The Weekly Connect 3/18/19

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:

How poorly controlled asthma affects students.

The impact of funding cuts at the U.S. Department of Education.

Detroit wants to increase students’ access to laptops.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Research Scholars to Air Problems with Using ‘Grit’ at School
The Hechinger Report: “Grit,” a best-selling book by University of Pennsylvania professor Angela Duckworth, may have swept parenting and education pop culture but research scholars say they are finding mounting evidence that it doesn’t add up. At least five studies published in peer-reviewed journals in the past two years have identified problems with the notion of grit, which Duckworth defines as a combination of perseverance and passion, and how important it is for academic success. Researchers are also finding that grit isn’t strongly associated with academic achievement and that other soft skills are far more powerful than grit.

Study: Pacific Islanders Twice as Likely to Face School Discipline
Education Dive: Most research on racial gaps in school discipline compares white students to their Black and Hispanic peers, but significant gaps also exist between white students and Pacific Islander students when that group is separated from other Asian Americans, according to a new paper published in the American Educational Research Journal. Analyzing 2013-14, school-year data about 1,000,000 students enrolled in K-12 public schools in Washington state, the researchers found that Pacific Islanders were twice as likely as white students to face school discipline.

Does the Ubiquitous Attendance Certificate Really Get Students to School?
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: As states and districts struggle to prevent chronic absenteeism, rewarding students for attendance has been seen as low-hanging fruit—California even requires it by law. However, a forthcoming study previewed at the recent annual Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness meeting in Washington found that these strategies might actually be counter-productive. Researchers found that in a sample of 15,329 students in grades 6-12, students who received recognition certificates were actually less likely to continue going to school every day than students who received nothing at all.

Kids with Asthma May Struggle in School
Reuters: Kids with asthma may struggle more in school when their symptoms aren’t well-controlled, and minority students with this breathing disorder are more likely to fall behind than their white counterparts, a U.S. study suggests. To conduct the study, researchers looked at asthma and allergies, lung function, school attendance, and academic performance for a sample of 445 students between 7 and 9 years old. They found that compared to children with well-controlled asthma, students with more daily asthma symptoms missed more days of school, completed fewer assignments, and had lower quality work.

Policy

Trump Seeks 10 Percent Cut to Education Department Aid, $5 Billion for Tax-Credit Scholarships
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: President Donald Trump is seeking a 10% cut to the U.S. Department of Education’s budget in his fiscal 2020 budget proposal, which would cut the department’s spending by $7.1 billion down to $64 billion. Funding for teacher development, totaling $2.1 billion, would be eliminated, as would $1.2 billion in funding for academic supports and enrichment, and $1.1 billion for 21st Century Community Learning Centers that support after-school programs. See related articles: Ed Week Inside School Research Blog “Big Education Research Cuts Included in Trump’s Proposed 2020 Budget”, and Education Dive “Trump’s 2020 Budget Proposes School Funding Cuts, Stresses Choice for Students and Teachers.” 

This Week’s ESSA News: States Feel Ed Department Downsizing, Illinois Uses the Arts as Distinct School Quality Indicator, Delaware Helps Its Homeless Students
The 74 Million: Since the end of the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Education, which oversees K-12 policy, including ESSA implementation and funding, has lost almost 14% of its staff and has gone through an intensive reorganization. There are big questions about the impact these changes could have on state officials, who “often look to the federal government for technical assistance and to explain ESSA, a relatively new and often murky federal law.” Under ESSA, Delaware has chosen which districts are to receive additional federal funds to support homeless students. Other states are using ESSA’s broader definition of student success to emphasize the arts. See related article: Ed Week Learning the Language Blog “Should ‘English-Only’ States Test ELLs in Their Native Languages?” 

Education Department Can’t Delay Special Education Bias Rule, Judge Says
Education Week: The U.S. Department of Education made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision when it decided last year to delay an Obama-era rule that would closely examine how minority students are identified and served in special education, a federal judge in Washington ruled. The decision is a win for the Council for Parent Advocates and Attorneys, which sued the Education Department after it announced the delay. See related articles: Education Dive “Federal Judge: Ed Dept Illegally Delayed Obama-Era Special Education Rule” and The Seattle Times “Washington Senate Passes 2 Measures on Special Education.”

Time to Play: More State Laws Require Recess
Edutopia: Against a backdrop of teacher strikes aimed at systems that feel unresponsive to teachers and students, an effort to pass laws mandating recess for elementary-age children has picked up steam. Several studies have shown that unstructured play time provides crucial benefits for physical health and cognitive abilities not normally associated with play, including focus and recall. In the past few years, several states have been able to get recess laws in the books, mandating somewhere between 20-30 minutes of recess daily for elementary school students. Several states, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, are expected to consider recess laws or add to existing laws this year. See related article: Education Dive “More States Weighting Mandatory Recess, Physical Activity Laws.” 

State Budget Includes Funding for More Mental Health Counselors
ABC4 News: In South Carolina, between education, salaries, and healthcare, there’s a lot up for debate in the state’s proposed spending plan. The $9 billion budget includes $2.2 million allocated to hire 90 mental health counselors to travel from school to school statewide. School district officials hope that this increase in funding will help to address the growing mental health needs of the area and help children get earlier mental health support to promote their success in school. 

Around the Nation

Pre-to-3: New ‘Baby PISA’ Study to Include US 5-Year-Olds
Education Dive: Next year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which coordinates the PISA program, will release their initial results from the International Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study. The study will include a sample of 3,000 5-year-olds each in the U.S., England, and Estonia. In addition to gathering data on children’s characteristics the study will also collect data on children’s “home environment” and on the schools where they attend kindergarten. Researchers will measure children’s skills in literacy, numeracy, and self-regulation. See related article: The Hechinger Report Mississippi in the Bottom Tier of States in Supporting Babies and Toddlers.”

Laptops for Everyone: How the Detroit District Seeks to Level the Tech Playing Field
Chalkbeat: By the end of the next school year, every K-8 student in Detroit’s school district could have daily access to a laptop at school through the expansion of a pilot program that gives students in the city access to the kind of technology their suburban peers have. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti wants to expand the initiative districtwide. He’s proposing spending nearly $16 million in federal funds to add 46 schools to the 1:1 Technology Initiative. See related article: Education Dive “Detroit District Hopes 1-to-1 Tech will Engage Students, Boost Test Scores.”

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