The Weekly Connect 4/1/19

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:

State standards often don’t define culturally responsive teaching.

Ohio’s governor calls for $550 million to support wraparound services for students.

Instead of in-school suspensions, a Texas school uses restorative justice.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Study: Parental Involvement Lessens Effects of Bullying on Middle Schoolers
Education Dive: Middle school students who feel their parents are more involved in their education have fewer mental health struggles — along with fewer suicidal thoughts and behaviors — in response to being bullied, according to a recent paper published in the Journal School Psychology. The research, conducted by the University of Maryland’s College of Education, also revealed a reverse effect: Middle school students who think their parents are less involved had more mental health problems and more suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

New Teachers Often Get the Students Who Are Furthest Behind — and that’s a Problem for Both
Chalkbeat: New research out of Los Angeles finds that teachers in their first few years end up in classrooms with more struggling students and in schools with fewer experienced colleagues, making their introduction to teaching all the more challenging. The differences between the environments of new teachers and their more experienced teachers are generally small, but they appear to matter for both students and teachers. The tougher assignments hurt new teachers’ performance and their career trajectories — and mean that students who are the furthest behind are being taught by the least experienced educators. See related article: Education Dive “Study: Novice teacher often Face Tougher Loads than Veteran Colleagues.”

States’ Standards for Teachers Don’t Define Culturally Responsive Teaching, Study Argues
Education Week: While students in the nation’s classrooms are increasingly more diverse, the educators leading those classrooms and their approach to teaching has not kept pace. A new analysis from New America argues that only three states require teachers to learn how institutional racism and other forms of bias can hinder some students—and only slightly more than half encourage educators to consider how their own biases can affect their work. The study found that while all states already incorporate some aspects of culturally responsive teaching within their professional teaching standards, most fail to provide a description of the practice that is clear or comprehensive enough to support teachers in developing and strengthening those skills.

What Can College Visits do for Middle Schoolers? Get them Taking Tougher Classes, New Research Hints
Chalkbeat: When researchers asked hundreds of eighth-graders living near Arkansas’s flagship university whether they had ever visited a college campus, they were surprised by the response. Only about half said they had. The team of researchers set out to see whether getting more of those middle-schoolers onto a college quad could affect their decision making about higher education. Early results from the study that indicate that the college campus visits only slightly improved students’ chances of speaking with school staff about college, but it did increase the rate at which students subsequently took honors or advanced courses.

School Resource Officers Need SEL Training, Experts Say — but their Preparation ‘Lacks Consistency’
Education Dive: There was at least one on-site resource officer (SRO) in 42% of U.S. public schools during the 2015-16 school year—a 10% jump from a decade earlier. As SROs’ presence continues to rise, so do calls to make sure they are properly equipped to have a positive impact. In addition to security-related skills, experts say these officials should be trained in social-emotional competencies or social-emotional learning (SEL). Despite the availability of intensive training, at least 29 states and the District of Columbia don’t have any existing laws or regulations concerning the certification or training of SROs, and among those that do there’s a broad range of what those trainings actually require.

Policy

Survey Finds More State-District Collaboration on School Turnarounds under ESSA
Ed Week State EdWatch Blog: Under the No Child Left Behind Act, states and school districts butted heads over turning around their worst-performing schools. The Every Student Succeeds Act leaves it up to states to figure out what to do about persistently underperforming schools as long as their approach is research-based. A new report, which surveyed 41 state leaders about their ESSA plans, says states are taking a more collaborative approach with district leaders to better collect, analyze, and use data, building networks of school and district leaders to exchange ideas, and pairing federal and state money to fund expensive turnaround programs. See related articles: Ed Week K-12 Politics Blog “Analysis Raises Fresh Questions on How Some ESSA Plans Handle Vulnerable Students” and Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “What Happens in a State Makes Changes to Its ESSA Plan without Betsy DeVos’ Sign-Off? 

Ohio Governor’s Budget Proposal Includes Surprise $550M for Wraparound Services
Education Dive: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s first two-year budget proposal came as something of a surprise because of an education plan that would provide $550 million across the next two years for wraparound services designed to support the whole child while basic state aid to schools would remain the same. The “student wellness and success plan,” if approved, would be largely needs-based, with the wealthiest schools receiving a minimum $25,000 in the 2019-20 school year and $30,000 in 2020-21, while the 122 highest-needs districts would receive a maximum $250 per student. Under this proposal, Akron would receive “more than $5 million, Elyria and Lorain about $1.5 million, Parma $1.3 million and Euclid nearly $1.2 million,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. See related article: Boston Globe “Teachers Push for More Student Services at Rally.”

The 50 States of Education Policy: A Breakdown of Governors’ State of the State Addresses
Education Dive: An analysis by the Education Commission of the States found that all 48 governors who have delivered a State of the State address so far this year mentioned education in some capacity, whether it was to tout a victory or put forward a policy proposal. Some of the common education topics mentioned across states were: school finance, teaching quality, early learning, and school safety.

Around the Nation

Counselors Couldn’t Keep Up with Our Growing Mental Health Crisis, So Peers Stepped Up
EdSurge: Amanda Novack, an Assistant Principal at Westgate Community School, a K-12 school in Thornton, Colo., recognized that with the influence of social media and the tragically extreme pressure to succeed, her students needed support more than ever—and yet, school staff were stretched thinner and thinner. To address the mental health and social-emotional needs of students in the face of a severe lack of available professionals, her school’s staff leveraged and trained student leaders to offer mentorship and mediation for their peers. By intentionally selecting and educating young adults, staff at Westgate have seen the effectiveness of this approach. See related articles: Education Dive “Peer Mentoring Helps Fill Mental Health Support Gap and Montana Standard “Jefferson High School One of 8 Schools Nationwide Selected to Participate in Teen Mental Health Pilot.”

To Boost Student Attendance and Well-Being, more Colorado Schools Ask, ‘Need Help with Laundry?’
Chalkbeat: Washers and dryers are popping up in schools around the country these days, often borne out of educators’ hopes that free, convenient laundry facilities will help keep kids in school instead of at home out of embarrassment over dirty clothes. Like social workers charged with tracking down truant students or free bus passes to ease school commutes, it’s one more weapon in the battle against absenteeism, which has become a growing priority in many states, including Colorado. 

When Zero-Tolerance Was Failing Students, This School Turned to Restorative Justice
Ed Surge: At Austin Achieve Public School, a K-12 school in East Austin, Texas, in-school suspension is not an option. In fact, the school stopped suspending students altogether in 2015, after administrators realized the practice was denying their most at-risk students important social, emotional, and academic reinforcements. Instead, the public charter school has embraced “restorative justice,” an alternative disciplinary approach that exposes students to mindfulness exercises, one-on-one counseling, and group therapy sessions with a social worker. The program has transformed the culture of the school, officials say, and it’s changed the way students handle conflict and manage their emotions. See related article: The Hechinger Report “Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline with ‘Windows and Mirrors’ for Black Boys.” 

How One Minnesota School, Beloved by Refugee Families, has Turned Itself around While Keeping Hold of its Teachers, Students, and Culture
The 74 Million: Dugsi Academy, located in St. Paul, Minn., enrolls 300 elementary and middle school students whose families are all refugees displaced by the decades-long war in their native Somalia. In 2016, 11 years after the school opened, it was one of the lowest-performing schools in the state academically, despite being beloved in the community. In an effort to improve the school, Mary Stafford, a school turnaround veteran, worked closely with the families in the school community to keep core parts of the school staff and culture constant while revamping the school’s physical appearance, curriculum, and use of data. See related article: Ed Week Rules of Engagement Blog “5 Ways One Middle School Is Making Itself More Student-Centered.”

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