The Weekly Connect 3/11/19

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:

New approaches to social-emotional learning.

New Mexico wants to shake up its plans for ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act).

Research finds increases in the number of homeless students.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

A Cheaper, Quicker Approach to Social-Emotional Learning?
The Hechinger Report: It’s hard for schools to afford social-emotional learning programs, allocate the time for them, and teach complicated lessons properly. Stephanie Jones, a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, wondered if there was another way to teach these skills besides costly programs with time-consuming training. Jones has developed more than 40 social-emotional “kernels,” little routines that any teacher can do anytime, be it during a math class or while lining up students in the hallway. She’s currently refining the kernels, working with focus groups of teachers who are trying them out so that she can put them to a formal test in a Sacramento, California, school district to see if they really work. See related article: Governing Why Education Needs a ‘Whole Child’ Approach.” 

1.7 Million Students Attend Schools with Police but No Counselors, New Data Show
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: As policymakers call for more school police in response to safety concerns, a new analysis of federal data from the ACLU shows that many students don’t have access to other kinds of staff necessary for safety and support, including school nurses, social workers, and psychologists. The analysis also found that disproportionately high arrest rates for students of color and students with disabilities are continuing. There was a 17 percent growth in school-based referrals to law enforcement from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Further, the report shows that no state met the recommended ratio of one social worker for every 250 students.

One in 5 Students with Significant ADHD Gets No School-Based Help, Study Finds
Ed Week On Special Education Blog: A substantial percentage of students with ADHD symptoms severe enough to affect them both academically and socially are not getting any support in school for the disorder, says a new study based on the experiences of nearly 2,500 children and youth. In the study, parents of children who had been diagnosed with ADHD by a physician were asked to describe their children’s symptoms and what kind of interventions they were receiving. While many parents reported that their children were receiving one or more school-based services related to their ADHD, researchers identified a notable percentage of students who exhibited impairing symptoms but were getting no interventions at all.

Policy

National School Boards Association Pushes for Federal Special Education Law Overhaul
Ed Week On Special Education Blog: Is this the year that Congress will take up the long-overdue renewal of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—plus boost funding for the law? The National School Boards Association wants to see both. Advocating for “full funding” of IDEA is a perennial issue, but the association is also drawing attention to the fact that the law, last reauthorized in 2004, needs to be rewritten to address more up-to-date concerns about educating students with disabilities. “This is our big initiative, our big push for this Congress,” said Thomas Gentzel, the executive director of the school boards association. See related article: Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “Union Campaign Seeks More Money for Special Education, Disadvantaged Students.” 

Will One State’s Proposed ESSA Changes Be a Test for Betsy DeVos?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: New Mexico is planning a major shakeup of its plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. And it’s not the only state that’s mulling changes. Among those with potential revisions in the works: Indiana, Michigan, South Carolina, and Wyoming. However, it’s New Mexico’ rewrite that could present an interesting test for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team. New Mexico wants to ditch the state’s system for rating schools on an A through F scale and replace it with broader labels for schools. The state also wants to do away with PARCC tests and rework its teacher evaluation system. See related article: Ed Week State EdWatch Blog “In These States, You Can Now See How Much Districts Spent on Each School.” 

California Revisits Possible K-12 Suspension Ban
Education Dive: California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, is reintroducing legislation that would ban out-of-school suspensions for “defiant and disruptive behavior” in grades K-12.  Skinner’s bill includes a five-year sunset for the ban in grades 9-12, so that state and local officials have a chance to evaluate how alternative discipline measures are working. It also references using $15 million of approved funds for a pilot program to examine alternative disciplinary methods, which may garner more support for the legislation. See related article: EdSource “Renewed Push Underway to Expand California’s Ban on Some Suspensions.” 

California Gets Boost from Federal Government to Expand Early Learning
EdSource: Though California has been at odds with the federal government on many fronts, the state is getting a boost from the Trump administration to lay the groundwork for expanding preschool and child care programs. California was one of 45 states to receive a Preschool Development Birth through Five Grant this year for improving access to child care and early learning for infants and children. Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a major expansion of the system of early education for children 0-5 years old, including providing state-subsidized preschool to all low-income 4-year-olds and expanding a program that sends nurses and social workers to infants’ homes to help new parents.

Around the Nation

We’ve Never Found So Many Homeless Students Before. That’s Bad and Good
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: The number of homeless students in American public schools rose by more than 100,000 in 2017, hitting an all-time high, finds a new report by Education Leads Home. The study looked at new data reported from 26 states on the number and graduation rates of homeless students. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires more reporting on homeless students, their achievement, and their trajectory through school. The rise in homeless students has not come primarily through better identification of homeless students, rather, causes seem to vary widely from community to community, from rapidly rising housing costs in some communities to fallout from the opioid and methamphetamines epidemic in others. See related article: Child Trends “To Understand Early Childhood Homelessness, We Need More Consistent Federal Data Collection.”

Pre-K in American Cities
New America: Given the strong advantages early education provides, the development of high-quality, highly-accessible programming is critical. Researchers at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) partnered with CityHealth to analyze access to and quality of pre-K programming in America’s 40 largest cities. Their recent report utilizes NIEER’s 10 benchmarks developed for their annual State of Preschool Yearbook to assess quality and CityHealth’s award system of bronze, silver, and gold medals to track access. The NIEER benchmarks include curriculum supports, teacher education level, teacher-child ratio, and health screenings and referrals.

New Report Ranks Which States Give Babies the Strongest Start in Life
Ed Week Early Years Blog: The state a baby is born in makes a big difference in whether that child gets a good start in life, according to The State of Babies Yearbook: 2019, a new report released by Zero To Three and Child Trends. The report, which is billed as the first of its kind, ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on how babies born there fare in the categories of good health, strong families, and positive early-learning opportunities. Overall, the report found that the state where a baby is born is pretty significant as there are wide ranges in indicators of infant and toddler health and wellbeing.

One Sheridan School Increased Teacher Retention and Decreased Students “Falling Through the Cracks” by Adding Mental Health Professionals
Chalkbeat: Fort Logan Northgate, a school located just south of Denver, has just under 600 students in the third through eighth grades. About one in four students are identified as homeless — the highest rate for any school district in the state of Colorado — and about 15 percent qualify as having special needs. In the past three years, to provide more services, the principal has hired two social workers, two nearly full-time interns who help provide in-house counseling and therapy groups for students, and a behavioral teacher who helps teachers work with students who have behavior problems. The staff say that the benefits, such as fewer students slipping through the cracks, are worth the investment in these increased mental health supports. See related article: The 74 Million “Schools in Impoverished, Isolated Brownsville, Texas, are Thriving: Here’s why.”

Free Meal Program Increases Productivity and Attendance
The Herald-Dispatch: For the past two school years, Cabell County in West Virginia has provided free breakfast and lunch to all students, regardless of the student’s family income, thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision. Besides ensuring that all students have access to nutritious breakfasts and lunches, Cabell County’s free school meals program has other bonuses. Students want to come to school, they are more alert, and they are more productive during tasks, said Rhonda McCoy, food service director for Cabell County Schools. “They pay attention better, their attendance records of coming to school have improved, and they are on time…”

Like what you see? Sign up to receive this in your inbox as soon as it is published.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s