The Weekly Connect 10/31/16

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We’ve been reading that absenteeism is a problem among students and teachers. Children who don’t feel safe at school are missing days, and 1 in 4 teachers are absent on more than 10 days of school.

It’s fall and change is in the air thanks to ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act). School Improvement Grants are gone, and states have more control and “more freedom to change the way they think about education,” so watch to see if they do.

Schools are coping with limited resources, from states spending less on education than they did before the 2008 recession to districts that don’t have enough school counselors to meet the staffing recommendations of the American School Counselor Association.

Educators who want to interest girls in coding should reach out to them during middle school when inspiring teachers and positive messages have a positive impact. And give the nation’s fourth and eighth graders a pat on the back because they’ve made gains on a national science test.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

How Will ESSA Be Different When it Comes to School Turnarounds Than SIG?
Education Week: The U.S. Department of Education doled out $427 million for the very last round of School Improvement Grant funds. The program, which has gotten more than $7 billion over the course of the Obama administration, yielded mixed results when it comes to student achievement and was eliminated under the Every Student Succeeds Act. So what will replace it? And how will school improvement under ESSA be similar to or look different from SIG?

States can change the way they think about education, but will they?
The Hechinger Report: When it comes to influencing education policy and cultivating innovative schools, all eyes are on the states. A new federal law hands more control to state leaders, untethering them from rules that threatened dire consequences for failing to achieve certain test scores. But in return for this freedom, states must come up with their own ways of ensuring that their schools give all students a high-quality, equitable education.

Most States Spend Less on Schools than Pre-Recession
Ed Week State EdWatch Blog: The vast majority of states are spending less on education than they did before the Great Recession, according to a study released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Public investment in K-12 schools–crucial for communities to thrive and the U.S. economy to offer broad opportunity–has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade,” the study said. “Worse, most of the deepest-cutting states have also cut income tax rates, weakening their main revenue source for supporting schools.” According to the report, 35 states provided less overall state funding for education in 2014 than in 2008, before the recession hit housing prices, sending down waves of state and local budget cuts to school districts.

Research

Bridging Language and Culture for Family Engagement
New America: While intentional thinking about students’ multiculturalism is essential, it can be challenging to implement. In response to a 2015 request for more family engagement resources by the Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement in Education, the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Pacific developed a toolkit for staff and educators. This toolkit was recently adapted for a wider audience through the Institute for Education Sciences. The toolkit has four parts that include relevant research and activities: 1) building an understanding of family and community engagement, 2) building a cultural bridge, 3) building trusting relationships with families and the community through effective communication, and 4) engaging all in data conversations.

Absenteeism Connects School Climate and Student Achievement
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: It seems like common sense: Students who feel unsafe at school stay home. That basic premise may underlie the link between poor school climate and lower student achievement, according to a new study in the journal Urban Education.

When is a student ‘gifted’ or ‘disabled’? A new study shows racial bias plays a role in deciding
Chalkbeat: Racial bias among educators may play a larger role than previously understood in deciding whether students are referred for special education or gifted programs, according to new research from NYU. The study, the first of its kind to show a direct link between teacher bias and referrals for special services, found stark differences in how teachers classify students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds showing identical signs of disability or giftedness.

Study: Middle School Is Key to Girls’ Coding Interest
U.S. News & World Report: The gender gap in computing jobs has gotten worse in the last 30 years, even as computer science job opportunities expand rapidly, according to new research from Accenture and Girls Who Code. In 1984, 37 percent of computer science majors were women, but by 2014 that number had dropped to 18 percent, according to the study. The study offers insight into factors that create either positive and negative associations with computer science for girls at the middle school, high school, and college levels, as well as strategies for educators to make computer science more appealing to girls.

1 in 4 U.S. teachers are chronically absent, missing more than 10 days of school
The Washington Post: More than 1 in 4 of the nation’s full-time teachers are considered chronically absent from school, according to federal data, missing the equivalent of more than two weeks of classes each academic year in what some districts say has become an educational crisis. The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights estimated this summer that 27 percent of the nation’s teachers are out of school for more than 10 days of regular classes based on self-reported numbers from the nation’s school districts. But some school systems, especially those in poor, rural areas and in some major cities, saw chronic absenteeism among teachers rise above 75 percent in 2014.

Around the Nation

Most U.S. School Districts Have Low Access to School Counselors
Carsey School of Public Policy: Researchers have found that greater access to school counselors is associated with higher graduation rates, fewer disciplinary incidents, and other improved measures of academic, emotional, and social performance. However, we know little about what types of school districts provide adequate access to school counselors. In this brief, we examine the level of access to school counselors, and how this access is mediated by district demographic and location characteristics.

U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders show gains on national science test
The Washington Post: The nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders have made gains in science, and large racial achievement gaps have narrowed slightly, according to the results of a national science test. In the test administered last year, girls improved faster than boys, narrowing the gender gap at the eighth-grade level and erasing it in the fourth grade.

Online Gaming Platform Aims to Teach Social and Emotional Skills
Education Week: Students at a number of elementary and middle schools across the country are being asked not just to take reading, math, and other academic subjects this school year. They’re also being asked to engage in self-reflection. The schools are utilizing Happify, an online gaming platform that supports social-emotional learning concepts, as part of a larger character-development program known as Thriving Learning Communities, designed by the Cincinnati-based Mayerson Academy.

Check back next week for The Weekly Connect.
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