The Weekly Connect 12/5/16

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

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act) remains in the news. Seeking to address complaints about draft ESSA regulations, the U.S. Department of Education is giving states more time and greater flexibility in how to adhere to the law.

A recent survey underscores what we see every school day: Students are facing more challenges outside the classroom, and they need more help handling these challenges. And as we’ve blogged before, teachers are coming up with alternate sources of funding for supplies: in this case crowdsourcing.

Around the Nation, children who have health insurance still aren’t getting the care they need, and most children aren’t meeting physical activity guidelines. Education Week points to students who “Stop Out” of school (instead of dropping out), taking weeks off but ultimately returning to classes.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

Final ESSA Accountability Rules Boost State Flexibility in Key Areas
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The U.S. Department of Education sought to address some of the chief complaints about its draft regulations, which state officials and some lawmakers said went overboard on federal authority and expected states to make key decisions on compressed timelines and hold schools accountable for their performance before new ESSA systems take effect. To address those concerns, states will now have until the 2018-19 school year to pinpoint their lowest-performing 5 percent of schools. See related article: Ed Week Vander Ark on Innovation Blog “6 Ways States Can Redefine Student Success and Transform Education under ESSA.” 

Research

Survey: Students Face Challenges Outside the Classroom
U.S. News & World Report: Teachers and principals agree that regardless of poverty level, students face learning barriers outside of school and more needs to be done to address these problems, according to a survey released by Scholastic Education. 

Report: Increasing Student Reading Time Improves Comprehension
The Journal: The majority of students spend fewer than 15 minutes per day reading, but increasing their daily reading time to 30 minutes can improve comprehension and boost student achievement, according to a new report from Renaissance Learning. 

What Types of Sound Experiences Enable Children to Learn Best?
Mind/Shift: Nina Kraus, a biologist at Northwestern University, has learned that the brain’s response to sound in children as young as three is predictive of their ability to read. Her lab can also identify those children who are likely to struggle to read before those kids show signs of the language disorder. This kind of forecasting, Kraus said, could help schools and parents direct resources where they’re needed most. The brain changes in response to the sounds it’s processing; a three-year-old’s brain can adapt if the sound environment is altered. 

New study shows variety in teachers’ influences on kids’ futures, and how poorly we measure that
The Hechinger Report: In a new study, Kraft and Blazar (who work at Brown and Harvard Universities, respectively) examined four measures of students’ skill that have been demonstrated individually to predict future academic success and job prospects, high math scores, good behavior, happiness in class and perseverance in the face of difficulty. Their research looked at whether “good teachers” were indeed successful at improving all four of these outcomes. It turns out they’re not. 

Your child’s pencils are likely being crowdfunded
The Boston Globe: More and more, teachers across Massachusetts are embracing crowdfunding to cover everything from basic supplies to pricey technology. The boom builds upon what teachers have been doing for years: digging deep into their own pockets to stock their classrooms with items that were once covered by school budgets. And crowdfunding is increasingly becoming an attractive revenue generator for schools. On DonorsChoose.org, for instance, annual donations to Massachusetts schools have grown from $81,000 in 2007 to $2.4 million last year. 

Around the Nation

Many Students ‘Stop Out’ of High School, Studies Find
Education Week: For many students, dropping out of high school isn’t the end of the line but a “stop out” along the path to a diploma, new federal and state data suggest. Of the students who entered high school in 2009, fewer than 3% were no longer in school when researchers from the National Center for Education Statistics’ High School Longitudinal Study checked in 2012. But nearly 7% of the 2009 freshmen had “stopped out”—left school for four weeks or more at some point in grades 9-11, only to have returned by 2012. The federal study found that students in the poorest 20% of families nationwide were generally more likely than those from other income groups to stop out or drop out. 

U.S. students still lag many Asian peers on international math and science exam
The Washington Post: Eighth-grade students across the United States showed some improvement in math and science over the past four years, but fourth-graders’ performance was stagnant and students in both groups continued to trail many of their peers in Asia, according to the results of a major international exam released.

Many Insured Children Lack Essential Health Care, Study Finds
The New York Times: A new study by the Children’s Health Fund, a nonprofit based in New York City that expands access to health care for disadvantaged children, found that one in four children in the United States did not have access to essential health care, though a record number of young people now have health insurance. The report found that 20.3 million people in the nation under the age of 18 lack “access to care that meets modern pediatric standards.”

Three-Fourths of U.S. Children Aren’t Meeting Physical-Activity Guidelines
Ed Week Schooled in Sports Blog: The World Health Organization and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggest children participate in 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, along with vigorous-intensity activity at least three days per week. Based on data from the 2005-06 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, just over one-fifth of youths between the ages of 6 and 19 participated in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least five days per week. Among children between the ages of 6 and 11, 48.6% of boys met the recommendations and 36.1% of girls did. Those numbers plunged sharply for boys (11.7%) and girls (3.0%) between the ages of 12 and 15, and they dropped even further for boys (7.3%) and girls (2.8%) between 16 and 19.

The disturbing airborne allergen in schools that may be exacerbating your kid’s asthma
The Washington Post: Asthma is the No. 1 chronic illness in children, affecting 1 out of every 10 youngsters, and that number is growing for reasons no one has been able to explain. In a rare school-based study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers looked at 284 children with asthma in a city in the northeastern United States. The source of the only allergen of significance was mice, which showed up in 99.5% of the school samples. The children with higher exposure to mouse allergen in schools had increased asthma symptoms and lower lung function after adjusting for variation in exposures at home.

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