The Weekly Connect 6/4/18

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:

School counselors are helping kids succeed — and facing cuts.

Teens are cyberbullying themselves: expressing self-hatred and depression.

Some states are lowering the goals for English Language Learners.

Fighting toxic stress in children.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

School Counselors Keep Kids on Track. Why Are They First to Be Cut?
The Hechinger Report: Colorado is betting that a big investment in counseling can improve educational outcomes for its low-income students. Since 2008, it has spent almost $60 million to hire an additional 270 counselors and provide professional development training at 365 low-income middle and high schools throughout the state, via grants from the Colorado School Counselor Corps. So far, the results of Colorado’s commitment to counseling are promising. As of 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, graduation rates among participating schools had risen from 65% to nearly 80% while dropout rates declined. See related articles: The Texas Tribune “Twice A Week, These Texas Students Circle Up and Talk About Their Feelings. It’s Lowering Suspensions and Preventing Violence” and Belleville News-Democrat “Local Teachers Train Because Schools Are ‘Front-Line Defense’ For Mental Health Concerns.” 

What is the Role of Noncognitive Skills and School Environments in Students’ Transitions to High School?
Ed Week Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice Blog
Given research that links grade 9 performance and high school graduation, members of the Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Southwest’s New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance wanted to learn whether improving the transition to high school for American Indian and Hispanic students could close these achievement gaps. They designed a study to determine how grade 9 students’ perceptions of their noncognitive skills and school environments are related to grade 9 success. The study used student data from 14 high schools in 10 school districts in New Mexico to examine how students’ perceptions of their noncognitive skills relate to three outcomes: grade 9 grade point average, course failures, and absences. 

Do K-3 Teachers See Themselves as Early Educators and Much More: Findings from NAEYC’s New Market Research
New America: Do K-3 educators see themselves as crucial parts of the early education continuum? This is the primary question the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sought to answer through their new market research. Through surveys and interviews of early educators, NAEYC found that on average two-thirds of K-3 educators considered themselves to be early childhood educators. This percentage declines as grade level increases, on average 93% of kindergarten teachers considered themselves to be early childhood educators compared to 52% of third-grade teachers. 

Data-Driven Instruction: Top Trend in K-12 Use of Ed-Tech, Teachers Say
Ed Week Marketplace K-12 Blog: Educators’ use of data to make decisions about instruction and intervention is rising dramatically in U.S. schools, according to an online survey of 1,516 teachers released by Kahoot! This year, three out of four teachers identified data-driven instruction as the top trend they see in how ed-tech is used in their schools. That compares to only 28% who named data usage as a trend in 2017, which is the first year the survey was conducted by the game-based learning platform company. 

Why Teaching English Through Content Is Critical for ELL Students
KQED Mind/Shift: Teaching grade-level content to students who have just arrived in the United States and whose English skills are limited is a difficult task. Often teachers deal with that by either dumbing down the curriculum to make it linguistically simpler or alternating between lessons focused on language and those about content. Teachers in San Francisco were looking for better ways to teach their newcomer students the English skills they need, without losing a focus on the complex content all students should be learning. To do that, they looked to adopt some of the strategies of the Writing Is Thinking Through Inquiry work being done in New York City. 

Teens Are Cyberbullying Themselves. Why?
Education Week: Digital self-harm is a newer form of teenage expression of self-hatred and depression that is just beginning to capture the attention of school officials. A nationally representative survey of nearly 6,000 middle and high school students revealed that 6% of students say they have cyberbullied themselves and almost half (48.7%) of those have done it more than once. Schools are largely unaware of the behavior, mainly because of their inability to monitor students’ actions on the internet, according to Lynn Linde, the senior director of the Center for Counseling Practice, Policy and Research at the American Counseling Association. 

Early-Life Obesity Impacts Children’s Learning and Memory, Study Suggests
Science Daily: A new study published in the journal Obesity found that children on the threshold of obesity or overweight in the first two years of life had lower perceptual reasoning and working memory scores than lean children when tested at ages five and eight. The study also indicated that IQ scores may be lower for higher-weight children.

Policy

A Data-Informed Approach to Social-Emotional Learning: Policy Recommendations for State and Local Leaders
Transforming Education: In this policy brief, TransformEd provides policy recommendations for local and state leaders seeking to take a data-informed approach to social-emotional learning (SEL). We specifically crafted recommendations that incorporate the use of data because gathering data on SEL allows educators to make meaningful connections between student experiences, school culture, and classroom practice. Ultimately, these connections enable us to make smarter investments in practices that work for all students. 

English-Learners and ESSA: Many States Are Lowering Academic Goals, Advocates Charge
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: Many states’ plans for educating English-language learners under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act fall short of equity and send clear signals on how they value the educational progress of the students, an analysis by Achieve and UnidosUS finds. A pair of policy briefs prepared by the organizations reveal that more than half of states’ ESSA plans intentionally set lower academic goals for English-learners, at least seven states have plans that flout key provisions of the federal education law, and nearly 20% of state plans allow schools to earn high ratings even if English-learners are struggling.

Federal Funds Could Help Revive Dying Languages in Schools
District Administration: The Department of Education has begun accepting applications for $2.3 million in grants that will teach Native American languages to a new generation of children. The Department of Education’s Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program grant competition looks to support the teaching, learning and studying of native languages while also increasing the students’ English proficiency.

A Deadly School Year: 35 People Killed in School Shootings
Education Week: The death toll by gunfire at U.S. schools in the 2017-18 academic year is 35, according to Education Week’s school shooting tracker. It’s the highest death toll in a single academic year from school shootings in recent decades—outnumbering the years of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings and the Columbine High School shootings, according to a Washington Post database. See related article: Public Radio Tulsa “State Board of Education Says Oklahoma Schools Must Be Better Prepared for Shootings, Other Threats.”

Around the Nation

Fighting Toxic Stress in Children Is Tough but Possible
MIT News: Through compelling personal stories and dramatic research evidence, speakers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory’s recent “Early Life Stress and Mental Health” symposium showed that people are making progress in helping children survive toxic stress through science and activism. For instance, Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, presented data from a major review study and other sources showing that experiencing four or more adverse childhood events (ACEs) is associated with a 5.6-fold risk of drug abuse, an 11 times increased risk of Alzheimer’s and a 30-times greater risk of suicide.

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