The Weekly Connect 3/4/19

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:

A Maryland school uses research on learning to improve student schedules.

Pollution hurts student outcomes.

A report points to racial disparities in school funding.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

SEL Takes Center Stage
District Administration: Social-emotional learning (SEL) has taken on a new level of importance as schools and districts adapt to meet the increasingly complex needs of students. SEL informs how educators approach culture, climate, management, and discipline, and how they deliver the supports needed across schools and districts. There are many aspects to creating a robust system of supports that ensures schools and programs in the district not only speak the same language, but also have a shared understanding of resources and expectations for success.

Research-Informed Practices can Aid Educators in Improving School Schedules
Education Dive: Drawing on research from the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning, educators at the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland revamped student schedules. The goal was to lighten homework loads, reduce unproductive transitions, and improve student focus. Though the schedule is still in its first year of implementation, school officials say it has been successful. See related article: Ed Surge “Using Neuroscience to Launch a Research-Informed School Schedule.

Pollution is Bad for your Health and the Environment. It’s also Bad for Schools, Two Recent Studies Show.
Chalkbeat: Schools across the country — particularly those serving more low-income students of color — are often located near hotbeds of pollution, like highways. While the health risks of air pollution have long been documented, two recent studies are among the first to directly connect pollution to lower test scores and higher absence rates. In one study, researchers found that being exposed to pollution from a major highway affects school performance. The other study found that schools within a mile of toxic chemical release sites had lower test scores, and students at this school were more likely to be absent than students at schools that were farther away form the toxic site. away.

Preschool and Kindergarten Students can Benefit from Naps
District Administration: Although naps have significant academic benefits for preschool and kindergarten students, schools continue to cut nap time in favor of more academic activities, according to recent research funded by the National Science Foundation. Researchers found that students performed better in a memory learning task in the morning during a week when they took afternoon naps every day compared to a week when they skipped afternoon naps every day.


The 50 States of Education Policy: February Marks Strides in School Safety, Funding
Education Dive: In February, lawmakers proposed or debated hundreds of K-12 education bills, work that has been influenced by the one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., shooting and by teacher activism. Among these bills, a few trends that stand out are school safety and security, school funding, teacher pay, and curriculum changes. See related articles: Education Commission of the States “50-State Comparison: K-12 School Safety and U.S. News and World Report “States Considering Nearly 250 School Safety Bills Already in 2019.” 

$100 Billion Plan to Repair, Upgrade Schools Passes Key Committee
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The House education committee recently voted in favor of legislation — The Rebuild America’s Schools Act — that would provide about $100 billion for school infrastructure. The bill would invest $70 billion in direct federal spending for school modernizations, renovations, repairs, and similar work, and another $30 billion in tax-credit bonds. School districts receiving aid under the law, through competitive-grant programs run by the states, would have to prioritize infrastructure projects at schools that serve the highest shares of students receiving free and reduced-price meals.

Education Donors Shift Priorities, Survey Suggests
Education Week: Education philanthropy groups may be moving away from big new investments in areas with a K-12 academic focus—teacher preparation, turnaround of low-performing schools, new school models, and the like—in favor of “whole learner” investments, according to a new survey of education funders. That means more attention and money could be spent on supporting social and emotional learning, families and community engagement, and wraparound services, according to a new report written by Grantmakers for Education.

Governors Tout K-12 Education as a Priority in Budgets for Coming Year
Ed Week Market Brief: Last year’s elections brought a wave of turnover to governors’ offices around the country, and many of the new occupants have wasted no time in making their ambitions for education policy known. In budget proposals for the coming fiscal year, governors have proposed ambitious changes in education, including overhauls of how schools are funded, as well as increased support for early education, better teacher pay and recruitment, and increases in school safety, according to a new analysis by the National Association of State Budget Officers.

‘It’s Barbaric.’ Lawmakers Probe Restraint and Seclusion Ahead of Legislation
Ed Week K-12 Politics Blog: Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle spent a House hearing exploring how prevalent the use of restraints and seclusion are in schools. Lawmakers also heard about alternatives to those practices as well as the proper role of the federal government regarding these issue. This hearing comes as Democrats plan to introduce legislation that would ban public schools from placing students in isolation or otherwise secluding students. The legislation would also place major restrictions on when students can be physically restrained. However, some educators are not enthusiastic about having the practices banned or severely restricted, and they argue that they must prioritize creating safe learning environments and deal with potentially dangerous situations quickly.

Around the Nation

America’s $23 Billion School Funding Gap: Despite Court Rulings on Equity, New Report Finds Startling Racial Imbalance
The 74 Million: A recent report by EdBuild suggests that significant racial disparities exist in school funding. New Jersey, California, and New York have some of the nation’s largest funding gaps between districts predominantly serving students of color and those where most children are white. This funding gap is present across the country. Nationally, researchers found that school districts that mostly serve nonwhite students get $23 billion less in state and local spending each year than those with predominantly white student populations — even though they educate roughly the same number of children. See related articles: National Public Radio “Why White School Districts Have So Much More Money” and Education Dive “Report: Significant Funding Gaps Persist between White and Low-Income, Nonwhite Districts.” 

Homelessness Crisis Exacts an Especially High Price on New York City’s Youngest Students, Report Finds
Chalkbeat: The scourge of student homelessness in New York City, already at record levels, is increasingly falling on the smallest shoulders. As of the 2016-17 school year, nearly one in 10 elementary-age students were doubling up in the homes of family or friends, living in shelters, or arranging other temporary housing, including staying in parks, tents, or cars, according to a report released Thursday by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, a New York University-based group that studies the city’s public schools. “The problem is most prevalent among our youngest students,” the authors write, noting that the impact can have a significant negative impact on children who experience homelessness at such “a developmentally crucial age.” 

How our High Poverty School Reduced Suspensions by 97%
eSchool News: School leaders in a Houston elementary school set out to decrease the number of office referrals [for student discipline problems] to yield better social, emotional, and academic outcomes for students. In order to achieve that end, the school took a positive approach to classroom management, tracked student behaviors that reflected students’ strengths and needs, became more purposeful in interactions with students, recognized students for the positive choices they made, and discussed behavior data. Four years after implementing these steps, the school’s office referrals, in-school suspensions, and out-of-school suspensions were significantly lower. See related article: Education Dive “School Finds Positive Approach to Classroom Management Yields 97% Suspension Reduction.”

Changes Afoot in how Charlottesville, Albemarle Students are ID’d as Gifted
Charlottesville Tomorrow: Racial disparities in Charlottesville’s and Albemarle County’s gifted education programs have come under intense scrutiny in recent months. Leaders of both school divisions say they are pursuing changes to make the programs more inclusive and fair to all students and perhaps affect statewide policy. A proposed $105,401 in funding for the 2019-2020 academic year would be used to enhance the division’s “talent development” model by hiring a program manager to help elementary schools provide gifted instruction to a more diverse pool of students. See related article: Education Dive “District Diversifies Gifted and Talented Pools by Re-examining Screening Process.”

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Author: City Connects

City Connects is an innovative school-based system that revitalizes student support in schools. City Connects collaborates with teachers to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the community designed to help each student learn and thrive.

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