The Weekly Connect 1/23/17

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 as policymakers wrangle over implementing the law.

Is the federal government investing too much in early education? No it isn’t, federal officials say. A report from the U.S. Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services says federal investments in early education are not meeting the needs of families across the nation.

It’s not news that high school students care about what their peers think, but it is concerning that some students are willing to forego educational opportunities – such as an SAT prep course – if they think it will hurt their social image. Researchers call this “effort stigmatization.”

Health care officials in Massachusetts have come up with a program to help infants, newborns, and toddlers whose parents are addicted to opioids. S

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy 

Education Department Withdraws Controversial ESSA Spending Proposal
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. is throwing in the towel, withdrawing a proposed regulation for a section of the law known as “supplement-not-supplant” that had strong backing in the civil rights community, but angered state chiefs, advocates for districts, and Republicans in Congress. See related article: NPR Ed: “Education Department Drops Fight Over School Money.” 

ESSA Plans: Seventeen States plus D.C. Shooting for Early-Bird Deadline
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have told the U.S. Department of Education that they are aiming to file their plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act by early April, in time for the first deadline set by the Obama administration. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont, plus the District of Columbia.

Research

Need for Federal Investments in Early Learning Increasing
The Journal: While many have argued that the federal government sponsors too many childhood and early learning programs, a recent analysis of federal programs by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services indicates otherwise. The report says investments in early learning are not meeting the needs of families across the nation, and many eligible families are not receiving services.

Innovative science instruction boosts academic performance among English learners
Ed Source: English learners can dramatically improve their science skills when teachers blend science lessons with language instruction, according to a new report released by an Oakland education nonprofit. The report identified six districts with innovative science programs and found that in those schools, English learners scored close to, or in some cases even exceeded, their English-proficient peers on standardized science tests. See related article: Ed Week Learning the Language Blog “With More Exposure to Science, English-Learners’ Achievement Soared.” 

Faster Internet, Lower Bandwidth Costs for Schools, Study Shows
Education Week: More than 10 million students gained access to high-speed internet at school over the past year, and the cost of bandwidth for schools continues to fall, according to a new analysis from the broadband-advocacy group EducationSuperHighway. All told, 88% of public school districts now meet minimum internet-connectivity targets established by the Federal Communications Commission. That’s up from just 30% of districts as recently as 2013.

Student Worries about Social Image Affect School Behavior
The Journal: High school students are willing to ignore educational opportunities when they’re concerned about how they’ll be viewed by their classmates, according to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

Around the Nation

5 Big Ideas in Education That Don’t Work
NPR Ed: Small classes. High standards. More money. These popular remedies for school ills aren’t as effective as they’re sometimes thought to be. That’s the somewhat controversial conclusion of education researcher John Hattie. Over his career, Hattie has scrutinized more than 1,000 “meta-analyses,” looking at all types of interventions to improve learning. Out of that, he’s identified five common ideas in education policy that he says should be looked at with a critical eye.

New Grants Available for Out-of-School Programs Serving Middle School Students
Ed Week Time and Learning Blog: The Aim High grant competition will provide $1.95 million over three years to out-of-school time programs serving disadvantaged young people. The grants are sponsored by the New York Life Foundation and Afterschool Alliance, and are part of the foundation’s efforts to help underserved students in 8th grade progress to high school on time. The foundation plans to hand out 18 awards this year to after-school summer and expanded-learning programs throughout the country.

City launches $1.6M plan to bring more black, Hispanic students into Advanced Placement courses
NY Daily News: New York City’s Education Department officials have launched a $1.6 million plan to bring more black and Hispanic students into Advanced Placement courses. The city’s new Lead Higher program aims to bring 1,400 of these students at two dozen public schools into AP classes that are often dominated by white and Asian students.

How to Increase the Number and Quality of Language-Immersion Programs
Ed Week Global Learning Blog: Opportunities for language learning and recognition of language proficiency are growing. How can we ensure that these opportunities are available to all students and are of the highest quality? Shuhan Wang and Joy Kreeft Peyton, of Asia Society’s Chinese Early Language and Immersion Network, discuss.

Protecting or Policing? School-based police officers are paid to protect our kids. But sometimes they do more harm than good.
The Huffington Post: Data shows that just having a school-based police officer makes it more likely that a child will be referred to law enforcement for even minor infractions, potentially pushing kids into the justice system for misdeeds like vandalism, more generally known as the school-to-prison pipeline. This phenomenon is particularly acute for black children, who are 2.3 times more likely than white children to get arrested or referred to law enforcement at school, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

School Bus Safety: New Federal Report Tracks Fatal Crashes
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: In spite of recent high-profile bus crashes, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report suggests school buses are probably still a safer way to get your kids to school than driving them yourself. From 2000 to 2015, there’s been on average 115 fatal crashes involving a school bus each year in the United States, the GAO found—that’s only a third of a percent of the nearly 35,000 fatal crashes during that time. 

A new initiative targets children of opioid addicts
The Boston Globe: In a grim indicator of the toll the opioid crisis is taking on children, a program is being launched in Massachusetts specifically to help newborns, infants, and toddlers with addicted parents. Health officials say they believe it’s the first such early-intervention program in the state to target these children, some of whom were born drug-addicted. Part of the federal Early Head Start program, it will provide educational, nutritional, and nursing services to children and their families, as well as prenatal care and parental coaching.

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