The Weekly Connect 6/11/18

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:

Is there a 30-million-word gap between richer and poorer kids — or not?

The Federal School Safety Commission hears public feedback on school violence.

More high schools have low graduation rates, even though the overall high school graduation rate is up.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Want to Build a Better Recess? Researchers Have a Framework for You
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Amid mounting evidence that recess can help support student learning, health, and social skills, researchers are taking a closer look at what a “high quality” recess looks like. A team of researchers developed a 17-part observational framework to help school administrators and teachers evaluate their own playgrounds and find ways to improve recess for their students. The observation tool, published in the journal BMC Public Health, covers aspects of physical safety and structures, adult supervision, student behaviors, physical activity, and transitions to and from class.

Let’s Stop Talking About The ’30 Million Word Gap’
NPR Ed Blog: Did you know that kids growing up in poverty hear 30 million fewer words by age 3? Chances are, if you’re the type of person who reads a newspaper or listens to NPR, you’ve heard that statistic before. But did you know that the number comes from just one study, begun almost 40 years ago, with just 42 families? Some people argue the study contained a built-in racial bias. Others, including the authors of a new study that calls itself a “failed replication,” say it’s just wrong. NPR talked to eight researchers to explore this controversy. All of them say they share the goal of helping poor kids achieve their highest potential in school. 

With 38 Students Per Class, Teachers Undergo Social-Emotional Development for Themselves
EdSurge: One of the limitations researchers identified with the ways schools implement SEL practices is the heavy focus most leaders put on students—especially when similar expectations are not required of adults. Anne Gregory from Rutgers University and Edward Fergus, an assistant professor at Temple University, argue that teachers should make an effort to develop their own social and emotional competencies in order to improve their ability to foster students’ understanding of the topic and improve school climate. 

The ‘Shadow Education System’: How Wealthier Students Benefit from Art, Music, And Theater Over the Summer While Poor Kids Miss Out
Chalkbeat: More affluent kids are about twice as likely to visit a museum, art gallery, or historical site or see a play or concert over the summer, as compared with their peers from low-income families. That’s according to a new analysis released by the federal government, illustrating disparities in out-of-school experiences, which may be exacerbated by rising income inequality. It also comes as a slew of recent studies have shown measurable benefits of cultural experiences like attending a play or visiting a museum, including greater appreciation of art, higher tolerance, and stronger critical thinking skills. See related article: U.S. News & World Report “Is Summer Breaking America’s Schools? 

A Third of Students Need Eye Exams, Study Finds
Education Week: Despite the spread of nearsightedness among U.S. schoolchildren, nearly 1 in 3 has not had a vision screening in at least two years, according to a new Education Week Research Center analysis of federal data, and research suggests several ways schools may help reduce children’s risk of bad eyesight. 

Half of Teenagers Online ‘Almost Constantly,’ But Fewer Use Facebook
Ed Week Digital Education Blog: YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat have supplanted Facebook as the most popular online platforms among U.S. teens—almost all of whom now report access to a smartphone, and nearly half of whom say they are online nearly constantly. That’s according to a newly published report from the Pew Research Center titled “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018” based on survey interviews with 743 youths ages 13-17 (as well as 1,058 parents).

Policy

Back Mental-Health Support, Don’t Arm Teachers, School-Safety Panel Told
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Don’t arm teachers. Instead, monitor students on social media. Give schools more mental health resources. Hire more school resource officers—or not. Keep Obama-era guidance aimed at curbing discipline disparities between minority students and their peers. Ban assault weapons. These and dozens of other proposals for preventing the next school shooting poured out at a day-long listening session held by the Federal School Safety Commission, which was set up by President Donald Trump to explore potential solutions in the wake of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February. See related article: Education Week “Ready for a Shooter? 1 in 5 School Police Say No.” 

State Grades on School Finance: Map and Rankings
Education Week: Examine the grades and scores that states and the nation earned on school funding and equity in Education Week’s ranking report “Quality Counts 2018: Finance.” There’s an interactive map, grade-summary table, and a top-to-bottom ranking of the country’s school systems. 

I.E.S. Awards $8.4 Million to Ed-Tech Businesses to Develop, Test Products
Ed Week Marketplace K-12 Blog: A cohort of 21 ed-tech initiatives will receive a total of $8.4 million in Small Business Innovation Research grants in 2018, the U.S. Department of Education announced. The funds will be used for the development and testing of education technology intended to improve teaching, learning, and school administration.

Around the Nation

There Are Now More High Schools with Low Graduation Rates. Why?
Ed Week High School & Beyond Blog: Even as the nation’s high school graduation rate reaches an all-time high of 84%, a troubling phenomenon is taking shape: The number of schools with low graduation rates is actually growing. The change is reported in the latest version of “Building a Grad Nation,” an annual report that tracks high school graduation. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of schools defined by federal law as having low graduation rates — defined as schools of 100 or more students where fewer than two-thirds earn diplomas in four years—rose from 2,249 to 2,425. In just one year, 176 additional schools qualified as graduation danger zones.

Special Education Students on the Rise
U.S. News & World Report: The number of students receiving special education in public schools is rising, with about 13% of all students receiving such instruction, according to a recent study. A Department of Education report states the number of students aged 3 to 21 receiving special education services increased from 6.6 million to 6.7 million from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016 school year. Among those, 34% had specific learning disabilities, of which 20% had speech or language impairments and 14% had other health impairments.

For Anxious Students, A Teacher Who Comes to Your House Might Be the Answer
The Hechinger Report: Threshold is a program developed by a Maine charter school aimed specifically at students who’ve dropped out of high school. It is akin to home-schooling, only with certified teachers who provide in-person lessons. The teachers use technology to keep in touch with students daily. The idea is to create an alternative to the day-to-day structures of school — the school bus and the 7-hour school day — that make learning nearly impossible for specific students, including teen parents, youth with full-time jobs or kids who’ve suffered from bullying or severe anxiety. It’s an ambitious idea to reach students who have fallen through the cracks and provide them with a path forward to a diploma.

‘Throwdown’ Focuses on Healthy, Cheap School Lunches
Associated Press: Some top chefs from around the country are gathering to show that school lunches can be more than just chicken nuggets and tater tots. The 10 chefs, including some James Beard award winners, will take part in the first “$1.25 Throwdown” contest in New London, Connecticut. They will try to create dishes that are tasty, cost no more than $1.25 apiece to make, and adhere to federal nutritional regulations.

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