The Weekly Connect 4/15/19

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 principals can boost student achievement.

Therapy dogs go to school.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh pledges to invest $15 million in pre-K programs.

School teachers talk about how they are meeting the needs of migrant children.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

3 Changes that Can Help the Class of 2030 Succeed
eSchool News: How can today’s kindergarteners — the class of 2030 — succeed? A recent report by Microsoft based on surveys of 2,000 students and 2,000 teachers sheds light on how the education system would need to change to promote young children’s success. Why is an overhaul of the education system necessary? The report says it’s because of unprecedented opportunities for collaboration, progressive automation of lower skilled jobs, employers’ demands for workers with more well-rounded skills, and students’ desire and expectations to operate with autonomy and choice. The report recommends prioritizing social emotional skills, personalized learning, and existing and emerging technologies.

Study Finds that New Principals can Boost Student Achievement — with a Little Help
The Hechinger Report: One theory for how to improve schools begins not with teachers in the classroom but with the principals who hire and oversee them. To that end, beginning in 2011, the Wallace Foundation spent $85 million on a five-year project to improve school principals in six cities and large urban counties, from New York to Denver. Now, an analysis the foundation commissioned has found that these wide-ranging reforms in training, hiring, mentoring, and reviewing the performance of principals tended to boost student achievement and led to greater principal retention for some districts. See related article: Education Dive “Principal Pipeline Districts See Stronger Student Achievement Gains, Retention.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Will Give $1.6 Million to Study Educators’ Experiences with Ed Tech
The 74 Million: The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is providing more than $1.6 million over two years to the Jefferson Education Exchange, a nonprofit based at the University of Virginia that helps educators nationwide make informed decisions about education technology. The grant will enable the Jefferson Education Exchange to create a system for measuring how various ed tech tools work in different school contexts. The goal is to figure out how factors like school culture and teacher involvement in school decision-making affect the ways teachers and students use certain technology products. See related article: T.H.E. Journal “How Education is Closing the Digital Divide.”

Students Can’t Learn When They’re Not Healthy. Here’s What Schools Can Do to Help
Education Week: Children with chronic health concerns can’t learn when their poorly managed conditions keep them out of class. And students traumatized by unstable living conditions or chronic disadvantage can’t focus on homework or engage their peers. For the past several decades, the School-Based Health Alliance has collected data on models of school-based health centers. They’ve found that some of the conditions necessary for school health centers to foster vibrant, healthy communities include: sustainable funding policies, collaboration with partners, and support at state and local levels. See related article: Rapid City Journal “Schools Teaching Students to Overcome Trauma” and Child Trends “Adverse Childhood Experiences are Different than Child Trauma, and it’s Critical to Understand Why.”

Best (Practices) in Show: Therapy Dogs in Schools
District Administration: Therapy dogs in schools can perform wonders: The animals relieve students’ stress, help kids learn to read, and even boost test scores and attendance. To reach these goals, educators must focus as much on the animals’ needs as they do on the comfort of students. In order to do this, it is necessary to have someone running the program who understands risks and stress levels for dogs, especially since a school can be such a complex environment for an animal. See related article: Education Dive “Bringing Therapy Dogs into Schools Requires Special Handling.”


DeVos Defends School Choice as Democrats Demand Answers on Arming Teachers
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: During a recent hearing in Washington, House Democrats peppered U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos with questions about her vision for school choice, arming teachers, and federal education law. House Representatives brought up concerns about cuts to the Education Department’s funding and about using federal Title IV grant funds for arming teachers. DeVos shared her vision and said she plans to use Education Freedom Scholarships to provide tax credits to support private school tuition, transportation, afterschool tutoring, and other educational services.

Bobby Scott Again Raises ‘Disheartening’ Issue of Subgroup Performance in ESSA Implementation, Warns That Law’s Flexibility Is Not a ‘Blank Check’
The 74 Million: The much-vaunted flexibility of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gave states greater leeway in how to judge schools’ success and intervene in those that aren’t meeting the mark, has been taken too far, said Representative Bobby Scott, the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. “ESSA in and of itself is not a silver bullet. The law’s flexibility is not a blank check,” Scott told the annual legislative conference of the Council of Chief State School Officers. He stated that he was concerned that the Department of Education was not adequately requiring states to implement the law with fidelity. See related articles: Education Dive “How Do States’ ESSA Plans Rate in Promising Equity?” and Education Week Politics K-12 Blog “Top Democrat to State Chiefs: ESSA’s Flexibility Isn’t a ‘Blank Check’.”

Culturally Responsive Assessment Practices through Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ)
Ed Week Next Gen Learning in Action Blog: In Hawaii, the Department of Education’s Office of Hawaiian Education is piloting a culturally responsive, proficiency-based pathway to prepare students for the future. This new assessment model seeks to create the optimal conditions for strengthening HĀ, “the skills, behaviors and dispositions that are reminiscent of Hawaiʻi’s unique context, and to honor the qualities and values of the indigenous language and culture of Hawaiʻi,” the state education department explains. This two-year pilot presents an opportunity to assess a culturally responsive framework that blends Hawaii’s strategic priorities and the criteria of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). See related article: Ed Week Global Learning Blog “Infusing the Japanese Art of Reflection into U.S. Education.”

Pledging $15m, Walsh Calls Universal Pre-K a ‘Game-Changer’
Boston Globe: Boston will fully fund prekindergarten for 4-year-olds within five years, fulfilling a 2013 campaign promise by Mayor Martin J. Walsh to provide quality early education for some of the city’s youngest residents. “This is a game-changer for the young people of our city,” Walsh said, surrounded by school administrators and representatives from community groups who are set to partner with the city to extend pre-K programming. Walsh said the city will invest $15 million from next year’s budget, which begins July 1, into a “Quality Pre-K Fund” that will be used over the next five years to pay for high-quality seats at city schools and in community programs run by groups that have partnered with the city.

County School Districts Struggle with the Rising Costs of Special Education
The San Diego Union Tribune: Special education is driving some San Diego-area districts to spend beyond their means. The number of students who need special education services and the costs of those services have climbed faster than the federal or state funding that pays for them, county district data show. Though the services are guaranteed by law, neither the federal government nor the state of California provide enough financial support. This squeezes already tight school budgets, so administrators make do by spending fewer dollars on other student programs. See related article: Ed Week on Special Education Blog “Oklahoma Orders Tulsa District to Review all Students’ Special Education Plans.”

Around the Nation

‘If You Miss the Bus, You’re Walking Four Hours’: Challenges of Rural Absenteeism
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Federal civil rights data show that rtral districts have lower absenteeism than urban districts, but higher rates than those in suburban and municipal districts. University of California Santa Barbara researchers explored district transportation policies to find out if they can affect chronic absenteeism among rural students. The researchers analyzed attendance data from a nationally representative sample of more than 3,400 rural students, and they found that rural students who rode the school bus had significantly higher attendance and lower risk of becoming chronically absent, even though those riding the bus had a longer mean commute, in both time and distance, from rural students in the study who didn’t ride the bus.

How Schools Are Responding to Migrant Children
Education Week: It’s difficult to report on migrant children—tens of thousands of whom have come from Central America in recent years—and on how these children are faring in public schools across the United States as they await their final fates in immigration proceedings. The kids themselves are often terrified of talking, and their lawyers and advocates are fiercely protective. So one reporter talked to teachers and school staff about the challenges and opportunities that they have faced working with immigrant children.

Weekend Programs for Families can Boost Parent Engagement
Education Dive: Getting parents involved in their children’s schooling — and in their child’s school — can be beneficial not just for students, but for parents as well. While teachers are often the ones who create opportunities to involve parents at school, district chief academic officers and curriculum directors can encourage parent engagement by adding educational activities directly into the curriculum. For example, dual-generation programs on topics like math and poetry in the Hayward Unified School District in California have led to large increases in parental school involvement.

Fighting for Mississippi’s Struggling 5-Year-Olds, One Student at a Time
The Hechinger Report: Last year, in Mississippi, nearly two-thirds of kindergartners attending public schools were unable to demonstrate knowledge of basics such as early letter and number recognition, and they fell below the state’s target score for academic readiness. High-quality pre-K programs would help. However, Mississippi, which has the third highest rate of childhood poverty in the U.S., has limited free opportunities for early education. Last year, Mississippi lawmakers agreed to increase pre-K funding by $2.5 million and added an additional 1,000 slots for the upcoming fall, but even with this investment, Mississippi still spends far less than neighboring states. See related article: The Hechinger Report “After Years of Neglect, Mississippi Takes Baby Steps to Boost School Readiness.”

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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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