The Weekly Connect 2/20/17

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

Plans to implement ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act) get a thumbs up from Betsy DeVos, the new U.S. Secretary of Education.

Latino children lag in math skills, but there are ways to close this gap.

A British study says that moving into poverty can damage children’s mental health, and

ADHD is linked to delayed brain development.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

Betsy DeVos to State Chiefs: Full Speed Ahead on the Every Student Succeeds Act
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The Obama administration’s accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act have been paused by the Trump administration, and they’re on thin ice in Congress. But U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wants states to keep going on their ESSA plans.

Governors, State Lawmakers Roll Out School Choice Proposals
Education Week: As the Trump administration appears poised to make school choice the centerpiece of its education agenda, Republican-led legislatures are rolling out charter school and voucher bills in what could be a more receptive environment. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos—now the nation’s most visible school choice advocate—takes the helm at a time when Republicans control the governor’s house or the state legislature in 44 states and have full control of the executive and legislative branches in 25 states.

Research

From Research to Action
Usable Knowledge: How can we turn what we know about child development into tangible services and supports for the most vulnerable children? A new report from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University brings all this together to offer operational guidance for social workers, educators, and other caregivers — helping them use the science of child development as a framework for providing the support and services children need in the moment and the tools for continued success.

Latino Kids Lag in Math Skills, But Here Are Ways to Narrow the Gap
NBC News: Latino children trail behind their white peers by about 3 months when it comes to math skills, and researchers associate this with increased poverty. But there are ways that parents, caregivers and teachers – as well as policy makers and legislators – can work to narrow the gap. Boosting Hispanic children’s math skills is critical to the nation’s future, since one out of four kindergarten students are Latino, explains Lina Guzmán, the author of a new Child Trends Hispanic Institute report.

Study Reveals Children’s Reading Habits
Ed Week BookMarks Blog: Despite the need for students to have a comfort level with print and digital reading, their preference for print has not disappeared. In fact, 65 percent of children told Scholastic in 2015 they will always want to read in print. The same number of kids echoed their print preference in 2016, according to the most recent installment of Scholastic’s biannual report. In the survey, parents and their children discuss their latest reading habits and attitudes, shedding light on the uptick in reading aloud; access to books at home; and children’s feelings about pleasure reading.

Mindfulness Is All the Rage—But Does It Work?
Edutopia: Studies suggest that the amount of stress matters, and can impact student academic performance. While low levels of stress can boost memory formation, moderate and high levels of stress can impair a student’s ability to retrieve memories, making it more challenging to pass tests, write papers, or make a presentation in class. In addition to boosting students’ emotional and psychological well-being, mindfulness can yield academic benefits by increasing students’ ability to self-regulate and focus.

Around the Nation

Moving into poverty damages children’s mental health, study shows
News Medical: New University of Liverpool research, published in The Lancet Public Health, shows that children who move into poverty are more likely to suffer from social, emotional and behavioral problems than children who remain out of poverty. See related article: UPI “Poverty puts kids at greater risk for ADHD, asthma.”

When parents of school children go to prison
District Administrator: In the United States, the incarceration rate more than quadrupled from 1972 to 2012, according to the National Research Council. More than 2.7 million children have an incarcerated parent, and about 10 million have experienced the incarceration of a parent at some point, according to the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated. One of the first steps is training staff, which doesn’t have to be costly. A trainer can be hired, or staff can lead sessions using materials on the center’s website.

How States Stack Up in Pre-K Funding, Quality
New America: Education Commission of the States released 50-State Review of State Pre-K Funding 2016-2017 Fiscal Year: Trends and opportunities, a report on how states have changed their funding for public pre-K. While many states have increased funding for pre-K programs, accessibility and quality continue to be unequal across states.

Mass. teachers far less diverse than students
The Boston Globe: The Massachusetts public school student population has grown increasingly diverse in recent years, but the state’s teaching force has remained overwhelmingly white — a worrisome mismatch that, studies show, reduces minority student performance. Minorities accounted for 37% of public school enrollment in the last full school year, but only 7.1% of the teaching staff, according to records from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for 2015-2016.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is linked to delayed brain development
The Washington Post: For the first time, scientists can point to substantial empirical evidence that people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have brain structures that differ from those of people without ADHD. The common disorder, they conclude, should be considered a problem of delayed brain maturation and not, as it is often portrayed, a problem of motivation or parenting. The study is published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry. 

Depression Strikes Today’s Teen Girls Especially Hard
NPR: A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests many more teenage girls in the U.S. may be experiencing major depressive episodes at this age than boys. And the numbers of teens affected took a particularly big jump after 2011, the scientists note, suggesting that the increasing dependence on social media by this age group may be exacerbating the problem.

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