The Weekly Connect 12/20/21

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:

Black and Latino students are more likely to have inexperienced teachers

The Los Angeles Unified School District delays the start of its COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

Art classes serve as an oasis for students in Washington, D.C., schools who are grappling with the effects of the pandemic. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Why Child’s Play is Serious Business in Early Education
EdSource: A growing body of research is making the case for play as a way to boost the well-being of young children as the pandemic drags on and concerns over learning loss and mental health issues escalate. Play is such a powerful force, some research suggests, that it can be used as a tool to close achievement gaps in children. One recent report from the LEGO Foundation found that in disadvantaged communities from Rwanda to Ethiopia, children showed significantly greater learning gains in literacy, motor, and social-emotional development when attending child care centers that use a mix of instruction and free and guided play as opposed to those that focus solely on academics.

The Pandemic Hit Vulnerable Students Hardest. Now, Schools Have to Reckon With the Effects.
Education Week: A new report from McKinsey & Company demonstrates how the disproportionate negative impacts of the pandemic on the most vulnerable learners have persisted. As quarantines, staff shortages, and other issues continue to disrupt learning this year, “programs to support students are not always reaching the ones who need it most,” the report’s authors write. “If this trend continues, the pandemic could leave students with increasingly unequal access to education and opportunity.” Key takeaways from the report: schools have to help some students make up more academic ground than others, and the gap between those two groups is widening; many students are still experiencing big disruptions to learning, and more parents are reporting student absences from school; and access to support systems, like tutoring or mental health supports, is unevenly distributed. See related article: Chalkbeat “‘Concerning’ Test Results in Newark Give Insight into Pandemic Learning Loss.”

Black and Latino Students Are Still More Likely to Have Inexperienced Teachers, Study Says
Education Week: Black and Latino students are still more likely than their peers to have teachers with one year or less of experience in the classroom, despite years-long federal efforts to change that trend, according to two reports (here and here) from the Education Trust. The reports compare rates of novice teachers (those in their first or second year of teaching) in schools with high percentages of Black and Latino students to schools with lower percentages of Black and Latino students. When newer teachers are unevenly distributed in this way, the reports argue, students of color are losing out. New teachers are less experienced, and research has shown that teachers with more years under their belt can do more to increase student motivation and academic achievement. See related article: Education Week “The School Staffing Crisis Won’t End Any Time Soon.”

Policy

Schools Offering Hybrid Options Drop as In-Person Learning Returns to Nearly 100%
K-12 Dive: Fewer schools are offering remote and hybrid options this school year than last, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Meanwhile, nearly all public schools are offering in-person instruction in a sharp reversal from the first year of the pandemic. At the end of last school year, about 40% of schools were offering students a remote option, compared to around 34% as of September 2021. There was an even sharper drop in hybrid learning: While 44% offered this option at the end of last school year, less than 5% offered hybrid learning at the beginning of this school year, according to Chris Chapman, an associate commissioner for NCES.

Los Angeles Schools, With 30K Unvaccinated Students, Push Off COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Until Fall 2022
USA Today: Faced with more than 30,000 unvaccinated older students, the Los Angeles Unified School District pushed back the deadline for its COVID-19 vaccine mandate to fall 2022. The controversial move in the nation’s second-largest district signals tension ahead for other districts that aim to enforce student vaccine requirements when the country remains bitterly divided over mandates. “We have not come to this conclusion lightly,” interim Los Angeles Superintendent Megan Reilly said before the vote. Los Angeles had planned to shift students who remained unvaccinated by Jan. 10 into its online school, City of Angels. Many worried about its ability to accommodate tens of thousands of new students at the start of the next semester and the disruption it would cause for staff and children. See related article: K-12 Dive “Head Start Classrooms Close as Vaccination Mandate Looms.”

Around the Nation

For Kids Grappling With the Pandemic’s Traumas, Art Classes Can be an Oasis
N.P.R.: School is a little different this year, so art teachers are using their classes to help kids cope. After spending months trying to get used to remote learning, now kids are struggling to adjust to being in school in-person again. As schools grapple with the social and emotional effects of the pandemic on students, teachers of music, theater and other arts classes are trying to help. These classes can provide an outlet for students to connect with peers by creating something together. They can also provide a space for students to express the big emotions they are experiencing by tapping into their creativity.

Schools Confront a Wave of Student Misbehavior, Driven by Months of Remote Learning
The Wall Street Journal: School districts across the U.S. say they are seeing a surge of student misbehavior in the return to in-person learning, after months of closures and social isolation. Schools have seen an increase in both minor incidents, like students talking in class, and more serious issues, such as fights and gun possession. Some schools are responding to the disciplinary problems by dispatching more staffers to patrol school grounds or by hiring more counselors. Others are reducing student suspensions, or in Dallas, eliminating them altogether in favor of counseling. Some districts have enacted what they call mental-health days, closing schools around holidays to give students and administrators a break.

‘Hello, Baby Carrots’: D.C. Kids Learn How to Garden and Cook Vegetables
The Washington Post: FreshFarm FoodPrints, a D.C.-based educational program, has partnered with 19 schools across the city and works with about 7,000 kids to teach them how to grow, harvest, and cook all kinds of different plants. Students also get lessons in social and emotional learning, language arts, mathematics and other subjects. The program kicked off in 2009 when two educators, Jennifer Mampara and Barbara Percival, partnered to create a program that integrated food education and garden-based science education. The program places FoodPrints staff in schools who work alongside teachers as they lead lessons on food. The students are taught how to grow food, cook, make conscious choices about what they eat, and use all five of their senses when interacting with a food item.

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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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