The Weekly Connect 10/29/18

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:

Education Week explores how principals manage job pressure. 

Federal legislation funds grants to help schools with the opioid crisis.

Boston College’s Center for Optimized Student Support is building a statewide infrastructure of integrated student support.

Students who attend more “advantaged” schools do better on international exams.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Special Report: Principals Under Pressure
Education Week: Is there a job in K-12 education more demanding and complex than the principal’s? We’d argue there’s not. We asked principals to tell us about their biggest challenges on the job and six issues came up, over and over: Safety, student mental health, dealing with toxic employees, handling the complex needs of special education students and their families, holding on to the best teachers, and time management and work-life balance. Their candid responses directly shaped the stories our journalists reported and inspired us to find solutions by seeking out principals actively working to address these issues and turned to many other experts who offer tested, attainable strategies. 

School Engagement Is More Than Just Talk
Gallup: While engagement is “nice to have,” it’s also necessary for thriving schools. Gallup has conducted more than 5 million surveys with students in grades five through 12 over the past several years. Findings suggest that engaged students are 2.5 times more likely to say that they get excellent grades and do well in school, and they are 4.5 times more likely to be hopeful about the future than their actively disengaged peers. In addition, engagement is strong at the end of elementary school, with nearly three-quarters of fifth-graders reporting high levels of engagement, with approximately half of students in middle school reporting high levels of engagement and about one-third of high school students reporting the same.

Should Student Behavior Be Factored into Teacher Evaluations? Study Says Yes
Ed Week Teacher Beat Blog: Determining teachers’ impact on test scores isn’t enough to measure effectiveness—policymakers must also look at how teachers affect their students’ behavior, a new study published in the journal Education Next suggests. In fact, teachers’ impact on non-cognitive skills, like adaptability, motivation, and self-restraint, is 10 times more predictive of students’ long-term success than teachers’ impact on student test scores, according to the study. 

Using the Science of Learning to Redesign Schools
Center for American Progress: Policymakers and educators need to reimagine the American school experience in order to better improve student achievement. According to the 2017 ACT college and career readiness benchmarks, less than half of all U.S. students were prepared for college-level math or reading. What’s more, nearly half of all first-year college students require remediation in English, costing taxpayers roughly $1.3 billion. There are promising practices and research that help create a new vision of the school experience, one that ensures students are prepared to compete in the 21st century and that fosters the tools for lifelong learning. Within pockets of innovation, many schools are being restructured to fit the needs and interests of students—a practice that’s commonly called school redesign. 

When Families and Schools Work Together, Students Do Better. New Report Has 5 Ways of Engaging Parents in Their Kids’ Education
The 74 Million: Research has found that involving families in schools leads to increased student achievement, improved graduation rates, and better preparation for college. Heather Weiss, director of the Global Family Research Project and author of a new report on family engagement for the Carnegie Corporation of New York, recommends that school leaders talk to parents to find out what they want for their children from schools, and then tackle a few goals at a time, like working with parents to increase attendance or turning in homework assignments. The report highlights five areas where educators could develop, next-generation family engagement strategies: attendance, data sharing, academic and social development, digital media, and transitions.

Policy

Creating Policies to Support Healthy Schools: Policymaker, Educator, and Student Perspectives
Child Trends: Initiatives focused on improving aspects of students’ well-being in schools are gaining momentum. However, such efforts are often implemented in silos, without recognition of their interconnections. To advance the common goal of improving social, health, and academic outcomes for all students, coordinated efforts that integrate multiple components of healthy school environments are needed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model presents a framework illustrating the interconnected nature of 10 elements of a healthy school environment. A Child Trends study was built on the need to better integrate the WSCC framework in policy and the recognition that policymakers prioritize issues they see as critical given finite resources. 

Early Childhood Data Collaborative Survey Points to Greater Need for Data Coordination
New America: What is one way states could use the fiscal year 2019 federal funding increases for early care and education programs? Improving early childhood data systems. While states collect a lot of information about young children, data collection across early care and education programs is often uncoordinated or nonexistent, which can hinder the quality of programs available to families. Without comprehensive early childhood data, it is impossible to know which programs are working, for whom, and why. 

What’s in the New Federal Opioid Legislation to Help Schools
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The opioid crisis has become a top-of-mind issue for schools across the country coping with orphaned children and with others facing serious emotional trauma. Congress recently passed legislation that will help schools and communities cope with some of the challenges of educating kids from families grappling with opioid addiction. The legislation authorizes $50 million in grants per year for the next five years to help states and school districts implement schoolwide behavioral interventions and supports for students who have experienced trauma. 

English-Learners and Ed Tech: A ‘Tool Kit’ From the Education Department
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: The U.S. Department of Education has released a how-to guide for educators who use educational technology to work with English-language learners. The toolkit offers basic advice on what educators should know and ask when using and searching for tech tools to support students who are learning the language. The five-step guide, which was commissioned by the department’s office of English-language acquisition offers a list of resources and potential questions that classroom teachers, English-learner specialists, and district administrators should consider. See related article: Ed Week Learning the Language Blog “English-Learners Often Denied Full Access to STEM Education, Report Finds.”

Around the Nation

Across the World, Where Kids Go to School Matters
U.S. News & World Report: “Equity in Education” assessed the levels of student achievement in more than 70 countries, broken down by socio-economic status and relying most heavily on data from the internationally benchmarked exam known as the Program for International Student Assessment. Researchers from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that the most important factor in a student’s performance is their school’s socio-economic profile. Students who attend more advantaged schools perform better on the international exam, a finding that’s been replicated by dozens of United States researchers in states and school districts across the country. See related article: Ed Week Inside School Research Blog “OECD: How Economics Still Shapes Students’ Educational Paths.”

3 Years, 3 Highlights
Medium: The idea of meeting children’s comprehensive needs so that they are ready to learn is not new. But now, for the first time in history, we have a deep understanding from the sciences of development and learning about how to support children experiencing poverty and other challenges, and mounting evidence from the field about replicable, effective, cost-efficient practices. With the help of a phenomenal Advisory Board in Massachusetts, Boston College’s Center for Optimized Student Support is developing a statewide infrastructure to facilitate the local integration of education with social services, youth development, health and mental health services — or “integrated student support.” As we build in Massachusetts, we are also leveraging our work into new states and communities.

To Boost Preschool Quality, Massachusetts Invests in College Degrees for Teachers
The Hechinger Report: An ongoing preschool expansion project in Massachusetts, funded by a federal grant in 2014, required all lead preschool teachers to have a bachelor’s degree. And in 2015, after a comprehensive review of early childhood research, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, echoed the federal requirement by also recommending that all lead teachers in early childhood settings have bachelor’s degrees. But many programs are having a hard time finding and hiring teachers who have earned this credential.

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