The Weekly Connect 6/3/19

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 looks at personalized success plans and how Salem, Mass., has been working with City Connects to implement these plans for students.

Sports help adolescents overcome childhood trauma.

States are addressing the needs of youth in foster care.

U.S. children are better off today than they were in 2000.

To read more, click on the following links.

City Connects News

‘Personalized Success Plans’ Are the Next Big Thing
eSchool News: Personalized success plans, essentially maps of in-school and out-of-school efforts that will help all students achieve, are emerging as a viable way to address all of a student’s needs–even if those needs are largely at home. These plans fill a void left by traditional reform efforts, which have focused mostly on academics or in-school aspects and don’t account for students facing gaps in educational achievement, attainment, and opportunity. These plans are also the subject of a new report released by Harvard University’s Education Redesign Lab. The report says that personalized success plans are a promising strategy for supporting children both in and outside of school. The lab also released a toolkit that communities can use to develop and implement Success Plans. Salem, Mass., has been working with Boston-based City Connects and the Education Redesign Lab to develop and implement personalized plans for every pre-K-8 child in the district. See related article: Education Dive “Personalized Success Plans Apply Holistic Roadmap to Students’ Goals.”

Research & Practice

Principals, Teachers Prioritize Social-Emotional Skills for Students
Education Dive: Almost three-fourths of principals say developing students’ social and emotional skills is either their school’s top priority or one of the top goals, according to new results from the American Educator Panels, an ongoing project of the RAND Corp. The survey responses come as advocates for social emotional learning (SEL) in schools are hopeful that they will see additional resources from the federal government for these programs. One promising step: The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations has released a fiscal year 2020 budget proposal that includes $260 million for SEL and “whole-child” approaches. See related article: The Manchester Times “Social/Emotional Learning is in Full Swing at CSES.” 

The Key to Minority Student Achievement Might Be Teacher Training Quality
EdSurge: Districts with better teachers — and distracts that use fewer teachers with temporary or substandard credentials — play a major role in narrowing student achievement gaps across racial and socio-economic lines, according to a new report from the Learning Policy Institute. The report identified what its authors call “positive outlier” districts, where students performed better on standardized tests than their peers of similar racial, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds in other California districts. They found 167 such positive outlier districts where results were better for white and Hispanic students, and 48 districts where African American students performed better than expected. Researchers found that the amount of time teachers spent preparing for their jobs has a strong association with average achievement for all students. See related articles: The Hechinger Report “Inside the Reardon-Hanushek Clash over 50 Years of Achievement Gaps” and Ed Note “Quality, Like Time, Is Important in the Early Years.”

Are Black and Hispanic Students Identified for Special Education Too Often or Not Enough? Maybe It’s Both
Ed Week On Special Education Blog: New research has countered the idea that some minority groups are over-identified for special education. One study recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, looking at a decade’s worth of student records in Florida, shows that overall, Black and Hispanic students are identified for special education at lower rates than White students who are otherwise similar to them. See related articles: Chalkbeat “How School Segregation Affects Whether a Black Student Gets Labeled as Having a Disability” and Ed Week On Special Education Blog “Most Classroom Teachers Feel Unprepared to Support Students With Disabilities.” 

Sports a Win for Those with Childhood Trauma
MedPage Today: Adolescents who experienced adverse events in childhood had better mental health in adulthood if they played sports in their youth, according to a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics. The study used data on adverse childhood experiences and sports participation from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Among individuals with adverse childhood experiences, those who played team sports in middle school and high school had a significantly lower chance of receiving a diagnosis of depression or anxiety as adults, compared to those who did not play sports. See related article: Smart Brief “They Got Game.”

Policy

This Week’s ESSA News: How States View Struggling Schools, Polling Principals on Concerns about the New Law, Tennessee PTA Lands Grant to Empower Parents on School Report Cards & More



The 74 Million: States are now required under the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) to “publish school-level spending data in report cards.” To provide more clarity on this issue, a new infographic from the Data Quality Campaign shows “what it looks like when leaders — from state and local policymakers to principals and community advocates — use school-level spending data in their roles to ensure successful, well-resourced classrooms.” ESSA also provides new information concerning how many schools are tagged as needing improvement/are identified as low performing in some way.

Building Awareness and Policy Supports for Foster Youth Educational Success
Ed Note: As May draws to a close, so does National Foster Care Month. The more than 440,000 youths who are currently in foster care — and the additional alumni — continue to face myriad barriers to educational persistence and attainment across the P-20 spectrum. With increased awareness around this population, states such as New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Maine have made strides in implementing policies that promote better outcomes for these students. In addition, ESSA outlines provisions that encourage more collaborative policy development and implementation that would lower barriers for highly mobile individuals, such as foster youth and students experiencing homelessness.

Texas Leaders Reach Multibillion-Dollar School Finance Deal
Dallas Observer: Texas recently announced that it has reached a deal on school finance reform. The deal includes raises for teachers of approximately $4,000 as well as universal access to full-day pre-kindergarten for low-income students. Texas had only been funding half-day pre-K for qualifying students. School districts had to pay the difference to run full-day programs. Additional funding from the plan will be directed to schools with higher percentages of under-served kids like dropouts and special-education students.

Around the Nation

US Children Better Off Today than in 2000
Education Dive: Since 2000, the high school dropout rate in the U.S. has declined two-thirds, from 10% of 16- to 19-year-olds to 4%, and the largest improvements have been among Hispanic and Black youth, according to Save the Children’s latest Global Childhood Report. But roughly half of 3- and 4-year-olds in the U.S. — 4.2 million children — are not in an early learning program, while the rate of young children in preschool is much higher in other nations. The U.S. comes in 36th out of 176 nations in the report, which ranks countries on eight indicators that include the under-5 mortality rate, stunted growth from malnutrition, and child homicide — where the U.S. rate is 3.4 per 100,000 children, compared to 0.1 for top-ranked Singapore. See related article: The New York Times “How to End the Child-Care Crisis.” 

Too Sick for School? Telehealth Programs Take ‘Guesswork’ Out of Whether a Student Should Go Home
Education Dive: At a time when educators and policymakers are calling for increases in school counselors, psychologists, and social workers, connecting students to these professionals in a virtual setting is one way that the rise of telehealth programs in schools is reducing absenteeism and improving students’ access to healthcare. Schools are partnering with programs, such as Mission Health, to address the needs of students with complex mental health issues, who otherwise would have to make a long trip to an appointment, causing children to miss school and parents to miss work. Telehealth programs allow students to see a provider and still get back to class before the school day ends. Several districts in North Carolina, North Dakota, and Texas have implemented and/or piloted programs that allow students to have virtual access to physicians and other healthcare professionals located hours away.

Ditching Detention for Yoga: Schools Embrace Mindfulness to Curb Discipline Problems
Education Week: In many schools, when kids consistently misbehave, they know to expect some punishment such as after-school detention, a math worksheet, or staying in for recess. At Doull Elementary in Denver, when students misbehave repeatedly, they are assigned to a new after-school activity—yoga. Doull’s version of alternative discipline is part of the school’s embrace of social-emotional learning and is emblematic of the growing trend of K-12 schools to cultivate school environments that are attuned to the social and emotional well-being of children. One way they are doing so is through the use of mindfulness-based interventions in an attempt to tackle the reasons behind the disobedience. See related article: ASCD Education Update “Mindfulness Won’t Save Us. Fixing the System Will.” 

Detroit Public Schools Exploring Van Pilot to Fight Truancy
Education Dive: Inspired by the sight of church vans picking up members who face obstacles getting to church, Detroit Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has asked the school district to purchase vans to pick up students who did not make it to school. The district has approved $200,000 to purchase six vans to use as part of a pilot to test the effectiveness of the idea. The vans will be used as a part of an overall strategy to confront an overwhelming chronic absenteeism issue in the district, where 70% of students are missing at least 10% of the school year.

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