The Weekly Connect 4/30/18

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:

Less supportive communities can harm children’s mental health.

To meet ESSA requirements, schools have to calculate per-pupil spending.

Strong bilingual pre-K programs work, but more are needed.

Maryland leaders may limit how long students can use digital devices while they are in school.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

U.S. 4th Graders Surprise on New Exam of Online Reading
Education Week: U.S. 4th graders performed surprisingly well on a new international test of online reading ability, outperforming their peers in 10 of the 15 other educational systems that participated. The findings come from the first administration of ePIRLS, a new version of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. The new assessment of online reading ability was taken in 2016 by 85,000 4th graders around the world, including 4,100 students in 153 U.S. public and private schools. 

Does A Lack of Executive Function Explain Why Some Kids Fall Way Behind in School?
The Hechinger Report: A new large study makes a compelling case that certain executive function difficulties can emerge as early as kindergarten, and they dramatically increase the likelihood of serious academic problems in the first half of elementary school. Troubles with executive function can put children on a low and sluggish learning curve that they are unlikely to break out of. Researchers have found that regardless of race, income ,and early childhood academic abilities, kids who had executive function problems were more likely to struggle academically in subsequent years. 

Pre-K Isn’t an Inoculation: What Comes Next Matters
New America: For more than fifty years, early education advocates have sought to quantify what they already knew to be true – that high-quality pre-K leaves children better prepared for the rigors of future schooling, especially for those who are at risk. Findings, however, have been mixed regarding the persistence of pre-K effects. But now in a new study from the University of Virginia, researchers have found that the quality of the elementary school students matriculate into affects whether pre-K gains persist. 

Neighborhoods and Child Mental Health Linked in Public Health Study
Georgia State University News: The kinds of neighborhoods children live in could influence their mental health, according to a study published in the Psychiatry Journal by researchers from Georgia State University’s School of Public Health. Children who live in neighborhoods that parents or caretakers describe as non-supportive—where residents do not help each other or watch out for each other’s children—had significantly higher odds of having a diagnosed mental health disorder, the study showed. 

The Brain Science Is In: Students’ Emotional Needs Matter
Education Week Commentary: Teachers, like parents, have always understood that children’s learning and growth do not occur in a vacuum, but instead at the messy intersection of academic, social, and emotional development. Working to weave those threads, skilled teachers often have yearned for schools—and policy approaches—that understand this complex reality. Such approaches will get a major boost from a sweeping review of scholarship contained in a pair of new studies on the science of learning and development. The researchers offer reason for enormous optimism about what’s possible for all children, especially those who have faced adversity and trauma. 

How Much Exercise Your Kid Needs, Based on The Latest Research
CNN: It’s a question with an answer that researchers are still trying to better understand: How much exercise do kids need on a daily basis? In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents should get at least an hour of physical activity each day. At least three days of a child’s week should include exercises for muscle strengthening, such as gymnastics, climbing or playing on monkey bars, as well as exercises for bone strengthening, such as jumping, jumping rope or running, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s 60 or more minutes of exercise a day. See related article: Science Daily “Factors Promoting Physical Activity in Childhood.”

Policy

How States Stack Up on Federal Funding for Teachers, Low-Income Students
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: By now, you’ve probably heard about the major changes to the federal education budget approved by President Donald Trump. But how do these shifts impact your state? Education Week decided to try to answer that question for two of the most significant federal K-12 programs at the U.S. Department of Education: Title I, which provides formula funding to districts to better serve students from low-income households, and Title II, which provides professional development and other services to teachers and principals. 

ESSA Requirement for In-Depth K12 Spending Reports Looms
District Administration: In light of a looming ESSA mandate to increase transparency around education spending, district leaders have been struggling to calculate per-pupil spending by school in accordance with state and federal requirements. Facing a December 2019 deadline, leaders are confused about whether states will expect school districts to include the costs of transportation, technology, special education, and pre-K. Calculating cost per school will also reveal whether more experienced, higher-paid teachers are clustered in certain buildings.

Around the Nation

Research Shows Strong Bilingual Pre-K Programs Work. But How Many States Have Them?
NBC News: Policies across the country that support bilingual students in state preschool programs vary widely, according to a recent report from the National Institute for Early Education Research. Of the 35 state pre-K programs in the report with such policies, only five states employed at least seven of the nine policies surveyed, which include permitting bilingual instruction, providing extra funding, and screening and assessing children in their home language. 

Discipline Disparities Grow for Students of Color, New Federal Data Show
Education Week: The U.S. Department of Education released two reports highlighting statistics from the 2015-16 school year’s civil rights data collection on school safety and discipline and on students’ access to science and math courses. Among the most striking findings: The report notes a significant increase in disparities in arrests and referrals to police for black students, and students with disabilities remain vastly over-represented among students involved in police interactions. See related articles: Ed Week Inside School Research Blog “Suspension Rates Higher for Students of Color with Disabilities, Data Show” and Associated Press “Study: Imbalance Growing on Police Referrals of Black Pupils.”

 How Many Students Are Chronically Absent in Your State? Federal Data Show Rates Rising
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: New federal civil rights data show nearly 8 million students nationwide were reported chronically absent from school in 2015-16, representing 16 percent of all K-12 students. That’s up by a million or more students from the last national count in 2013-14, when 14 percent of students were reported as missing 15 or more days in the school year.

Maryland Schools May Tell Children When It’s Time to Log Off
The New York Times Technology: Maryland could become the first state to address parental concerns about computer screen time for children in the classroom. Legislation passed this month would require state education officials to develop optimum health and safety practices for the use of digital devices in schools. Until now, health concerns about children’s use of devices have centered largely on entertainment activities. Several pediatricians warned that heavy digital device use in schools or for homework could have unintended physical and emotional consequences for students, including vision problems, interrupted sleep, and device compulsion.

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