The Weekly Connect 12/26/16

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:

Social-emotional learning is gaining ground across states as educators increasingly see it as a way to give students an edge.

A Texas Supreme Court ruling that found the state’s inequitable school funding to be constitutional is now bumping up against research that says investing more money does improve educational outcomes. “States that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see significantly more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t.”

If schools started an hour later, and teenagers got more sleep, their scores on standardized tests would rise, researchers say.

Last week, researchers found that schools had more law enforcement officers than school counselors. Now Education Week reports that states are beefing up their school counseling corps.

And Massachusetts gets credit for building a world-class school system, according to the Ed Week Top Performers Blog.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy 

U.S. Department of Education Announces Six Promise Neighborhoods Winners of the 2016 Competition
U.S. Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education announced today the six winners of the 2016 Promise Neighborhoods competition, which will award $33 million to help communities launch, scale, and sustain educational supports and community-based services to meet the complex needs of children and families. See related article: Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “Six New Promise Neighborhoods Grants Totaling $33 Million Announced.” 

In Education, Money Matters!
Huffington Post Blog: In May 2016, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the state’s inequitable public school funding system as constitutional, while urging the state to implement system reform. In defense of the system, the assistant solicitor general told the judges “Money isn’t pixie dust.” Changing the funding system would be “no guarantee of better student outcomes.” Now two comprehensive studies put the lie to the “Money don’t matter” mantra.

Expect more emphasis on SEL in 2017
SmartBrief: As of December 2015, The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) reported that only four of the 50 states had developed comprehensive standards for SEL with developmental benchmarks. But there is good news. Several states have started that process, putting their students at a competitive advantage in this knowledge economy. 

The new standardized testing craze to hit public schools
The Washington Post: Last year, the Obama administration conceded that U.S. public school students were taking too many standardized tests, this after a revolt among students, parents, and teachers, and after a two-year study found that there was no evidence that adding testing time improves student achievement. But if you thought that the administration’s admission meant that the problem was on its way to being resolved, guess again. Today the rise of online or computer-based testing threatens to reverse whatever progress has been made in reducing the number of tests in the last year. 

Research

Later School Start Times Could Boost Student Outcomes
Center for American Progress: 90% of parents say that their children are not getting enough sleep, and 60% of teenagers report extreme daytime sleepiness. To the authors’ knowledge, no one has calculated the national student achievement gains that delaying the start times of the nation’s schools would yield. The authors found that national NAEP math scale scores for eighth-grade students would go up as much as 8 points if every school had a one-hour later start time. According to many education experts, this gain is equivalent to almost a full grade-level increase, which is typically cited as 10 points. 

Most youth fare poorly after detention for juvenile offenses
Reuters: Most delinquent youth achieve few positive milestones in the years after their detention, especially if they are boys, Hispanic, or African American. Researchers followed nearly 1200 boys and girls for 12 years after their detention in Chicago’s Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. They looked for positive outcomes in eight areas. Twelve years after detention, only 22% of boys and 55% of girls were successful in more than half of the outcomes, according to a report in JAMA Pediatrics.

The Racial Achievement Gap Can’t Close Without Prison Reform, Report Shows
Huffington Post Education Blog: A new report by the Economic Policy Institution (EPI) found that the “discriminatory incarceration” of black parents can lead to lowered performance in their children’s education and detrimental effects on their physical and mental health. One in four black students have a parent who has been to or is currently in prison. One in ten black students have a parent who is currently in prison, according to the report. EPI’s report shows to educators that without criminal justice reform, the racial achievement gap will persist. 

Students Think School Culture Could Use a Makeover
The Journal: When the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law a year ago, many educators celebrated the idea that non-academic measures such as school culture could finally play a part in demonstrating school quality. But that might be a bit premature. A survey done by YouthTruth among students in grades 5—12 found that only one in three rate their school cultures positively. While 37% of middle schoolers rate the culture positively, only 30% of high schoolers do. Likewise, while 44% of sixth graders give a favorable rating, only 32% of ninth graders and 28% of 11th graders do. 

Around the Nation

States Beef Up School Counseling Corps
Education Week: Several states are making investments to build their corps of school counselors in the wake of mounting, quantifiable evidence that counseling support can be a powerful weapon in the battle to get more students through high school and into college. Minnesota recently announced a $12 million effort to send counselors, social workers, nurses, and school psychologists into 77 schools. Colorado is piling millions on top of a $15 million investment because it got such strong results. And the Lilly Endowment in Indiana has pledged up to $30 million to support the design of comprehensive counseling programs there.

How Massachusetts Built a World-Class School System
Ed Week Top Performers Blog: Many people know that the United States has for years performed very poorly on the OECD’s PISA comparative survey of national student performance of 15-year-olds. However, Massachusetts has participated in the last two surveys, and, in this last one, emerged as a star performer, scoring in the top ranks worldwide.

Neglect and abuse in childhood could have long-term economic consequences
Medical News Today: People who suffer neglect and abuse in childhood are much more likely to have time off work due to long-term sickness and less likely to own their own homes when they reach middle age than their peers, according to new research undertaken at UCL. The study, published in Pediatrics showed that the potential socioeconomic impact of child neglect and abuse may persist for decades.

Violence spreads among teens like a contagious disease, study says
CNN: A friend sneezes, you’re likely to catch a cold. Violence can be similarly contagious among middle and high school students, results of a study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggest. Teens are 48% more likely to get involved in a serious fight and 183% more likely to hurt someone badly enough to require medical attention if a friend had done so, say researchers from Ohio State University.

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Happy Holidays! Look for a double issue of The Weekly Connect on January 9th, 2017.

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