The Weekly Connect 4/8/19

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:

Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab cites City Connects as a student support model that more districts could use.

A report finds that state funding for higher-poverty districts is largely inadequate.

A South Bend, Ind., school pilots a weekend meals program.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Personalized Plans Highlighted as Comprehensive Way to View Student Success
Education Dive: District officials in Salem, MA, responded to receiving a low score on the state’s accountability system by partnering with City Connects, a program based at Boston College. City Connects brings in coordinators who work with teachers to develop a personalized plan for each student that might include healthcare needs, afterschool and enrichment programs, and specific interventions. The district began working with the Education Redesign Lab at Harvard University, where researchers recently released a paper urging more districts to adopt models like City Connects that incorporate personalized plans for students. See related article: The 74 Million “Individual ‘Success Plans’ for Every Student? Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab Proposes 10 Guidelines for How Educators & Communities Can Unite to Support the Whole Child.”

Study: To Reduce Preschool Expulsions, Form Stronger Connections with Parents
Education Dive: As more states seek to reduce suspensions and expulsions of young children, a new study published in the American Educational Research Journal finds the way preschool teachers perceive their relationships with parents is a factor in whether they ask for a child to be removed from their classrooms. Specifically, teachers who felt parents weren’t helping to address behavior issues were also more likely to say they had limited communication with them, the study found. The study also shows that those who requested that a child be removed were also more likely to report that their centers did not provide support for interacting with parents and promoting cooperation.

Lunch at 9 a.m.? That’s When a lot of Schools Start Serving it to Kids.
The Washington Post: According to federal rules of the National School Lunch program, kids at school are supposed to be served lunch between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you are thinking that 10 a.m. sounds early, consider this: At some schools, kids are served lunch at 9 a.m., and at least one New York City school, lunch starts at 8:58 a.m. New York, which has the largest school district in the country, is not the only place with lunch timing problems, but it is where Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to try to change it, following an analysis of city records that showed 908 city schools started serving lunch before 11am.

Policy

‘Vast Majority’ of States Inadequately Support Higher-Poverty Districts, Report Finds
Education Dive: In examining school finance data from the 2015-16 school year, an April report revealed that the “vast majority” of states aren’t spending enough on higher-poverty districts to enable them to achieve national average test scores. To reach this conclusion, the Albert Shanker Institute and the Rutgers Graduate School of Education used results from three core indicators: effort, adequacy, and progressivity. Researchers found most states were close to average in effort, and the distribution of district revenue across the U.S. is largely not progressive. Additionally, they found that in some states, actual spending is a small chunk of the estimated requirement — and deemed this inadequate.

States Fall Short on School Data Transparency, Advocacy Group Says
Education Week: Dozens of states are falling short in giving the public a clear window into the school data they are required to collect and report under the Every Student Succeeds Act, an advocacy group says. The information that isn’t being disclosed includes a breakout of test score data, achievement, and discipline disparities among vulnerable groups of students, as well as teacher quality information. This finding appears in a recent report issued by the Data Quality Campaign, which looked at state school report cards for the 2017-18 school year, the most recent available. See related article: Education Week “States, Districts Tackle the Tough Work of Making ESSA a Reality.”

New Study Pushes PA to Embrace Trauma-Informed Education
WHYY: A recent policy brief from the nonprofit organization Research for Action highlights “promising models” nationwide of how schools are handling their students’ adverse childhood experiences. The brief calls on state lawmakers to implement a comprehensive approach in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the report recommends that schools provide professional development that reflects the complexity and sensitivity of trauma, and it calls on lawmakers to mandate a statewide plan for creating trauma-informed schools. The report touted Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin as leaders in trauma-informed education based on robust professional development standards.

Betsy DeVos Joins Tennessee Governor in Full-Court Press for Expanded School Choice
Chalkbeat: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joined Governor Bill Lee to visit a Nashville charter school where students have shown academic gains. Earlier in the day, DeVos discussed school choice programs with about 30 elected leaders, supporters, and parents during a closed-door roundtable discussion at the state Capitol, where two controversial proposals from the new Republican governor have gained momentum. One of Governor Lee’s proposals would start a new type of education voucher program, and the other would create a state commission with the power to open charter schools anywhere in Tennessee through an appeals process. See related article: Chalkbeat “Lawmakers Lower Income Limit for Tennessee Vouchers Eligibility.”

Around the Nation

An Action Plan for SEL
Smart Brief: The Port Washington-Saukville School District in Wisconsin responded to seeing more instances of anxiety or aggressive behaviors among students by addressing students’ non-academic needs. After reflecting on their current practices, the needs of their students, and the gaps between the two, the district took action. The two primary components of their comprehensive mental health and social-emotional initiative were data and community partnerships. See related article: WLRN “’School is Cool’ Program Working to Expand Emotional Wellness in Broward Middle Schools.”

Family-School Ties at Center of Tacoma Homelessness Prevention Program
Education Dive: In 2011, the Tacoma Public Schools in Washington and the Tacoma Housing Authority formed a partnership with a simple goal in mind — reduce high student mobility by providing low-income families with housing assistance so they could keep their children in the same school. McCarver Elementary was the site for the innovative program. A 5-year evaluation of the program has produced impressive findings, showing turnover at 23.3% for students in the program, much lower than the district’s 57% average for elementary schools.

Schools Are Feeding Hungry Students with Meals That Would Have Gone to Waste
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: The weekend meals program began this year as a partnership between Cultivate, an area nonprofit, and the South Bend Community School Corporation, where 70 percent of students received free and reduced lunches in 2017. Funded by a grant from the Kelly Cares Foundation, the program is being piloted at the Madison STEAM Academy, a local elementary school. Every Friday, 100 kindergarten and 1st grade students who were food insecure receive a backpack filled with eight frozen meals, that would otherwise be thrown away. Attendance has already increased, according to researchers studying the program’s impact on attendance and reading achievement.

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