The Weekly Connect 1/13/20

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:

Sleep has a big impact on test scores, especially for boys.

More children on Medicaid will be able to access health services in school.

Fugees Academy, located in both Georgia and Ohio, provides intensive education for children who are immigrants.

Children’s use of anti-depressants jumps by more than 20 percent after school shootings.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Surprise! Exam Scores Benefit from Months of Regular Sleep
Science News for Students: Sleep is important. Just how important? Scientists know that people’s weight, mental health, and immune system are connected to their sleep habits. So are grades — to a surprising degree, a new study published in Science of Learning has found. Researchers discovered that sleep accounted for nearly one-fourth of the difference among students’ grades in a class. So even if students spend hours studying for a test but get too little sleep or sleeps inconsistently, they might still do poorly. Boys with poor sleep habits appeared to suffer most.

Housing Vouchers, Like Other Anti-Poverty Programs, Increase Test Scores, NYC Shows
Chalkbeat: Housing vouchers boost the math and reading scores of New York City public school students, according to a new study — which adds to the evidence that anti-poverty programs help low-income students do better academically. For a student at the 50th percentile of performance, getting a voucher would push them to the 52nd percentile in one year. It’s a small increase, but these benefits could add up over time. This positive impact is particularly notable because housing vouchers aren’t meant to improve educational outcomes. What could explain the improvements? Receiving a voucher led families to live in buildings with fewer hazardous code violations and in areas with lower poverty rates. Families were also able to have their children attend schools with higher average test scores. See related article: The Seattle Times “Washington State Inspires Federal Bill to Make it Easier to Help Homeless Students and their Families.” 

Antidepressant use by Children Jumps More than 20 Percent After a School Shooting, Data Shows
The Washington Post: Nearly a quarter-million American children have experienced gun violence at their schools since the 1999 Columbine massacre. But beyond the grim statistics, the question of how such violence affects survivors over time has long loomed over public discussions about gun violence on campus. Recently, researchers at Stanford offered some answers. According to a large-scale working paper, antidepressant use among child survivors soared more than 21 percent in the two years after a fatal incident, and grew to 24.5 percent three years out. See related article: Psych Central “Early Childhood Teachers Play Vital Role in Helping Kids Cope with Disaster.” 

1 in 7 Students Report Having Seriously Considered Suicide, Survey Finds
Ed Week Rules for Engagement Blog: One in seven students between the ages of 10 and 18 report they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the 12 months prior to taking an online survey, according to a new analysis from YouthTruth, a nonprofit group that surveys students. For students who are in special education and those who do not identify as either male or female, those numbers were even higher. Twenty-two percent of special education students report having seriously considered attempting suicide, and 21 percent of students who do not identify as either male or female said they had seriously contemplated taking their own lives. See related article: Edutopia “A Framework for Supporting Gender-Diverse Students.”

Policy

50 States of Ed Policy: Bills that Could Impact Schools in 2020
Education Dive: In late 2019, Congress managed to pass a federal spending bill to avert a government shutdown, provide $1.3 billion in education spending for 2020, and pass legislation mandating $255 million in funding for historically black colleges and universities next year. But legislation directly affecting K-12 is much more slow-moving. Still, a few K-12 bills might finally reach the spotlight in the coming year, though whether they will be passed and signed into law is a tossup. These bills include the Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion from Trauma Act; the School Resource Officer Assessment Act; the Building Blocks of STEM Act; the Strength in Diversity Act, and the RAISE Act. See related article: Education Dive “5 K-12 Trends to Watch in 2020.” 

More Kids on Medicaid to get Health Care in School
Michigan Advance: A mountain of evidence proves it: Good health translates to better student performance. Children who have high blood pressure or are obese perform worse academically than others. Children with asthma miss far more school. On the other hand, students who have healthy diets, who are physically active, who abstain from alcohol and illicit drugs, get better grades. With that in mind, more than a dozen states, including Massachusetts, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Florida, and North Carolina, are beginning to take advantage of a five-year-old federal policy change that would make it easier for schools to provide health care to millions of children across the country. 

At Least 26 States, Territories Expected to Receive Federal Funds to Improve Early Learning
Education Dive: Alabama, considered a leader in providing public pre-K, and Idaho, where state officials have been reluctant to use public dollars for early-childhood education, have announced they are among the states receiving a federal Preschool Development Grant, Birth-to-5, to improve the quality and supply of early learning programs. Alabama is one of 20 states expected to receive a renewal grant, while Idaho, along with Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico will receive planning grants, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Linda Smith, who received the list from officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

A Glance at Main Parts of Maryland’s Education Funding Plan
The New York Times: Maryland lawmakers will be considering a plan to improve the state’s K-12 schools in their upcoming legislative session. The entire proposal is estimated to cost about $4 billion annually a decade from now, and it would be phased in gradually over the next 10 years. The plan would focus on five policy areas, including expanding early childhood education, teaching and increasing teachers’ salaries, college and career readiness, aid for struggling schools, and accountability for implementing the plan. See related article: Chalkbeat “Now We Know the Full Cost of Colorado’s Full-Day Kindergarten Expansion.”

Around the Nation

Schools Use Tech to Battle Absenteeism with Engaging Lessons, Data
Education Dive: The engaging aspect that technology brings to the classroom may help educators battle absenteeism with immersive tools like virtual and augmented reality, along with other types of ed tech that bring lessons to life, according to an EdTech Magazine ‘Focus on K-12’ article. Technology also allows districts to use “nudges,” or digital alerts, that help keep parents informed and the send notices to students. In New York City schools, for example, a data dashboard allows school mentors to see real-time attendance data and quickly flag students who are at risk of being chronically absent. 

What School Could Be if it Were Designed for Kids with Autism
The Atlantic: In classrooms where the majority of students are neurotypical but one student is on the autism spectrum, there are usually certified teachers — many of whom have special-education training — as well as one or more teacher’s aides, who help the students with special needs. But ASD Nest, a collaboration between the New York City Department of Education and New York University, has worked to change how teachers are assigned to classrooms. Launched in 2003, ASD Nest places two certified and specially trained teachers in each participating classroom, which allows one of them to provide one-on-one social, emotional, or academic support whenever the need arises without disrupting lessons or pulling students out of classrooms. ASD Nest has expanded into 54 of New York City’s elementary, middle, and high schools.

School Network Takes Turbocharged Approach to Education for Refugee Students
Hechinger Report: Fugees Academy, with two locations in Atlanta, Ga., and Columbus, Ohio, may be the only school in the nation to exclusively enroll refugee students. The academy was founded on the belief that these learners need more focused attention than they often receive in traditional public schools, and that they need to go back to basics to learn English. Fugees tries to squeeze many of the elements of a K-8 curriculum into three years of middle school, helping students learn two to three years of the English language in one year. The school also places an emphasis on helping students overcome any trauma they may have faced on their journey to the United States. Early results are encouraging: The Atlanta high school’s graduation rate is 92 percent, and 74 percent of its graduates have gone on to college.

‘Not Just Tummy Time’: A Preschool Professionalizes ECE
Edutopia: Educare New Orleans, one of a national network of 24 preschools, is part of a nascent movement to professionalize early childhood education. This work is driven by research which shows that without access to high-quality learning experiences, low-income children start kindergarten behind—and stay behind for the rest of their schooling. The school serves 168 students up to age 5 — all of whom are low-income and students of color — and it emphasizes continuous professional development for staff, data-informed decision-making, and ambitious but developmentally appropriate goals for students.

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