The Weekly Connect 10/8/18

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:

Students who attend City Connects elementary schools have lower high school dropout rates than students who do not.

The Trump administration invests $71.5 billion in the U.S. Department of Education.

Trauma-informed schools and clinics help students cope with disasters and toxic stress.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Study Finds Elementary School Student Support Leads to Lower High School Dropout
AERA: Elementary-school students who participated in a comprehensive support intervention in the Boston public school district had about half the odds of dropping out of high school as students not in the intervention, according to a new study published in AERA Open. For their study, a team of Boston College researchers examined the impact of City Connects, a schoolwide systemic student support program that is based at the college. The 894 students who participated in the intervention from kindergarten through fifth grade had a 9.2% dropout rate in high school, compared to 16.6% for the 10,200 non-intervention students. See related article: Science Daily “Elementary School Student Support Leads to Lower High School Dropout, Study Finds.” 

Why a Web of Connections—Not a Single Relationship—Should Surround Students
EdSurge Learning Strategies: Research from an array of youth development and social capital scholars is clear: students will most benefit from a web of adults supporting their healthy development, academic success, and access to opportunity. “Developmental relationships” are core to healthy development. Search Institute has studied different categories of relationships that arise in young people’s lives: their relationships with family, teachers, mentors and peers. Although a single, strong, positive relationship can deliver on these benefits, the benefits increase when students have additional developmental relationships.

NWEA: High-Poverty Schools Can Still Have High Student Achievement Growth
Education Dive: While it’s clear there is a strong connection between high poverty and low student achievement, a new analysis of growth data on MAP reading and math assessments shows a much weaker relationship between high poverty and low rates of growth, according to NWEA, the nonprofit organization that developed the MAP assessments. The findings have implications for how states measure school improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

How Much Does Missing School Matter for Young Children?
Ed Week Bridging Research and Practice: Like many districts around the country, attendance is a high priority for the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). To address this issue, the Madison Education Partnership set out to better understand how much missing school mattered for the academic progress of MMSD students. Findings suggest that unexcused absences had a much stronger association with achievement growth than excused absences. In fact, having even one unexcused absence was much more predictive of negative academic and socio-emotional outcomes than having 18 excused absences. 

Scientists Use AI to Develop Better Predictions of Why Children Struggle at School
Science Daily: Scientists using machine learning – a type of artificial intelligence – with data from hundreds of children who struggle at school, identified clusters of learning difficulties which did not match the previous diagnosis the children had been given. Study findings, published in Developmental Science, reinforce the need for children to receive detailed assessments of their cognitive skills to identify the best type of support. 

5 Ways to Stop Students from Changing Schools — Or at Least Reduce the Impact
Chalkbeat: Solving the damaging problem of Detroit students moving frequently between schools would require sweeping policy changes to both stabilize housing and improve the quality of public education. But schools and policymakers could also take simpler, smaller steps to help ease the crisis created when more than one in three elementary school students change schools every year. Here are five of them: ease access to student records, adopt a unified enrollment system, expand transportation, standardize curriculum, and hire more and better trained staff. 

Kids’ Brainpower Tied to Exercise, Sleep and Limited Screen Time
The New York Times: Researchers tied three behaviors to higher scores on tests of mental ability in children: at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, nine to 11 hours of sleep a night, and no more than two hours a day of recreational screen time. The new study, published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, included 4,524 children ages 8 to 11 who were assessed with six standard tests that measure language skills, memory, planning ability, and speed at completing mental tasks.

Policy

See the New Federal Education Budget Signed into Law by Donald Trump
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: President Donald Trump signed a spending bill into law that includes a boost for the U.S. Department of Education’s budget. In total, this new law sets the department’s budget at $71.5 billion for fiscal 2019, an increase over fiscal 2018 of $581 million, although that figure doesn’t include a rescission of $500 million from Pell Grant reserves. Not adjusting for inflation, the $71.5 billion budget is the largest-ever appropriation from Congress for the Education Department. 

Some School Security Measures Make Kids Feel Less Safe
Reuters: Schools that install a lot of indoor cameras may not be improving security while in fact making children feel less safe, a U.S. study suggests. Surveys of more than 54,000 middle and high school students found that the presence of security officers as well as outdoor cameras made kids feel safer, according to the report published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. But cameras indoors made them feel more vulnerable.

Around the Nation

Detailed New National Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life
The New York Times: The Census Bureau, in collaboration with researchers at Harvard and Brown, recently published national data that will make it possible to pinpoint where children of all backgrounds have the best shot at getting ahead. Nationwide, the variation is striking. Children raised in poor families in some neighborhoods of Memphis went on to make just $16,000 a year in their adult households; children from families of similar means living in parts of the Minneapolis suburbs ended up making four times as much. Researchers believe much of this variation is driven by the neighborhoods themselves, not by differences in what brings people to live in them.

Extending Mental Health Help to Vulnerable Kids
U.S. News & World Report: Poverty, violence, natural disasters, or insecure housing may affect a child’s mental health. And growing evidence highlights the effects of toxic stress and long-lasting harm to kids exposed to abuse, neglect, and dysfunctional households. In response, trauma-informed clinics and schools, and other culturally aware programs, take a different approach to supporting kids. These are just some examples. See related article: U.S. News & World Report “Getting Kids Help in Time.”

Only 28% of Districts Have Enough Bandwidth to Use Digital Learning Every Day
EdSurge: As America’s classrooms become increasingly connected, the nation inches ever closer to reaching a major milestone: 100% of schools with high-speed internet access. But what was once the gold standard for high speed is now barely enough to keep pace with modern learning environments, according to Evan Marwell, CEO of the nonprofit Education Super Highway, which recently released its annual State of the States report. About 28% of school districts have already achieved 1 Mbps per student, including 15% of the 1,000 largest districts in the country—leaving 72% of districts without sufficient internet speeds to make digital learning a central part of the curriculum.

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