The Weekly Connect 1/15/18

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:

Feedback given to teachers and principals may help boost students’ math achievement.

School-based telemedicine helps students with asthma.

Educational issues on Congress’ to-do list.

Some teachers think changes to school-discipline policies are happening too quickly.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

How Feedback for Teachers and Principals Helped Their Students Do Better in Math
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: While more districts nationwide are incorporating classroom observations and feedback into teacher evaluation systems, there have been relatively few studies of whether such feedback improves student learning. According to a new federal study, providing extra feedback for teachers and principals may help boost student achievement in math. 

Mental Health Support in Schools: ‘Families Don’t Have to Spend Years on Waiting Lists’
The Guardian: Funded by the Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group through its Future in Mind fund, the MindSpace initiative works by embedding mental health practitioners in secondary schools in this English city (located between Leeds and Sheffield) so children don’t have to be taken out of school to access treatment. The scheme, originally piloted last academic year by 10 schools and officially launched in October 2017, aims to tackle poor mental health while bypassing traditional services, which are seeing rising demand coupled with insufficient capacity. 

In Schools, Classroom Proximity Breeds Teacher Collaboration
Education Week: When a teacher has a problem, she might go to a mentor or an instructional coach—but often, she goes to whomever is closest at hand. That’s why a new series of studies suggests that school administrators can boost teacher collaboration and build on formal teacher training by paying more attention to how teachers are assigned to classrooms within the building. 

Snapshot of K-12 Tech Landscape: More Districts Reach 1-to-1, But Equity Gaps Persist
Ed Week Marketplace K-12 Blog: A recent survey by the Consortium for School Networking reveals a landscape that is improving in terms of the number of devices in schools–despite continued worries about equitable access to fast and reliable internet connectivity for all students. The organization’s latest infrastructure survey of district tech officials found that 40% of respondents said their systems offer one device per student. Forty-three percent expect to reach that level within three years. 

School-Based Telemedicine Can Be a Game Changer for Students with Asthma, Study Finds
Ed Week Rules for Engagement: A partnership between schools and health care providers could make a big difference for children with asthma. In the study, published in the Journal of American Medicine Pediatrics, children took their preventative asthma medication at school, under the supervision of the school nurse. And, to address circumstances that may keep them from receiving preventative care and check-ups, those same students used telemedicine equipment to meet remotely with a primary care physician three times throughout the school year. The students who received the interventions had more days without asthma symptoms compared to peers in a control group. 

Severe Obesity Declining Among Low-Income Children
Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: A new study suggests that 2009 changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to encourage healthier food options has led to a drop in obesity for children in the program. The study published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that the number of obese children dropped by nearly 40,000. 

Standard Depression Survey May Not Work as Well for Black Teens
Gizmodo: A recent study, published in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, suggests that poorer black adolescents discuss their feelings of depression differently than other demographic groups. of 792 black teens who took a mental health survey, 25% showed symptoms of moderate to severe depression, and another 17% met the criteria for mild depression. Research has found that people tend to express their depression in one of four major ways: somatic or physical complaints; interpersonal challenges; depressive affect; or lack of a positive affect. But these patterns didn’t apply to the black teens. They tended to express their depressed feelings by complaining about conflicts with others and physical pains and aches.

Policy

Can Evidence-Based Policy Ameliorate the Nation’s Social Problems?
MDRC: This working paper considers the “pipeline paradigm” of building evidence about programs and suggests that it be updated to a “cyclical paradigm” that incorporates continuous learning into the evidence-building, implementation, and adaptation of programs. In this paradigm, an intervention would be adapted over time, across settings, and across populations. This would help ensure that the impacts of evidence-based policies and programs are sustained and grow in new settings. See related article: Ed Week Inside School Research Blog “Feds Close ‘Evidence Based’ National Registry for Mental Health Programs.” 

Opening Gavel: Your Guide to States’ 2018 Legislative Sessions
Ed Week State EdWatch Blog: School officials and lobbyists were extremely busy last year as they dealt with a number of education issues, including the looming deadline for accountability plans set by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Under the law, state legislators have a great deal of leeway in designing policies for testing, school rankings, and school turnaround plans. In addition, many states have started crafting new ways to distribute money to schools after many of them missed their revenue targets. Given this environment, here are some of the issues we can expect state legislatures to debate this year.

What Congress Hasn’t Finished or Started: Data Privacy, Career-Tech, and Special Ed. Law
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Just over a year ago, we profiled the big education issues facing Congress in its 115th session. We’re about halfway through that session, and GOP leaders have checked one box on the to-do list we put out there: ditching Obama administration accountability rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act. What else have lawmakers have accomplished? We’ve broken down the issues and the bills into two categories: those that have made discernible progress and the ones that are stuck in the mud.

Around the Nation

Is School-Discipline Reform Moving Too Fast?
The Atlantic: Activities that are part of a Yale-designed program to build students’ social skills usually run for at least 20 minutes each day in all 18 elementary schools in Washington state’s Highline Public Schools, a racially diverse district just south of Seattle. “Teachers say, ‘I know more about my students than ever before,’” says Alexandria Haas, the principal of this pre-K-6 school. And that knowledge, she believes—combined with new strategies to help students regulate their emotions—has contributed to a 43% drop in the number of children referred for discipline from 2014 to 2016. However, some teachers say the changes happened too quickly and classroom discipline has suffered, and teachers have begun to leave. Administrators say that an average of 12.7% of the district’s roughly 1,400 staff members have left in each of the past two years. This is higher than the national average of 8% — and higher than Highline’s rate of 9.6% from 2012-13 to 2014-15.

The Nation Spends $649 Billion on K-12, But Does That Satisfy School Officials?
Ed Week State EdWatch Blog: American taxpayers spent close to $649 billion on its K-12 schools in 2015, according to a new survey released by the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s an increase of 3% from the $628 billion the country spent in fiscal year 2014. While this may sound like a lot of money, school district officials frequently complain that it’s still not enough to cover schools’ increasing, daily operating expenses.

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