The Weekly Connect 5/27/19

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:

Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted visits a City Connects program in Dayton.

Educators and policymakers should pay more attention to how toxic stress affects students. 

Across the country, governors have called for investing nearly $3 billion in early childhood education.

States and school districts are helping increasing numbers of homeless students.

To read more, click on the following links.

City Connects News

Ohio’s lieutenant governor visits a City Connects program – and calls on his state to invest in students’ success
City Connects Blog: It’s budget season in Ohio, and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted and other state officials, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria, visited Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton to see City Connects in action. Husted is encouraging his state to increase its investment in students’ success. “We believe that this is a replicable model that can be used in public schools and other schools across the state,” Husted tells WHIO Television. “And we want the new money that’s being put into the budget to serve these students to go to programs like this.”

Research & Practice

Report: The Effect Chronic Stress Has on Children at School – And Why Policymakers Should Care
The Washington Post: In a new report co-published by the Economic Policy Institute and the Opportunity Institute, the authors argue that educators and policymakers should pay greater attention to how “toxic stress” — a physiological reaction to frightening and threatening experiences — contributes to the achievement gap. A normal stress response triggers the release of hormones that can affect almost every organ in the body. When events are of lesser severity, they induce “tolerable stress.” But when frightening or threatening situations occur too frequently, or when they are not mitigated by sufficient protective factors, the hormonal response can become dysregulated and toxic. When a stress response becomes toxic, it can result in decreased performance as well as greater rates of vital infections and obesity.

Families Play an Important Role in Social-Emotional Learning at School
Ed Week Market Brief Blog: Social-emotional learning has huge benefits for students. Not only can it help with grades and test scores, but it also teaches students the skills they need to live a healthy and productive life — like regulating emotions, building resilience to stress and challenges, making responsible decisions, and collaborating with others. Social-emotional learning shouldn’t stop when the final bell rings. It is critical that parents get involved in social-emotional practices so that students can apply these concepts to life outside the classroom. Strategies for engaging families include maintaining open communication with parents, generating take-home resources, and celebrating family success. 

Snooze but Don’t Lose: Study Confirms Benefits of Later School Start Times
Education Dive: Adjusting school start times so high-schoolers are the last to begin their day and elementary school students are the first would significantly increase academic achievement for adolescents, according to the latest study pointing to the learning gains related to letting teens get more sleep in the morning. The study, published in Education Next, focuses on a sample of students between the ages of 8 and 15 who moved between the Eastern and Central time zones in the Florida Panhandle, where sunrise times differ but school start times are relatively the same. The study finds adolescents’ math scores and reading scores increased when they started school an hour later.

Wealthy Students Disproportionately Receive Extra Time on Standardized Tests
Axios: Students in affluent school districts are more likely to be given special accommodations for extra time on tests like the SAT and ACT, according to an analysis from the Wall Street Journal. Federal data shows that at affluent public schools where no more than 10% of students are eligible for free or reduced-cost school lunches, 4.2% of students have been granted time extensions for test taking known as “504” designations — meant to level the playing field for students with anxiety or ADHD. At schools where 75% or more of the students are eligible for subsidized lunches, only 1.6% have 504 designations. 


How Many Schools Are Low-Performing Under ESSA? Here Are Some Answers
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: Much of the federal education law deals with schools struggling to meet expectations. And the Every Student Succeeds Act era brought about new information concerning just how many of them are being tagged as needing improvement. But the answers vary significantly by state. A new report from the Center on Education Policy takes a state-by-state look at the number of schools that have been identified as needing comprehensive support and improvement, targeted support and improvement, or additional targeted support and improvement, ESSA’s three school improvement categories. States identified as having the highest percentage of schools needing comprehensive support and improvement were Louisiana, Nevada, Alaska, Florida, and Washington. See related article: The 74 Million “This Week’s ESSA News: Congress Looks to Prioritize Whole-Child Supports, Democrats Aim to Boost Federal School Spending, Integrated Student Supports & More.” 

Governors Propose Nearly $3 Billion of Investments in Early Learning Programs
Center for American Progress: In 2018, a commitment to improving child care and other early childhood programs helped many gubernatorial candidates win elections. With significant majorities of Republican, Democratic, and independent voters supporting increased funding for early learning, it’s no wonder that early childhood was a winning issue. Now, those campaign promises are turning into action as governors unveil their budget proposals. A Center for American Progress analysis of the latest budget proposals of governors from 49 states—as well as the mayor of Washington, D.C.—reveals that the nation’s governors have proposed a combined $2.9 billion in new state funding for child care, preschool, and home visiting programs. See related articles: The Hechinger Report “How Cities Are Convincing Voters to Pay Higher Taxes for Public Preschool” and The Tampa Bay Times “Gov. Ron DeSantis: Too Many Florida Kids Not Ready for Kindergarten.”

Transgender Students, Athletics, Bullying: What the Equality Act Would Mean for Schools
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Equality Act, greenlighting a bill that would amend Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add explicit federal protections for gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation to existing federal civil rights laws alongside similar protections based on race and national origin. If it becomes law, the bill could have broad effects for public schools, touching on everything from the treatment of transgender students and bullying prevention to the rights of employees. The bill passed the House 236-173. See related article: KQED News “Study: Public Schools Haven’t Fully Implemented California Laws Protecting LGBTQ Students. 

New Mexico Awards Funding to Schools to Extend Learning Time
AP News: More than 101,000 public school students in New Mexico will gain access to a variety of extended learning opportunities beyond the traditional school year starting this summer. Reforms approved and recently signed by first-year Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham provided up to $181 million in annual spending for two programs. One program is a flexible 10-day addition of learning time to the school year at any grade level. The second program is a proven model for lengthening the elementary school year by five weeks.

Around the Nation

Hidden No More: How States and Districts Are Helping K-12 Homeless Students
Ed Note: States and districts are finding avenues to assist homeless students, a population that struggles to be seen and whose numbers continue to rise in many states. State educational agencies reported that 1.3 million homeless students were enrolled in public schools during the 2016-17 school year. This is a 7 percent increase from the 2014-15 school year. During 2016-17, the states with the highest student populations have also experienced the highest increases in enrolled homeless students — including California, New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois.

75% of US School Districts Report Student Meal Debt. Here’s What They’re Doing to Combat the Problem
CNN: Three-fourths of school districts across the nation reported having unpaid student meal debt at the end of the 2016-17 school year, meaning students and their families were unable to pay the students’ lunch bills. Some states, including New Mexico, California, Oregon and Iowa, have passed laws prohibiting schools from singling out students and “shaming” them for having unpaid charges. Examples of how some schools combat rising unpaid meal debt include making the payment process more transparent by improving online payment and account balance monitoring systems, ramping up efforts to encourage families to complete free and reduced-price applications, and turning to crowdfunding and private donations. See related articles: AP News “Oregon OKs Largest Expansion of Federal Free Lunch Program” and Patch “New Grocery-Like Pantry To Help With Sunset Park Food Insecurity.”

How Might We Foster More Engaging Student-Learning Opportunities? Industry Partnerships
Ed Week Next Gen Learning in Action Blog: One of the most impactful strategies that an education leader can use to advance the success of their students and school communities is to foster strong relationships with businesses and nonprofits that go far beyond a simple exchange of resources. Deep connections to local industry expertise not only provides invaluable mentoring and student-engagement opportunities but also greatly expands the capacity to give students the skills they will need for future success. One example of this is a longstanding partnership between St. Vrain Valley schools in Colorado and IBM, which resulted in the Innovation Academy for a Smarter Planet, a summer learning program that builds a foundation of critical thinking through inquiry-based learning. See related article: New America “Growing Our Own on Hawaii’s Wai‘anae Coast.” 

Connecticut Students with ‘Emotional Disturbances’ Face High Rate of Suspensions
Connecticut Public Radio: An analysis of state data by Connecticut Public Radio shows that students with emotional disturbances are four times more likely to be thrown out of class than the average student. During the 2017-18 school year, roughly one-third of these students were suspended or expelled — more than any other disability by a wide margin. Additionally, Black students get the “emotional disturbance” label at a rate twice as high as all other racial and ethnic groups combined, and these students face potentially life-long consequences that include higher dropout rates and a lower likelihood of post-secondary education. See related article: The 74 Million “A Children’s Shelter in Northwest Arkansas Has a Plan to Help Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma: Launch a New School Built Just for Them.

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