The Weekly Connect 12/11/17

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:

Child Trends looks at integrated student supports.

Student teachers who have more multicultural awareness spur greater student success.

How the Senate’s tax bill would affect schools.

Some school districts promote faster growth in test score gains despite the effects of poverty; Chicago is one example.

Graduation rates rise across the country.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Making the Grade: A Progress Report and Next Steps for Integrated Student Supports
Child Trends: The education field has come to recognize the role of schools in supporting student health, safety, and well-being by developing integrated student support (ISS) initiatives. While these initiatives are understood to be vital components of community efforts on behalf of children and families, they also further our nation’s collective efforts to close educational opportunity gaps, raise graduation rates, and better compete on the international stage. Based on this updated review, the authors are optimistic about the effectiveness of ISS.

Multicultural Awareness Helps Teachers Spur Students’ Success, Says Study
Ed Week Teacher Beat Blog: Student teachers who report greater awareness of and comfort with issues of cultural diversity in the classroom are better at building more positive classroom environments that help every student succeed, according to a new study published in the Journal of Teacher Education. 

Public School Parents Less Satisfied with Engagement Opportunities
Education Dive: Parents in traditional public schools are less likely than those in charter and private schools to report feeling “very satisfied” with their schools’ efforts to engage with families and the surrounding community, according to a new survey conducted by researchers at Rice University. 

Teachers Often Ask Youngsters to Learn in Ways That Exceed Even Adult-Sized Attention Spans
Hechinger Report: Researchers tracked off-task behavior among every student in more than 50 classrooms, from kindergarten through fourth grade. Results confirm that students are distracted a lot. Students went off task more frequently during whole-group instruction than during small group or individual work. Students went off task more often as an instructional activity increased beyond 10 minutes. The researchers found that 25% of instructional activities lasted longer than 17 minutes. That’s longer than the typical adult attention span of 15 minutes. 

When Black Students and White Students Fight, Blacks Receive Harsher Punishments
The 74 Million: Students who are black or poor are suspended at much higher rates than those who are white or affluent, according to a new study of school discipline trends in Louisiana. Even in specific fights that involve one black student and one white student, the black student typically receives a slightly more severe penalty.

Policy

After A High-Drama Vote, Here’s What the Senate Tax Bill Means for Schools, Parents and Students
The Washington Post: The Senate tax bill could have massive implications for schools and universities, students and parents. Public education advocates warned that certain provisions could put pressure on state and local spending for public schools while giving parents incentives to send children to private schools. The legislation has to be reconciled with a version passed by the House before being sent to President Trump, but many of the provisions affecting education are likely to stay. 

School Voucher Programs Should Be Clear About Disability Rights, Report Says
NPR: A new report from the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office says many of the nation’s voucher programs aren’t giving parents the information they need to make an informed choice, especially parents of kids with disabilities. Federal law says that students with disabilities are entitled to certain protections when they attend public school. If parents use a publicly funded voucher to enroll their child in a private school, they leave many of those protections behind.

Around the Nation

How Effective Is Your School District? A New Measure Shows Where Students Learn the Most
The New York Times: In the Chicago Public Schools system, enrollment has been declining, the budget is seldom enough, and three in four children come from low-income homes, a profile that would seemingly consign the district to low expectations. But students here appear to be learning faster than those in almost every other school system in the country, according to new data from researchers at Stanford. Across the country, this analysis shows, the wealth of a district tells us little about the effectiveness of its schools. 

U.S. High School Graduation Rates Rise to New High
The Washington Post: The nation’s graduation rate rose again to a record high, with more than 84% of students graduating on time in 2016, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education. All minority groups saw a rise in on-time graduation rates in 2016, but gaps persist. Only 76% of black students and 79% of Hispanic students graduated on time, compared to 88% of white students and 91% of Asian/Pacific Islander students. See related article: The Hechinger Report “How a Dropout Factory Raised Its Graduation Rate From 53 Percent To 75 Percent In Three Years.”

U.S. Fourth-Graders Lag Behind Other Countries in Reading
U.S. New & World Report: Reading comprehension among fourth-grade students in the U.S. has flatlined since 2001, allowing education systems in other countries whose students used to perform worse than those in the U.S. to catch up – and even surpass – the U.S. in an international ranking. That’s the latest finding from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, which measures the performance of fourth-grade students in reading.

Students with Disabilities Are Falling Further Behind
Child Trends Blog: The academic gap between students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers is growing, according to public school scores from the grade 4 mathematics portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In 2009, the gap between the average scores of students without disabilities and those with disabilities was 22 score points. By 2015, the gap had grown significantly to 28 points.

Number of American Children in Foster Care Increases For 4th Consecutive Year
NPR The Two-Way: A new government report, issued annually by the Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services, says the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, due largely to an uptick in substance abuse by parents. The report shows that 437,500 children were in foster care by the end of fiscal year 2016. A year earlier the number was 427,400. 

As Districts Across the Country Try to Drive Down Absenteeism, New York City Leads the Way
Chalkbeat: Under pressure to improve attendance, Cypress Hills Collegiate Preparatory School has dug deeper into student data, set individual goals for students, reached out to families, and created incentives like trips to museums or theme parks to reward improvement. It’s also tried to make the school more appealing to students — by, for instance, establishing a mentorship program that pairs freshmen with older students and working to improve teachers’ lessons. The strategy is paying off: Last school year, 28% of students were chronically absent, down from 61% in 2014.

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