The Weekly Connect 6/10/19

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 survey of parents finds that many children experience cyberbullying.

Kentucky expands school-based physical and mental health services.

Rural California tackles chronic absenteeism.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Study: School Socioeconomics Affect Special Education Placement
Education Dive: A student identified with a disability in one school won’t necessarily have that label in another school, according to a new study published in the journal Society and Mental Health that adds to the discussion on the overrepresentation of students of color in special education programs. Focusing on a sample of almost 379,000 students in a large urban district, researchers found that the demographics of a school, the overall achievement levels of its students, and teacher-student ratios can affect whether a student is identified for special education. Specifically, a low-achieving student in a high-performing school is more likely to be labeled with a disability than if he or she attended a low-performing school. 

Black Students in Charter Schools Are More Likely to Have Black Teachers
Ed Week Teaching Now Blog: Black students in charter schools are more likely to have Black teachers than their peers in traditional public schools. The study examined data from grades 3-5 in North Carolina’s traditional and charter public schools, from 2006-07 through 2012-13. The findings show that traditional public schools and charter schools serve the same proportion of Black students, but charter schools have about 35% more black teachers and Black students in charter schools are more than 50% more likely to have at least one Black teacher than their counterparts in traditional public schools. These findings are important as a growing body of research shows that Black students benefit socially and academically from having Black teachers. See related articles: Education Dive “Charter Schools More Likely to Pair Black Students with Black Teachers” and The Hechinger Report “A Scholar Revives the Argument for Racial Integration in Schools.”

There’s Value but Also Limitations to Students’ Grading Their Own Interpersonal Skills, Study Finds
Ed Source: Researchers who examined data from five large California school districts have concluded that measures of students’ personal strengths and interpersonal skills are not reliable enough at this point to include in states’ and districts’ school accountability systems. In a recent report, the research nonprofit Policy Analysis for California Education, concluded that surveys of students about their habits of mind, like self-control, are useful and can point to schools that are succeeding in developing individual and interpersonal skills. But the study said that scores vary too much from year to year within schools and grades to be included with more traditional measures — such as standardized test scores and graduation rates ­— that are included on statewide grading systems like the California School Dashboard.

Bias Starts as Early as Preschool, but Can Be Unlearned
Edutopia: Using an implicit bias test commonly given to adults, researchers found that children rated images of Black boys less favorably than images of White boys and girls, with images of Black girls falling in the middle, according to a recent Northwestern University study. The majority of children in the study—both Black and White—had a “strong and consistent pro-White bias.” These findings show that children begin to show bias from an early age. In recognition of this research, it’s valuable for educators to be mindful and to implement strategies in their classrooms that recognize young children’s social biases by, for example, determining how to address situations when bias is occurring and by being mindful of the social environment they are nurturing. See related article: The Daily Progress “Culturally Responsive Teaching Certification on the Rise.”

One-Fifth of Children Experience Cyberbullying, According to Their Parents
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: While many students still experience bullying in physical locations, almost 20 percent of children—some as young as 6-10—report being cyberbullied via social media sites and apps, according to a new study. These results come from a survey of over 1,000 parents conducted by Comparitech, a website that reviews products. Among the results, 47.7 percent of 6-10 year-olds and over half of those over age 11 have experienced bullying in one form or another. Slightly more than 82.8 percent of the bullying occurs at school; the second most common location is the school bus, with 32.5 percent of parents reporting their children’s harassment there. Parents reported that cyberbullying occurs most frequently on Instagram, followed by Facebook, and Snapchat.

A Lot of iPads, Little Research: Inside the Movement to Build the Classroom of the Future
Chalkbeat: Personalized learning harnesses technology to provide tailored lessons and hands the nitty-gritty of instruction over to computers. Teachers say that lightens the load of lesson planning and allows more time for them to work with small groups to reinforce learning. As personalized learning has spread nationwide, philanthropic grants and enthusiastic district officials have turned Chicago into its epicenter. Many teachers also welcome the approach as a needed change in the classroom. But critics assail the program’s still unproven worth. There is little solid academic research on its effectiveness. And some parents and educators oppose computer-centric education and the way low-income schools often become the testing places for new ed tech ideas.

Policy

Report: K-12 Spending Still Reeling from ‘Lost Decade’ of Economic Growth
Education Dive: Seven years after the end of the Great Recession, states are still spending less per student in K-12 schools, and in nine states, per-pupil funding was down 10% in 2016 compared to 2008, according to a new Pew Charitable Trusts’ report focusing on the “lost decade” in state economic growth. Confirming other reports showing ongoing effects of the recession, this report shows that in more than 20 states education spending remains lower than it was before the recession. In total, states “missed out on an estimated $283 billion” in tax revenue from 2008-2018, according to the report, which also looks at the effects on state infrastructure, aid to local governments, the state workforce, reserve funds, pension liabilities, and higher education. See related article “K-12 Funding Still Lagging in Many States.”

More Small Districts Breaking Away from Larger Systems
District Administration: An increasing number of communities across the country are deciding to leave larger school systems, says Zahava Stadler, director of policy at EdBuild, a nonprofit that advocates for fairness in state education funding. Some 73 district secessions—out of 120 attempts—have occurred since 2000, and 10 of those have taken place over the past two years, according to the 2019 update to EdBuild’s “Fractured” report. Another 17 district secession attempts are ongoing as of May 2019. Most of the successful seceding communities have higher median incomes, higher property values and lower student poverty rates; serve fewer nonwhite students; and have higher local tax rates for school districts compared to the districts that have been left behind. See related article: Education Dive “10 Districts Seceded From Larger Ones During Past 2 Years.”

Boston Massively Expanded Its Charter Sector — Without Sacrificing School Quality. New Research Sheds Light on How Education Reforms Can Remain Effective While Applied at Scale
The 74 Million: How do you bring success to scale? It’s a question that has tormented education experts — and, really, anyone designing public policy — for years. But new research offers evidence that ambitious new policies can remain effective while applied at scale. A working paper, recently released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, finds that charter schools in Boston kept hitting high marks even after replicating their model several times over. The city’s charter sector, ranked among the best for systems across the country, saw no decline in its results. See related article: The 74 Million “Research Shows That Charters Do Best for California’s Low-Income and Minority Students. Now Lawmakers There Want to Slow Their Expansion.”

House Unanimously Passes Bill on Bullying and School Climate
The CT Mirror: The Connecticut House of Representatives recently voted unanimously in favor of a bill that would help prevent bullying in schools. The “Act Concerning School Climates” would establish a school climate collaborative to ensure that local districts have access to best practices in social-emotional learning. The bill also modifies the definition of bullying to include acts that are pervasive and persistent, as well as single acts that are severe.

Kentucky to Expand School-Based Healthcare Services for Children — Including Mental Health
Northern Kentucky Tribune: Gov. Matt Bevin announced that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), will seek an amendment to Kentucky’s Medicaid state plan to provide greater healthcare access to students in schools across the Commonwealth by allowing for the payment of qualifying physical and mental health services. The proposed amendment allows Kentucky school districts to utilize federal Medicaid funding to provide students who are enrolled in Medicaid with increased access to school-based healthcare, including mental health services, health screenings, diabetes, and asthma management. Currently, only students enrolled in Medicaid with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) qualify to receive these services. See related article: Public News Service “Kentucky’s Child Care Centers Get Leg Up from Federal Investment.”

Around the Nation

Transforming Schools Through Whole-Child, Hands-On, Community-Based Education
Ed Week Next Gen Learning in Action Blog: Brad Kramer, recent recipient of the Heart of the School award and the principal at Patterson Park Public Charter School in Baltimore, discusses how he has worked throughout his career to create a school environment where learning is thematic, culturally relevant, and grounded in the world around us. His school has a whole-child approach founded on four tenants, including helping children find their voices and helping students become stewards of the future. Kramer also reflects on some lessons that help guide a whole child approach, including listening to and involving school communities and making learning real through partnerships. See related article: North Jersey “SEL: Focusing on Educating the Whole Child.” 

Lost Days: Inside One Rural California District’s Effort to Combat Chronic Absenteeism
Ed Source: Among the 98 districts in California with chronic absenteeism rates above 20 percent, which the California Department of Education classifies as “very high,” 84 were in rural areas, an EdSource analysis of state data found. Paradise Unified, a school district in Northern California’s rural Butte County, embraces a “trauma-informed approach” to chronic absenteeism, meaning they put students’ behavior and performance in the context of their home lives and the trauma they’ve experienced. In practice, this means that educators in the district have turned away from school policies that took a punitive approach to student discipline and truancy, which could exacerbate the problem and give students the impression they weren’t wanted. See related article: The Spokesman Review Welcome to the Modern High School: Professionals Take on Spike in Teen Challenges.”

You Don’t Have to Go to Kindergarten in Indiana. But Educators Say It ‘Levels the Playing Field’
Chalkbeat: Children in Indiana don’t have to go to kindergarten, but it appears from school enrollment data that practically all of them do. With a new focus on preschool, and an emphasis on meeting higher standards in later grades, educators say kindergarten is becoming more rigorous — and a more critical building block for everything students will learn in years to come. It’s only been in recent years that the state has placed more value on this early childhood experience, making full-day kindergarten available for free to all Indiana families in 2012. Still, while most states require children to attend school at age 5 or 6, Indiana and a dozen other states wait until age 7. See related article: The Hechinger Report “This Playful Pre-K is No Longer Sole Purview of the Elite.”

Tennessee’s Rural Schools Overlooked Amid Urban Focus, Says Equity Group
Chalkbeat: For almost a decade, Tennessee has focused its school improvement work on its big cities where large numbers of students are of color, live in extreme poverty, and have disabilities. But a new report by Tennessee’s Educational Equity Coalition says rural schools also face significant challenges in providing an equitable education to a third of the state’s students. High poverty rates, lower median household income, opioid addiction, and limited access to technology and healthcare are among the issues in rural Tennessee, where fewer people are likely to attend college and more are likely to receive food stamps than their urban counterparts, according to economic research. See related articles: The 74 Million “When it Comes to School Quality in Your City, From New York to Dallas to Anchorage, Mind the Performance Gap” and Education Week “Big Disconnect Between How Much Money K-12 Gets and How Fairly It’s Spent.”

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