The Weekly Connect 5/28/18

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:

How being read to affects children’s brains.

The socioeconomic differences that impact summer learning loss.

Group therapy helps fifth graders build resilience.

Schools in Indiana work to reduce suspensions and expulsions.

High school graduation rates by state.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Two Studies Point to The Power of Teacher-Student Relationships to Boost Learning
The Hechinger Report: One economist found that platooning might be harming kids and two other economists found that looping is quite beneficial. “Platooning” refers to having teachers specialize in a particular subject, such as math or English, and young students switch teachers for each class. “Looping” is a term used when kids keep the same teacher for two years in a row. They don’t switch teachers for each subject and don’t switch each year. “These studies are important because they tell us that teacher-student relationships matter,” said Tyrone Howard, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is writing a book on the research about students’ relationships with their teachers and how well students learn. 

Despite Higher Academic Standards, Student Performance is Lacking
U.S. News & World Report: States are raising the stakes when it comes to what is expected of students, but academic performances aren’t reflecting the increased expectations. According to a report in the journal Education Next, researchers found no correlation between a rise in state standards and a rise in student achievement – despite this being the main objective of raising the bar of test proficiency. 

What’s Going on In Your Child’s Brain When You Read Them A Story?
NPR Ed: These days parents, caregivers, and teachers can read a picture book, put on a cartoon, play an audiobook, or even ask Alexa to read to their children. A newly published study gives some insight into what may be happening inside young children’s brains in each of those situations. In an ideal world, parents would always be there to read to their children. But if they are not, the results of this small, preliminary study suggest that, when parents do turn to electronic devices for young children, they should gravitate toward the most stripped-down version of a narrated, illustrated ebook, as opposed to either audio-only or animation. 

How Children’s Socioeconomic Differences Play Out Over Summer Break
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Over the summer, the average student loses one to three months of learning, and a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics suggests one reason for what is known as the “summer slide:” Children from lower-income homes engage in a different mix of activities over the summer than those from better-off households. NCES found that in the summer after kindergarten, 83% of children from low-income households did not have regular care arrangements with someone other than their parents, compared to 70% of the children from higher-income households. Students from higher-income households were also more likely to attend summer camp, with 38% of nonpoor students attending a day camp, compared to 13% of near-poor and 7% of poor students. 

For Troubled Kids, Some Schools Take Time Out for Group Therapy
NPR: Cresthaven Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md., is one of a growing number of schools offering kids training in how to manage emotions, handle stress and improve interpersonal relationships. At Cresthaven, some fifth-graders get an intensive 12 weeks of such training, a course called the Resilience Builder Program. Created by psychologist Mary Alvord, it’s a form of group therapy designed to help students who are struggling with trauma or cognitive disorders — or everyday anxiety caused by things like bullying or moving schools. Research has shown this kind of intervention is effective and has a lasting impact.

Policy

Education Watch: The State of Educational Equity
The Education Trust: Today, more students in the United States are graduating high school than ever before. More are going onto — and completing — college. This progress is the result of the hard work of students and their families, of teachers and principals, of advocates and community leaders. But despite such progress, the quality of education that a student receives today still has a whole lot to do with the color of his skin, the language she speaks at home, the size of his family’s bank account, and perceptions of her abilities. The Education Trust has created webpages for each state that present the best available data on critical measures of educational opportunity and achievement to show how states are doing at improving opportunities and outcomes for all students, and especially for student groups that have been underserved in U.S. schools for far too long.

Will the Texas Shooting Prompt Action from Trump’s School Safety Commission?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Earlier this year, shortly after 17 students and teachers were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., President Donald Trump created a school commission, led by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to explore solutions. And now that there has been another deadly school shooting, at Santa Fe High School in Texas, educators, parents, and others—including advocates in Washington and folks on social media—are wondering just what the commission has been up to since its inception in early March.

Around the Nation

Schools Work on Reducing Expulsions, Suspensions
Tribune Star: At a time when out-of-school suspensions and expulsions are under scrutiny in Indiana and nationally, the Vigo County School Corp. has experienced dramatic reductions in out-of-school suspensions in recent years. Their students attend an alternative-to-suspension program in which they not only keep up with academic work, but also learn about what got them into trouble, how to correct it, and ways to avoid that behavior in the future. The sites have licensed teachers as well as programming to work on social and emotional issues as students address the behaviors that got them in trouble. For those who face expulsion hearings, how well they do in the alternative program weighs pretty heavily when Tom Balitewicz, director of student services, makes a decision as to whether students can go back to school. 

The Radical Self-Reliance of Black Homeschooling
The Atlantic: The homeschooling population in the United States is predominantly white and concentrated in suburban or rural areas. In 2016, black children accounted for 8% of the 1.7 million homeschooled students nationally, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics. What federal education data don’t show, though, is what’s driving those 136,000 or so black students and their families into homeschooling. For many black homeschoolers, seizing control of their children’s schooling is an act of affirmation—a means of liberating themselves from the systemic racism embedded in so many of today’s schools and continuing the campaign for educational independence launched by their ancestors more than a century ago.

See High School Graduation Rates by State
U.S. News & World Report: High school graduation rates in the U.S. are at an all-time high. At 84%, the national rate means that more than 4 out of 5 high school students earn a diploma in four years, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Despite the increased rates, there are still significant differences in graduation rates among different racial ethnicities and states. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Alaska Natives graduate at lower rates that Asian and white students, NCES data show. New Mexico has the lowest average graduation rate at 67.9%, while Nebraska has the highest at 93.7%.

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