The Weekly Connect 9/17/18

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:

Salem, Mass., is using the City Connects model to close achievement gaps in all of the city’s pre-K-8 schools.

The Center for American Progress creates early learning fact sheets for all 50 states.

Census figures show small declines in the poverty rate.

How some school districts are helping foster children thrive.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

In Some Cities, Closing Achieving Gaps Is Not for Schools to Fix Alone
Education Week: If a mother needs after-school child care to work extra hours but can’t afford to pay for it, who is responsible for helping her figure it out? What about helping families find housing after a fire? Should city officials step in? Or the school district? Salem, Mass.,—and a handful of other small- to mid-size cities—is blurring the lines between the role the school district and the city play in children’s lives. It’s main vehicle for that work is City Connects, a student-support system that city and school officials rolled out in pre-K-8 schools last year. The idea is that focusing on student’s individual needs in four areas—academics, health, family, and social-emotional well-being—and matching these needs with the right kinds of assistance and enrichment programs, will create more successful citizens in the long run.

New Study Examines Educational Experiences of DLLs in Kindergarten
New America: As children around the country head back to school, a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics sheds light on the educational experiences of kindergarten dual language learners (DLLs). Around one in six kindergartners is a DLL who is in the process of learning English while still developing proficiency in their home language. These early years are essential: Research confirms that DLLs’ progress learning English in their early years has an impact on their later educational outcomes.

Kids’ Math Motivation Stems from Proving Something to Themselves
Forbes: The ultimate motivator for kids to do their best in math isn’t the promise of rewards or desire to make a parent proud, recent research reveals. For 55% of kids, it’s proving to themselves that “they can do it,” according to a new study commissioned by Texas Instruments and conducted by the Research Now Group, Inc. The study also revealed that kids might not be the math haters they’re made out to be. Almost half of the students responded that they love or like math. That’s almost double the number (24%) of learners who said they hate or dislike math. 

How to Create Learning Opportunities for Kids on the Bus
KQED Mind/Shift: Over the last two years, Google piloted its Rolling Study Halls program, providing grants to help equip school buses with Wi-Fi and stripped-down laptops. Priscilla Calcutt, director of instructional technology for the Berkeley County School District, says the students who live in the more high-poverty areas of her district ride the bus for 90 to 120 minutes in each direction. For them, “the Wi-Fi has been a great tool… they could play games if they wanted to on the bus on the way home,” Calcutt says. Or they can get a jump on the evening’s homework. Though the district doesn’t have data directly tying the program to improved academic performance, teachers report the kids coming off the bus with “improved overall attitude” and bus drivers see less misbehavior. It’s enough to justify Google’s expansion of the program.

Teen Social Media Use Is Skyrocketing. But Don’t Panic, New Research Says
Ed Week Digital Education Blog: Teens’ use of social media has exploded over the past six years, while their preference for face-to-face interactions with friends has markedly declined. But the sky does not appear to be falling, according to results from a new national survey of teenagers by the nonprofit Common Sense Media. Surprisingly, the group found, teens on the whole say using social media makes them feel less lonely, less depressed, and more confident. They also say they’re aware of social media’s potential to distract and manipulate them, even if they sometimes struggle to moderate their own use.

Policy

New Preschool Development Grants Emphasize Support of Existing Programs
Education Week Early Years Blog: The federal Preschool Development Grants are back, but they offer substantive differences from the legacy program created during the Obama administration. The grant application allows states the opportunity to apply for a share of $250 million to bolster their preschool programs. But, while the original program set aside some funds for states that were basically starting from scratch, this new program wants to see “collaboration and coordination” among existing programs. 

‘Strength in Diversity Act’ Would Create Federal Grants for Schools
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Democrats in Congress have proposed legislation to increase socioeconomic diversity and address racial isolation in schools through federal grants. The Strength in Diversity Act, introduced by Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, would authorize $120 million in grants for “voluntary community-driven strategies” to increase diversity through studying segregation, hiring new teachers, and other means.

Early Learning in the United States: 2018
Center for American Progress: Research has shown that high-quality early learning programs provide short- and long-term benefits for children, creating a basis for their future success. In addition, child care — beyond its benefits to child development and learning — is an economic necessity for the families of the nearly two-thirds of America’s children whose parents are all in the workforce. Unfortunately, the high cost of child care places it beyond the reach of many families. To create an in-depth look at current child care needs and challenges, the Center for American Progress has produced fact sheets for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Around the Nation

Small Improvements in Poverty Rate, Median Income: Reactions to the 2018 Census Data
Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity: The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its annual report on incomes and poverty in the United States. Last year saw a second consecutive sharp decline in the official poverty rate, with a drop from 13.5% in 2015 to 12.7% in 2016, accompanied by a surge in median household income. This year, the Census Bureau reported that the official poverty rate fell again to 12.3% in 2017. The total number of Americans living in poverty fell to 39.7 million, down sharply from the 2014 peak of 46.7 million but not a statistically significant difference from the year before. The median household income rose by 1.8 percent, to $61,372.

Get to Know Your Public Schools: 7 Revealing Numbers About America’s Education System, From Diversity to Safety, Absenteeism & More
The 74 Million: All summer long at The 74, we’ve been using our “Big Picture” series to offer parents a richer understanding of the nation’s public school system — maps and charts that look at specific aspects of district policy and classroom behavior. Even if it wasn’t a complete sampling of every single issue facing families, teachers, principals, and policymakers, the series offered a revealing breakdown of just who’s going to school (and teaching) each day in America’s classrooms and some of the key issues confronting those charged with running your local school district. Here are seven of the more notable numbers that surfaced through our reports.

New York’s Schools Chancellor Is Talking About Integration. Can He Make It Happen?
The New York Times: Richard Carranza is eager to talk about segregation. Carranza, New York’s new school chancellor, wants to talk about how the nation’s largest school system is clustering the poorest children (mostly black and brown) in one set of classrooms, and the richest children (mostly white) in another set, and failing to live up to its progressive ideals. He says his ideas go further than finding ways to admit more black and Hispanic students to the city’s most elite high schools. But, as the first full school year of Mr. Carranza’s tenure begins, the question is whether he will venture beyond what he calls “a values conversation” to effect large-scale citywide change. 

How Districts Work to Ensure That Students in Foster Care Thrive Along with Their Classmates
District Administration: When Tiffany Anderson took over as superintendent of Jennings School District near St. Louis in 2012, she faced high poverty and low academic achievement. As part of the turnaround effort, she focused on building supports for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, particularly those in foster care who struggle with social-emotional trauma and frequent changes in residence. With assistance from community partners, Anderson renovated a dilapidated, district-owned house and turned it into a permanent group home for students in foster care. Christened Hope House is managed by a full-time, licensed foster counselor. Up to seven students of both genders are selected by the superintendent and house parent to live in private rooms there, receiving regular meals and experiencing a greater sense of stability.

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