The Weekly Connect 1/29/18

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:

Helping schools with fewer resources develop community partnerships.

States struggle to meet the Every Student Succeeds Act’s requirements for foster children.

New York City adds more dual language options to its preschool program.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Commission Shares Progress on Efforts to Expand Social-Emotional Learning in Schools
Education Dive: Stand-alone social-emotional learning (SEL) programs can lead to better student behavior and boost academic growth, but educators need more guidance and training on how to blend SEL into their teaching, according to a midterm report released by the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development. See related article: Education Week “Experts Agree Social-Emotional Learning Matters, and Are Plotting Roadmap on How to Do It.” 

For Schools, It’s About Who You Know
Usable Knowledge: For more than a decade, establishing partnerships between schools and outside organizations has been seen as a key way to address the obstacles and lack of opportunities many students face. The reality, though, is that these partnerships are more likely to exist with schools that are better resourced to begin with. In some circumstances, these partnerships actually worsen the inequities between schools, by providing more supports to schools that need them less. School partnerships do have exciting potential to level the playing field — but to make that dream a reality, policymakers and district leaders will have to go to greater lengths to help the neediest schools establish secure relationships. 

Text-Based Tips May Help Parents and Preschoolers Learn
The Hechinger Report: A team of researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis Labs are sending texts to parents and caregivers. These texts provide reminders of the skills that young children will need for school as well as explanations about how to help kids build these skills. The approach is inspired in part by “nudge” techniques: behavioral interventions that push a person towards a certain goal. Nudges could have a powerful effect on education. Because parental engagement can be a major factor in a student’s success or failure, researchers are exploring how a simple text-based nudge to parents could improve their kids’ academic performance.

Study Says Mental Health Screenings Not Enough to Help Young Children
Bolivar Mo News: The Missouri Department of Mental Health reports more than 80% of the 97,000 young Missourians who needed treatment for serious mental health problems in 2015 did not receive public mental health support. One risk assessment completed by one teacher on any given day may not provide enough insight about whether a child needs additional mental health services. A University of Missouri researcher calls for getting “input from several different sources, such as teachers, counselors, parents and other adults involved in a young person’s life” to develop a better understanding of what students need. Schools may also be able to supplement assessments with other data, including discipline referrals, attendance, and academic performance over time. 

What Do Asthma, Heart Disease, and Cancer Have in Common? Maybe Childhood Trauma
NPR: Two-thirds of Americans are exposed to extreme stress in childhood. And this early adversity, if experienced in high enough doses, “literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades,” Burke Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, writes in her new book, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. In short, early stress can shorten your life.

Screen Time: Mental Health Menace or Scapegoat?
CNN: A new study published in the journal Emotion shows that teens who spent more than an hour or two a day interacting with their gadgets were less happy on average than those who had more face time with others. The study — which drew from a survey of hundreds of thousands of teens across the US — also found that roughly 13% of eighth- and tenth-graders who spent 1 to 2 hours a week on social media said they were “not happy.” By the twelfth grade, however, the negative correlations between screen time and teen psychology had somewhat dissipated. In addition, teens with zero hours of screen time had higher rates of unhappiness than their peers who logged in a few hours a week.

Policy

Report: States Struggle with ESSA’s Requirements for Foster Children
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Advocates for children in foster care had good reason to cheer the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act two years ago. The new law requires schools to break out student achievement data for foster care students so that the public can see how they are doing relative to their peers. And it calls for students in foster care to be able to stay in their “school of origin” even if it’s no longer their neighborhood school. The state must work with school districts and local child welfare agencies to provide transportation. But states are struggling to meet the requirements.

After Months in Limbo for Children’s Health Insurance, Huge Relief Over Deal
NPR: When parts of the federal government ground to a halt, Linda Nablo, who oversees the Children’s Health Insurance Program in Virginia, had two letters drafted and ready to go out to the families of 68,000 children insured through the program, depending on what happened. One said the federal government had failed to extend CHIP, the program would be shutting down and families would lose their insurance. The other letter said they didn’t need to worry anymore because federal funding had finally come through and the program’s future was assured. Since the deal to end the shutdown included a six-year reauthorization of CHIP, enrolled families in Virginia will get that second letter. The program will go on and no children will lose their health insurance.

Government Shutdown Is Over, But DACA and ‘Dreamers’ Are Still in Limbo
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: The federal government shutdown has come to an end, but the debate on Capitol Hill over the fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children has not. The Washington-based Migration Policy Institute estimates that about 9,000 undocumented, DACA-protected teachers work in U.S. schools. In addition, millions of U.S. born students in the nation’s schools have parents who are undocumented immigrants, many of whom are also covered by DACA.

Around the Nation

Five Common Traits of the Top School Systems
Education Week: States that rank high on Quality Counts’ annual report card typically share common strengths when it comes to supporting their education systems. They may enjoy good economic climates, for example, or built-in advantages like a large proportion of parents with strong educational backgrounds. But while factors like a state’s underlying economy or family demographics are important, some high-performing states also make the most of strategies that can prove useful to policymakers elsewhere, no matter what cards they’re originally dealt. And even the high-performers can face daunting challenges in sustaining the factors that put them in the front of the pack. See related article: Education Week “Five Hurdles That Keep School Systems from Improving.”

Preschoolers with Disabilities Inordinately Suspended, Report Finds
Disability Scoop: Students with disabilities represent just 13% of the nation’s preschoolers, but a new report finds they account for three-quarters of all suspensions and expulsions. The figures come from an analysis from the Center for American Progress. Researchers looked at data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a regular government poll of parents across the country about their kids’ physical and mental health. See related article: Education Week “Racial Disparities in Special Ed: How Widespread Is the Problem?

New York City Will Add Dual Language Options in Pre-K to Attract Parents and Encourage Diversity
Chalkbeat: Education Department officials announced the addition of 33 dual language pre-K programs in the 2018-19 school year, more than doubling the bilingual opportunities available for New York City’s youngest learners. The expansion continues an aggressive push under the current administration, which has added 150 new bilingual programs to date.

Yes, There Are Public School Educators Who Know What They’re Doing. Take, For Example, The Folks in Steubenville, Ohio.
The Washington Post Answer Sheet: Steubenville is a small, impoverished city that sits just west of West Virginia along the Ohio River. But in terms of academic achievement, Steubenville’s three elementary schools are near the top of the nation, according to a national analysis of student achievement by Sean Reardon at Stanford University. One of the many things researchers have figured out is that high-quality, well-researched programs can help their students. So for the past 18 years, the elementary schools have used Success for All, which is a program that incorporates a great deal of what we know about how children learn and has solid evidence of success, particularly in high-poverty schools.

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