The Weekly Connect 10/24/16

The Every Student Succeeds Act is changing education policy by meeting emerging challenges such as the growing number of English Language Learners.  Look for changes in how these students are classified, tested, and taught.

How do you share research with policymakers? Personal connections between researchers and policymakers help, and so do other strategies such as making research easily accessible.

Achievement gaps continue to make headlines.  One story looks at the difference between how rich and poor kids learn (hint: there isn’t one), and another story looks at race and gender gaps in computer science classes.

There’s a “new focus” on children’s mental health; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want schools to help ensure that children get sealants on their molars. The math here is simple: a study found that children with dental pain tend to miss more school than children with good oral health.

And in the good national news category, high school graduation rates across the country have reached a record high.

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Policy

4 ways ESSA will change how schools serve ELL students
Education Dive: The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to create a uniform process for identifying English learners, assigning them services, and, later, moving them out of EL classes and into general education. Under No Child Left Behind, districts made their own processes, which resulted in a wide variety of criteria for entering and exiting English learner services across districts. The new law creates a level of consistency – at least at the state level, if not nationally.

Education Secretary John King Calls for More Civic Education
U.S. News & World Report: The key to ending police brutality and quell racial tensions in the country is through civic education, Secretary of Education John King said. Speaking at the National Press Club, King said promoting “democracy was one of the original goals of public education,” and schools and colleges must educate students about their role in democracy and help America’s youth become problem-solvers. He said students need to be able to tackle problems of homelessness, water pollution and police tensions, among other issues facing the nation. And solving those issues starts in schools.

Building bridges: How to share research about children and youth with policymakers
Child Trends: Policymakers play an important role in supporting children, youth, and family well-being through policy legislation and funding of programs. Healthy discussion and debate often center on what evidence proves the effectiveness of these supports, how much they should cost, who should administer them, and whether they are the best use of limited public resources. Child Trends reviewed the available literature to explore the conditions under which policymakers are most likely to use research, including the presentation formats that best facilitate their use.

Research

Poor Kids Learn Like Rich Kids and All the Kids in Between
The Standard Social Innovation Review: We have heard the argument before: Low-income children suffer from an achievement gap that has plagued them since before the term was coined in 1975. To remedy these inequities, many well-meaning policymakers and educators tell us, we must return to the basics. They claim that because some poor children come from environments that foster toxic stress, and because they do not have rich cognitive stimulation, we must adopt a laser focus on the basics, using the 6 hours of each school day to drill and grill them on vocabulary learning, math, reading, and writing-and spending little time on recess, the arts, or playful learning. Implicitly, the message is clear: Low-income children learn differently than middle-income children.

Google: Race and gender gaps persist in computer science education
USA Today: New research from Google shows that black students are less likely to have computer science classes in school and are less likely to use computers at home even though they are 1.5 times more interested in studying computer science than their white peers. The findings are part a report released by Google in partnership with Gallup that puts the spotlight on the racial and gender gap in K-12 computer science education.

The Emotional Weight of Being Graded, for Better or Worse
Mind Shift: As most parents know, kids respond emotionally to the grades they receive – and well beyond the jubilation that goes with an A+ or the despair that accompanies a D. The trouble with these extreme emotional reactions to grades is that students’ knowledge of a subject is tied to their experience of the grade, says Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, associate professor of education, psychology and neuroscience at the University of Southern California. Powerful emotions attached to grades drown children’s inherent interest in any given subject.

Around the Nation

National School Spending Inches Up to $623 Billion, Says Recent Federal Data
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Spending on the nation’s public schools has gone up slightly, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, with state spending on K-12 increasing at exactly the same rate as federal spending has gone down. Spending from federal, state, and local resources totaled $623 billion in fiscal 2014. From fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014, state revenues for schools rose by 3.9 percent, from $278 billion to $288 billion, while federal revenue dipped by 3.9 percent, from $57 billion to $56 billion.

Nation’s high school graduation rate reaches new record high
The Washington Post: The nation’s high school graduation rose again in the 2014-2015 school year, reaching a new record high as more than 83 percent of students earned a diploma on time, according to federal data. The figures show gains among every group of students – including white, black, Asian, Hispanic and Native American, as well as low-income students, students with disabilities and those learning English as a second language. See related articles: Ed Week On Special Education Blog “Grad-Rate Rise for Special Education Students Beats That of Overall Population” and Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “Which States Have Seen the Most Progress (or None at All) on Graduation Rates?

The New Focus on Children’s Mental Health
The Atlantic: Across the United States, up to one in five children suffers from a mental disorder in a given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With a lack of mental-health professionals placed in schools, the responsibility to address the needs of children with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges often falls on classroom teachers. This amplifies the call to incorporate learning that focuses on students’ mental health and well-being into daily classroom activities. A recent study of the Mental Health Matters curriculum proves that the program, which is incorporated into sixth-grade English language-arts classes, is successful in increasing participants’ knowledge of mental-health illnesses and decreasing associated stigmas.

More than half of U.S. kids don’t get dental sealants, and the CDC wants schools to change that
Los Angeles Times: How can elementary schools save nearly $50 per student? By bringing in dental professionals to put sealants on their molars, federal health officials said. If that doesn’t sound like an education-related problem, consider this: Cavities that go untreated cause kids to do worse in school. A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that students whose oral health was rated “good, fair or poor” were about three times more likely to miss school because of dental pain compared with kids with “very good or excellent” oral health. What’s more, kids who stayed home with toothaches were nearly twice as likely as their peers to earn mostly Cs, Ds and Fs in school.

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