The Weekly Connect 2/24/20

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:

In Australia, 1 in 5 students start school with health or emotional challenges that make it tougher to learn.

Researchers say California should overhaul special education.

A Seattle Public Schools program supports the achievement of African-American boys.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

1 in 5 Kids Start School with Health or Emotional Difficulties that Challenge their Learning
The Conversation: Teachers in Australia identify one in five children who are starting school as having emerging health or developmental concerns. These concerns might include a child being disruptive, having difficulties understanding the teacher’s instructions, or experiencing fears and anxieties at a level that makes it difficult to learn. Research published in the European journal Child: Care, Health and Development found that by year three, these children, on average, had poorer results in reading and numeracy on Australia’s standardized NAPLAN exam than those who didn’t start school with such difficulties. Socio-economic disadvantage increased the risk of poor learning outcomes for children with emerging concerns.

US Ranks Lower than 38 Other Countries When it Comes to Children’s Wellbeing, New Report Says
CNN Health: A report, published in the medical journal The Lancet, ranked 180 countries based on a “child flourishing index,” and the United States came in at No. 39. The 180 countries also were ranked by levels of excess carbon emissions. Specifically researchers took a close look at estimated levels for 2030, and found that every country in the world has levels of excess carbon emissions that will prevent younger generations from a healthy and sustainable future. Overall, the United States ranked 173rd for sustainability. See related article: Psych Congress “Addressing Mental Health Needs in Children Before They Reach the ED.” 

Why Sitting For Long Periods Can Affect Teens’ Mental Health
National Public Radio: A new study published in the Lancet finds that sitting still is linked to a higher risk of depression among teens, but even an hour of light physical activity every day reduces the risk of depression by 10%. Researchers in the United Kingdom have been following over 4,000 children since their birth, collecting data on their daily physical activity and health. The study found that as kids went through adolescence, they spent more time sitting, with daily sedentary time increasing from seven hours, 10 minutes to about eight hours and 40 minutes. Every hour increase in sedentary activity was linked to a higher risk of having symptoms of depression later in life.

Policy

In Some States, ESSA Goals for English-Learners Are ‘Purely Symbolic,’ Report Finds
Ed Week Learning the Language Blog: Advocates had high hopes that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) marked a significant step forward for students learning English in the nation’s K-12 schools. But across the country, more than four years after ESSA became law, English-language-learner education policies remain “disjointed and inaccessible to local education officials, teachers, and education advocates,” a new Migration Policy Institute report concludes. The report assesses ESSA plans for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, analyzing policies that affect students’ language-acquisition journey. See related article: Ed Week Learning the Language Blog “The Nation’s English-Learner Population Has Surged: 3 Things to Know.” 

FRAC Report Finds 12.4M Students Received Free and Reduced-Price Breakfasts Last Year
Education Dive: The School Breakfast Scorecard, released by Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), reports 12.4 million low-income children received a free or reduced-price school breakfast on an average school day in the 2018-19 school year, down 6,000 students — a relatively small percentage — from the prior year. For every 100 students who participated in the National School Lunch program, 57.5 students participated in the School Breakfast Program. School breakfast participation among low-income students flattened, while overall participation in school breakfast grew, and school lunch participation decreased. As the scorecard explains, FRAC has set “an ambitious but attainable goal of serving 70 low-income students breakfast for every 100 who eat school lunch.” 

Special Education in California in Need of Overhaul, Researchers Say
EdSource: Special education in California should be overhauled to focus on the individual needs of students, with better training for teachers, more streamlined services, and improved screening for the youngest children, according to a compilation of recently released reports titled “Special Education: Organizing Schools to Serve Students with Disabilities in California,” produced by Policy Analysis for California Education, a nonpartisan research and policy organization led by faculty from UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Southern California and Stanford University. See related article: Education Dive “Principals Want More Support to Serve Special Needs Students.”

Around the Nation

Trauma-Informed Practice Is a Powerful Tool. But It’s Also Incomplete
Education Week: Trauma-informed practice is a powerful but incomplete tool. Powerful because it helps teachers understand the children in their classrooms and bring individualized care and attention to build children’s resilience. The practices is also incomplete in dangerous ways because it is rarely paired with attention to naming and addressing systemic injustice and racism. One solution — that’s being posed by two teacher-educators who support teachers in addressing systemic inequality and its impact on children in schools — is attending to trauma both at the individual level—as is currently happening—and also at the system level. 

How Khan Academy Used a Successful Experiment With California’s Long Beach Unified to Launch District Partnerships Across the Country
The 74 Million: In 2016, Long Beach Unified School District first offered Khan’s SAT preparation to more than 300 seniors with low scores — students whose families couldn’t afford the expensive college-test preparation offered by private tutoring companies. After using Khan’s interactive online tool, nearly 40 percent of them — mostly students of color — reached the minimum score that made them eligible to apply for state colleges and four-year universities. According to data the district reported last May, between the 2014-15 and 2018-19 school years, the number of Long Beach students graduating with a college-eligible index increased 20 percentage points. 

Seattle Public Schools Launches Department to Support Reading Achievement Among Black Boys
Education Dive: Seattle Public Schools superintendent, Denise Juneau, was faced with a troubling statistic: Only about about 30% of the district’s African-American 3rd-grade boys were meeting the state reading standard. The district wants to see 70% of those students reading at the state standard level within five years, with a goal of eventually raising that figure to 100%. The district’s action plan includes the formation of the African American Male Achievement department, led by Dr. Mia Williams. The new department will ensure African-American boys get the educational support they need while focusing on improving 3rd-grade reading proficiency. 

Home Visits Are Effective. Here’s Why They Still Make Some Teachers Uneasy.
EdSurge: Several preschool programs, including Head Start, use home visits as a way of building community and allowing teachers and programs to meet students and families where they are– quite literally. Home visits are an increasingly accepted part of early childhood education best practice. In addition, a handful of K-12 districts are also building home visits into their model. But for all their benefits, home visits can present challenges for early childhood educators, particularly in terms of potential threats to safety. To combat this, some Head Start agencies provide access to safety training, tips, and guidance.

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