The Weekly Connect 9/16/19

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:

Success Plans in City Connects schools.

Children’s learning lags as the planet warms.

Schools consider adverse childhood experiences as they decide on discipline.

A student implements restorative justice in a Colorado school.

To read more, click on the following links.

City Connects News

What’s the Plan? What if Every Student Had Their Own Education Plan?
Harvard Ed. Magazine: The Harvard Education Redesign Lab is helping schools to create individualized support plans for each student through an initiative called “By All Means.” Each student in participating schools has a Success Plan that takes into account the barriers that students are facing as well as their strengths. Mary Walsh, the Executive Director of City Connects and a professor at Boston College emphasizes the importance of this approach, explaining “Often, schools say, ‘we’ll give help to the kids who are posing the biggest challenges.’ But what about the rest of the students? The quiet student who can’t see the board? We could have made a big difference for that child if we had discovered this earlier.”

Vikings and TOMS Donate Shoes to St. Paul School
CBS Minnesota: The Minnesota Vikings and TOMS Shoes recently visited a City Connects school in St. Paul, Minnesota, to give new shoes and eyeglasses to hundreds of students for the start of the school year. 

Research & Practice

Parents Say They Want More School Data. Teachers Say They Need More Time to Use it
Ed Week Politics K-12 Blog: A new poll finds parents value more granular education data, and that most support schools sharing student-level academic data with other organizations that work with children, such as tutoring groups and other public agencies. The results of the poll—conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the Data Quality Campaign, a national advocacy organization—come as schools are reporting data about new factors, like chronic absenteeism, under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The organization has called on states to make that data more accessible to the public. More than 80 percent of parents responding to the poll said they “are interested in having access to information about how their child’s school educates kids like theirs (e.g., same gender, race, or special education status).”

MPLS Program Tackles Housing Instability among Public School Students
Minnesota Daily: An initiative aimed at promoting housing stability among Minneapolis Public Schools students entered its first full academic year as classes recently started. The Stable Homes Stable Schools program assists families with children enrolled at one of 15 Minneapolis schools with paying rent and maintaining stable housing. The program, slated to receive more than $3 million in Mayor Jacob Frey’s recently proposed budget, is partnering with University of Minnesota researchers to measure its impact and effectiveness among students and their families. See related article: EdSource “Homeless California Families Get Help Finding Child Care.”

The Hotter the Planet Grows, the Less Children are Learning
PBS NewsHour: There have been several media and anecdotal reports about teachers noticing students having a harder time focusing in the classroom when the weather was hotter. R. Jinsung Park, an environmental and labor economist at UCLA, conducted a study of 10 million American students to investigate this phenomenon and found that extreme heat does lower a child’s ability to learn, as hotter school days reduce standardized test scores. Based on the analysis, every 1-degree-Fahrenheit increase in average outdoor temperature over a school year reduces student learning by 1 percent. The research will be published in the American Economic Journal. An early version of the study can be found here.

Positive Childhood Experiences May Buffer Against Health Effects of Adverse Ones
National Public Radio: Plenty of research shows that adverse childhood experiences can lead to depression and other health problems later in life. But researcher Christina Bethell, professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University, wondered whether positive experiences in childhood could counter that. Her study, out recently in JAMA Pediatrics, found that positive relationships in childhood may have lasting effects on people’s mental health into adulthood, even when those individuals had multiple negative childhood experiences. See related article: Cadillac News “Breaking Down Barriers.”

U.S. Students and Teachers Top Global Peers for Time Spent in School in OECD Study
Ed Week Inside School Research Blog: U.S. students and teachers alike spend significantly more time at school than their peers internationally, according to the latest Education at a Glance compendium by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report tracks education systems of 46 member and participating countries, including the United States. A typical U.S. student spends 8,884 hours over nine years to complete primary and lower secondary education. That’s nearly 1,300 hours—more than a full school year—more than the average for other countries in the report. However, the report also states that young children are less likely to participate in preschool in the United States compared to the typical participating country.

Policy

New York Students Would be Able to Skip School for Mental Health Reasons Under New Bill
New York Daily News: A new bill aimed at curbing student suicide would allow New York students to take a break from school for mental health reasons. State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) recently introduced legislation that would require school districts to consider mental health concerns an equally valid reason to miss school as physical ones. The proposal doesn’t specify how districts craft their attendance policies, but shifts mental health into the category of a “permitted absence” under state law. The law would put New York in the company of Oregon and Utah, which both passed recent bills requiring the recognition of mental health days as excused absences. Illinois is considering a similar idea.

School Officials to Consider ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ Before Discipline
Daily Memphian: Schools across Tennessee will start delving into traumatic experiences in students’ lives as part of a new law targeting “exclusionary” discipline under legislation sponsored by state Sen. Katrina Robinson, a first-term Memphis Democrat. Signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee, Senate Bill 170 requires school systems to come up with plans for assessing students who go through “adverse childhood experiences” and consider those circumstances when meting out major disciplinary measures such as suspension or expulsion, in-school suspension, or alternative school. Affecting K-12 schools across Tennessee, the new law is designed to help educators find the underlying reasons for a student’s misbehavior and offer resources to straighten them out.

Around the Nation

Middle School Student Brings Restorative Justice to Ignacio
The Durango Herald: Willow Schulz, an eighth grade volleyball player at Ignacio Middle School, is the youngest certified restorative justice specialist in La Plata County, Colo. This fall, Willow hopes to start her newest project: using her skills to build a safe place where Ignacio Middle School students can learn about, discuss, and resolve conflicts, while having a voice in the process. Willow wants to create community circles based on restorative justice – which uses guided conflict resolution, more than discipline or punishment – to facilitate healing. The circles would also engage students in guided discussions about substance use, fighting, bullying, and other youth issues before a conflict occurs.

‘Conditions for Learning’ Impact Chronic Absenteeism
Education Dive: Educators often say frequent absences are a symptom of another issue in a student’s life. These issues involve students’ health and safety, a sense of belonging, academic engagement, and students’ and adults’ social and emotional skills, according to a new report from Attendance Works and the American Institutes for Research (AIR). These “conditions for learning” — whether positive or negative — are intertwined with students’ attendance patterns, and they especially matter for children in poverty, students of color, and those with disabilities, the authors said. Accompanying the report is a nationwide, interactive map that displays data points related to these conditions for every school and zip code in the nation.

States Adopting New Mindset on Assessments
T.H.E. Journal: Even though many states are backing away from high-stakes, end-of-school-year testing in math and English language arts, this does not necessarily mean they’re “backsliding,” according to a new report from Bellwether Education Partners. Rather than “rolling back” advancements in test quality, accessibility, and rigor because of political pressures or demands for reductions in time spent on testing, some states are reforming their approach to assessment in innovative ways. Many states are using interim assessments, which are shorter and easier to integrate into daily classroom activities, instead of summative testing, which typically requires weeks of pretest preparation.

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