The Weekly Connect 4/4/22

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:

Young children can learn more from guided play than direct instruction.

President Biden’s 2023 budget seeks funding increases for high-poverty school districts and new money for mental health supports.

Aging school buildings aren’t designed for the weather extremes caused by climate change.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Kids Can Learn More From Guided Play Than From Direct Instruction, Report Finds
Hechinger Report: What happens when you stop teaching young children via direct instruction and instead set up purposeful opportunities to play? They could learn just as much — or more — when it comes to literacy, numeracy, and executive function skills critical to early academic success, according to a new review of 17 studies of play. Researchers found when children ages three to eight engage in guided play, they can learn just as much in some domains of literacy and executive function as children who receive direct instruction from a teacher or adult. Guided play, unlike free play, means there is a learning goal set by an adult and children are ‘gently steered’ to explore.

Early Education Pays Off. A New Study Shows How
Education Week: A new study suggests preschool may help prepare students for better academic engagement in high school. Researchers tracked more than 4,000 children who started kindergarten in Tulsa, Oklahoma public schools in 2006. Early benefits of preschool participation on students’ math and reading scores mostly faded away by the time students reached high school—a common fade-out problem seen for early education. But researchers found that students who had participated in Tulsa’s state-funded preschool programs were more likely to attend school regularly and take more-challenging courses than those who participated in Head Start or did not receive early-childhood education.

The Real Reasons Kids Aren’t Reading More
Education Week: According to a recent study, media use by kids ages 8 to 18 was already on the upswing before the pandemic. The pace of the acceleration has quickened significantly due to technology-related media use. Overall media use rose by just 3% for tweens (ages 8-12) between 2015 and 2019, and 11% for teens, or kids 13 to 18, over the same period. But in two years—between 2019 and 2021—social media use for both groups increased by 17%, to a little more than five and half hours a day for tweens and just over eight and half hours for teens. The biggest increase came in watching online videos, which grew by 23 minutes per day for teens, and by a minute for tweens.

Temper Tantrums, Tears, and Trauma: The Challenges Facing Children During COVID
New America: The current youth mental health crisis, with soaring rates of anxiety, depression, and trauma, demands urgent attention. Adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs) expose children to trauma or harm and cause significant distress. According to a recent longitudinal study, a higher number of ACEs early in students’ lives impacted their ability to form warm relationships with teachers when they entered kindergarten. They are also more likely to experience lower-quality relationships with future educators, and increased internalized behaviors, such as social withdrawal, and feelings of sadness and irritability through third grade as well as reduced levels of school engagement in fifth grade. With the right supports and resources, however, classrooms can offer a space in which children can learn to trust, share, laugh, and socialize. See related article: New York TimesThere’s a Mental-Health Crisis Among American Children. Why?

Policy

Biden Budget Seeks Big Funding Increases for High-Need Schools, Student Mental Health
Education Week: Just weeks after President Biden signed into law a fiscal 2022 spending plan that fell well short of his proposed K-12 education priorities, the administration’s fiscal 2023 budget proposal advances some of those same proposals again, including massive increases in funding for high-poverty school districts and new money for mental health supports. The proposal includes $350 million to improve school staff recruitment and retention; $1 billion to double the number of school counselors, psychologists, and social workers; $438 million in new funding for community schools with wraparound services for students; and $16.3 billion in Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act funding.

Most State Policies That Address LGBTQ+ Students in Schools Are Affirming, Despite Recent Trends Toward Exclusion
Child Trends: For LGBTQ+ students, research demonstrates that affirming policies, which provide a specific list of protections, are associated with reduced rates of bullying and suicide, among other outcomes. Throughout 2021, however, many states proposed policies to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ students in schools, which represented a marked shift from an increasingly supportive policy environment. There are several ways in which state policies can affirm LGBTQ+ students in schools, including ensuring that sexual health education is inclusive of non-heterosexual relationships, expanding definitions in teen dating violence prevention policies to cover same-sex couples, and establishing privacy policies to prevent unwanted disclosure of an individual’s sexual or gender identity.

Around the Nation

Hiccups and Hard Lessons: What it Takes to Bring Big New Tutoring Programs to America’s Classrooms
Chalkbeat: In an unprecedented effort to help students recover academically after two years of disrupted schooling, at least a dozen new large-scale tutoring efforts have been started by state education departments and school districts across the country. There are encouraging signs: Thousands of tutors have gotten to work, and some say they’ve seen students make progress. But several initiatives are starting smaller or taking longer to reach students than officials originally hoped. Chicago, for example, wanted 650 tutors in its corps this year, records show, but has only 460.

Data: Does Your State Have Enough School Psychologists and Counselors?
Education Week: School psychologists and counselors are crucial to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of students in school. An analysis of federal data finds that many school districts fall way below recommended staffing levels for both professions. More than 5.4 million public school students (12%) attend districts with no psychologists. Almost half a million students (1%) attend districts with no school counselors. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of one psychologist to 500 students and the American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of one school counselor to 250 students. Only 8% of districts meet the recommended ratio of school psychologists to students. Just 14% of districts meet the ideal student-to-counselor ratio.

This School Wasn’t Built for the New Climate Reality. Yours May Not be Either
NPR: According to the latest available analysis from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, almost 1 in 5 U.S. students attended schools in districts that were affected by federally-declared natural disasters from 2017 through 2019. This includes recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas, wildfires in California and Colorado, and floods in North Carolina and Arizona. Across the country, climate change has been driving more severe weather. This reality is slamming into another reality: aging school buildings that were designed and built in a time of less intense weather.

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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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