The Weekly Connect 10/30/17

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:

Reversing poverty’s impact on the brain.

The Gates Foundation will invest $1.7 billion in K-12 education.

A small but growing number of states require schools to offer recess.

New data on Washington, D.C., children who have experienced trauma.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

How to Improve Brain Function and Reverse Poverty’s Impact on Student Learning
EdSurge: The “new normal” in U.S. public schools is that 51% of all students come from low-income families. This has far-reaching consequences because of poverty’s effect on a child’s brain. For years, research has shown that socioeconomic status is associated with differences in school readiness, cognitive development and achievement. Recent work has further demonstrated how poverty is tied to structural differences in the brain, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Included here are three ways to jumpstart learning for students of poverty. 

Teacher Leadership Is Linked to Higher Student Test Scores in New Study
Ed Week Teaching Now Blog: Students who go to schools where their teachers have a leadership role in decision making perform significantly better on state tests, a new study finds. But some of the leadership elements that are most related to student achievement are the ones that are least often implemented in schools. 

When Body Meets Mind in Learning
The Hechinger Report: Research suggests that when we see and use gestures, we recruit more parts of the brain than when we use language alone, and we may activate more memory systems. Arthur Glenberg, a professor at Arizona State University is applying the theory to help struggling readers succeed. Glenberg has been developing systems that allow novice readers to physically simulate the content of books to enhance their understanding. The latest version is an iPad-based system called EMBRACE in which children can move characters and props around on a touch screen to bring the text alive. 

Children Whose Parents Speak a Language Other Than English Less Likely to Enroll in Preschool
EdSource: According to a national report, young children with at least one parent who speaks a language other than English at home are less likely to be enrolled in quality early childhood programs, even thought these programs are critical for these students.

Policy

Gates Foundation Announces New $1.7B for K-12
Education Week: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new investment of $1.7 billion for K-12 education over the next five years. Most of the funding will go to: traditional public schools that show progress in improving educational outcomes; the development of new curricula, charter schools focused on students with special needs, and “research and development” for scalable models that could inform best practices.

2 Years After ‘Opt Out,’ Are Students Taking Fewer Tests?
NPR Ed Blog: Overall, experts say, there is very little evidence that standardized testing has been reduced on a nationwide scale. Federal testing requirements remain virtually the same. And despite some state policy changes and passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, opt-out activists and their sympathizers are still worried about the time students spend preparing for and taking standardized tests.

Lawmakers Requiring More Recess in Schools
District Administration: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in its review of 50 studies that movement and exercise have a positive association with academics. A small but growing number of states are requiring school districts to provide recess. Pending legislation in Massachusetts would require schools to provide at least 20 minutes of daily recess in grades K to 5.

Around the Nation

Child Poverty Disproportionately Hits Children of Immigrants
Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity: A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation argues that poverty disproportionately affects children of immigrants. According to the 2017 Race for Results report, children of immigrants account for 30% of all children from low-income families and are more likely to struggle in school. Certification programs for foreign-trained workers and policies that prioritize keeping immigrant families together could improve outcomes for these children and their parents. See related article: “Kids Count: Immigrants and Their Children Face Challenges on Path to Opportunity.”

A Step in the Right Direction: Career Exploration in Middle School
New America: In the quest for college and career readiness, policymakers are coming around to the importance of career readiness. The middle grades are a crucial time to engage or reengage students and put them on a path to college and career success. Researchers and policymakers have identified a number of effective interventions to keep students on track toward college and career readiness in middle school so that they successfully transition into high school and postsecondary opportunities.

Almost Half of D.C. Children Have Suffered a Traumatic Experience, According to Federal Survey
The Washington Post: In the District, 47% of children and teens have experienced a traumatic event according to new federal data. In Maryland and in Virginia, the rate was 41%. “These numbers tell a story about what is happening nationally to children. They have implications for schools and families and communities and health care,” said Martha Davis, senior program officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Public health advocates hope this data, which is expected to be collected annually, will undergird a wide range of policy changes to prevent such adversity and to help children heal.

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