The Weekly Connect 1/28/19

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:

School climate can have a positive impact on early learning.

How states measure student growth under ESSA.

Massachusetts has a new charter school experiment.

Positive psychology improves students’ success.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Aspen Institute: SEL Integration Moves US from ‘Nation at Risk’ to one ‘At Hope’
Education Dive: In 1983, the “Nation at Risk” report pointed to widespread underachievement in U.S. schools and warned that a “rising tide of mediocrity” would compromise America’s ability to have a competitive workforce. Recently, the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development released its culminating report, calling the U.S. a “nation at hope” that better understands how social and emotional development contributes to learning and later success. 

New Study Finds Strong School Climate Key to Effective Early Learning
Ed Week Early Years Blog: A new study has found that programs with strong organizational structures hold the key to effective early childhood education. The study also says that exceptional administrators and collaborative teachers are the two most important components of those structures. The study was conducted by researchers who are affiliated with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research and the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a Chicago-based nonprofit that advocates for and provides high-quality early childhood education.

Study Links Longer-Distance Moves to Lower Student Performance
Education Dive: Research has long shown that changing schools, in general, is not good for a student’s academic career. A new study conducted by researchers at Temple, Syracuse, and New York universities and appearing in the American Educational Research Journal, examines students’ residential and school moves in grades 3-8 from a variety of angles. One interesting finding from the study: students who move at least a mile away to a new home experience a greater and longer-lasting drop in math and English language arts performance than those who move a shorter distance — especially if that move involves changing schools. 

‘It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way.’ Why Some Boys Can Keep Up with Girls in School
The New York Times: Over all, girls outperform boys in school. This starts as early as kindergarten. By the time students reach college, women graduate at a higher rate than men. But there’s an exception. Asian-American boys match the grades of Asian-American girls in elementary school, a new study has found. For them, the gender achievement gap doesn’t appear until adolescence — at which point they start doing worse as a group than Asian-American girls. This study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that boys’ underperformance is not because of anything innate to boys. Instead, it seems, it’s largely because of something external: their school environments and peer influences.

Policy

How Are States Measuring Student Growth Under ESSA?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Almost every state is rating schools in part on student growth in test-scores under the Every Student Succeeds Act. (The exceptions are California and Kansas). But that process doesn’t look the same everywhere, and the differences matter to parents and policymakers, says the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), a research and advocacy organization. So what are the different types of “growth models” and who is using what? The DQC breaks it down for those of us who aren’t psychometricians in a report entitled “Growth Data: It Matters, and It’s Complicated.” 

Initiative Tightens Scrutiny on Restraint, Seclusion in Spec. Ed.
Education Week: The U.S. Department of Education’s offices for civil rights and for special education and rehabilitative services are teaming up to “address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion” on students with disabilities. The agencies outlined three areas that they will focus on: conducting compliance reviews of school districts; providing resources on the law and on interventions that could “reduce the need for less effective and potentially dangerous practices;” and improving data collection on the use of restraint and seclusion. Read more about the initiative here. 

6 K-12 School Districts to Watch in 2019
Education Dive: As the education space continues to evolve, transformations, disruptions, and trends are shaping districts and schools across the country. Decisions surrounding charters, school safety, and online learning make six school systems worth noting, as they are on the front line dealing with some of these complex issues. 

Charting a New Course: A Charter School Experiment in Massachusetts
U.S. News & World Report: Massachusetts, where voters said, “No, thank you,” just two years ago to expanding charter schools, is poised to test a new model for the charter sector, potentially paving the way for other states and school districts looking to grow their charter sector in a politically fraught environment. In what looks to be the first of its kind anywhere in the country, Massachusetts state education commissioner Jeffrey Riley recently announced that he had brokered an agreement with the mayor of New Bedford and a charter school there to allow the school to open a new campus in the city so long as it enrolls students like a traditional neighborhood school.

Around the Nation

How Positive Psychology Can Improve Student Success
U.S. News & World Report Health: Shawn Achor is best described as a happiness guru. His overarching view is that happiness and mental well-being aren’t just a nice way to go through life, they are precursors to greater rates of success. More important, happiness isn’t preordained – people aren’t just born that way, they can be trained. To bring this approach to schools around the country, Achor has created the Orange Frog program, a tool that’s used to teach students, faculty, and staff. One district that has tried this approach is Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 in Chicago. The result: in the past three years, School District 54 went from the 73rd percentile of academic achievement in Illinois to the 95th percentile. 

Schools Strive to Support the Unique Needs of Military Children
PBS News Hour: There are approximately a million children of active duty military in the United States. Most attend public school, move six to nine times before finishing high school, and must cope with a parent being absent for extended periods of time. Schools don’t always know how to offer support to these children, but new initiatives are trying to change that.

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