The Weekly Connect 11/7/16

The new edition of The Weekly Connect is now posted. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox! Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act) remains in the headlines. One potential new indicator for ESSA’s accountability requirement could be reducing chronic absenteeism among students. And in other news, the U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines on early learning to help school’s implement ESSA.

In research news: Teachers are underestimating girls’ math abilities, according to recent research. Students who attend schools with high poverty rates or high numbers of minority students are less likely to enroll in college. And positive school climates may help reduce achievement gaps.

On the health care front, there are shortages of child psychologists and growing numbers of children in foster care. Experts are encouraging parents to improve their children’s sleep by removing mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms. And researchers say that the fight against childhood obesity should begin at age 6.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

Chronic Absenteeism Could Be Low-Hanging Fruit for ESSA Indicator
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: As states and districts debate potential new indicators for school accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act, chronic absenteeism may prove an easy leverage point. ESSA calls for states to adopt another indicator for school accountability, in addition to students’ academic achievement in math and language arts. In a new policy analysis by the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, researchers analyzed the most recent federal civil rights data, from 2013-14, on the percentage of students who missed 15 days of school or more in a single year. Only 8.5 percent of public schools had no chronic absenteeism at all. See related article: NPR Ed “5 Reasons Schools Should Measure Chronic Absence.”

New Guidance on Using ESSA to Support Early Learning
New America: The release of the U.S. Department of Education’s early learning non-regulatory guidance on the implementation of ESSA will help states and local education agencies (LEAs) emphasize early childhood programs and the early elementary grades in their education plans. New provisions under ESSA and this accompanying guidance will hopefully be the encouragement needed to strengthen pre-K and the early grades. The guidance highlights three areas where states and LEAs can do so: 1) expanding access to high-quality; 2) fostering better alignment, collaboration, and coordination birth-through-third grade; and 3) supporting educators.

Education Dept. Expands Ambassador Program to School Counselors
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: School counselors will soon be able to apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s School Ambassador fellowships, the department announced. The ambassador program seeks to connect those working in schools with their peers, and promote their views with respect to public policy. The program already includes the Teacher Ambassador Fellows, which is in its 10th year, and the Principal Ambassador Fellows, which is in its third year.

Research

Positive School Climates May Help Narrow Achievement Gaps, Analysis Finds
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: A research analysis found correlations between improved school climates and narrower achievement gaps between students in different socio-economic groups. “Our analysis of more than 15 years’ worth of research shows that schools do matter and can do much to improve academic outcomes,” study co-author Ron Avi Astor, a professor of social work and education at the University of Southern California, said in a statement. See related article: NPR Ed “How A Happy School Can Help Students Succeed.

Creating partnerships: Learning new ways to connect
Child Trends Blog: Long-term collaboration between researchers and decision makers-research-practice partnerships (RPPs)-shift the dynamic between research producers and users by creating two way streets. Instead of asking how researchers can produce better work for practitioners, partnerships ask how researchers and practitioners can jointly define research questions. Successful partnerships enable researchers to develop stronger knowledge of practitioners’ challenges, their contexts, and the opportunities and limitations for using research. While there are many different kinds of RPPs, they are guided by key principles that make them different from other types of collaborations.

High School Poverty, Minority Enrollment, Undermine College Progress, Study Finds
Ed Week High School & Beyond Blog: Students who attend high-poverty schools or schools with high minority enrollments are far less likely to enroll in college, and less likely to complete degrees than their more advantaged peers, according to a new set of data. The findings examined a huge pool of students: 5 million, more than one-quarter of all graduating high school seniors each year.

Teachers Underestimate Girls’ Math Abilities, Report Suggests
Ed Week Teaching Now Blog: Starting as early as kindergarten, teachers perceive boys’ math ability as higher than girls’, regardless of the students’ learning styles and levels of achievement, according to researchers from New York University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and West Chester University in a study published in AERA Open. This perception at such an early age could affect girls’ confidence and aptitude for math and prevent them from pursuing future STEM opportunities, the researchers wrote.

Around the Nation

An Agenda for Reducing Poverty and Improving Opportunity
Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: In 2015, 13.5 percent of the population and one out of every five children was living in a poor family. Not only are too many children poor now but their chances of moving up the ladder are limited. Almost two-fifths of them will remain poor as adults. In our work at Brookings, we have found that if an individual does just three things – graduates from high school, works full-time, and delays childbearing until they are in a committed and stable relationship, the poverty rate in the U.S. would fall to around 2 percent. See related article: eSchool News “This project uses open data to help plug opportunity gaps.”

There’s a shortage of child psychiatrists, and kids are hurting
The Washington Post: Mental disorders often start young. The median age for the onset of anxiety and impulse control disorders is 11 and substance abuse, age 20, according to a 2005 study. Lack of treatment can mean difficulties in adulthood. Major depressive disorders, for example, can result in absence from work and poor productivity. The shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists is profound, said Scott Shipman, a professor of pediatrics at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. There is an estimated one psychiatrist per 1,807 children who need services in the United States.

Number of US foster kids rises; parents’ drug abuse a factor
Associated Press: After dropping sharply between 2005 and 2012, the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for a third year in a row, according to new federal data. A major factor: worsening substance abuse by parents. The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services tallied 427,910 children in the foster care system as of September 30, 2015, up from about 414,429 a year earlier. The peak was 524,000 children in foster care in 2002, and the number had dropped steadily to about 397,000 in 2012 before rising again.

Children with autism may be over-diagnosed with ADHD
UPI: Many children with autism spectrum disorder may have been mistakenly diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, researchers suggest in a study. Scientists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia say a screening tool used to diagnose ADHD may be less accurate when a child has autism. In the study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the authors conclude the screening method should be refined to provide a more accurate diagnosis.

To fight childhood obesity, task force recommends screening all kids starting at age 6
Los Angeles Times: The fight against childhood obesity should begin in doctors’ offices with routine weight screening for all kids ages 6 and up, according to fresh advice from health experts. Draft guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urge pediatricians and other clinicians to check the body mass index of children and adolescents to identify patients who would benefit from weight counseling programs. These “comprehensive, intensive behavioral interventions” have been shown to help participants change the trajectory of their weight gain, cutting their odds of a lifetime of obesity.

Mobile devices in the bedroom rob kids of sleep, study says
Los Angeles Times: Dads and moms who are concerned about the quantity and quality of their children’s sleep should keep mobile devices like phones, tablets and laptops out of kids’ bedrooms, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Authors report that simply having access to a device in the bedroom – even if it is not used before bed – is associated with increased odds of poor sleep length and quality for kids. See related articles: The Washington Post “Children’s sleeplessness may be linked to bedtime use of electronic gadgets” and The Boston Globe “Kids who spend more time on screens are less likely to take initiative.”

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