The Weekly Connect 4/24/17

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

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) asks states to come up with per-pupil spending figures, but the law provides no guidelines, so state officials will have to sort through the many costs of school operations.

Today’s first graders are better readers than the first graders of a decade ago, according to an Ohio State University study.

The Boston nonprofit Economic Mobility Pathways, or EMPath, (formerly the Crittenton Women’s Union) uses the science of how poverty affects the brain to shape how it delivers social services to clients.

Kids are more likely to intervene when they see bullying occur if their parents have told them to, instead of telling them not to get involved.

To read more, click on the following links.

Policy

Expanded School Choice Not in State Ed Plans – So Far
U.S. News & World Report: As states begin delivering their proposed school accountability plans to the Department of Education, only three of the 10 plans submitted thus far include language aimed at addressing school choice – New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. – and none propose anything new related to choice, opting instead to highlight policies already in place.

ESSA Aims to Shine Brighter Light on Per-Pupil Spending
Education Week: States and school districts are girding for a little-known but tricky piece of the Every Student Succeeds Act: the requirement that states report per-pupil spending for all their schools, a level of detail unknown even to many district superintendents. Without specific federal guidance so far, state finance officials must untangle the myriad costs behind school operations to come up with a single figure for each of the nation’s 99,000 public schools.

Research

Kids are better readers than they were more than a decade ago
USA Today: First graders nowadays are better readers than they were more than a decade ago and kids are learning in kindergarten what they used to in first grade according to a 12-year study out of Ohio State University.

Minority teachers in U.S. more than doubled over 25 years — but still fewer than 20 percent of educators, study shows
The Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog: The number of minority teachers more than doubled in the United States over a 25-year period but still represent less than 20 percent of the country’s elementary and secondary school teaching force, a new statistical analysis of data released by the U.S. Education Department shows. And black teachers, while seeing an increase in the number of teachers, saw a decline in the percentage they make up of the overall teaching force. See related article: Ed Week Inside School Research Blog “Teaching Force Tripled in High-Poverty Schools, Fed Data Show.”

Around the Nation

Gains in Reducing Child Poverty, but Racial-Ethnic Disparities Persist
Carsey School of Public Policy: In 2015, for the second year in a row, child poverty rates declined in the United States. However, familiar patterns in levels and characteristics of child poverty persist: more than one in five children are poor; children of color are at disproportionate risk for poverty; and rates are highest in the South and West and in rural areas and cities. This brief uses data from the American Community Survey to investigate patterns of child poverty across race-ethnicities and across regions.

How Poverty Changes the Brain
The Atlantic: When a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways. Economic Mobility Pathways, or EMPath, has built its whole service-delivery model around this science. EMPath’s Intergenerational Mobility Project, Intergen, uses three tools—one for adults, one for kids, and one for the family as a whole—to frame how they think about their individual and collective lives. Poverty creates barriers to developing this sense of control over one’s own life and EMPath is among the minority of agencies helping families break them down—using an understanding of the human brain to effect lasting change.

The gap within the gap
Brookings Institute: Researchers and policymakers devote considerable effort to understanding gaps in academic achievement between low-income students and their better-off classmates. The test-score gap between high- and low-income students is 40% wider today than it was 25 years ago. One widely-used marker for poverty in schools is a student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch. But while nearly half of students nationwide are eligible for subsidized meals, only a quarter of US children live in poverty. This rough measure may be less useful for measuring income gaps in achievement. We use administrative data from Michigan to develop a more detailed measure of economic disadvantage.

Arresting and suspending students costs city millions each year, report says
Daily News New York: “The $746 Million a Year School-to-Prison Pipeline” calls for fewer student suspensions and the removal of NYPD personnel and metal detectors from public schools. Produced by the non-profit Urban Youth Collaborative and Center for Popular Democracy, the 40-page document analyzed city budget data and academic research.

Kids more likely to stop bullies when parents tell them to
Reuters: Kids are more likely to step in when they see bullying at school if their parents have told them to get involved than if they’ve been taught it’s better to stay out of it, a recent U.S. study published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology suggests.

US students satisfied with life, but some foreigners happier
Associated Press: American high school students are generally satisfied with their lives. But many of their peers in other countries are happier. Asked to rank their life satisfaction on a scale from 0 to 10, American 15-year-olds gave an average mark of 7.4, according to a study conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Students in some member countries are doing markedly better: an average Mexican high schooler rated life satisfaction at 8.2 out of 10. The Netherlands and Iceland had a level of 7.8 and Finland had 7.9.

Stronger Muscles May Pump Up Kids’ Memory Skills
Health Day: New research shows that kids with stronger muscles may have better working memory. Evaluating 79 children between the ages of 9 and 11, scientists said they found that muscle fitness was directly related to a more accurate memory. The results, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, also reinforced established research linking kids’ aerobic fitness to better thinking skills and academic performance.

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