The Weekly Connect 5/20/19

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:

A new study finds that the benefits of preschool cross generations.

Colorado legislators invest in more mental health care for children.

A school-based legal clinic addresses the needs of Los Angeles’ immigrant families.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Like Father, Like Son: Preschool Benefits Cross Generations, Says Landmark Study
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: The effects of the small, highly intensive Perry Preschool program continue to ripple out, not just for the original students but for their own children, too. Students who attended the Ypsilanti, Michigan, preschool between 1962 and 1967 are now in their mid-50s, and they continue to be healthier, more socially adept, and earn higher incomes than their peers who did not attend the program, according to two new studies (see here and here). Moreover, University of Chicago researchers find the several hundred children born to those students—and particularly the boys—also grew up to have higher education and employment, and lower rates of discipline in school or criminal behavior out of school. See related articles: The Hechinger Report “Sending Your Boy to Preschool is Great for Your Grandson, New Research Shows” and Chalkbeat “Preschool has Enduring Benefits for Disadvantaged Children – and Their Children, New Research Finds. 

The “Rigor Gap” Affects English Language Learners, New Study Finds
New America: A recent study published in The Education Forum finds that teachers don’t think English Language Learners (ELs) can handle activities that demand critical thinking. Researchers at Hofstra University and St. Johns University asked 87 teachers from two large city schools to judge whether classroom activities that require critical thinking were suitable for ELs. These teachers deemed activities high in critical thinking to be less appropriate for ELs than activities that require low levels of critical thinking. See related articles: Education Week “Overlooked: How Teacher Training Falls Short for English-Learners and Students With IEPs” and Ed Week Learning the Language Blog “As More States Adopt Bilingualism Seal, Equity Concerns Arise.” 

Qualifications’ Impact on Learning Environments
New America: A recent meta-analysis published in the American Education Research Association journal synthesized the abundance of research examining the relationship between teachers’ academic backgrounds and the quality of the early learning environments they create. Forty-five studies were selected, each conducted in a child care center between 1980-2015, and each comparing educators with varying educational attainment. The study found that teachers’ educational attainment has a weak but significant positive effect on the quality of their early education classrooms. See related articles: Ed Week Inside School Research BlogTeachers Shape Students’ Motivation. Where Do They Learn How to Do It? and Education Dive “Report: Teacher Qualifications Best Predictor of Student Success.”

D.C. Voucher Students Don’t See Test Score Gains, But Are Less Likely to be Frequently Absent, Latest Research Shows
Chalkbeat: D.C. students who used a voucher to attend a private school did not have higher or lower test scores three years later. But those students were less likely to be frequently absent, and reported feeling safer and more satisfied than their peers who didn’t win a voucher. That’s according to a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Education’s research arm — the latest addition to a complicated debate about whether private school choice programs help students. See related article: Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog “Study of D.C. Vouchers Finds No Effect on Test Scores, but More-Satisfied Students.” 

Study: School Segregation Persists 65 Years after Brown Decision
Education Dive: A new report from The Civil Rights Project states that racial segregation persists even after decades of effort to resolve the issue, continuing to threaten progress and erode the cohesiveness of the nation. Among its findings, the report details the changing nature of suburbs and the fact that segregation has intensified despite greater diversity. The study notes that the share of “intensely segregated minority schools” — those enrolling 90% or more students of color — has more than tripled since 1988 and correlates these findings to rulings in the 1990s that led to the end of integration orders and plans. See related article: Inside Higher Ed “Born to Win, Schooled to Lose.” 

Students Who Are Bullied Use More Pain Medication, Raising Concerns of Future Drug Use
The Philadelphia Inquirer: New research published in the journal Acta Paediatrica found that students who are bullied are twice as likely to use pain medication for issues like headaches, backaches, and stomachaches, even when controlling for the amount of pain they feel. The study used survey data from over 10,000 sixth, eighth, and tenth graders in Iceland. The students reported on their experiences being bullied, frequency of somatic symptoms (e.g., headaches and stomachaches), and how frequently they used pain medicine (e.g., Tylenol or Advil). See related article: New America “New Study Highlights How Divisive Political Rhetoric Can Seep Into America’s Schools, Prompting Heightened Bullying.”

Policy

State Lawmakers Say Historic Mental Health Legislation Puts Children First
CBS Denver: In the wake of the recent school shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, calls are growing for more mental health care for children. Some of that help is already underway after an historic year for mental health legislation at the state Capitol. State lawmakers passed more than a dozen bills and allocated nearly $30 million to improve mental health care in Colorado this session, especially mental health care for kids. Lawmakers also passed a bill this session that creates a state office focused on child behavioral health. See related article: WKYT “$9M Grant Will Target Mental Health in Kentucky Schools.” 

How Are States Paying for New School Safety Measures
Ed Note: Legislatively, policymakers in 47 states have introduced at least 376 bills related to school safety so far in 2019. A slew of approaches have emerged, with major themes revolving around increased school safety drills, hiring and training school safety officers, and providing for additional school facility upgrades and risk assessments. This wave of new state mandates for school security and emergency preparedness could increase costs. So, from establishing designated funds specifically for school safety matters to creating new sources of revenue, states are beginning to experiment with how to pay for the legislation that has been passed.

Around the Nation

School-Based Legal Clinic Addresses Needs of Los Angeles Immigrant Families
Education Dive: The Immigrant Family Legal Clinic at RFK Community Schools is a partnership between the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The legal clinic aligns with two key pillars of the community school model — integrated student supports and family and community partnerships. Just as community schools might have on-site health clinics, after-school programs or food banks, the legal clinic makes services available on the school site to remove obstacles students and families might face in seeking assistance. Even the placement of the office — next to the school’s welcome center — is intended to communicate a sense of trust and safety. See related article: Education Dive “Johns Hopkins University Launches School Safety Center for Improved Training, Research.”

Kids in Maryland’s Poorest County Are Among the State’s Most Prepared for Kindergarten. Here’s Why.
WAMU: Maryland’s sparsely populated Somerset County is the state’s poorest. Household income in 2014 was $36,106 according to the U.S. Census, less than half that of the state’s wealthiest counties in. But on Maryland’s 2018 kindergarten readiness assessment, Somerset County ranked third among all counties in the state with 60 percent of children ready for kindergarten, a jump from four years prior, when only 47 percent were ready. Somerset school officials say the reason for this performance is simple: The county offers universal, full-day pre-K to all 4-year-olds. See related article: Education Dive “Pre-to-3: New Certification Recognizes Strong Early-Childhood STEM Programs.” 

SFUSD Program Intervenes Early to Keep Kids Out of Special Ed for Behavior
KALW: A new, intensive San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) program in the city’s Bayview district helps kids aged three-and-a-half to five regulate and understand their emotions. The program is small, but it’s designed to address an outsized problem: Across the country, Black students are steered into special education for behavior problems at disproportionately high rates. Shoestrings Children’s Center uses the SFUSD program to address children’s underlying issues before they receive an “emotional disturbance” disability designation. Every activity that happens during this 10-week program is intentional, designed to help these little ones learn to control their bodies and emotions. See related article: The Guardian “Everyone Welcome: Inside the Schools That Haven’t Expelled a Child Since 2013.” 

The All-Black and Latino School Where Every Kid Can Code
EdSurge: Computer science-focused schools are not so rare anymore. Neither are those that mention “innovation” and “21st century skills” in their mission statements. But the Digital Pioneers Academy, located in Washington, D.C., does those things while serving a student population that is 100 percent Black and Latino—two underrepresented demographics in computer science education and the workforce. The computer science curriculum is doing more than teaching underserved middle school students how to code. It’s also boosting their confidence and empowering them to think big about their futures.

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