The Weekly Connect 6/18/18

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:

English learners have made progress in reading and math, a study shows.

• Ohio officials consider eliminating letter grades on report cards.

• Using storytelling and literature to help students deal with their emotions.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Study Shows Significant Math, Reading Gains for ELs
Education Dive: A new study published in the journal Educational Researcher counters the notion that English learners perform poorly and aren’t being adequately served by schools. According to the study, reading and math achievement gaps on the National Assessment of Educational Progress for 4th and 8th grade multilingual students and their English-speaking peers narrowed significantly between 2003 and 2015. In 4th grade, the reading gap progress was 24% and math was 37%, while 8th graders narrowed the reading gap by 27% and math by 39%. See related article: Ed Week Inside School Research Blog “English-Learners Aren’t ‘Perpetually Struggling,’ We Just Aren’t Gauging Their Progress, Study Finds.” 

New Evidence on The Benefits of Small Group Math Instructions for Young Children
Brookings Institute: This article presents findings from a randomized evaluation of a one-year kindergarten math enrichment program, the High 5s program. The program was designed to provide small-group math enrichment in a fun, club-like format to children who had received enriched math instruction the prior year. Participants included 655 kindergarten students in 24 low-income schools in New York City. Students were randomly assigned to either the “business as usual” control group or to participate in the High 5s math clubs, which met outside of class in small groups with a trained facilitator three times per week. High 5s produced a positive impact on kindergarten math skills. See related article: Ed Week Curriculum Matters Blog “Students Like Math and Science More, and Reading Less, Than They Used To.” 

What Research Do Educators Actually Find Useful?
Ed Week Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice Blog
Researchers, policymakers, and foundations often wonder why some research ends up being influential in school district policy and practice while other research is not. As part of a project funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, researchers asked over 60 district leaders to identify research they have found valuable and to explain why. These conversations painted a portrait of the research that district leaders found most useful in their daily work. 

Can Lowering Class Size Help Integrate Schools? Maybe, According to New Research
Chalkbeat: Efforts to racially integrate schools in big city districts often face a basic dilemma: There simply aren’t many white students in the system as families have opted for private school or left for the suburbs. But a recent study suggests a concrete way that schools can attract and keep white families, while also boosting student achievement: lower class sizes. That approach drew in tens of thousands of students from California’s private schools into the public system, according to the research.

Policy

Equity in K-12 Funding More Complex Than Just Dollars
Education Week: Can more money make up for the effects of poverty in schools? School finance experts increasingly say yes. But states will have to distribute their money much differently between schools and districts than they do today, with a more complex approach to fiscal equity than simple funding levels. 

Investing in Innovation ‘Gems’ Show Tricky Path for Districts Using Evidence Under ESSA
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Only a few of the hundreds of programs proposed under the federal Investing in Innovation program ultimately led to significant interventions—but those that did show what it will take for school districts to use evidence to improve student learning. That’s the main takeaway from the Institute of Education Sciences’ final evaluation report on the $1.4 billion i3 program—the only Obama-era competitive grant to be codified into the Every Student Succeeds Act. Of the 67 grants with evaluations completed by last May, nine, or 13%, had both tight implementation and strong positive effects. 

Ohio Board of Education Considers Eliminating ‘A-F’ School Report Cards
WOSU Public Media: The debate over Ohio’s school report cards continues as state Board of Education members consider a recommendation to make more changes to grading. Board member Lisa Woods made a recommendation to lawmakers that includes eliminating or refining a number of report card measurements that she calls confusing and says have drawn criticism from the public. Woods recommends eliminating all A to F grades on report cards and replacing them with descriptive scores, like “Most Effective,” “Average Effective” and “Ineffective and Deficient.”

Around the Nation

There’s a Free Program to Feed Hungry Kids During the Summer, But Many Miss Out
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: When schools end for summer break, some of the country’s poorest students lose their key source of nutrition. Federally funded summer meal programs are designed to bridge that gap, but many children miss out, children’s advocacy groups say. Of the 20 million children who ate free and reduced-price lunches during the 2016-17 school year, only one out of seven participated in the summer meal programs, according to a report released by the Food Research and Action Center. The report also found that the number of children served by summer meal programs dropped by 14,000, a 0.5% drop from summer 2016.

How Bibliotherapy Can Help Students Open Up About Their Mental Health
KQED Mind/Shift: Mental health concerns, like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, can affect a student’s ability to concentrate, form friendships and thrive in the classroom. Educators and school counselors often provide Social and Emotional Learning programs in order to help these students, as well as school-based therapeutic support groups. However, even in these forums, getting teenagers to speak about their problems can be challenging. That is why Anita Cellucci, a school librarian at Westborough High School in Massachusetts, developed an alternative way to support struggling students with the support of her school counselor, Ceil Parteleno. The pair began a unique school-based support group, using storytelling and literature as a way to help kids understand and cope with their emotions.

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