The Weekly Connect 3/12/18

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:

It can be tough to find teachers for incarcerated students.

The U.S. Department of Education changes the rules for civil rights investigations.

North Carolina teachers are trained to help students who are grappling with trauma.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Strengthening Children’s Math Skills with Enhanced Instruction
MDRC: Early math skills are a strong predictor of later achievement for young children, not only in math, but in other domains as well. Exhibiting strong math skills in elementary school is predictive of later high school completion and college attendance. To that end, the Making Pre-K Count and High 5s studies set out to rigorously assess whether providing high-quality math instruction, aligned across prekindergarten and kindergarten, could lead to long-term gains across a variety of domains for students growing up in low-income communities in New York City.

Building Students’ Noncognitive Skills
Edutopia: The emergence of smartphones and their apps has created a new world of personalization, instant results, and the ability to connect with others without actually making contact, but some of the basic foundational skills—perseverance, social skills, and more—that were once developed naturally have gone by the wayside. Research on how these noncognitive factors affect learning is in its infancy, but preliminary findings point toward promising returns.

The Tough, Often Lonely Job of Teaching Incarcerated Students
Education Week: Incarcerated youths are more likely to need special education services, have gaps in their schooling, and require more academic support than their non-incarcerated peers. But schools inside juvenile justice facilities struggle to hire teachers who have the specialized skills necessary to deliver a meaningful education to some of society’s most at-risk students. The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center recently published a plan to improve education behind bars. The plan calls for students to be taught by qualified teachers who are permanently assigned to the facilities, and for students in online courses to have access to “live,” certified instructors.

What’s Wrong, And How Do We Help? Getting Children The Right Mental-Health Support.
The Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog: One in every 5 young people between the ages of 13 and 18 live with a mental-health condition — yet the average delay between the onset of symptoms and intervention is between eight and 10 years. These statistics — from the National Institute of Mental Health — underscore the problems facing parents and educators who are raising and/or teaching children who have untreated mental illnesses. A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that more than half of the children in the United States who receive mental-health care now get it in school settings, and that if school-based personnel are properly trained and supported, such services can be effective. See related article: Science Daily “Teachers and Other School-Based Professionals can Treat Children’s Mental Health Problems.”

‘Park Prescriptions’ Can Help Lower Stress Levels
Health Line: A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE says that doctors could help reduce their patients’ stress levels — and boost other health benefits — simply by recommending that people spend time in nature. Researchers recruited 78 children and their parents from a low-income, racially, and ethnically diverse patient population at a pediatric clinic in Oakland, California. A pediatrician at the clinic encouraged parents to regularly visit local parks over the course of the study, with clear benefits for those who listened.

Districts Turn to Social Media, But Parents Prefer Emails, Calls, and Texts
Ed Week Digital Education Blog: Parents want schools to communicate with them via email, and that is why schools’ more recent focus on using social media to get their messages out may be misguided. That’s the takeaway from new survey findings released by the nonprofit research group Project Tomorrow and the ed-tech company Blackboard Inc.


The State Testing Landscape Continues to Fragment
Ed Week Curriculum Matters Blog: After a period of convergence, the K-12 testing landscape is once again looking more and more fragmented, concludes a new report from consulting group Education First. The report’s biggest takeaway: hopes that states might move towards a shared system of gauging student expectations aren’t going to come to fruition anytime soon. Back in 2010, 46 states belonged to one or both of the federally funded consortia designing shared tests that were aligned to the Common Core State Standards. That’s down to just 15 or 16 now. Another four states use items from the consortia tests but blend them into their own exams.

Devos Rewrites Rules for School Civil Rights Probes
Politico: The Trump administration has overhauled the rules for investigating discrimination in the nation’s schools. The Education Department says this will boost efficiency, but advocates fear it will weaken enforcement of civil rights. The changes appear to align with a goal of sifting more quickly through the thousands of civil rights complaints the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights receives each year. The changes appear in a new version of the Office for Civil Right’s Case Processing Manual, which was posted to the department’s website and dated effective March 5.

Around the Nation

An Analysis of School Funding Equity Across the U.S. and Within Each State
The Education Trust: School districts that serve large populations of students of color and students from low-income families receive far less funding than those serving white and more affluent students. And, despite widespread attention to inequitable school funding formulas — and courts that have declared them unlawful for shortchanging school districts serving large percentages of low-income students — too many states continue this unfair practice. 

Getting Help Fast for Disabled, Homeless Students Isn’t Easy
Education Week: More than 1.3 million children in public school experienced homelessness during the 2015-16 school year. Of those, about 18% were also students with disabilities. Two federal laws — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act — govern school responsibilities when it comes to serving these children. But in some cases, the laws have different requirements and operate on different timelines. Both laws require schools to proactively identify children and families in need, but sometimes families or students keep their problems secret out of fear and shame. And sometimes, school personnel may not recognize the signs that a student or family is struggling, or they may not know how best to help.

When Kids Come to School with Trauma, These NC Teachers Try and Listen
WUNC: Nearly 80% of students at the W.A. Pattillo Middle School in Tarboro live in poverty, and many were displaced by flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. They face trauma and stress from things like hunger and housing instability, which have been scientifically shown to derail brain development. To better understand what students face, teachers have to shift their mindset. That’s where the Public School Forum of North Carolina, an advocacy organization, has stepped in. This year the forum started the NC Resilience and Learning Project to help Pattillo staff better support students who have experienced trauma. See related article: “‘Mental Health Mondays’ Change Student Body at Central High School.” 

Colorado Could Get Its First 24/7 Child Care Facility for Families in Crisis
Chalkbeat: Last fall, Lisa Rickerd Mills, a medical social worker, worked with a single mother who needed inpatient mental health treatment. One problem was child care. The woman had no one to watch her two small children during her stay and bowed out of treatment. It’s exactly the kind of scenario a group of advocates hope to prevent with a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week child care facility for families facing emergencies or periods of high stress. The center, to be called the Grand Valley Crisis Nursery, would provide free care for children 0 to 5 years old for periods ranging from a few days to 30 days. It’s meant to prevent child abuse and neglect — and keep kids out of the foster care system.

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Author: City Connects

City Connects is an innovative school-based system that revitalizes student support in schools. City Connects collaborates with teachers to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the community designed to help each student learn and thrive.

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