The Weekly Connect 1/30/17

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:

Schools aren’t using data that’s available to them to make decisions. Instead educators are relying on assumptions and intuition, making it tough to improve education.

Skipping a grade used to be common, but now only an estimated 1 percent of students skip. This leaves behind others who could benefit from moving ahead.

Some schools are taking a “trauma-informed” approach to working with students who have been exposed to chronic violence, abuse, and deprivation.

Being incarcerated as a juvenile is linked to health problems later in life.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research

How to let the best data drive better decisions in K12
District Administrator: K-12 education lags behind U.S. business and industry when it comes to using data to improve outcomes, says a 2016 report by the Center for Data Innovation. Despite the wealth of information available—and the existence of technology to crunch those numbers—“most administrators still make decisions, often inaccurately, based on assumptions and intuition, rather than use detailed metrics and analytics to manage schools efficiently and fairly,” the report says. “In short,” it concludes, “U.S. schools are largely failing to use data to transform and improve education.”

The School Principal’s Role in Reducing Teacher Turnover
New America: Nationally, about 1 in 6 teachers leave their schools annually, although attrition is generally more of an issue in low-performing schools. Some turnover can be beneficial, such as when teachers aren’t a good fit. But consistently high rates of turnover are detrimental for schools and their students, leading to poor staff morale and negatively impacting student outcomes. It’s also costly: states spend $1-2 billion on teacher turnover each year. In order to help address this problem, researchers have explored a variety of factors that underlie teacher turnover. Of these factors, school working conditions appear to matter most in whether a teacher decides to stay or leave a school. 

Assessing the long-run benefits of transfers to low-income families
Brookings: Should many government transfer programs be considered public investments? If a transfer program affects children’s lives in ways that improve their well-being as adults, that program isn’t much different from a road project or a government-funded scientific breakthrough. A growing body of research finds that transfers to low-income families with children have long-run payoffs. This paper surveys the literature on the long-run impact on children of cash transfers, food and nutrition programs, health care and health insurance, and housing initiatives. There is mounting and dramatic evidence that transfers to low-income families early in children’s lives manifest later in life. 

Are Kids Missing Out By Not Skipping A Grade?
Mind/Shift: Skipping grades used to be a common strategy to keep gifted or very bright children engaged in learning; it was a simple intervention that worked well when schools were smaller, more flexible and lacking enrichment programs. But today, according to a recent report by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, just 1 percent of students jumps a grade level. How many kids would benefit from grade skipping? According to the study team, two out of seven children test at a grade level higher than their current one, who might benefit from jumping ahead by grade or class. 

Parenting help for dads tied to better school readiness for kids
Reuters: A reading program designed to help men become better fathers is associated with better parenting skills as well as behavior and learning improvements in kids, a small study published in the journal Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology suggests. 

Young Girls Are Less Apt To Think That Women Are Really, Really Smart
NPR Health News: Girls in the first few years of elementary school are less likely than boys to say that their own gender is “really, really smart,” and less likely to opt into a game described as being for super-smart kids, research finds. The study, which appears in Science, comes amid a push to figure out why women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.

Around the Nation

If Elementary Schools Say No to Homework, What Takes its Place?
NEA Today:study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy suggested that elementary students were being assigned significantly more homework than what is recommended. As to its impact on student achievement, the research is at best mixed. Evidence that homework is beneficial to elementary school students is virtually non-existent. Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, says homework can lead to improvements in student learning in higher grades if it is designed and implemented properly. But too much can do more harm than good. 

A new movement to treat troubled children as ‘sad, not bad’
The Hechinger Report: The concept behind “trauma-informed schools” is supported by research showing that traumatized students — those who have been exposed to repeated violence, abuse and deprivation — maintain such high levels of vigilance and anxiety that they cannot flourish at school until they can calm themselves. In other words, unaddressed trauma is an educational problem. Students consumed by sadness or anger are often unable to focus on learning.

Teenagers who access mental health services see significant improvements, study shows
Science Daily: Young people with mental health problems who have contact with mental health services are significantly less likely to suffer from clinical depression later in their adolescence than those with equivalent difficulties who do not receive treatment, according to new research published in Lancet Psychiatry.

Being incarcerated as a juvenile tied to poor health years later
Reuters: People incarcerated as juveniles may have worse physical and mental health as adults than youths who did not spend time in detention centers or correctional facilities, according to a new study published in Pediatrics. Being incarcerated for one to 12 months was tied to a 48% increased risk of worse general health as an adult than those who weren’t involved with the juvenile justice system. Compared to those not incarcerated, those in the system for more than a year were nearly three times more likely to have functional limitation, over four times more likely to have symptoms of depression and over two times more likely to have suicidal thoughts as adults.

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