Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. At issue is the IDEA’s mandate that public schools provide children with disabilities a free appropriate public education.

Education Research

The Early Grades are Different: A Look at Student Surveys
New America: Peer into a college classroom near the end of a semester and you may encounter a perplexing sight: students hunched over answer sheets, bubbling in answers and scribbling notes, seemingly unsupervised and undirected. But these students aren’t taking a test. They are completing student surveys, a tool used by colleges and universities to evaluate professors. Now this practice, long a part of higher education, is being tried in K-12 classrooms as part of efforts to reform the way teachers are evaluated. Research shows that student perceptions of teacher quality may actually be more accurate than those of a principal.

New Teachers Make Up a Significant Segment of Profession
Education Week: Nationally, 12 percent of all public school teachers are in their first or second year, according to an Education Week analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights. And in some states, that figure is more than 15 percent. The data, while still under review, are consistent with other recent research pointing to a “greening” trend in teaching over the past 20 years. They also raise questions both about the overall stability of the teaching force and the ability of school systems to provide adequate support to so many novices.

Quality of Public Pre-K Highly Varied Across States
New America: In a promising trend, states and cities across the country have increased investments in creating and expanding public pre-K programs in recent years. In fact, most states now fund some form of public pre-K. But with limited dollars, policymakers often face the difficult choice of investing in more seats or improving program quality. Now, in one of the most comprehensive examinations of pre-K quality across the country yet, a new report finds that states vary greatly in their capacity to provide high-quality pre-K, with many falling short on key quality indicators.

Health & Wellness

Obesity Ranks as Second-Biggest Child-Health Concern Among Adults
Ed Week Schooled in Sports Blog: Bullying is the only health-related concern for children that outpaces obesity among U.S. adults, according to the latest C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. Of the 2,100 adults surveyed back in May, 56 percent across all racial/ethnic groups labeled obesity a “big problem” for children, while 57 percent said the same about bullying. Drug abuse (52 percent), internet safety (49 percent), and stress (46 percent) rounded out the top five. Two years ago, 55 percent of all adults labeled childhood obesity as a “big problem” nationally.

ADHD diagnosis puts girls at much higher risk for other mental health problems
Science Daily: Girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are at higher risk than girls without ADHD for multiple mental disorders that often lead to cascading problems such as abusive relationships, teenage pregnancies, poor grades and drug abuse, UCLA psychologists report in the journal Pediatrics.

Teaching Teenagers to Cope With Social Stress
The New York Times: Though academic and social pressures continue to pile on in high school, teenagers can be taught effective coping skills to skirt the pitfalls of anxiety and depression. A recent study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found a surprisingly effective technique. At the beginning of the school year, students participated in a reading and writing exercise intended to instill a basic, almost banal message to help them manage tension: People can change. The students who completed the exercise subsequently had lower levels of stress, reported more confidence in coping and achieved slightly higher grades at year’s end, compared to a control group.

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