The Weekly Connect 2/26/18

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:

Multiple museum field trips boost standardized test scores.

Eye exams linked to children’s reading levels.

States working to increase educational equity.

Expanding preschool for children of immigrants.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

An Unexpectedly Positive Result from Arts-Focused Field Trips
Brookings Brown Center Chalkboard Blog: In a new experiment on the effects of arts-focused field trips, researchers found a positive result that they did not expect. Their study examines the long-term effects of students receiving multiple field trips to the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. The surprise: these students experienced significantly greater gains on their standardized test scores after the first year than did the control students. When researchers combined math and ELA tests, they saw a gain of 12.4%, which translates into roughly 87 additional days of learning. 

How to Talk with Kids About Terrible Things
NPR Ed: For the more than 3,000 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the mass shooting that took place there was terrifying and life-changing. But what about the tens of millions of other children, in schools across the country, who have since heard about what happened and now struggle with their own feelings of fear, confusion and uncertainty? For their parents and teachers, NPR Ed has put together a quick primer on how to listen and what to say. NPR received help from of the National Association of School Psychologists and Melissa Reeves, a former NASP president and co-author of the organization’s PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention curriculum. See related article: The Washington Post Answer Sheet “How Mass School Shootings Affect the Education of Students Who Survive.” 

5 Ways Neighborhoods of Concentrated Disadvantage Harm Children
Child Trends Blog: Multiple factors created the residential segregation we experience today, including past federal, state, and local housing policies that were explicitly discriminatory to people of color and discouraged investment in the neighborhoods where they lived. These policies, along with current policies and practices that benefit people who are white or have higher household incomes, have led to many children of color, and children in low-income families, living in neighborhoods where disadvantage is concentrated. These neighborhoods are marked by a lack of resources and opportunity, which can affect their youngest residents in many ways—here are five key ones.

Eye Exams Linked to Kids’ Reading Levels
Science Daily: Elementary school children who read below grade level may have challenges with their eyesight even if standard tests show they see 20/20, according to a new study. The study showed that children with reading challenges may have lower than expected binocular vision test results, something a standard eye exam may overlook. Full eye examinations, particularly in children with vision issues, may be a tool for parents and educators to assist children who are found to have difficulty reading.


State Lawmakers Look to Improve School Safety with Senate Bill 6410
The Chronicle: Washington state’s Senate Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously to improve communications between emergency first responders and school officials in the name of student safety. Senate Bill 6410, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, requires first responders to notify both public and private schools about any situation that could require an evacuation or lockdown. The bill also seeks to establish one school safety center for each side of the state. 

Senate Votes Down Trump’s Immigration Framework
U.S. News & World Report: A supermajority of the Senate delivered a sharp rebuke to President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal, voting down his preferred plan to cut legal immigration in exchange for protections for young immigrants while narrowly failing to advance several other bipartisan proposals. 

Report: States Implementing Practices to Increase Educational Equity
Education Dive: Annual equity reports in Washington, DC, implicit bias training for state education agency employees in Vermont and Wisconsin, and “equity specialists” who work with teachers in Minnesota are just a few of the practices highlighted in a new report on states’ efforts to improve equity. Released by America’s Promise Alliance, The Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the report notes some of the steps that states have taken since chiefs, civil rights leaders, educators and advocates met in July 2016 and made commitments to improve educational equity.

Around the Nation

Expanding Preschool Access for Children of Immigrants
Urban Institute: Understanding how to reduce barriers to preschool access for immigrant families is key to informing preschool programs and policies in states and communities nationwide. To shed light on this issue, a study explores strategies in four communities with unusually high rates of enrollment among low-income immigrant families and negligible or nonexistent gaps in enrollment between children of immigrants and children of US-born parents. The study found that by improving the fit between programs and communities, stakeholders can provide a strong start for children of immigrants and become trusted institutions in immigrant communities.

Maryland Bill Would Require 90 Minutes Per Week of Physical Education in Schools
WJLA: The former Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots quarterback, Jay Walker, now a Maryland state lawmaker, is sponsoring a bill mandating 90 minutes of physical education per week for public school students. “We’re blaming the kids for being more obese, but look what we’ve done,” Walker said. “We’ve taken away activities, sports.” His bill, the “Student Health and Fitness Act” (HB 393), would also require an additional 60 minutes a week of recess for elementary students. See related articles: The Hechinger Report “How a Growing Number of States are Hoping to Improve Kids’ Brains: Exercise” and Education Week “For This Champion for Student Health, P.E. Extends Beyond the Gym.” 

Computer Science for All: Can Schools Pull It Off?
Education Week: Alante Klyce wants to be a dancer. Yet here she is, inside a sun-filled classroom at Lindblom Math & Science Academy on the city’s South Side, throwing around tech-industry terms like “ideation” and working with friends to design her first mobile app. It’s all part of the introductory computer-science course that every student in Chicago must now take in order to graduate. This is the promise of the nascent “Computer Science for All” movement: that the nation’s K-12 schools can prepare every student, regardless of background or career interests, to thrive in a tech-driven future.

Developing Comprehensive Support Services
Community College Daily: College access doesn’t equal college success. For many low-income students, there are various tripping points along the way that can cause them to stumble and drop out — and they’re not necessarily on the academic side. Over the past three years, a group of 19 community colleges in four states has been testing various strategies to keep such students in school, from offering guidance on managing their personal finances and providing referrals for basic needs, such as housing, to academic and career coaching. With $12.5 million from six major national foundations, the colleges participating in the Working Students Success Network focused on designing integrated student services rather than a series of single, one-time services.

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