The Weekly Connect 12/9/19

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:

Special needs students and English language learners have more positive impressions of their schools’ mental health services.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signs a bill that will invest $1.5 billion in education.

U.S. students’ test scores lag on international exam.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Up to 3.6 Million Students Should be Labeled Gifted, but Aren’t
The Hechinger Report: As many as 3.6 million gifted children are being overlooked in school — which is more than the 3.3 million U.S. public school children who are already labeled as gifted. That’s according to a report from Purdue University’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute, GER2I, which was recently released at the annual convention of the National Association for Gifted Children. Four of 10 children attended public schools where not a single student was identified as gifted, even though most states legally require and fund schools to find and serve gifted children. See related articles: Education Week “‘Twice Exceptional’ Students Miss Out on Gifted Classes”, Education Week “How Do Schools Find Gifted Students? Some Survey Results” and Education Week “Pointilism in 1st Grade? Teachers Use Unfamiliar Lessons to Mine for Giftedness 

Survey: Special Needs Students, ELs More Positive about School Mental Health Services
Education Dive: Students with special needs are more likely than general education students to report having thoughts of suicide — 22% compared to 14%. But special needs students are also more likely to report there is an adult in school they can talk to when they’re having problems or feeling upset — 53% compared to 45% of general education students — according to a new YouthTruth analysis of 70,000 5th-12th grade students’ responses over a six-year period. Students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals and English learners are also more likely than peers not in those groups to report their schools have programs or services to help them. See related article: Chalkbeat “Bucking Misconceptions, Many English Language Learners in Chicago Keeping Pace with Fluent English Speakers.” 

3 Studies Argue Against Fidget Spinners in the Classroom
The Hechinger Report: While the fidget spinner craze reached its peak in 2017, 2019 brought more conclusive evidence that these toys are harmful to learning. Results from at least three recent scientific studies (posted here, here, and here) argue against allowing students to use fidget spinners in the classroom — even among children with attention disorders — despite marketing claims that the objects can be useful. One of the studies, which was published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology, found that college students randomly assigned to use fidget spinners scored more poorly on a memory test than students without fidget spinners.


Gov. Baker Signs Bill with $1.5B in New School Spending
A.P. News: Gov. Charlie Baker has signed into law a bill that would provide $1.5 billion in new spending to the state’s K-12 education system when fully phased in over seven years. Supporters of the measure say it will help ensure schools have the resources needed to provide high quality education for students across Massachusetts, regardless of zip code or income level. Baker said the legislation is aimed at providing students, “with the opportunities and resources they need to succeed, including accountability measures that are essential to supporting underperforming schools.”

Low-Income and Minority Students Face Barriers Resolving Disputes over Special Ed Services
Education Dive: Among families of students with disabilities, those with lower incomes and those who have children of color are less likely than their affluent and white counterparts to access their legal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. In addition, districts serving a higher percentage of students of color were the least likely to be involved in resolving disputes concerning how to meet a child’s educational needs. The challenges parents face include lack of adequate legal representation, parents’ inability to take time off from work, fear of retaliation by school districts, language barriers, and inconsistent access to information about rights. 

Parents, Other Experts Named to Guide California’s Early Education Reforms
EdSource: California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced appointments to two groups that will help expand access to early childhood education. The first is a group of nine organizations — including Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, the nonprofit research organization RAND, the research and consulting firm WestEd, and a parent-led advocacy organization. This group will select representatives to develop a Master Plan for Early Learning and Care by next year. The second group — a new, 20-member Early Childhood Policy Council — will provide recommendations to Newsom, the Legislature and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. They will also provide input on the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.

Around the Nation

‘It Just Isn’t Working’: PISA Test Scores Cast Doubt on U.S. Educational Efforts
The New York Times: Despite a decades-long effort to raise standards and help students compete with peers across the globe, the performance of American teenagers in reading and math has been stagnant since 2000, according to the latest results of a rigorous international exam. In addition, the achievement gap in reading between high and low performers is widening. Although the top quarter of American students have improved their performance on the exam since 2012, the bottom 10th percentile lost ground, according to an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics, a federal agency.

Connecting Students to Mental Health Care Through Telehealth Technology
EdNote: Approximately 1 in 6 school-age children experience a mental health disorder each year, and experts estimate up to 60% of students do not receive the care they need to address these challenges. Of the students who receive mental health care, many access those services at school. But, access to services is by no means guaranteed, so some school systems are finding innovative ways to ensure students receive the mental health care they need — sometimes via less-traditional means like telehealth technology. Where this option exists in schools, telehealth is often provided through school-based health centers and used to improve access to treatment that might otherwise be limited.

Centering Equity: Authentic Family Engagement is Bi-Directional: Engaging in Meaningful Family Partnerships
New America: Strong, productive family partnerships in early learning have clear ties to long-term cognitive, academic, and social-emotional benefits for children. This is particularly true for children and families of color from low-income communities. Acknowledging this fact, early learning professionals have shifted their language from “parent involvement” to “family and community partnership” to signify a genuine co-construction of early learning programs and opportunities. However, these partnerships are less impactful without a strong foundation in cultural and community awareness. See related article: Edutopia “6 Tips for Engaging the Families of English Language Learners.”

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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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