The Weekly Connect 9/10/18

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These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

A new study suggests that New York state should increase its per-pupil spending.

Colorado voters will get to weigh in on a ballot initiative that would raise taxes to fund full-day kindergarten, special education, English proficiency, and preschool.

Facing a teacher shortage, Oklahoma is licensing hundreds of under-qualified teachers.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Experiences of Parents and Children Living in Poverty
MDRC: One in five American children — 14.5 million — live in poverty, with even higher proportions among black and Hispanic children and in rural areas. While the scholarly literature on families experiencing poverty is sizable, relatively little attention has been paid to how children describe what it is like to be poor, their thoughts and feelings about their economic status, and the roles that they see benefit programs playing in their lives. This literature review involves in-depth interviews with members of about 30 low-income families, including children ranging in age from 7 to 17 and their parents or other caregivers, across three sites.

Here’s What’s Behind the Nation’s ‘C’ Grade on Student Achievement
Education Week: This analysis shows the nation earning a C on the K-12 Achievement Index. That grade signals modest progress over the past decade. In 2008, the first year the current version of the K-12 Achievement Index was published, the nation received a 69.4. The 2018 score is 72.7. The data paints a mixed portrait of middling grades nationally, consistently high achievement among some states, a handful of stragglers mired in poor performance, and continued struggles to close the achievement gap between higher- and lower-income students.

New York Spends More Per Student Than Any Other State. A New Study Suggests It Should Spend More.
Chalkbeat: Education advocates have insisted the state has skimped on funding its schools. But New York State already has the highest per-student funding rate of any in the country. Could moving that number up make a difference? The answer is yes, according to a new study of over 600 districts across the state. The researchers found that increased per-student spending led to higher math and reading scores on state tests. 

Experiencing Homelessness for Longer Than Six Months Can Cause Significant Damage to A Child
Science Daily: Experiencing homelessness at any time during the pre- or postnatal period can negatively affect a young child’s health. Researchers found that children who experienced both pre- and post-natal homelessness and those who experienced homelessness for longer than six months were at highest risk of negative health outcomes. These findings, published in Pediatrics, illustrate the urgent need to intervene and rapidly house children and families experiencing homelessness to minimize the negative health outcomes.

Policy

What’s New for Children in Foster Care Under ESSA?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: ESSA made some key changes for this important population. It asked school districts to break out achievement data and graduation rates for children in foster care (as well as homeless and military-connected children), just as districts do for other “subgroups.” Also, the law calls for students in foster care to be able to stay in their “school of origin” even if it’s no longer their neighborhood school. The state must work with school districts and local child welfare agencies to provide the necessary transportation. 

Transitions and Alignment from Preschool to Kindergarten
Education Commission of the States: The commission has released a special report looks at two key elements for promoting early childhood success: 1) effective transition programs and practices that help children make seamless transitions from pre-K programs to kindergarten, and 2) the importance of authentic alignment of the basic pedagogical components of early learning and kindergarten to create continuous learning and teaching experiences. 

Will States Allow Districts to Arm Educators Using Federal Funds?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made it clear that she believes districts have the flexibility to arm teachers using federal funds provided under the Every Student Succeeds Act. She said the department has no plans to issue guidance on the topic, or take action to encourage school districts to use ESSA funds this way. President Donald Trump has said arming teachers would make schools safer. Will Congress pass new legislation that bars states and districts from using the funds this way? And how many states will actually allow their districts to use federal funds this way? See related article: WRAL.com “State Launches $35 Million School Safety Grant.” 

Initiative to Pay for Preschool, Full-Day Kindergarten Qualifies for Colorado Ballot
Denver Post: Coloradans are going to decide this November whether they want to give more of their money to fund full-day kindergarten, special education, English proficiency, and preschool. Initiative 93, which supporters call Great School, Thriving Communities, qualified for the ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. The proposal would bring in an estimated $1.6 billion for public schools by raising state income taxes on corporations and people who make more than $150,000 a year. And while the initiative specifies where the money would go, it also gives districts broad discretion on how to spend it.

Around the Nation

Roll Call: 15 Percent of K-12 Students Chronically Absent from School
U.S. News & World Report: More than 8 million children – or about 15% of all K-12 students – were chronically absent from school during the 2015-16 academic year, the latest federal data show. “Chronic absence data casts a spotlight on where we as a country have failed to provide all students with an equal opportunity to receive a quality education,” Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works and a co-author of the report, said in a statement.

Back to School Without a Qualified Teacher
NEA Today: As school got underway in Oklahoma, the state Board of Education approved its 2,153rd emergency teaching certificate for the school year, enabling a record number of non-certified teachers to teach in its public schools. Seven years ago, only 32 were issued. Across the nation, but particularly in states like Oklahoma and Arizona where educators have long been frustrated or deterred by a lack of classroom resources and extremely low pay, the teacher shortage has grown acute this year. Hundreds of thousands of students across the U.S. are being taught this year by unqualified or under-qualified instructors. The consequences for students, who strongly benefit from high-quality teachers, is likely to be enormous.

Dozens of Students Separated from Families Still in Limbo as School Starts
Politico: About 40 immigrant children in New York City who were separated from their families because of President Donald Trump’s ill-fated, zero-tolerance policy have not been placed with long-term guardians, meaning their educational status is in limbo as the school year starts. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs told POLITICO that the children are under the care of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is in charge of providing for unaccompanied children referred by immigration authorities.

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