The Weekly Connect 11/25/19

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 study finds that most educators find it hard to access research on education.

A survey shows that teachers think lawmakers are not doing enough to prevent school shootings.

A new dental clinic offers free services to students in Utah.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

It’s Not Just Teachers: How Counselor Diversity Matters for Students of Color
Chalkbeat National: A new study by a graduate student researcher at Harvard University captures exactly how much of a difference a school counselor can make — and it’s substantial, particularly for low-income students. The study appears to be the first to quantify how individual counselors affect students using a dataset of nearly 500 counselors and 150,000 students in Massachusetts. Better counselors boost students’ chances of graduating high school and enrolling in and remaining in college, the study finds. And students of color do much better when assigned to a counselor of color: their chances of graduating high school jump nearly 4 percentage points. See related article: The 74 Million “School Counselors are Key to Creating a Safe Place for Students. They Need More Support to Make This Happen.”

Most Educators Find Research Hard to Access
Education Dive: Educators routinely access education research and prefer journal articles, news stories, and presentations at conferences over other sources. But their views on whether education research is timely, easy to find, understandable, or transferable to their practice fall in the 4.5-to-4.9 range on a 1 to 7 scale, according to a new report from the Jefferson Education Exchange — a nonprofit supported by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development. Based on the responses of 1,334 educators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the findings show that educators prefer research that they can act on and that is presented in a way that applies to the context in which they work. See related article: T.H.E. Journal “It’s Time for Learning Science to Drive Education Policy.” 

A Push to Integrate Brooklyn Middle Schools is Starting to Show Results, According to New Data
Chalkbeat New York: A pioneering diversity plan is starting to shift the racial demographics of schools in one corner of Brooklyn, according to recently released preliminary 2019-20 enrollment data. By moving to a lottery-based system and getting rid of competitive screens, the new policy aims to integrate middle schools so they reflect the demographics of the area, which includes affluent brownstone neighborhoods as well lower-income areas. This year’s enrollment numbers show that disproportionately White and affluent schools saw some of the most dramatic changes. Schools serving mostly Hispanic students also experienced notable shifts — but in some cases the changes were less pronounced, suggesting there is still work to be done to convince families to consider a wider range of options for their children. See related article: The 74 Million “One of the Nation’s Oldest Desegregation Cases Might Settle This Week in New Orleans. After 54 Years in the Federal Courts, What Has It Accomplished?

Policy

This Week’s ESSA News: Nearly Half of Louisiana Schools Require School Improvement Plans, North Carolina Grappling With Persistent Achievement Gaps & More
The 74 Million: A new Results for America ESSA report suggests that “when it comes to using evidence to improve schools, state and local leaders don’t always have to go for the most demanding option.” The report emphasizes the importance of prioritizing evidence when making spending decisions. Based on guidelines set forth by ESSA, 571 schools across Louisiana — 44 percent — “will be required to develop improvement plans to submit to the state for approval and funding.” Education officials in North Carolina report signs of improvement in achievement gaps, though there is still work to be done. According to accountability results, North Carolina’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district met just under a quarter of the 265 goals set under ESSA aimed at closing gaps between higher and lower performing subgroups.

Illinois to Take Emergency Action to Halt Isolated Timeouts in Schools
Chicago Tribune: The Illinois State Board of Education recently announced that it will take emergency action to end the seclusion of children alone behind locked doors at schools, saying the practice has been “misused and overused to a shocking extent.” The announcement comes one day after the publication of a Chicago Tribune and Propublica Illinois investigation based on tens of thousands of school records that revealed children were put in isolation every school day for reasons that violate the law. The rules would not totally ban the use of timeout rooms but would end isolation. The state board said children would be put in timeout only if a “trained adult” is in the room and the door is unlocked. 

Lawmakers ‘Not Doing Enough’ to Prevent School Shootings
Education Dive: Findings from a Fishbowl survey of 1,067 teachers show an overwhelming majority (87%) believe lawmakers are not doing enough to prevent school shootings. Only 3.84% of those surveyed said they believe lawmakers are doing enough, while 7.5% were unsure. Of states with at least 50 teacher responses, Michigan had the highest percentage of teachers (98.4%) saying lawmakers weren’t doing enough, while Texas had the lowest portion at 80.39%.

Around the Nation

Demand for Special Education Grows in Texas, but Shortage of School Psychologists Slows Progress
Houston Public Media: In the last three years, Fort Bend schools have seen the demand for special education almost double. More teachers and parents are asking for children to be tested for a disability — which district leaders say is a huge step forward since the end of a Texas policy that denied services to tens of thousands of children for over a decade. The problem is that the schools don’t have enough licensed specialists in school psychology to perform those detailed and technical evaluations, according to Fort Bend Independent School District leaders. Statewide, there’s only one licensed school psychologist for about 2,800 students, though national guidelines say there should be about one for every 500-700 students.

Parents Go Back to School to Learn About Well Being
Atlanta News Now: What started a few years ago with a few lunch-and-learn sessions for parents at Johns Creek High has turned into a robust program designed to educate and inform parents about issues that impact their children’s lives – as well as their own. Parent University, an outreach of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association, grew out of a recognized need to address concerns around stress, anxiety, and well-being among students and the families who support them. “Initially, it was a positive way to talk about discipline and attendance,” said Maiko Noiri-Schoen, the school’s social worker. “But soon we found we were talking more about mental health.” See related article: Edutopia “As Teen Stress Increases, Teachers Look for Answers.” 

New Dental Clinic Offers Free Care for Students at 4 Salt Lake Elementary Schools
KUTV: Utah’s newest dental clinic recently opened its doors, hoping to help students who can’t afford oral care. With a rise in grade school absences due to tooth pain, the Salt Lake City Education Foundation and the University of Utah have come up with a plan to put kids back in their classrooms. The clinic provides free services for students from four elementary schools in the area. Up to 50 individuals in the community will be seen daily by dental students and faculty at the University of Utah’s school of dentistry. The clinic will operate 5 days a week during school hours.

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