The Weekly Connect 6/17/19

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:

State leaders in Ohio see City Connects as a model that could be expanded.

A simple change to address absenteeism.

Holding parents accountable for their children’s bullying.

In the United States, 3 million students do not have Internet service at home.

To read more, click on the following links.

City Connects News

What Health Care Can Teach Educators about the Difference between ‘Equal’ and ‘Equitable’
The Hechinger Report: Equal treatment — giving the exact same service to everyone — isn’t the same thing as equitable treatment, which is providing what each child needs to meet a particular goal. Equal treatment will not enable us to reach the nation’s professed objective of educating all children for success. The evidence of system failure is overwhelming: compared to those who are more affluent, students living in poverty underperform on every measure of achievement at all stages of development. Equitable strategies can address this by creating a personalized system that captures children’s in-school and out-of-school strengths, interests, and needs. City Connects is making progress on this work in a number of states by using a model of integrated student support and partnering with school districts and community agencies in to develop individualized plans for children who are typically in grades K-8.

Ohio Legislators Consider Funding Programs to Support Students Outside Academic Environment
Dayton Business Journal: To help students to achieve the best possible academic outcomes, an increasing number of educators and government officials are looking at those things outside the classroom that add up to success — or failure — for students when it comes to getting the most from their education. One way that Ohio educators and government officials are working to ensure that students can overcome life challenges so that they can succeed is by learning more about the City Connects program, which is being implemented in Chaminade Julienne (CJ), a Catholic high school in Dayton. City Connects is a national student services model that CJ has been using for almost a decade. Now, state legislators are considering similar services for many Ohio schools. State leaders are proposing a $550 million investment to provide wraparound services for students who need more than academic instruction to succeed.

Research & Practice

Absenteeism Costs Schools Money. A Simple Change Can Reduce It.
Governing: The issue of truancy plagues schools across the country. About 14 percent of all students were chronically absent in the 2013-14 school year, according to Education Department data released last year. But a simple change can increase attendance: a well-crafted notification letter. When kids are absent, schools are required by state law to notify parents. But in California, for example, the notification letter was weighed down with legal language and warnings about the consequences of truancy. Tweaking the letter’s tone and look has helped reduce chronic absenteeism in San Mateo County — as well as in Chicago, Ill., and Philadelphia, Penn. Changes in notification letters include language that’s easier to understand, information about how many days a child has missed, and a comparison of a child’s absences to other chronically absent students. See related articles: Edutopia “A Two-Step Process for Reducing Chronic Absenteeism” and Chalkbeat “Early Data Show Attendance Gains in Newark, Amid District Push to Combat Absenteeism.”

How Does Summer Learning Really Affect Students’ Academic Achievement?
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: Differences in summer enrichment between poor and wealthy students may not contribute much to long-term achievement gaps, according to a recent analysis by Education Next. The idea that learning gaps between high and low socioeconomic schools widened each summer originated in a landmark 1982 study that tracked over 800 Baltimore students from Kindergarten-8th grade. This study found reading achievement gaps between high- and low-poverty schools widened each summer. However, researchers have had a difficult time replicating those findings. More recent studies have shown that the gap in reading performance seen at the start of kindergarten stayed fairly consistent throughout early elementary grades.

As Limits on Preschool Expulsions Grow, Report Shows Implementation Challenges
Education Dive: Last year, an Illinois law went into effect requiring state-funded and licensed early childhood education programs to make every effort to avoid expelling a child. However, ensuring that school and preschool center administrators are aware of the law and understand its requirements will require ongoing communication efforts and monitoring, according to a new report from the Social-Emotional Teaching and Learning Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The report provides a window into the challenges of implementing such a law, as several states across the country are passing legislation to limit expulsion of young children. See related articles: Education Week “The Harsh Discipline of No-Excuses Charter Schools: Is It Worth the Promise?” and EdSource “Rural California School District With High Suspension Rates Under State Investigation.” 

Is the Nation’s Rising Graduation Rate Real?
Education Week: Millions of high school seniors are claiming their diplomas, but that spring ritual is clouded by a persistent debate: Are the nation’s record-setting graduation rates inflated by quick-fix practices or are they real? A group of researchers and advocates has produced a new report that supports the claim that the nation’s graduation rate really is rising. The report cites a new approach that offers a counterpoint to the argument that graduation rates have been driven up artificially when schools push struggling students into alternative programs, or when schools bolster completion data by enrolling students in catch-up courses, or when states and districts erroneously—or deliberately—misclassify students. The report features a new index that’s designed to check whether states’ rising high school graduation rates are backed up by rising student achievement. See related article: Education Dive “Grad Nation: US Won’t Meet 90% Graduation Goal by 2020.” 

Schools Reckon with Social Stress: ‘I’m On My Phone So Much’
AP News: A growing number of teachers, parents, medical professionals, and researchers are convinced that smartphones are now playing a major role in accelerating student anxiety — a trend so pervasive that a National Education Association newsletter labelled anxiety a “mental health tsunami.” Testing, extracurricular-packed schedules, and perpetual stressors like poverty can all weigh on students. But research now points to smartphone-driven social media as one of the biggest drivers of stress. After all, that’s where college acceptance letters fill Instagram, everyone knows where everyone else is going for spring break, and athletic failures and awkward social moments can live forever. See related article: Science News for Students “New Risk from Too Much Screentime.”


Student Outcomes: Does More Money Really Matter
Education Week: For several decades many politicians have asserted that more money will not improve academic outcomes for students, arguing that schools are getting twice as much in combined local, state, and federal funding today than they were getting 30 years ago, and yet outcomes are still lagging. Now a growing number of researchers are pushing back against what they see as a simplistic, reductionist view of the role that spending plays in school quality and student performance. More money does, in fact, make a difference, they say—provided that you spend enough, and in the right manner. They point to research conducted in the past five years that provides examples of instances where politicians and taxpayers invested more money in teacher salaries, school construction, and schools with high populations of low-income students and saw students’ test scores jump.

Ed Dept’s ‘Blanket Approval’ of ESSA Plans Signals Shift in Federal-State Relationships
Education Dive: Even when state education agencies ignored or went against feedback from the U.S. Department of Education in their plans to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), their plans were still approved, according to a new paper in Educational Researcher that explores shifting “power dynamics” between the department and the states. Most feedback focused on states’ accountability plans and the methods they would use to identify schools that need improvement. But the blanket approval of all plans, even those plans that remained in conflict with parts of the law, suggests the federal government has decided not to act for now.

To Stop Bullying, a City May Punish Parents
Education Week: A Wisconsin city is considering an ordinance that would impose fines on the parents of young bullies after a viral social media post showed handwritten notes that students sent to a middle school girl urging her to kill herself. The Legislative Committee in Wisconsin Rapids voted unanimously to move an anti-bullying ordinance to be considered by the Common Council. The draft ordinance prohibits bullying, harassment, and retaliation against anyone who reports such incidents. The measure would also hold parents and guardians responsible for the bullying behavior of children younger than 18 years old. Penalties for a first fineable offense would be $50, with additional costs bringing the total to $313.

Around the Nation

With Growing Calls for More Mental Health Services, States Tackle School Counselor Caseloads
Education Dive: “Bare bones” and “random acts of guidance” is how Kathy Pelzer described counseling services in the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) in California when she was hired in 2014. At that time her caseload at Capistrano Valley High School was over 2,300 students until the district hired 30 counselors. The decision by CUSD and other districts across California to hire more counselors has reduced average counselor-to-student ratios statewide from some of the highest in the country, at more than 1,000-to-1 in 2010-11, to 663-to-1. This is still much higher than the American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA) recommended 250-to-1 standard, but a significant reduction nonetheless. Many other states have followed suit, partly as a response to the national conversation on school safety. See related articles: Wood TV “State Funds Mental Health Specialists in Schools” and “Here’s the No. 1 Concern that Tennessee’s New Education Chief Heard During Her Statewide Listening Tour.” 

3 Million US Students Don’t Have Home Internet
AP News: In what has become known as the homework gap, an estimated 17% of U.S. students do not have access to computers at home, and 18% do not have home access to broadband internet, according to an Associated Press analysis of census data. The consequences can be dire for children in these situations, because students with home internet consistently score higher in reading, math, and science. The homework gap in many ways mirrors broader educational barriers for poor and minority students. Students without internet at home are more likely to be students of color, from low-income families or in households with lower levels of parental education.

How Schools, Districts, and Communities Are Joining Forces to Bolster Early Learning
Ed Week District Dossier Blog: A common complaint in the early childhood field is that several different entities exist to support young children and their families, but those organizations often don’t work together. This, however, is changing. In a number of communities across the country, schools, districts, and early-childhood providers have come together to dismantle those organizational silos. Cambridge, Mass., for example, has established a birth-to-3rd grade partnership that includes representatives from the 7,000-student Cambridge district, as well as early-childhood and community-health providers. This partnership includes home visiting and play-and-learn groups for infants, toddlers, and their parents and providing coaching in early literacy, math, and science for the district’s prekindergarten and early-elementary teachers. See related article: The Baltimore Sun “How a Nonprofit Turned Baltimore County School Storage Rooms into a Free General Store for Students In Need.”

Career Exploration Is Made Possible with Community Partnerships
Education Dive: California’s Chula Vista Elementary School District has formed partnerships with its local public library and other local businesses and organizations to offer more career exploration opportunities to students at a younger age through an “Innovation Station.” The 6th-graders who visit the Innovation Station take an assessment that helps them identify their strengths, interests, and values. They are then matched with opportunities to explore careers that align with these strengths and participate in related hands-on activities.

Social-Emotional Learning Plays Key Role in Trauma Recovery, Tragedy Prevention
Education Dive: As schools deal with the long-term effects trauma has on students, administrators are seeking ways to give students a safe environment in which to grow, learn, and make their own decisions. Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, N.J., employs three strategies to help students cope with tragic events: exercise, staff mentors, and older student mentors. See related article: Education Dive “Arts a Vehicle for Teaching SEL Skills.”

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Author: City Connects

City Connects is an innovative school-based system that revitalizes student support in schools. City Connects collaborates with teachers to identify the strengths and needs of every child. We then create a uniquely tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services located in the community designed to help each student learn and thrive.

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