The Weekly Connect 4/9/18

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:

Strapped for cash, some schools go to four-day school weeks — and juvenile crime rates increase

Funding tops principals’ lists of concerns

Nagging kids about high school success? There’s a Silicon Valley app for that.

Are states taking advantage of the flexibility of ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act)?

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Four-Day School Weeks, a Nationwide Symptom of Tight Budgets, Lead to More Youth Crime, Study Finds
Chalkbeat: As school districts across the country have faced budget crunches, a number have landed on a cost-saving solution: cancelling school one day a week. Districts in at least 21 states have adopted the four-day school week, including one in five districts in Oklahoma. “This package does not overcome a shortfall that has caused four-day weeks and overcrowded classrooms,” the Oklahoma Education Association president said last week, criticizing a new law that provided pay increases for teachers. Now a new study points to an unintended but perhaps unsurprising consequence of cutting the school week: a spike in juvenile crime.

Funding Tops List of Principals’ Concerns
The Journal: Adequate funding is the top concern for a majority of principals, according to a new survey from MCH Strategic Data. More than half of those surveyed cited adequate funding as a major concern, 14 points more than the second-most-commonly-cited concern, teacher morale. Attendance, aligning assessments to standards, and behavior issues rounded out the top 5 at 33%, 32% and 31%, respectively. 

Government Watchdog Report Finds Racial Disparities in School Discipline Practices
CNN Politics: A new report from the Government Accountability Office found that black students are still disciplined at school disproportionately compared to their peers. The report provides the first national analysis of disparities in school discipline since the Obama administration issued guidance in 2014 urging schools to examine their disciplinary practices and move away from those that disproportionately impacted minority students. See related article: Huffington Post “In Both Rich And Poor Schools, Black Students Face Harsher Punishments.” 

Grades Suffer When Class Time Doesn’t Match Students’ Biological Clocks
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Regardless of whether students like to rise with the dawn or stay up after midnight, new research suggests that when their class schedules fall out of sync with their biological clocks, their grades can suffer. A study in the journal Scientific Reports suggests students who develop consistent daily class schedules that match their natural body rhythms have better grades—and students whose circadian rhythms don’t match “normal” class days pay the price. 

Nemours Study Highlights Psychological and Social Barriers to Treating Childhood Obesity
EurekAlert!: Children whose families have elevated psychological and social risks, including child behavior problems, parental mental health issues, and family financial difficulties, were more likely to drop out of weight management treatment and less likely to have an improvement in weight status, according to a study published online by the Journal of Pediatrics. The study, a collaboration between researchers at the Nemours Center for Healthcare Delivery Science and Nemours Division of Weight Management, supports the need for psychosocial screening early in the treatment of childhood obesity. See related article: ABC News “Getting Kids to A Good Weight By 13 May Help Avoid Diabetes.”

Policy

Digging Deeper into That $300 Million Increase in Federal Aid for Poor Students
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The biggest federal pot of cash for K-12, Title I, got a $300 million boost, bringing the total up to $15.8 billion for the rest of the fiscal year. But how exactly will that increase work? There are four separate formulas that go into Title I funding grants. They’re called basic, concentration, targeted, and education finance incentive grants. The $300 million increase President Donald Trump just signed into law is split evenly between two of those four formulas, with targeted and finance incentive grants each getting $150 million more in fiscal 2018 than fiscal 2017. See related article: Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “Meet the Only K-12 Education Program to Get Cut in the Spending Bill Trump Signed.” 

ESSA Progress Report: How the New Law Is Moving from Policy to Practice
Education Week: Although state leaders have hailed the flexibility in ESSA when it comes to setting their own course on key aspects of accountability, some critics argue they aren’t doing enough to take advantage of it. So, what are the big questions facing ESSA as it moves out of the realm of congressional language and into the world of day-to-day schooling? Here’s a quick rundown from our progress report on the nation’s main federal education law. See related article: Education Week “ESSA Promised New Gauges of School Quality. Does It Deliver? 

Guiding Principals: State Efforts to Bolster Instructional Leadership
New America: New America researched and analyzed principal evaluation and support systems in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in order to understand whether states are incorporating instructional leadership in their evaluation systems. Based on this research, New America developed an interactive data visualization of instructional leadership standards across states, and an accompanying report, which describes the prevalence of instructional leadership standards in principal evaluation systems and examines if and how states are supporting principals in developing instructional leadership skills.

Around the Nation

K12 Districts Expand Services for Homeless Students
District Administration: Dallas ISD’s morning drop-in centers for homeless high school students provide necessities such as take-home food, hygiene products, and a place to wash clothes. The program’s managers say they also strive to offer an equally important, if less tangible, resource: trust. In Maine, a school district has formed its own nonprofit with plans to purchase a home where teens can stay under supervision. It’s a program that can be replicated in other U.S. districts that are trying to improve the lives of homeless students, Maine’s Assistant Superintendent Susan Austin says. 

Silicon Valley Aims Its Tech at Helping Low-Income Kids Get Beyond High School
The Hechinger Report: Entrepreneurs have created a platform, and company, called Siembra — a Spanish word for sowing seeds — that reaches out to low-income, first-generation and racial and ethnic minority high school students on their ever-present smartphones, nagging them to stay on track the same way college-educated parents of wealthier kids do. “Where do you want to go to college?” asks the very first text, sent to ninth graders. Siembra has only early results to share. It says students are reading their college reminder texts about 80% of the time, and 10% respond with follow-up questions for their counselors.

Free Google Wi-Fi Transforms Rural School Buses into Rolling Classrooms
USA Today: Google is giving out free Wi-Fi and Chromebooks to rural school districts in a dozen states to transform school buses into rolling classrooms. Google officials announced the expansion of their “Rolling Study Halls” program at a school district on the plains east of Denver. Officials say the move will help reclaim 1.5 million hours of time that thousands of students would otherwise be spending just sitting on buses riding to and from school.

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