The Weekly Connect 11/8/21

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Physical education classes may help students who feel isolated. 

The CDC recommends a low-dose, COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11

Colorado launches a website that connects kids to mental health sessions. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

2021 Testing Participation Varies Widely– What Will Data Mean for Districts?
K-12 Dive: Following a hiatus in statewide assessments, the Department of Education asked local and state education agencies to recommence federally mandated testing for the 2020-21 school year. Data collected by the Center on Reinventing Public Education shows that as of October, at least 12 states had overall participation rates of more than 90%. However, Dale Chu, assessment expert and independent education consultant, urges more caution even in states that are reporting high participation numbers because some of the “neediest localities” in those states had lower participation rates. Experts advise that this data can be useful, but in areas with lower participation rates, school leaders should consider the data as just one piece of the larger puzzle

Kids Are Feeling Isolated. P.E. May Help Them Bounce Back
Education Week: Adolescents coming of age during the pandemic have experienced social “learning loss,” and will need remedial support in social — not just academic — development, according to new research presented this week at the Society for Neuroscience’s virtual annual conference. And at a time when recess and physical education programs may feel a squeeze from schools seeking more time for reading or math, studies suggest boosting students’ physical activity also has an important role. One series of experiments suggests that boosting adolescents’ exercise during and after periods of isolation could counter negative effects such as increased stress levels and anxious behavior.

What Did OECD Find in its First-Ever Survey on Social-Emotional Skills?
K-12 Dive: Education experts from around the world discussed the results of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) global Survey on Social and Emotional Skills, its first-ever international comparative assessment of students’ social-emotional development. On average, 15-year-olds showed lower social-emotional skills than their 10-year-old peers, regardless of gender or social background. Additionally, the survey found that, among 15-year-olds, social-emotional skills like persistence, trust and curiosity correlate positively to academic performance, while skills like stress resistance, creativity and sociability were associated less with academic performance.

State K-12 Spending Is Inequitable and Inadequate. See Where Yours Ranks
Education Week: In close to two dozen states, high-poverty schools get less money per student or just the same amount as low-poverty schools, a new report shows, despite abundant evidence that high-poverty schools benefit from more robust investment. A new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data also shows wide disparities in how evenly school funding is distributed. On average, schools in the U.S. spend roughly $15,000 per student. But within states, average funding ranges from roughly $9,700 per student in Arizona to roughly $26,700 in New York. That’s a difference of roughly $17,000 per student. These figures are among the findings in a recent report published by the Education Law Center. See related article: K-12 Dive “K-12 Funding Needs More State, Federal Support to Maximize Equity, Impact.”

Policy

CDC Recommends Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine for Children Ages 5 Through 11
N.P.R.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that all children ages 5 through 11 get a low-dose COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech. The move clears the way for shots to be administered immediately, though it may be a few days before the vaccine is widely available. CDC director Rochelle Walensky issued the recommendation just hours after a unanimous vote by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices supporting the use of the vaccine for children in this age group. Walensky’s decision means that approximately 28 million children ages 5 through 11 will be eligible for the shots. President Biden said in a statement that the federal government has purchased enough of the low-dose children’s vaccine “for every child in America.”

8 School-Focused Provisions Feature in Biden’s Build Back Better Proposal
District Administration: The House Rules Committee has published the draft of a bill encompassing President Biden’s Build Back Better framework. In addition to the high-profile universal pre-K program, the draft bill includes several education-related provisions that address teacher and school leader quality, personnel development for special educators and Native American language educators, and career and technical education. The draft proposes nearly $113 million available through 2025 to support Grow Your Own programs to address teacher or school leader shortages in high-need areas and also encourage increased diversity in the education workforce. See related article: The 74 Million “Pared-Down Social Spending Bill Retains Universal Pre-K, But Guts Biden’s K-12 Agenda.”

Around the Nation

Who’s Helping Families Recover?
New America: Vickie Kropenske, who runs Hope Street Margolis Family Center, a program of Dignity Health–California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, said that when COVID-19 first hit, the center’s teachers and case workers heard almost immediately from families who were sick and did not have enough to eat. Hope Street has been in the neighborhood since the 1990s, providing early care and education for young children and a host of wraparound support services for families. But relationships are at the heart of what they do and have done in this community for almost 30 years. “It is through trusting relationships that change happens,” Kropenske said. And those relationships were what families leaned on to survive the pandemic.

Colorado Launches Website to Connect Kids to Free Mental Health Sessions
Chalkbeat: In response to unprecedented numbers of youth experiencing mental health crises, Colorado officially launched a program that offers three free mental health sessions to children ages 12-18. In order to access the program, I Matter, students take a short survey on the website to assess their needs. If the results show they need help, the site will connect them to a provider for a 45-minute appointment in the next two weeks. One of the early questions asks if the young person is in crisis and directs those who answer yes to a crisis line for a more rapid response. “We have reduced as many barriers as humanly possible,” said state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, a Commerce City Democrat who spearheaded the effort. She said officials believe it’s the first of its kind in the country.

Students With Special Needs Acutely Affected By Bus Driver Shortage
Disability Scoop: In Clark County School District in Las Vegas, nearly 15,000 students with disabilities have a designated bus to and from school as a part of their individualized education program, or IEP. Robin Kincaid is the educational services director for Nevada PEP, a Las Vegas-based educational and advocacy group for families with children with disabilities statewide. Due to the shortage of bus drivers, she’s heard reports from parents about longer-than-usual bus rides and pickups coming off-schedule. When a school district doesn’t closely follow a student’s IEP, that could mean the child isn’t getting equal opportunities to an education. For example, some could miss their in-school or outside therapies. Others could miss feeding times or have a medical condition exacerbated by being late.

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