The Weekly Connect 5/13/19

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These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

City Connects’ model of integrated student support stands out because of evidence that shows it helps reduce dropout rates.

Maine is a step closer to expanding its pre-K programs statewide.

San Francisco’s plan to reduce segregation backfires.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Supporting Students Outside the Classroom
Education Next: The integrated student support model aims to address barriers to learning that occur in students’ lives outside of school. These barriers include homelessness, mental health issues, or food insecurity. In integrated student support programs, like Communities in Schools, an onsite coordinator serves as hallway cheerleader, listening ear, and point of connection to social services and other community resources, in addition to implementing schoolwide programming targeted at boosting attendance, persistence, and academic success. While these interventions are not new, their profile is on the rise. In general, there are mixed findings about how these programs serve students outside of meeting their immediate needs for food or medical care. City Connects, one example of a model of integrated student support, stands out in its evidence of efficacy for reducing dropout rates. See related article: Education Dive “Report Shows Wraparound Services’ Impact on Community College Student Success.”

Why Social-Emotional Learning Is Suddenly in the Spotlight
EdSurge: Several recent studies show that students today are distracted, they’re under a lot of pressure and they’re suffering from mental health issues more than ever before. The education community is increasingly getting involved in these issues, looping in social workers, licensed therapists, and other mental-health services to help students who are struggling. They often talk about these things in the context of “caring for the whole child” or “teaching to the whole learner.” The idea is that what it takes for kids to be successful academically is meeting their other needs, too. That includes their social and emotional needs.

Head Start Exemplars
New America: In a new report from Bellwether Education Partners, authors take a close look at five “exemplar” Head Start programs that have demonstrated evidence of positive effects on children’s learning that are substantially larger than the vast majority of the 1600-plus Head Start sites and other early childhood programs. They identify factors that contribute to their quality and offer common challenges and areas for improvement. Some of the strengths of the programs in the report include teacher autonomy and quality instruction. See related article: The Hill “Full-day, school-year programs should be the default for Head Start.

Parents Select Schools Based on Way More than Test Scores Study Finds
The 74 Million: With the nationwide expansion of both charter schools and voucher-style tuition subsidy programs, how do parents make up their minds about where they want their child to enroll? Many in the education reform movement wish that parents’ choices were entirely based on academics — particularly how well schools performed in lifting student scores on standardized tests. But a recent study finds that parents of different kinds of children favor schools that excel in different areas. And that might be wise, given the authors’ other finding: Schools that improve test scores may not be doing much to improve other life outcomes, such as teen pregnancy or employment. See related article: Education Week “Whites, Blacks Divided on Value of Neighborhood Schools and Diversity, Survey Finds.”

The Promise of ‘Restorative Justice’ Starts to Falter Under Rigorous Research
The Hechinger Report: Following research and reports detailing unfair and racist school discipline practices across the country, many educators rapidly embraced something called “restorative justice.” In education settings, there are various ways to implement this alternative to suspensions and expulsions but it generally involves having kids sit in a circle and discuss their conflicts with the help of an adult mediator. As the results of more sophisticated research commissioned to study restorative justice starts to trickle in, the first two studies (see here and here) are not especially promising. Both studies fail to show clear benefits for these non-punitive approaches to student discipline.

Can Artificial Intelligence Predict Student Engagement? Researchers Investigate
Ed Week Digital Education Blog: Imagine if artificial intelligence—the same machine learning that Netflix uses to suggest new movies to customers based on past favorites—could show teachers that students are more engaged first thing in the morning, and then suggest relevant classroom management adjustments for different times of the day. That’s what researchers at the University of Montreal will be investigating. The university is partnering with Classcraft, a five-year-old education technology company based in Canada and the U.S. that offers what it describes as an “engagement management system” to help schools improve academic outcomes, school climate, and social-emotional learning. It is used in 75,000 classrooms in the United States and in 160 countries, according to the company.

Children’s Social Media Use Has ‘Trivial’ Effect on Happiness – Study
The Guardian: Time spent on social media has only a “trivial” impact on life satisfaction among adolescents, say researchers. The team behind a new study say time spent on social media has only a small negative effect on how happy boys and girls feel about life, and that only girls reduced their use of social media as a result of feeling discontented. While the team found the effects of time spent on social media do appear to be wider-ranging for girls than boys, they said even then the effects remain small.

Transgender Teens in Schools with Bathroom Restrictions are at Higher Risk of Sexual Assault, Study Says
CNN Health: Transgender and gender-nonbinary US teens — those whose sexual identity falls outside the traditional labels of male and female — are at greater risk of sexual assault at schools that deny them access to bathrooms or locker rooms that match their sexual identity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed data from 3,673 adolescents in the LGBTQ Teen Study, an anonymous web-based survey of US kids ages 13 to 17. Just over 1 out of every 4 students in the study, or 25.9%, reported being a victim of sexual assault in the past 12 months. Transgender and gender-nonbinary teens who were subject to restroom or locker room restrictions had an even higher prevalence of sexual assault, at 36%.

Policy

Democrats Advance Bill to Spend Billions More on Schools. Is It Doomed to Fail?
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: A bill to increase the U.S. Department of Education’s budget by more than $4 billion is headed to the floor of the House of Representatives. The bill would provide significant increases for grants aimed at disadvantaged students, after-school programming, and social-emotional learning. The increased funding in the bill would go towards increased support for child care, Head Start (which is part of the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services), and special education. Between K-12 and higher education, the bill would provide $75.9 billion to the Education Department for fiscal 2020. That would be a $4.4 billion increase, or a 6.2 percent hike over current spending.

The Fine Print: Five Important Things to Know about Tennessee’s Final Voucher Legislation
Chalkbeat: The Tennessee education voucher plan is a mashup of House and Senate versions and it also includes input from Gov. Bill Lee’s administration. Once the final bill is signed into law, the state will be charged with building a major new education program that the Republican governor says will give parents more choices beginning in 2021 in three school districts based in Memphis and Nashville. The final legislation authorizes the distribution of education savings accounts, a newer type of voucher that will give eligible families an average of $7,300 in taxpayer money annually to pay for private school tuition or other education-related expenses. See related article: Education Dive “Roundup: Curriculum in State Education Policy.”

Maine Lawmakers Take a Step Closer to Offering Pre-Kindergarten Programs Statewide
Portland Press Herald: A bill that would set Maine on a course to expand pre-kindergarten programs into every school district won unanimous approval from the Legislature’s Education Committee. But lawmakers also agreed to give school districts more time to develop their programs, setting a deadline of the 2023-24 school year rather than the 2020-21 school year proposed in the original bill. Committee members said local educators need the extra time to find the space and staff to provide programs for 4-year-olds.

Around the Nation

Twice Exceptional, Doubly Disadvantaged? How Schools Struggle to Serve Gifted Students with Disabilities
The Hechinger Report: “Twice exceptional” or 2e students — believed to make up at least 6 percent of students nationwide — have high academic aptitude but struggle with ADHD, mild autism, dyslexia or other learning and behavioral challenges. They are notoriously difficult for schools to serve effectively for two reasons. Often, their intelligence masks their disability, so they are never assessed for special education or don’t receive the services best suited for them. In other cases, they’re placed in special education classes tailored to their disability but grade levels behind the school work they’re capable of. See related articles: Education Week “Students With Disabilities Deserve Inclusion. It’s Also the Best Way to Teach”, and ASCD “Low-Income Students and a Special Education Mismatch.”

San Francisco Had an Ambitious Plan to Tackle School Segregation. It Made It Worse.
The New York Times: San Francisco allows parents to apply to any elementary school in the district, having done away with traditional school zoning 18 years ago in an effort to desegregate its classrooms. Give parents more choices, the thinking was, and low-income and working-class students of color would fill more seats at the city’s most coveted schools. But many parents find their children getting into their lowest choices, schools where most students don’t meet standards on state reading and math tests and low percentages of the student body are white. Results like these have soured many on the city’s school enrollment plan, which is known here as “the lottery” and was once considered a national model. See related articles: The Atlantic “The Other Segregation” and Pacific Standard “‘A Huge Shift’: How California is Making Up for 20 Years of English-Only Education.”

In San Jose, One School District Trains Local Family Members, Friends, and Neighbors to Get Young Children Ready for School
New America: A San Jose district is offering trainings for grandmas, aunties, parents, infant and toddler teachers, and other caregivers of young children to build a system of support for children from birth through grade three. The trainings are part of a series of sessions designed by the local school district and partners to help get kids ready for school by helping the adults in children’s lives support their learning and development. Building the capacity of infant and toddler teachers and other caregivers isn’t on the radar of most school districts across the country. This training is geared toward adults who care for children in home settings, many of whom lack easy access to information about child development or resources about best practices in early learning.

This Bronx Pre-K Center Wants Dads to Feel Welcome in the Classroom
Chalkbeat: Every Tuesday, Learning Through Play pre-K center in the South Bronx invites students’ dads to read to their child’s class. It’s just one of the ways that Assistant Principal Anthony Tucker is trying to combat stereotypes while also building his students’ love for books. Tucker has made it part of his mission to welcome fathers into the building. In a world full of PTA moms, Tucker says the fathers in his school community need to be told they’re valued, too. And with a student body that is 100% black and Hispanic, Tucker says his students need to see positive role models who look like them.

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