The Weekly Connect 2/22/22

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:

The physical activity and social interactions that occur during recess help children learn. 

States are using American Rescue Plan funds to provide students with evidence-based supports such as tutoring and summer programs. 

Universal, free preschool is coming to Colorado. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

How Recess Helps Students Learn
The Conversation: The physical activity and social connection that take place at recess help children’s brains work and develop properly by lowering their levels of stress, regulating their nervous system, and allowing them to be more engaged once back in the classroom. According to a study, when children have recess in a safe environment that includes positive interactions with adults and peers, students have fewer problems with executive functions and better classroom behavior. Brain science research supports this by showing how aspects of recess (e.g., physical activity, repetitive movements) decrease stress and improve executive function, helping children learn more successfully throughout the school day.

A Tenuous Balance: Supporting Students While Pushing Their Learning Recovery
Education Week: Student frustration, stress, distraction, and anxiety this school year all add to a significant, complicated reality of social-emotional and mental health needs that teachers must acknowledge and help address while also moving children forward academically. Getting students interested and excited about learning is more challenging than ever, according to a survey of 630 teachers across the country. Low student engagement is the most widespread problem teachers pointed to as an impediment to helping students reach grade level. In addition, teachers cited other significant barriers, including behavioral problems, student quarantines, and student mental health needs.

Uncertain Evidence for Online Tutoring
Hechinger Report: The federal government is pushing schools to spend a big chunk of their American Rescue funds on tutoring. Bringing tutors into school buildings, though, is logistically challenging. Online tutoring, which comes in many forms, ranging from text chatting and Zoom sessions to robo-tutors that use artificial intelligence to deliver prepackaged lessons, is an attractive solution. While there’s strong evidence for a particular type of in-person tutoring that takes place every or almost every day called “high dosage” tutoring, it is not clear that this success translates to the virtual world. Recent studies have revealed that high-dosage tutoring is very effective, but the impact is significantly reduced when the number of hours decreases.

The Representation of Social Groups in U.S. Education Materials and Why it Matters
New America: A recent report explored the connection between culturally responsive materials and learning. After assessing the frequency and portrayal of different racial, ethnic, and gender groups within printed and digital education media, findings suggest a disparity in the representation of characters from these groups. When portrayals of these groups are present, they tend to be affirming. However, stereotypes, limited roles, and inaccurate information are still present. The report’s findings indicate a need for educational materials that create a sense of belonging, develop cultural authenticity, and recognize nuanced identity in different characters.

Is Universal Preschool Worth It?
Brookings: A new analysis connects children’s exposure to Head Start in its early years to their outcomes as adults. Researchers sought to determine whether Head Start children are more likely to finish high school, have stable employment, or escape poverty. Results show that Head Start had striking impacts on its students’ long-term educational and economic success. Compared to children who were age 6 (and less likely to benefit) when Head Start arrived, children ages 3 to 5 saw a substantial increase in the likelihood of earning a 4-year college degree. The effect is largest for younger cohorts, who were eligible to attend Head Start for more years and benefited from the gradual improvement in classroom quality.


4 Ways States Are Using American Rescue Plan Funds
EdNote: State education leaders are using unprecedented federal investment in education through the American Rescue Plan to respond to ongoing impacts on the K-12 education system. A review of how 35 states plan to use their funding revealed that states are using evidence-based strategies like tutoring, high-quality instructional materials, remote learning and summer programs to accelerate student learning and address unfinished learning. States are also improving data and funding sustainability to better identify individual students and groups most impacted by the pandemic, integrating progress and fiscal monitoring into existing systems and expanding monitoring capacity.

The Struggle Over Defining, Reporting Restraint and Seclusion in Schools
K-12 Dive: To get more accurate data on restraint and seclusion practices in schools, the U.S. Department of Education proposes revised definitions for Civil Rights Data Collection reporting. The revisions come after education organizations disability and civil rights advocacy groups raised concerns about misreporting and problematic data in the past, including some very large districts reporting very low rates of restraint and seclusion. Unfortunately, the revised definitions can further confuse reporting efforts by school and district administrators and contribute to future misreporting.

Around the Nation

District Leaders See Mental Health of Students, Staff As Top Concern
The Journal: A new survey of K–12 district leaders shows that respondents’ three biggest concerns during the current school year are the mental health of students, teachers, and principals, respectively. Ninety percent of district leaders said they have either “moderate” or “major” concerns about students’ mental health, and 87% said teacher mental health was a top concern, with the mental health of principals coming in at 84%. “Although we did not ask district leaders why they are so concerned about students’ mental health this school year, recent research and media reports suggest that increased anxiety, suicide attempts, and emergency room visits among children; large declines in academic achievement; increases in students failing to show up for classes; and increased student disciplinary issues could be reasons for district leaders’ concerns,” the survey report said. See related article: US News “US Schools Failing in Fight Against Youth Mental Health Crisis, New Report Card Finds.”

‘Not Their First Worry’: How Pandemic Learning Loss Impacts Foster Youth Already Facing Challenges
Public Source: Youth who come into foster or kinship care are often behind in reading and math. This gap is due to multiple factors, such as undiagnosed learning disabilities or emotional and neurological consequences from experiencing trauma. Researchers are considering how much more significant the gap between foster youth and their peers could become because of the ongoing, educational, pandemic-related school changes and what this could mean for their future.

Families Face Roadblocks In Getting Help For Kids With Developmental Disabilities
Disability Scoop: Experts say early screenings and referrals for services are keys to a better future for children with delays or disabilities. Such services can help with development, behavior, and emotions and result in the child being better prepared for kindergarten. But many Texas children face barriers to accessing services, including screenings and a state-funded Early Childhood Intervention program. Families may be held back by fear, lack of health insurance, or financial and housing instability. The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused barriers to service.

Universal Free Preschool is Coming. How will Colorado Ensure Quality?
Chalkbeat: Should preschool classes be capped at 16 children? Should teachers have bachelor’s degrees? Should classrooms be subject to annual in-person visits from expert evaluators? These are a few of the questions Colorado leaders will grapple with as they take on the task of defining what high-quality preschool looks like and deciding how it should be measured when the state launches free preschool for 4-year-olds in 2023. The new universal program will be funded with a voter-approved nicotine tax and represents an expansion of Colorado’s current state-funded preschool program, which serves about 23,000 children from low-income households or children who have poor social skills, language delays, or other risk factors.

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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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