The Weekly Connect 10/14/19

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:

Pediatricians can help students who struggle in school.

School districts in Colorado have a four-day school week.

Adding more qualified teachers to after school programs.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Is Your Child Struggling in School? Talk to Your Pediatrician
The New York Times: The American Academy of Pediatrics (A.A.P.) recently issued a report on what pediatricians can — and should — do to help “school-aged children who are not progressing academically.” Dr. Arthur Lavin, one of the lead authors of the report and the chairman of the A.A.P. committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health, said that the report means that the A.A.P. is setting a standard for the care of the child not doing well in school, and that the issue deserves the same attention as any other complex problem getting in a child’s way. The pediatrician should make sure the problem is properly investigated and the cause is found, though much of the specific testing and treatment will be done by others.

Black Students Face ‘Accumulation of Disadvantage’
Education Dive: A new study from UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools finds that a student’s quality of life is linked to his or her academic performance. Where they live, access to healthy food, and quality of air and healthcare are among the factors that influence academic performance and the schools they attend. Black students in Los Angeles already face higher suspension rates, attend racially isolated and impoverished schools, and are subject to other academic disparities. Black students are also more likely to encounter health and environmental disadvantages, be impacted by food insecurity, and not have their basic needs met. The study outlines steps districts can take to improve outcomes for Black students, such as hiring more Black educators.

Money over Merit? New Study Says Gifted Programs Favor Students from Wealthier Families
Chalkbeat: Elementary school students from higher-income families are far more likely to land in gifted programs than their lower-income classmates, even if those students go to the same school and show similar levels of achievement in math and reading, says a new study. In fact, across America, a student from a family in the top fifth of economic and social status is twice as likely to receive gifted services than an equally achieving peer in the bottom fifth. The findings, published this week in the Harvard Educational Review, aren’t a surprise. Previous research efforts using data in multiple states and districts have come to similar conclusions. However this study is the first to use national data and also to factor in achievement results.

YouthTruth Survey Details How One Middle School Curbed Rising Bullying Rates
Education Dive: Bullying rates are on the rise nationwide, but a recent YouthTruth survey details how a Washington state middle school experienced a decrease in bullying incidents after targeted intervention efforts. After an earlier survey revealed an increase in the number of students being bullied at Quincy Junior High School, the school identified bullying as a “priority for change.” After administering annual climate surveys, poring over the findings in staff meetings to create common understandings of the issue, and launching an anti-bullying initiative that included a two-day lesson plan for students and teachers schoolwide, the percentage of students reporting bullying fell from 46% to 36%. See related article: The Atlantic “Why is Middle School So Hard for So Many People?

Policy

Are Four-Day School Weeks Coming to a District Near You?
OZY: An increasing number of districts in Western and Midwestern states are adopting a four-day school week. Most of the districts are rural and small, but district 27J, located on the outskirts of the Denver metro area, became the largest district in the U.S. and the first in a major metropolitan area to transition. District 27J joins more than 60 percent of Colorado districts that have shorter weeks but longer days to meet the threshold for hours. Only 20 districts in 21 states had four-day school weeks in 2016, according to the National Education Association — a number that has since climbed to 560 districts across 25 states.

Ed Dept Allots $71.6M to Boost Proactive School Safety Measures
Education Dive: The U.S. Department of Education recently announced $71.6 million in federal funding to improve school safety and student access to mental health resources, according to a press release. The funds will be available through four grant programs which are designed to allow local leaders to customize safety and mental health improvement approaches to meet local needs. These grants reflect a larger shift of preventing violence in schools through proactive means like improved mental health services and school climate, rather than hardening schools.

Your Guide to ESSA’s New School-by-School Spending Mandate
Education Week: The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), passed in 2015, requires states for the first time to report how much districts spend on each school. Advocates hope such detailed data will revolutionize the public’s understanding of K-12 finance and drive academic- and fiscal-policy shifts at the state, federal, and local levels. This approach could also be a dud and confuse the public even more about how taxpayers’ dollars are distributed. Either way, the flood of new district spending data is coming since the deadline is the end of the 2019-20 school year. This new data-reporting mandate has different implications for various education stakeholders such as superintendents, teachers, principals, parents, and policymakers.

Around the Nation

For a Lot of American Teens, Religion is a Regular Part of the Public School Day
Pew Research Center: A new Pew Research Center survey asked a nationally representative sample of more than 1,800 teenagers (ages 13 to 17) about the kinds of religious activity they engage in – or see other students engaging in – during the course of the school day. The survey finds that about four-in-ten teens who attend public schools say they commonly see other students praying before sporting events at school and roughly half of respondents say they commonly see other students in their school wearing religious clothing (such as an Islamic headscarf) or jewelry with religious symbols. Nationwide, roughly four-in-ten teens who go to public school say they think it is “appropriate” for a teacher to lead a class in prayer, according to the survey’s findings.

School-Based Mental Health Program Puts Counselors Closer to Students
Times Daily: Across Alabama, school leaders say more mental health care is needed. “Schools have become a place where it’s required that we provide wraparound services,” Superintendent Jimmy Shaw said. “Our students come to us with multiple needs. This is one of the ways we provide services to our students.” The state’s School-Based Mental Health Services, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Mental Health, has existed since 2013. It has helped many schools and districts in Alabama get trained clinicians from community mental health centers to provide in-school support to students with a range of mental health difficulties.

Families Endure Costly Legal Fights Trying to Get the Right Special Education Services
Los Angeles Times: The law says public schools must give students with disabilities the services that meet their individual needs, but parents and districts often disagree on what those services should be or whether a student needs services at all. Every year school districts across California settle thousands of these disputes by paying parents and lawyers millions of dollars in what are called due process cases. Due process cases involve a small but growing fraction of the approximately 725,400 K-12 students with disabilities in California. In 2007-08 there were 2,626 due process cases filed; a decade later, 4,854 cases were filed — an 85% increase, according to state data. See related article: The 74 Million “250,000 Kids. $277 Million in Fines. It’s Been 3 Years Since Feds Ordered a Special Ed Reboot in Texas — Why Are Students Still Being Denied?

Who’s Doing the Teaching After School Lets Out
Education Week: As more after-school programs provide academic enrichment for students, providers are turning to specialized training to help staff members demonstrate that they’re qualified to guide lessons. Providers are also turning to students on nearby college campuses to help infuse lessons on topics such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and social-emotional learning into the after-school experience. To help out-of-school providers meet the rising demand, the National AfterSchool Association has established a professional-development-credentialing system to recognize skills and develop interests that workers already bring to the job through quick-turnaround micro-credentials that allow individuals to demonstrate mastery or competence in a subject.

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