The Weekly Connect 1/22/18

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:

Most states don’t require pediatric screening for common health issues.

Chronic illness may trigger mental health issues.

Three-quarters of public school spending cuts made since 2009 have been restored.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission finds that schools are “profoundly unequal.”

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Using Data to Help ELLs Succeed Requires Partnerships and Persistence, Report Argues
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: Illinois’ use of English-language-learner data is an “emerging bright spot” for states looking to better serve and understand the growing, but often misunderstood, student population, according to a new report from a Washington-based think tank. In the report, New America examines how the state’s effort to use longitudinal data could serve as a model for other states seeking guidance on how to accurately evaluate the academic growth and needs of their English-language learners. See related article: Ed Week Learning the Language Blog “Rising Number of ESL Students Poses Challenges for U.S. Schools.”

Most States Don’t Require That Kids Be Checked for Health Issues
Reuters: Most U.S. states don’t require pediatric screening for health conditions that can affect learning, according to research supported by the Children’s Health Fund and published in the journal PLoS One. Overall, 80% of states had requirements for student vision screening, 75% required at least one hearing screening, and 49% required a comprehensive health exam.

For Kids, Chronic Illness May Trigger Mental Health Issues
U.S. News & World Report: When children learn they have a long-term illness, such as diabetes or epilepsy, they’re likely to suffer emotionally, too, according to a small study published in BMJ Open. These mental health issues surface soon after the physical diagnosis, the researchers said. They suggest that pediatricians talk to parents or other caregivers, in addition to the children, to get a more complete picture of young patients’ mental health.

Health Department Finds Link Between Lack of Sleep and Mental Health Problems Among Kids and Teens
ABC News: A new study by the New York City Health Department finds a link between inadequate sleep and poor mental health among children and adolescents. The study found that on an average school night, 75% of high school students reported getting fewer than eight hours of sleep, and 11% of school children (ages 6 to 12 years) got inadequate sleep (less than nine hours).

Sports Protect Mental Health of Children Who Experience Trauma
The Guardian: Participating in sports protects children who are abused or neglected from developing mental health problems in later life, according to a major public health study conducted by British researchers. People who had adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) but regularly played sports as children were less likely to have a mental illness as an adult, the study found. People who had traumatic childhoods were also more likely to be mentally healthy if they took part in sports as adults.

Teens Who Were Severely Bullied as Children at Higher Risk of Suicidal Thoughts and Mental Health Issues
Science Daily: Teens who were severely bullied by peers as children are at higher risk of mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts and behaviors, according to new research in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Policy

How Do ESSA Plans Stack Up on Using Evidence in School Improvement?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The Every Student Succeeds Act allows states and districts to come up with their own interventions for struggling schools, with the caveat that improvement strategies have to have some sort of evidence to back them up. So how strong are state ESSA plans when it comes to school improvement? It’s a mixed bag, concludes a report released by the Evidence in Education Lab at Results for America, a non-profit organization that studies school improvement. See related article: Ed Week District Dossier Blog “ESSA and Principals: What States Are Pledging to Do for School Leaders” and Ed Week Marketplace K-12 Blog “K-12 District Spending Analysis Raises Red Flag About ESSA School Comparisons.”

50-State Comparison: States’ School Accountability Systems
Education Commission of the States: School accountability systems can serve many purposes, including sharing information, measuring progress toward state and local goals, and supporting greater educational equity. Given the important role accountability systems play in states’ education systems, many states are taking the opportunity provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act to improve upon their existing systems. The Education Commission of the States has gathered data from the states as they update their accountability systems to provide a national overview.

Three Quarters of U.S. Public School Spending Cuts Restored
The Hechinger Report: The National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education, reported that local, state, and federal governments had collectively spent 2.8% more on public schools during the 2014-15 school year than in the previous year. After adjusting for inflation by counting everything in constant 2015 dollars, researchers found that three-quarters of the education cuts accrued between 2009 and 2013 were restored by 2015. 

Year One Check-In: What’s Trump Done on K-12 Compared to Other Presidents?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: President Donald Trump was sworn in one year ago this week, and at this point in their tenure, the past five presidents had gotten at least one splashy K-12 accomplishment over the finish line—or come close to it. So how does Trump—who hardly made education a central part of his 2016 presidential bid—stack up? 

Training Young People for Middle-Skill Jobs: New Guidelines Proposed
Ed Week High School & Beyond Blog: Programs to train young people for middle-skill jobs must avoid tracking, and should carefully balance industry-specific preparation with more generalizable skills to equip students for a changing workplace, according to a report issued by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. The study explores a part of the jobs-and-education landscape that’s risen sharply on the public’s radar in the last few years: the vast array of jobs that require more than a high school diploma and less than a bachelor’s degree. Those “middle-skill” jobs account for 48% of U.S. employment, according to researchers.

Around the Nation

Nation’s Schools Stuck in ‘Average’ Range on Annual Report Card
Education Week: As a new presidential administration nears the close of its first year in office and educators across the country grapple with the challenges and opportunities in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, the nation’s educational performance earns a grade of C from Quality Counts 2018, the 22nd annual report card issued by the Education Week Research Center. The nation’s score of 74.5 is about the same as last year, when it posted a 74.2 — continuing years of flat performance, according to the annual report, which weighs a host of academic, fiscal, and socioeconomic factors.

America’s Schools Are ‘Profoundly Unequal,’ Says U.S. Civil Rights Commission
NPR: “The federal government must take bold action to address inequitable funding in our nation’s public schools.” So begins a list of recommendations released by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency created by Congress in 1957 to investigate civil rights complaints. The report comes after a lengthy investigation into how America’s schools are funded and why so many that serve poor and minority students aren’t getting the resources they say they need.

Public Schools Must Address Disparities in Discipline Rates
Center for American Progress: Last year, students at New York City public schools missed tens of thousands of school days due to suspensions. Through the overuse of suspensions and expulsions, U.S. public schools fail to serve large segments of historically disadvantaged students. Policymakers must focus on ensuring that public schools fairly serve all the students entrusted to them.

Collaborative Aims to Improve Child Health by Training Adults Who Work with Kids
WXXI News: A dozen Rochester area organizations are forming a collaborative effort aimed at improving the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional health of children from birth to 8 years. Staffed by psychiatrists and pediatricians at the University of Rochester as well as experts from RIT, Head Start, the United Way, and others, the effort will start by forming a partnership with seven schools in the city of Rochester. The lead agency is the non-profit Children’s Institute. Elizabeth Delvaney, director of the institute’s Social and Emotional Learning Center, says the idea is to expand the knowledge of adults who work with children various settings, from schools to mental health clinics.

Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?
The New York Times Magazine: In 2017, a group of prominent early-education researchers published a consensus statement declaring that preschool classrooms were a “black box” and that much more research was needed before anyone could say with certainty which ingredients were essential to improving long-term developmental trajectories. Amid that uncertainty, though, at least two things seem clear: Children in low-income and minority neighborhoods stand to gain (or lose) the most from whatever preschool system we ultimately establish. And the one-on-one exchanges between students and teachers may well be the key to success or failure. But if teachers are crucial to high-quality preschool, they are also its most neglected component. See related article: New America “Teacher Stress and Low Compensation Undermine Early Learning.”

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