The Weekly Connect 1/14/19

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:

The importance of STEM in early childhood education.

A new push for changing education funding priorities in Massachusetts.

As costs drop, more schools have improved Broadband connectivity.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Executive Function Deficits Determine Student Achievement
T.H.E. Journal: Difficulties in math and science learning in the early grades can have lasting consequences for students who have impairments in executive functions, according to a new report from Penn State researchers published in the Early Childhood Quarterly journal. The research looks back at executive functions related to working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control to determine when problems begin in early STEM education. 

How to Turn Schools into Happier Places
The Atlantic: Restorative practices, which are non-punitive ways of responding to conflicts, can help put a dent in school suspensions, according to a new study from the Rand Corporation, a nonpartisan think tank. The basic goal of restorative practices is to build relationships between teachers and students, so that students will be less likely to act out. Schools that enacted these restorative practices found that they greatly reduced the number of schools days lost to suspension, particularly among middle schoolers.

Early STEM Provides ‘Critical Foundation’ for Future Learning
T.H.E. Journal: It’s time to ramp up STEM in early childhood education, according to the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE). A new brief has suggested that quality STEM experiences in pre-K through grade 3 can offer a “critical foundation for learning about these disciplines in ways that facilitate later learning.”

Social-Emotional Functioning at School Entry Linked to Mental Health Diagnoses at 14
Psych Congress Network: Children who have internalizing and externalizing symptoms or low social competence when they start school are at increased risk of mental health problems in adolescence, according to new findings published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Policy

Betsy DeVos Appoints Interim Leader for Hispanic Education Initiative
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has appointed Andrea Ramirez as interim executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She is filling the role vacated by Aimee Viana, who is now the principal deputy assistant secretary in the office of elementary and secondary education. Ramirez is the current executive director of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education, and she will serve in both roles until a permanent replacement for Viana is appointed.

New Effort Launched to Change Education Funding Priorities
AP News: The question of how to best distribute state education dollars is emerging as a top issue in Massachusetts’ new legislative session, as mayors, lawmakers, and educational advocates press for increased funding for public schools, especially in poorer communities. The renewed effort comes months after the breakdown of negotiations between the House and Senate on the subject and as legislators try to narrow the educational achievement gap between students from richer and poorer areas.

Around the Nation

Education Statistics: Facts about American Schools
Education Week: How many K-12 public schools, districts, and students are there? What does the American student population look like? And how much are we, as a nation, spending on the education of these youth? These data points can give perspective to the implications and potential impact of education policies. The Education Week library provides answers to these questions, and some other enlightening facts.

Broadband Connectivity is Rising in K-12 as Cost Falls, Report Finds
EdScoop: Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity is expanding in K-12 school districts across the U.S. as costs continue to decline, according to annual survey findings released Friday by the Consortium for School Networking. The report explains that 92 percent of school networks say they are meeting the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) short-term bandwidth goal of 100 megabits per second per 1,000 students. But the biggest gain can be found in the 35 percent of districts that say they are now meeting the FCC’s long-term goal of 1 gigabit per second per 1,000 students — nearly double the percentage found in last year’s survey.

New York City will Offer Free Eyeglasses to all Kindergarteners and First Graders
Chalkbeat: All New York City kindergarteners and first graders will receive prescription eyeglasses if they need them starting next school year, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce during his annual State of the City address. Officials anticipate the expansion will involve 140,000 vision screenings and 33,000 new pairs of eyeglasses. 

‘First of its Kind’ Study at Long Beach Charter School uses Brain Imaging to Measure Effective Teaching
Long Beach Post: Some teachers are able to build deep emotional connections with students and inspire them to learn. What does that look like in the brain? The University of Southern California is exploring that question and other connections between the brain and effective teaching in a new study launched this fall at Intellectual Virtues Academy, a public charter school with middle and high school campuses in Long Beach. Through a combination of psychology, teaching, and neuroscience, the study will monitor brain activity, heart rate, and other physiological responses in 40 teachers as they interact with students.

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