The Weekly Connect 3/13/17

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:

School districts could be affected by changes to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because schools receive Medicaid funding to pay for services for children in special education.

There’s an experimental app for that: It lets parents know when their children miss classes or don’t turn in assignments. So far, the app has reduced course failures and improved attendance.

Schools can successfully make radical changes to improve education. Just look at Louisiana and Massachusetts.

Researchers say that all elementary school students should have daily recess.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

What’s at Stake for Schools in the Debate Over the Affordable Care Act
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) enticed most states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, a big federal and state partnership program that helps low-income people, including children, get access to health care. It’s not clear if that expansion will continue if ACA is scrapped. Here’s why school districts should care: They get a lot of money from Medicaid, which helps cover the cost of services to eligible kids in special education. 

State Chiefs’ Group Pushes for College and Career Accountability Indicator
Ed Week State EdWatch Blog: One of the areas that stakeholders continue to say they want to see in their accountability system is an indicator that measures career and college readiness. But state officials are struggling to find a way to measure such an indicator. The Council of Chief State School Officers and the Education Strategy Group released guidelines for states attempting to include the measure in their systems. See related article: Center for American Progress “A New Vision for School Accountability.” 

Unlocking ESSA’s Potential to Support Early Learning
New America: In December 2015, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, replacing No Child Left Behind with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A little more than one year later, states are readying to submit their plans for approval. This latest iteration of the law brings new attention to children’s earliest years. In a new paper, New America and the BUILD Initiative offer an introduction to ESSA and explore major provisions that have implications for our nation’s youngest learners.

Research

When Measuring School Climate, Context Is Key
Ed Week Finding Common Ground Blog: As states finalize new school accountability plans under ESSA, measures of school climate have received increasing attention. Many states have included school climate as a “non-academic” indicator of school quality in their drafted plans. Meanwhile, groups of educators and students in states from California to Massachusetts have advocated for better approaches to measuring school climate. 

Parent Alert! Your Child Just Skipped Class
NPR: In a field experiment across 22 middle and high schools, an automated text-message alert was sent to parents about their child’s missed assignments, grades and class absences. The intervention reduced course failures by 39% and increases class attendance by 17%. See related article: The Seattle Times “Is your kid absent more than classmates? School ‘nudge’ letters tell parents just how much.”

Tool Aims to Help Schools Better Identify English-Language Learners
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: The Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands’ English Language Learners Alliance created the Home Language Survey Data Quality Self-Assessment to help state education departments and school districts improve the quality of data collected through home-language surveys. Educators, parents, and the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights have raised concerns about the wording of questions in some surveys, inconsistencies in how the surveys are administered, and the lack of language support for non-English speaking parents.

Around the Nation

Radical change for struggling schools? It’s reliably doable.
The Washington Post: Radical change for students consigned to struggling schools is not only possible, it is reliably doable. We know radical change is possible because we have seen it in our states. In Louisiana, radical change means that 128,000 fewer students attend schools rated D or F than did in 2011. And in Massachusetts, radical change, according to an independent study, means that students in schools targeted for intensive improvement gained a full year more learning in both math and English compared to those whose schools were not part of the effort.

Suspending Students Costs Billions in Economic Losses
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: Researchers found that suspensions lead to lower graduation rates, which in turn leads to lower tax revenue and higher taxpayer costs for criminal justice and social services. The researchers followed a single cohort of California 10th grade students through high school for three years and found that those who were suspended had only a 60% graduation rate—compared to an 83% graduation rate for students who were not suspended. The result: An economic loss of $2.7 billion over the lifetime of that single cohort of dropouts who left school because they were suspended. 

Website Ranks K–12 Reading, Math Programs Under ESSA Standards
The Journal: A new website launched by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Research and Reform in Education offers insights into K–12 reading and math programs. The website provides up-to-date and reliable information to help education leaders better understand how these programs compare under the Every Student Succeeds Act. 

New Research Brief Supports Recess for All Elementary School Students
Ed Week Time and Learning Blog: Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz are calling on states and school districts to require elementary schools to provide daily recess for all students along with detailed recess plans similar to teachers’ lesson plans. They also recommend that government officials and school leaders keep in mind the role recess plays in creating a positive school climate. These recommendations align closely with American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations.

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