The Weekly Connect 7/2/18

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:

Are schools meeting the needs of pre-K aged, English language learners?

Two states ramp up requirements for schools to teach mental health classes.

Baltimore uses research to expand early childhood services.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being
The Annie E. Casey Foundation: The Casey Foundation’s 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book warns that the 2020 census is mired in challenges that could shortchange the official census count by at least 1 million kids younger than age 5. This discrepancy would put hundreds of millions of federal dollars at risk and, in doing so, underfund programs that are critical for family stability and opportunity. The Data Book also looks at trends in child well-being during a period that saw continued improvement in economic well-being but mixed results in the areas of health, education, and family and community factors. The report includes the Foundation’s signature rankings in key areas of child well-being. 

9 Places Where Communities & Families Are Working Together in a New Social Compact for Student Success
The 74 Million Opinion: For too long, our answer to the problems of poverty, inequality, diminishing social mobility, and unfair access to learning opportunities has been “the schools will fix it.” However, U.S. public schools, even after a quarter-century of well-intentioned, vigorous, and expensive school reform, have been unable to fix these problems or close the achievement gaps that are symptoms of them. For schools to work, children need to be safe, trauma-free, healthy, well nourished, and emotionally stable. Children also need positive stimulation, enrichment, and opportunities so they can also learn in the 80% of their waking hours that they spend outside of school. This article considers several evidence-based models that provide greater support and opportunities for children. 

Survey Provides Student Feedback on Growth Mindset, Other Aspects Of SEL
Education Dive: Students’ reports of whether they have developed a growth mindset continue to climb steadily throughout their K-12 years, but their assessments of their social awareness skills and feelings of self-efficacy drop sharply beginning in middle school, according to a recent analysis of the results of a social-emotional learning survey that the California Office for Reform Education administered to its more than 1 million students attending eight urban school systems. 

29% of Children in Public Pre-K Are English-Learners. Are Schools Meeting Their Needs?
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: Many state-funded preschools have done little to ensure that staff have the training and skills to support children from families in which languages other than English are spoken, according to a report from the National Institute on Early Education Research (NIEER). In its survey and analysis of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam, NIEER found that only 26 state-funded preschool programs even collect data on student home languages — despite the fact that nearly 30% of children enrolled in state-funded prekindergarten programs are English-learners. 

A Lost Secret: How to Get Kids to Pay Attention
NPR: In the U.S., there’s growing concern about the ability of children to pay attention. Although neuroscientists are just beginning to understand what’s happening in the brain while we pay attention, psychologists already have a pretty good understanding of what’s needed to motivate kids. Psychologist Edward Deci has been studying it for nearly 50 years at the University of Rochester. And he says the most important ingredients for motivating kids is autonomy. “To do something with this full sense of willingness and choice.” 

Tackling Two ‘Danger Zones’ of Freshman Year: Attendance and Homework
Education Week: Because of a new initiative that’s designed to help students make a strong start in high school, leaders at two high schools in Seattle are communicating frequently and collaborating to build family support as their students navigate the move to high school. The work is part of a research project that involves 22 middle and high schools. In partnership with scholars from Johns Hopkins University, and supported by a four-year, $2.5 million federal grant, Seattle is working to identify strategies to involve families in helping their children get ready for high school in 8th grade and grapple with new expectations and responsibilities in 9th grade. The theory behind the project is that strong partnerships between schools and parents can tackle two key danger zones of 9th grade: poor attendance and unfinished homework. 

Less Than A Quarter of American Youths Previously Treated for Anxiety Disorders Stay Anxiety-Free
Science Daily: For the majority of affected youth, anxiety disorders are chronic, even after a successful course of evidence-based treatments, reports a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

Policy

School Leadership: A Primer for State Policymakers
Education Commission of the States: This special report serves as an introduction to policies related to school leadership — which is particularly useful to newly elected or appointed officials as they consider policies to more effectively support great school leaders.

There Is A Movement to Privatize Public Education in America. Here’s How Far It Has Gotten.
The Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says her mission is to expand alternatives to traditional public schools — and a new report assesses how far she and her allies across the country have succeeded in the movement to privatize public education. The report — issued by the Schott Foundation for Public Education and the Network for Public Education, two nonprofits that advocate for public schools — gives five states an “A+” or “A” in regard to their commitment to supporting public schools. They are Nebraska, North Dakota, West Virginia, Kentucky, and South Dakota. The states with the lowest overall grades are Arizona, Florida and Georgia. 

Child Immigrants in Federal Custody Are Entitled to an Education. Here’s How it Works
The 74 Million: While the president’s executive order to detain families together may face its own legal obstacles, it doesn’t offer a solution for the more than 2,300 children nationwide who have already been separated from their parents and remain in federal custody. Under federal law, immigration enforcement authorities are required to hand over unaccompanied minors to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which funds the youth shelters. Those shelters must provide the children with educational, health, and case management services. At the shelters, educational services should begin after the staff provides children with an educational assessment. Then children should receive an education in several groups based on age or academic competency. See related article: NPR “Fearing Deportation, Some Immigrants Opt Out of Health Benefits for Their Kids.” 

Should Schools Require Mental Health Education? Two States Say Yes
Education Week: Amid sharply rising rates of teen suicide and adolescent mental illness, two states have enacted laws that for the first time require public schools to include mental health education in their basic curriculum. Most states require health education in all public schools, and state laws have been enacted in many states to require health teachers to include lessons on tobacco, drugs and alcohol, cancer detection, and safe sex. Two states are going further: New York’s new law adds mental health instruction to the list in kindergarten through 12th grade; Virginia requires it in ninth and 10th grades. See related articles: Star Tribune “States Ramping Up Mental Health Education In Schools” and The Denver Post “Colorado Schools Get $400,000 In Grant Funding for Suicide Prevention but Many Say Much More Is Needed.”

Around the Nation

Taking Attendance Seriously in The New Civil Rights Data Collection
Brookings Institution Brown Center Chalkboard: According to the latest data, 8 million students (more than 15% of all students nationwide) were chronically absent in 2015-16. This figure is an increase of more than 800,000 students in just two years since the inaugural reporting. You might think that chronic absenteeism was surging nationwide; but, that would be the wrong takeaway. Rather, data from the 2015-16 survey suggests that school districts and states have made improvements in tracking and reporting attendance. In other words, the apparent “surge” in chronic absenteeism may in fact reflect improvements in tracking these data accurately, rather than a sudden increase in chronic absenteeism. 

Network of California Districts to Explore the Enigma of Engaging Parents
Ed Source: California plans to spend $13.3 million over six years to identify and replicate successful ingredients of community engagement, an essential but, for many school districts, elusive part of local control — meaning their ability to set budgeting and academic priorities under the state’s school financing law. The new money will fund a network that eventually will reach as many as 80 districts. The funding represents the first substantial state effort to strengthen community involvement as required under the law, known as the Local Control Funding Formula. 

Utilizing Research to Expand Early Childhood Services in Baltimore
Ed Week Bridging Research and Practice Blog: Judy Centers exist specifically to ensure children will enter kindergarten ready for school. Baltimore has 11 schools housing a Judy Center, and the city has seen excellent gains in school readiness in the schools using this wrap-around, birth-to-5 service approach. Recent research by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium examined how Judy Centers improve kindergarten readiness and help decrease achievement gaps. The research shows that Judy Center programs are working and providing families and their children with supports to not only catch up to but even outperform their peers.

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The Weekly Connect is going on vacation.  It will return in the fall.

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