The Weekly Connect 2/5/18

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These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Researchers in Britain look at the attainment gap.

To promote career readiness, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wants mayors to forge a connection between schools and the business community.

Charlotte opens a mental health crisis center for kids.

Oakland reinvents school policing.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Early Enrichment Programs May Boost Odds Poor Kids go to College
Reuters: Low-income children who receive educational support in school and at home from preschool through third grade may be more likely to get a college degree than their peers who don’t get extra help during their early years, a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics suggests. Researchers examined data on 1,539 minority youth in high-poverty Chicago neighborhoods who were part of a program designed to give kids small classes as well as engaging instruction that helps them develop self-control and good communication skills. The program also encourages parent involvement in education. Overall, kids who went through completed more years of education by age 35 than the 550 children who attended schools that did not offer the program. 

Even Good Schools Aren’t Closing the Gap Between Rich and Poor Students
Forbes Education: The attainment gap between rich and poor students has persisted for decades. The differences start when children are very young and often persist through high school graduation. To solve this problem, policymakers have often focused on improving the quality of schools. But a new analysis from Britain suggests that the problem is more complex because even at high-quality schools, attainment gaps persist. Among the approaches that could help: improving teaching quality; small group and one-on-one support; gathering robust evidence on promising programs; and sharing effective strategies among schools.

Culturally Responsive Teaching: A Promising Approach—But ‘Evidence-Based’?
New America: There is a growing push for schools to reform their culturally responsive teaching policies and practices to better align with evidence-based efforts that will produce better outcomes for diverse students. Undertaking this charge is crucial, considering the long-standing, diversity-based opportunity gaps. Unfortunately, a new analysis published in the Journal of Teacher Education indicates that the evidence base is missing: there is a critical lack of empirical research on the effectiveness of school-based culturally responsive interventions.

Alternative School Discipline Strategies
Education Commission of the States: Alternatives to suspensions and expulsions — such as restorative practices and positive behavioral supports and interventions — aim to keep students engaged in the classroom while addressing the root causes of misbehavior. This Policy Snapshot highlights trends in the use of these practices. 

Child Advocates Urge Facebook to End Messenger Kids
The Washington Post: More than 100 child advocates, civil society groups, medical experts and other individuals are urging Facebook to discontinue its Messenger app for kids, alleging that the software poses health and development risks to children. The signatories said children are not prepared for online relationships and lack an understanding of privacy and the appropriateness of sharing texts, pictures and videos. Citing research that suggests a link between social media use and higher rates of depression among teens, the letter states it would be irresponsible for Facebook to expose preschool-aged children to a similar service.

Policy

The One Thing Trump Said About Education Policy in State of The Union Address
The Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog: It took President Trump one hour, 20 minutes and 31 seconds to deliver his first State of the Union address. He said very little about education policy, and he didn’t mention school choice, which is surprising given that he has said it is his chief educational priority. 

Ed. Dept. Budget Could Combine Three Significant Research, Policy Programs
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: According to advocates, the Trump administration’s budget, due out next month, will probably makes key changes. The budget is likely to combine three significant research programs: the State Longitudinal Data System program, the Regional Educational Laboratory Program, and the Comprehensive Centers. The funding for these programs—nearly $140 million all told—would be doled out to states through formula grants.

Betsy DeVos: There’s a ‘Disconnect’ Between K-12 Schools and the Economy
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: “Today, across states and industries, there are 6 million job openings, as the ‘blue collar’ jobs of yesterday become the ‘blue tech’ jobs of today,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said, citing Department of Labor statistics in her address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Coding is as common and necessary a skill today as riveting or stamping was a few decades back. But employers report that they cannot find qualified people to fill those openings. Those jobs require specific skill sets and customized certification.” DeVos urged the mayors to change this by helping to forge connections among K-12, postsecondary education, and the business community. 

Trump Offers ‘Dreamers’ A Path to Citizenship, Wants Other Immigration Curbs
Reuters: U.S. President Donald Trump is offering a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million young illegal immigrants but insists on measures that would curb some legal immigration programs and provide a border wall with Mexico, senior White House officials said. See related article: Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “Trump Calls on Congress to Help ‘Dreamers,’ Bolster Borders.”

Around the Nation

U.S. Department of Education Launches New English Learner Data Story
U.S. Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education launched a new interactive web page dedicated to data on English Learner students (ELs). The site uses colorful maps, bar graphs, and charts to provide a clearer understanding of America’s diverse ELs population in a “data story” format based on information from the Common Core of Data. The data story shows nearly every state has at least one school district where the ELs population has increased by more than 50% since the 2010 school year — and answers three main questions:Who are these students? Where are they? And what languages do they speak?

Report: Incremental Progress in Kids’ Mental Health System
The Seattle Times: New Hampshire has made “important incremental improvements” in establishing a system of care for children with behavioral health needs, although significant gaps in services remain, according to an annual progress report issued by the state. Building on years of work by advocates, state agencies, school districts and providers, the Legislature in 2016 directed the state departments of education and health and human services to develop a comprehensive approach that both helps children and reduces reliance on ineffective, expensive interventions. Goals include coordinating care for children across multiple service systems and ensuring that services are family-driven and community-based.

In Oakland, Reinventing School Policing
Edutopia: A district-wide focus on social and emotional learning has found an unlikely new partner: the police. Using social and emotional learning skills like empathy, self-awareness, and communication, officers are directed to build relationships with staff and students, asking questions that might give them insight into why a student is upset or disengaged, or what really caused a fight. School leaders hope this deliberate shift in approach will change the dynamics with the police, yielding better outcomes for students and better long-term relationships between cops and communities.

First Mental Health Crisis Center for Kids Opens in Charlotte
WFAE: Kids going through a mental health crisis in Charlotte now have the option to go to a crisis center rather than an emergency room. A new facility in the city’s University area opened last month to treat kids and teenagers. The state health department says it’s the first of its kind to open in North Carolina.

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