The Weekly Connect 10/22/18

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:

A Cape Cod school district is using social emotional learning assessments.

A federal spending bill boosts funding for early childhood education.

California fights preschool expulsions with mental health services.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Holding Middle-Schoolers Back Causes Dropout Rates to Spike, New Research Finds
Chalkbeat: Being held back a grade in middle school, researchers found, substantially increased the chance that students dropped out of high school. In Louisiana, being retained in either fourth or eighth grade increased dropout rates by nearly 5 points. In New York City, the spike was startling: dropout rates were 10 points higher than for similar students who weren’t held back. The research also offers some better news. Holding back students when they are younger doesn’t have such clear negative effects. And summer school, which often goes along with retention, can help students, potentially outweighing the downsides of retention policies.

SEL Checkups at School
District Administration: Educators in one Cape Cod district found themselves confronting the struggles experienced by systems across the nation. Barnstable Public Schools (5,300 students) had over several years seen an uptick in at-risk students and children with complex needs. This propelled the Massachusetts district—like so many others—to adopt a full-throttle social-emotional learning (SEL) initiative. But how can districts measure progress when the results can be far less black and white than the outcome of a math test? Enter SEL assessments, which, though varied and evolving, are providing educators with actionable insight into the impact of their efforts. 

Correctable Vision Problems Hinder Learning for Too Many Children
EdSource: Approximately 24% of adolescents in the U.S. with correctable refractive error do not have adequate access to vision correction services, according to the non-profit advocacy organization Prevent Blindness. According to experts, 80% of all learning occurs visually, meaning children with poor vision are at a major disadvantage. This is not a short-term problem — kids who suffer from vision problems are less likely to do well in school, which can subsequently affect their success later in life.

Poverty Tied to Worse Heart Health Among U.S. Teens
Reuters: Adolescents from low-income families are more likely than their affluent peers to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease like obesity, inactivity, poor nutrition and tobacco use, a study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests.

Policy

Money Is Flowing to Social-Emotional Learning: Allstate Foundation Dedicates $45 Million
Ed Week Marketplace K-12 Blog: An ambitious plan to contribute $45 million to social-emotional learning initiatives over the next five years was recently announced by the Allstate Foundation. The nonprofit, which is offering programs to public and private schools, as well as to parents and students directly, said it expects to reach 25% of the nation’s youth with its social-emotional learning offerings by 2022. The organization has already invested $22 million since 2015, when it began to focus on this aspect of student development. 

New Spending Bill Boosts Funding for Key ECE Programs
New America: President Trump signed a spending bill into law that avoids the prospect of a government shutdown and increases FY 2019 funding for defense, education, and health programs. This bill covers funding from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019. Overall, the move is positive news for advocates of increased funding for early care and education programs. According to the First Five Years Fund, the bill includes $260 million in increases to federal early care and education programs. 

How Does Science Testing Work Under ESSA?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Every state will have to test students in science. The law requires states to test students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school in reading and math. But states also have to test students at least three times in science, once in grade 3 through 5, once in grade 6 through 9, and once in grades 10 through 12. Those science tests don’t have to be used for accountability purposes, like they do for math and reading. But at least 19 states are choosing to make them part of their school rating systems anyway.

Ed. Dept. Signals New Attempt to Address Racial Bias in Special Education
Ed Week On Special Education Blog: Four months after deciding to put on hold Obama-era rules relating to racial disparities in special education, the U.S. Department of Education has signaled it plans to take a crack at creating its own set of policies on the topic. The department said it plans to release a “notice of proposed rulemaking” this fall. No other information is available.

Around the Nation

Report: School Absences More Frequent for Kids with Disabilities
Disability Scoop: Children with developmental disabilities are far more likely to be missing a lot of school, according to a new federal report, with those who have certain conditions at especially high risk. Among kids ages 5 to 17, those with at least one developmental disability face twice the odds of being deemed chronically absent. The findings come from a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. It’s based on data collected on 26,000 children by the government’s National Health Interview Survey.

Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation
Food Research & Action Center: FRAC’s report on participation data in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs measures how many children had access to afterschool suppers and snacks in October 2017, nationally and in each state. The Afterschool Supper Program served 1.2 million children on an average weekday in October 2017, an increase of 11.3%, or 124,000 children, from October 2016.

California Hopes to Fight Preschool Expulsions with Mental Health Services
Ed Week Early Years Blog: California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law that provides a funding mechanism for mental health consultation services for child-care providers and preschools. Through this new law, the state reimbursement rate per child for low-income children in child-care centers and preschools is increased by 5% for each child receiving subsidized tuition in a classroom that utilizes mental health consultation services. “They’re actually creating a funding mechanism that financially incentivizes programs to want to have a consultant,” said Walter Gilliam, a child psychology and psychiatry professor at Yale University.

Homelessness in New York Public Schools Is at a Record High: 114,659 Students
The New York Times: About one out of every 10 students in New York City will sleep in a homeless shelter or in the homes of relatives. That’s more children than at any other time since city records have been kept. New York City has one of the highest populations of homeless students of any big city in America. About 5% of students in Chicago’s public schools were homeless last year, and just above 3% of Los Angeles’ students were homeless in 2016. This article looks at the issue of homelessness in New York’s schools, and what is — and isn’t — being done to reduce it.

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