The Weekly Connect 5/14/18

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:

Research suggests attendance can be improved by sending parents letters about the number of school days their children have missed.

Free school breakfast and lunch programs can improve students’ health, a study shows.

New York City adds 50 bilingual programs to help English Language Learners.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Can a Few Simple Letters Home Reduce Chronic Absenteeism? New Research Shows They Can
The 74 Million: Families can drastically underestimate how often their children miss school. When researchers asked parents whose kids clocked nearly 18 absences in one school year how many days they thought their child had missed, they thought it was more like 10. But when parents are given accurate information about their children’s absences, new research shows, they can become valuable players in making sure their kids show up at school. The study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, found that sending parents mail multiple times over a school year informing them how many times their child had missed class reduced chronic absenteeism by 10%. 

Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Quality
Ed Week Leadership 360 Opinion Blog: Today schools are under tremendous pressure to improve student achievement, and sometimes their efforts to do so don’t include helping teachers get better at instruction. The emphasis seems to be placed on lack of student achievement and not on its remedy. Students have a crucial perspective on this issues. But according to research, schools rarely listen to or even value what students say about teacher quality. There are, however, exceptions. One school that allows its students to advise and even rate their teachers is George Mitchell School in London, England. At this school, students observe and critique lessons, and they make suggestions to teachers about how they can improve their teaching. Changes made by teachers based on student comments appear to have sparked an overall growth in student achievement. 

Teacher Well-Being Is A Critical and Often Overlooked Part of School Health
Child Trends Blog: As education stakeholders consider improvements to school climate, school safety, and student well-being, many have turned their attention to the role of schools in promoting mental health. While most of this attention focuses on students’ mental health needs, it is also essential to explore ways of supporting teachers and school staff who often experience high levels of stress. Teacher wellness has been linked not only to teachers’ physical health, but also to stability in schools and to teaching effectiveness and student achievement. Moreover, teachers’ emotions and stress levels have been found to influence those of students and other teachers. 

Maryland’s Early Ed ‘Judy Centers’ Offer a Holistic Approach—and It’s Working
New America: Maryland’s “Judy Centers” provide full-day, full-year early care and education (ECE) for children ages 0-5 that includes a range of wraparound services for families. Among their benefits, Judy Centers help to increase access to high-quality early learning for at-risk children, an investment that studies suggest can help break cycles of poverty. The centers provide a central hub of supports that comprise a holistic, whole-child approach for students and families. Maryland officials describe each center as a “one stop shop” of coordinated services from various social agencies, businesses, and organizations all “offered under one roof.” According to data analysis from the Baltimore Education Research Consortium, children who live in Baltimore City children have the highest odds of demonstrating “kindergarten readiness” if they attend a Judy Center pre-K as compared to any other ECE setting. 

Too Much Help from Mom Might Backfire, Study Suggests
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Parent support can help keep students on track academically, but a new international study suggests a light touch can be more helpful for students in the long run. Researchers found that overall, children benefitted from their mothers helping with homework, but the type of help mattered. Children whose mothers provided homework help when asked—but also gave students opportunities to work independently—both persisted at tasks longer and did better in school over time. By contrast, moms who gave very concrete help—for example, sitting down every night to go over every assignment, even if the child had not asked for help—had children who were less persistent over time. 

Free School Lunch for All, Meant to Reduce Stigma, May Also Keep Students Healthier
Chalkbeat: In 2015, two Obama cabinet secretaries encouraged schools to try a new way of handling free lunch: give it to everyone, no family paperwork required. The hope was that the expanded program would “both improve child nutrition and reduce administrative burdens,” wrote Arne Duncan and Tom Vilsack. Others believed that lunch and breakfast for all would reduce any stigma associated with the free and reduced-price lunch program. Now, a new study suggests the program succeeded on one dimension, making students in at least one state slightly healthier in the process. Participating in the program increased the share of a school’s students in the healthy weight range, according to Georgia State University researchers. 

CDC: PCPs Need to Conduct More Pediatric Development Screenings
Healio: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently encouraged all primary care physicians to follow guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics to screen children aged 3 years and younger for developmental disabilities. The recommendation comes in the wake of a recent report that showed the prevalence of autism increased to 1 in 59 children in 2014, up from 1 in 68 in a previous reporting period. Other data in the report was troubling, a CDC official said, pointing to a finding that 17 of every 20 children in the agency’s Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring Network ultimately diagnosed with autism in 2014 had a developmental concern by the age of 3 — but only eight of every 20 children had undergone a developmental evaluation by that same age.


Trump Seeks Cut to Children’s Health Insurance Program
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The White House is asking Congress to cut $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP — which Congress recently renewed — as part of an effort to cut $15 billion from the federal government’s bottom line, mostly from unspent funds. White House officials also said they plan to introduce a package that would make midyear cuts to the $1.3 trillion bipartisan spending bill that Congress passed earlier this year. That could include proposed cuts to education programs, since Congress provided more money for the U.S. Department of Education than the Trump team asked for. 

School Supports for Teachers’ Implementation of State Standards
RAND Corporation: In the past decade, most states have adopted college and career readiness standards that are more rigorous than previous standards, and most of those standards are closely aligned with key tenets of the Common Core State Standards. How are schools supporting teachers in implementing these standards? Researchers found that some math and English language arts instructional materials are not aligned with key emphases in state standards. In addition, most school leaders were unable to identify reading approaches that explicitly aligned with state standards for ELA and literacy. See related article: Education Commission of the States “Preparing Educators and School Leaders for Effective Arts Integration.”

Across the Country, Measures to Arm Teachers in Schools Stall
The Washington Post Education: Trump and the NRA called on states to arm teachers as a front-line defense against school shooters days after the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Since then, Republicans have led the campaign for the measures in 14 states that would give teachers and staff members access to guns in schools. Nineteen of those bills were sponsored by Republican legislators, while the remainder were nonpartisan or sponsored by legislative committees. But the only measure that has succeeded is in Florida, where a school safety bill stipulated that public school staff members, including counselors and coaches, could become “marshals” — but full-time teachers would not be eligible to be trained and armed.

How Long Do Kids Have to Stay in School? Longer Than They Did 5 Years Ago
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Many states have significantly raised their mandatory-attendance age in the last five years, new federal data show. In a 2012 State of the Union address, then-President Obama called for states to prevent students from dropping out before age 18. At the time, 18 states still allowed students to leave school at the traditional age of 16, but as of 2017, none do—and only Alabama allows students to leave before age 18. Yet the data show there is still a massive hodge-podge of state laws governing how many years students must attend school, as well as the ages at which states will pay for free schooling.

Around the Nation

New York City to Add Almost 50 Bilingual Programs, The Latest in A Push to Help English Learners
Chalkbeat: New York City is adding almost 50 bilingual education programs, a move that could help better integrate schools and also boost learning for students who are learning English as a new language. The expansion continues an aggressive push under the de Blasio administration to fulfill a pledge to the state to offer more options for students who are learning English. Announcing the new programs at P.S. 1 in Manhattan’s Chinatown, city officials are trying to send a message to immigrant families that their children are welcomed in New York City schools. See related article: New America “New York Teachers May Get Sought-After Training in Culturally Responsive Teaching.”

One Ohio School’s Quest to Rethink Bad Behavior
The Atlantic: Many of the children at the Ohio Avenue Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, have brushed against violence and other traumatic experiences in their short lives, including abuse and neglect, a household member addicted to drugs, and homelessness. In this environment, a small dispute can easily turn into a scuffle that leads to an administrator or school-safety officer corralling the kids involved, if not suspending them. But Ohio Avenue is trying to find another way: Every adult in the building has received training on how children respond to trauma. As a result, the adults have come to understand how trauma can make kids emotionally volatile and prone to misinterpret accidental bumps or offhand remarks as hostile. Faculty and staff continuously look for ways to defuse these situations by helping the kids manage their overwhelming feelings and control their impulses.

‘Juuling’ Craze: Schools Scramble to Deal with Student Vaping
Education Week: After years of aggressive anti-tobacco campaigns aimed at teenagers, students have largely rejected smoking, but many have tried vaping, sending school leaders scrambling to revise discipline policies and drug prevention classes to confront the new trend of inhaling flavor-infused nicotine vapor. Adding urgency to those efforts is a small, sleek vaping device called a Juul that has surged in popularity, in part because its low-profile design — it looks like a USB drive — makes it easy for students to conceal the device and use it surreptitiously in school restrooms, hallways, and classrooms.

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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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