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These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:
Technology is helping educators deter bad behavior and identify students facing crises.
Washington state is considering ways to fund staff who provide mental health services for students.
Baltimore students have missed an aggregated 1.5 million hours of class time because of deficient school buildings.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
The Science of Talking in Class
The Hechinger Report: A team of United Kingdom researchers collected all the studies they could find on peer interactions where children worked on assignments in small groups of two, three, or four students. Using a total of 71 studies that covered more than 7,000 children and teens who mostly lived in the U.K. and the United States, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis on the efficacy of peer interaction in facilitating learning. The results: students tend to learn better by interacting with each other rather than by wrestling with an assignment or a new topic on their own. What’s even better, however, than peer-to-peer interactions are one-on-one interactions with adults. See related article: EdSurge “Play is Disappearing from Kindergarten. It’s Hurting Kids.”
The Tech that’s Helping to Improve Student Behavior and Prevent Self-Harm
Ed Tech Magazine: Educators are using technology to help students follow rules and to spot their social and emotional challenges. In some cases technology is used to deter misbehavior, such as when teachers lock screens during tests to deter cheating or eliminate online distractions. In other cases, web monitoring services gauge the content of searches and online communication, identifying potential signs that a student might be in a crisis. For example, one company has developed software that provides schools with suicide and self-harm alerts and indicate when immediate escalation is necessary.
Students in Affordable Housing Face Academic Barriers, but can Thrive in Stable Environments
Education Dive: More than a third of U.S. students live in some form of affordable housing environment — and many of these students face more academic barriers than their peers, according to a recent Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation study. But developing “effective housing-centered educational supports,” can give students a better chance at success by involving parents, addressing challenges like hunger or unmet healthcare needs, and increasing students’ access to computers and the Internet.
Four States Receive Flexibility Under ESSA Waiver Program
Education Dive: Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Vermont will be exempted from certain federal statutes or regulations under an Every Student Succeeds Act program that allows such flexibility, the U.S. Department of Education announced recently. Massachusetts will use its flexibility to enhance teacher recruitment and licensure. North Carolina plans to focus on class size, the school-year schedule, and funding. Texas will provide schools with flexibility in staff development, teacher certification and attendance. And Vermont plans to focus on long-term improvement.
Texas Poured Nearly $1B into New Special Ed Funding Following IDEA Violations
Education Dive: A new report released by the Texas Education Agency shows the state increased its special education funding by nearly $1 billion over a four-year period. The most recent expenditure is $4.02 billion for the 2019-20 school year. Texas has drastically increased its special ed funding after a federal investigation and media reports revealed that the state was in violation of IDEA — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — when it arbitrarily capped the number of students with disabilities it served at 8.5%.
More Kids in Washington Have Mental-Health Issues than 10 Years Ago. Here’s How Lawmakers Want to Help.
The Seattle Times: Administrators across Washington struggle to scrape together funds to pay the salaries of mental-health staff members. So before this year’s legislative session kicked off, dozens of superintendents wrote to Washington’s top education official, to support a proposal that would boost state funding for mental health staff who support students. The proposal gathering steam: Lawmakers introduced a bill that would change how the state funds mental health and other health positions. One goal is to boost funding and reduce the ratio of students to mental-health staff. Legislators are also considering at least five other bills that could help districts establish school-based health centers.
Georgia Officials Seek to End 5 Tests for State Students
U.S. News & World Report: Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and state Superintendent Richard Woods recently announced a plan to cut five mandatory standardized tests for Georgia public school students. The two Republican officials are also trying to cut the length of state tests and evaluate the local tests that Georgia’s 181 school districts give to evaluate student progress. Both Woods and Kemp oppose the current amount of testing, part of a national backlash to a system largely built by other Georgia Republicans. Kemp and Woods’ plan would drop four out of eight tests for high school students as well as a fifth-grade social studies test not required by the federal government.
New Law Gives Free Bus Services to All East St. Louis School District Students
KSDK: Under a new law that expands free bus services to students in high crime neighborhoods, all students in East St. Louis School District 189 will receive free school bus services. The school district is the first to apply and receive the transportation waiver since the law was adopted in Illinois in late 2018. The East St. Louis School District said it estimates 1,800 students will qualify for the service. Previously, students only received free transportation to school if they lived 1.5 miles away or walked through areas identified as dangerous by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Around the Nation
Schools Struggle to Help Students Return to Class After a Mental Health Crisis
The Hechinger Report: Schools typically lack the resources to help students cope with what experts describe as a mental health epidemic. One study found that nearly 80 percent of students failed to receive the mental health care they needed, and more than 50 percent of students ages 14 and older with emotional and behavioral disabilities drop out of school. The BRYT program, which was founded and pioneered in two Boston schools in 2004 by the nonprofit Brookline Center for Community Health, has emerged as a successful model for helping kids re-enter school after a mental health crisis. Ninety percent of students in BRYT remain on track to graduate, and their attendance rates have increased from 52 percent before participation to above 80 percent after.
Hammocks and Grief Baskets: Inside Newark’s Efforts to Help Students Manage Trauma
Chalkbeat: Last fall, on the heels of new legislation requiring all New Jersey public schools to teach students about mental health, Newark schools were awarded $6.5 million in grant money to serve students affected by trauma. Using these new resources, Newark schools are offering services ranging from counseling to “grief baskets” to a school-based relaxation room. Almost half of New Jersey’s children have experienced trauma. These experiences — including abuse, violence, and neglect — can negatively affect students’ classroom performance as well as their physical and behavioral health. Trauma can also increase their likelihood of ending up behind bars. See related article: M Live “Michigan School Using New Approach to Keep Kids Calm – Meditation.”
Baltimore Students Have Missed Almost 1.5 Million Hours of Class Time Because of Inadequate School Facilities
Education Week: According to a report written by Johns Hopkins University researchers, Baltimore students collectively have missed nearly 1.5 million hours of class time over the past five years—about 221,000 school days—when schools have closed because their buildings are too cold or hot, a pipe has broken, or an electrical problem has developed. Most of those closings have happened in the past couple of years after the school system put in more stringent policies to ensure that students were not stuck learning in buildings that were too cool or too warm. The report used data from city schools and state sources to paint a detailed portrait of the issues at each school — and to point out what researchers say is the result of the failure to provide sufficient funding.
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