The Weekly Connect 7/3/17

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

Researchers study voucher programs in Indiana and Louisiana.

The Republican health care bill could cut billions of dollars that public schools use for special education.

A new study ranks states on how well they help homeless students.

In the western part of the United States, fewer students take arts classes and participate in arts activities.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research

Students’ Sense of Belonging at School is Important. It Starts with Teachers
Education Week: An Education Week Research Center survey drew input from 528 educators who are registered users of edweek.org. Among those respondents, 41 percent say it’s challenging or very challenging for them to address “the concerns of students who feel that they might be judged negatively based on their identity,” and 49 percent identify “finding strategies to help students who are concerned about fitting in because they are struggling academically” as challenging or very challenging. See related article: Ed Week Teacher Beat Blog “What Can Make Black, Female Students Feel Valued? Having Black, Female Teachers.”

 School Vouchers Get 2 New Report Cards
NPR Ed Blog: Do low-income, public school students perform better when they’re given a voucher to attend a private school? For years, the answer from researchers has been a muddle, while a handful of recent studies have clearly shown voucher students backsliding academically. Today, much-anticipated reviews of not one but two of the nation’s largest voucher programs add some depth and a few twists to the voucher narrative.

Policy

GOP Health-Care Bill Could Strip Public Schools of Billions for Special Education
The Washington Post: School superintendents across the country are raising alarms about the possibility that Republican health care legislation would curtail billions of dollars in annual funding they count on to help students with disabilities and poor children. That money pays for nurses, social workers, physical, occupational and speech therapists, and medical equipment like walkers and wheelchairs. It also pays for preventive and comprehensive health services for poor children, including immunizations, screening for hearing and vision problems, and management of chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. 

An Independent Review of ESSA State Plans
Bellwether Education Partners: The 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ushered in a new era for state accountability systems. The law requires states to submit a formal plan to the U.S. Department of Education for peer review and then begin implementing that plan in the 2017-18 school year. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia submitted their plans this past April, and the remainder will do so in September. Read the executive summary of strengths and weaknesses across the 17 first-round states. See related article: The 74 Million “Every Student Succeeds Act: 50 State Roll Call.”

Around the Nation

New Study Ranks States on How Well They Help Homeless Students. Where Does Your State Rank?
The 74 Million: Homeless students have long been considered an invisible population in American education policy discussions, but the new federal education law puts a renewed emphasis on identifying and serving them. Huge disparities still exist across the country, according to a new report by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness. This report uses five student participation indicators to “hold states accountable” on their ability to support and identify displaced children. In the institute’s rankings, which include all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Oregon and New York top the list, while Tennessee and Mississippi rank at the bottom. See related article: The Hechinger Report “How A School That Serves Mostly Homeless Kids Is Matching Its District’s Graduation Rate.”

Arizona and New Hampshire Expand Full-Day Kindergarten
New America: Only 13 states and the District of Columbia require districts to offer full-day kindergarten. And, even if full-day kindergarten is offered in a school district, only 28 states require the length of the day to be equivalent to that of first grade. This is despite research that suggests students in full-day programs have sizable advantages over peers in half-day programs by the end of the school year. In the first few months of 2017, lawmakers in both Arizona and New Hampshire have taken positive steps to increase the availability of full-day kindergarten in their state.

National Arts Scores Are in, and the Western U.S. Lags Behind
EdSource: Only a third of 8th-graders in the western U.S. took an art class last year and only 17% played in the school band, the lowest figures of any region in the country, according to a recently released national arts assessment by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. See related action agenda: Education Commission of the States “The Arts Leading the Way to Student Success.”

A Language Translator Allows Districts to Reach out to ELLs
District Administration: Numerous school communication apps now offer translation capabilities, and district leaders are taking advantage of those tools to engage parents who don’t speak English. An app called Remind translates messages into more than 70 languages. Teachers at Selma USD in California use the app to send text messages to parents. At the click of a button, parents can translate the message into their native language. Likewise, teachers can translate parents’ replies into English.

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