The Weekly Connect 10/3/22

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

During the pandemic, most K-12 students suffered significant learning loss

The White House wants to secure free school meals for 9 million more students by 2032.

Schools are adding counselors, but not as many as the American School Counselor Association recommends.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

The State of the American Student: Fall 2022
Center on Reinventing Public Education: A report released by the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) reveals that the vast majority of K-12 students suffered significant learning losses of half a year or greater over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. With few exceptions, losses are greater in mathematics than in reading. Learning losses were smaller in 2021-22, when more schools were open, but substantial numbers of students have continued falling further behind normal levels of learning for their age and grade. Students with disabilities have suffered disproportionate academic impact. However, few studies have examined the disparities in outcomes for different subpopulations of students with disabilities. The report also details widespread harm to students’ mental health and social and emotional well-being caused by the pandemic.

Study: Students With Disabilities in Inclusive Classes Achieved at Higher Levels
K-12 Dive: Indiana high school students with disabilities who spent more time in general education classes scored higher on state reading and math assessments and were better prepared for college and career than their peers in less inclusive settings, a study from Indiana University found. Findings from that study showed students in more inclusive settings — regardless of their disability category — achieved significantly higher on state assessments than students in more restrictive settings. The two studies’ findings validate what federal special education law requires and what many special education professionals and advocates say is important for providing equitable educational opportunities: that students with disabilities attend classes in the least restrictive environment possible. 

3 Ways to Avoid Hurdles for Social-Emotional Learning Education Week: Schools have been putting a much greater emphasis on mental health and social-emotional learning (SEL) as a core part of their strategy to help students recover from lost learning time and other hardships brought on by the pandemic. Research has shown that students need to feel secure and emotionally stable in order to learn and perform at their best. The types of skills that students learn in SEL lessons include managing emotions and making good decisions. To promote and explain the importance of social-emotional learning, panelists from a Seat at the Table Online Discussion hosted by Education Week recommend clarifying any misconceptions about social-emotional learning and mental health, including parents and the rest of the school community when social-emotional learning initiatives are rolled out, and providing support for the teachers who have to put SEL into practice in the classroom. 

Immigrant Students Are Under Pressure. Four Ways Districts Can Support Them
Education Week: Immigrant students—whether they are refugees, unaccompanied minors, or migrants—are becoming increasingly visible in K-12 schools across the country as immigration topics dominate headlines. Whether a school district is new to welcoming immigrant students or has been doing so for years, district leaders agree on four best practices to ensure these students and their families get the support they need: 1) tap into federal and other funding for immigrant students, 2) make decisions based on data and feedback, 3) invest in training for all staff, and 4) partner with community organizations to help the whole child. 

The School Year Is Getting Hotter. How Does Heat Affect Student Learning and Well-Being?
Education Week: Historic heat waves across the United States thwarted the start of the 2022-23 school year, forcing schools to shut down, pivot to remote learning, or dismiss students early in the day. Unfortunately, heat makes it harder for students to learn. One study that tracked 10 million secondary students found that cumulative heat exposure decreases the productivity of instructional time. Without school air conditioning, a 1-degree hotter school year reduced that year’s learning by 1 percent. The effect was three times more damaging for Black and Hispanic students and students from low-income households than for white and affluent students, that study found. Additional studies cite the negative impact of heat on students’ academic, social-emotional, and physical well-being. 


States Make Strategic Gains in Early Care and Education Policy in 2022
EdNote: Using data-informed decisions paired with bipartisan support for early care and education, state policymakers achieved significant yet specific, system-level changes in 2022 amid evolving challenges in the education systems in their states. During 2022 legislative sessions, at least 345 bills were introduced, with 65 enacted in 30 states. Enrollment is recovering for pre-K and kindergarten, however the percentage of children ages three and four enrolled in pre-K is 47% nationally and ranges from 31-63% at the state level. And despite some rebounding achievement in second and third grade literacy and math, recent National Assessment of Educational Progress data show that nine-year-olds’ national testing averages are down 7% in math and 5% in reading following interrupted instruction. Opportunity gaps and other systemic failures led to larger declines in test scores for students of color. 

Department Awards Over $7 Million to Eight Organizations to Highlight Parent Voices and Support
U.S. Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education recently announced awards totaling over $7 million to eight statewide organizations under the 2022 Competitive Grants for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program to enhance and increase parent and family engagement in local education. As the 2022-23 school year begins, the Department is redoubling its commitment to providing states and communities with additional resources to support student learning and parental and family engagement. These SFEC grants will provide financial support to organizations that offer technical assistance and training to state educational agencies and school districts that effectively engage families over policies, programs, and activities that improve student development and academic achievement.

White House Plan Seeks Free School Meals for 9M more Students by 2032
K-12 Dive: The White House recently announced that it plans to work with Congress to expand access to free school meals for 9 million more children by 2032 as a first step toward universal free school meals. President Joe Biden has set an ambitious goal to end hunger and increase healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 to reduce the number of Americans with diet-related diseases. “While school meals have demonstrated strong positive impacts on children’s nutrition and other key outcomes, we have not yet fully leveraged school meals as a core intervention to improve child health or child hunger,” the White House said in the plan. The White House also announced support for expanding the Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program, which provided benefits to families of more than 36 million children to pay for groceries during summer 2021.

Around the Nation

Schools Are Adding Counselors. But Can They Make the Gains Permanent?
EdSurge: Earlier this year, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) released numbers from the 2020-21 school year, using data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics. For every school counselor in the country, there were 415 students in 2020-21, down from 491 in 2013-14, the new data shows. That ratio continues a steady improvement that began nearly a decade ago and represents the lowest recorded ratio nationally in 32 years, though states’ averages vary widely. While the latest counselor-to-student ratio is a move in the right direction, it’s still quite a way off from ASCA’s recommended ratio of 1:250. Yet a growing number of school districts are working hard locally to get within that range on their own. 

Schools Use COVID Aid to Give Students Paid Jobs
Chalkbeat: Across the U.S., schools are using their influx of COVID relief money in an innovative but overlooked way: to offer paying jobs to students. Programs like these are an example of how the funding is allowing schools to get creative with how they offer direct help to young people and expose them to new career paths — benefiting both teens looking for work and schools in need of staff. School leaders say the money is especially helpful for teens who can’t afford an unpaid internship or who are struggling to balance their schoolwork with a late-night part-time job. If teens are working as tutors or mentors, the jobs also provide an academic and emotional boost for students’ younger peers. Experts recommend that programs like this offer students plenty of adult guidance, especially if they are working with younger children. 

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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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