The Weekly Connect 10/21/19

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:

Kindergarten readiness can predict future school performance.

California delays school start times so students can get more sleep.

How to improve Individualized Education Program meetings.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Black-White Discipline Gap Predicts Achievement Disparities
Education Dive: When a school district’s Black-White discipline gap increases, so does its Black-White achievement gap, according to a new study published in AERA Open, a journal of the American Educational Research Association. The findings show that a 10% jump in the discipline gap between those student groups in grades 3-8 predicts a gap in achievement that’s 17% larger than the average gap between black and white students. The inverse is also true — when the achievement gap between black and white students increases, so does the discipline gap, the authors write. See related articles: EdSurge “A New Approach to Discipline Slashed Suspension Rates and Transformed this DC School” and Edutopia “The Role of Emotion Co-Regulation in Discipline.”

How Kindergarten Readiness Predicts Performance
District Administration: A readiness test given early in the kindergarten year can predict a student’s performance at the end of first grade, researchers at the University of Missouri have found in a recent study published in School Psychology. Three hundred and fifty kindergartners in six elementary schools were screened for the study and then retested in math and reading 18 months later. The researchers also had teachers rate the students’ social and emotional skills. Kindergartners who rated poorly in academic and behavior readiness were far more likely to display disruptive behavior and have low reading scores at the end of first grade.

Universal Free Lunch is Linked to Better Test Scores in New York City, New Report Finds
Chalkbeat: Offering all students free lunch helps boost academic performance, according to a new study that looked at meal programs in New York City middle schools. The study, released by Syracuse University’s Center for Policy Research, assessed the impact of universal free lunch on students who previously didn’t have access to this kind of meals program. Researchers found “statistically significant” bumps in reading and math state test scores once students attended schools with universal free lunch. See related article: The New York Times “Trump Administration Delays Cuts to Food Stamps and School Meals.”

Reported Suicide Attempts Among Black Teens Have Spiked Since 1991, Study Shows, Raising Concerns about Availability of Mental Health Care
Chicago Tribune: Suicide attempts that were self-reported by Black teens have spiked since 1991, even as their peers in other groups have experienced a downward trend or remained unchanged, according to a new study that raises concerns about mental health outreach for Black youths. The study, which was recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, underscores the importance of equitable access to mental health care and prevention initiatives in schools, according to social workers and mental health advocates. The study also highlights the lack of data and the understudied nature of suicide in the Black community, experts said. See related articles: The Washington Post “Teen Suicides are Increasing at an Alarming Pace, Outstripping All Other Age Groups, A New Report Says” and The Hechinger Report “For Better Student Outcomes, Hire More Black Teachers.”

Policy

DeVos Pushes Charter School Growth Through Opportunity Zone Initiative
Education Dive: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently announced that the Department of Education is contracting with a Maryland business management consulting firm to support the expansion of public charter schools in economically distressed areas. The new push to expand charter schools in these communities, designated as “opportunity zones” under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, is meant to create additional education options for families from low-income backgrounds. In the announcement, DeVos said she expects the expansion of charter schools to have a “long-lasting impact” on their communities.

New Law Delays Start Times at California Schools: No Class Before 8 a.m.
Education Week: A new law recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom forbids California middle schools from ringing the opening bell before 8 a.m., and prohibits high schools from starting class before 8:30 a.m. Schools must adopt the law before July 1, 2022, or sooner if they have collective bargaining units that allow negotiation before the deadline. State Senator Anthony Portantino, the La Cañada Flintridge Democrat who wrote the law, said Senate Bill 328 is based on “indisputable” science that shows students are healthier and happier when get to sleep in a little later.

Mass. Early Educators Will Get a Raise After State Vote
WBUR: Early educators are getting a raise after the Board of Early Education and Care voted for a $20 million rate increase to be put toward improved programming and higher salaries for teachers and staff, according to the Baker administration. The funding was approved by the Legislature as part of the fiscal 2020 budget signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in July, and this investment allows for a 3.52% increase in the daily reimbursement rates for state-subsidized child care programs. The board also authorized the department to raise the daily add-on rate for children under the supervision of the Department of Children and Families to $19 a day, up from $18.22 per day.

Around the Nation

California’s First Surgeon General: Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma
NBC News: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris has an ambitious dream: to screen every student for childhood trauma before they enter school. “A school nurse would also get a note from a physician that says: ‘Here is the care plan for this child’s toxic stress. And this is how it shows up,’ ” said Burke Harris, who was appointed California’s first surgeon general in January. It could show up “in tummy aches. Or it’s impulse control and behavior, and we offer a care plan. Instead of reacting harshly and punitively, every educator is trained in recognizing these things. Instead of suspending and expelling or saying, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ we say, ‘What happened to you?’ ”

‘Free and Appropriate’: Special Ed Stakeholders Work to Make IEP Meetings Less One-Sided
Education Dive: “The IEP is at the heart of special education,” three past presidents of the Council for Exceptional Children wrote about Individualized Education Programs in the organization’s recent “State of the Special Education Profession.” They add that the IEP is “the roadmap for meeting the learning needs of students with exceptionalities. The extent to which school staff and administrators understand and use this map is important to the success of both students with exceptionalities and special educators.” However, many parents experience difficulty and frustration when it comes to negotiating details of their child’s IEP with school officials. Experts recommend improving the IEP process by letting goals for the student drive the identification of need services and making sure that everyone in the meeting is heard.

How SOAR Program Helps get Students back on Successful Academic Path
Michigan Live: Kent City Community Schools identified middle school students who struggle academically and behaviorally, engaged their parents, and launched SOAR — Success on Alternate Roads – to help the students. They attend a class with a certified teacher who helps them work on academic and life skills. The program gives students the opportunity to develop relationships with staff during one-on-one time and personalizes parts of their education so that they can be successful once they move back into traditional classroom settings.

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