The Weekly Connect 10/11/22

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:

An estimated one-third of school children were chronically absent in the 2021-22 school year. 

States using federal emergency relief funds for literacy programs

Schools are offering students the option of taking mental health days

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

A Third of Public School Children Were Chronically Absent After Classrooms Re-Opened, Advocacy Group Says
The Hechinger Report: A national group that seeks to curb student absenteeism, Attendance Works, believes that the number of students missing at least 18 days of school a year has doubled to 16 million in 2021-22 from 8 million students before the pandemic. If correct, this means that one out of every three public school children was chronically absent during the second full school year of the pandemic, when most children were learning in person and should have been catching up from the disrupted year of 2020 and the first half of 2021. Before the pandemic, only about 16 percent of U.S. school children were chronically absent. Attendance Works based its estimate on 2021-22 attendance data it has from four states where chronic absenteeism doubled from pre-pandemic levels: California, Connecticut, Ohio, and Virginia. See related article: Washington Post: “Student Absenteeism Skyrocketed in the Pandemic as Test Scores Plunged.”

Concussions Linked to Poor Academic Standing Among Adolescents
Healio: A study published in Injury Prevention revealed that adolescents with a history of concussion had a 25% greater risk of being in poor academic standing than those without a concussion history. Researchers reported that the risk increased for those who had repeated concussions. The study sought to understand the connection between a concussion history in the last year and academic performance among high schoolers in the United States. Researchers evaluated data from more than 10,000 adolescents who participated in the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. While having at least one concussion in the past year increased the risk for poor academic standing, overall, the association between a history of a single concussion and poor standing was not significant, according to the researchers. 


As Digital Equity Eludes 16M Students, Ed Dept Provides Roadmap to Districts
K-12 Dive: A lack of consistent and high-speed broadband, the high cost of those internet services, and an absence of ongoing funding for affordable internet programs continue to hinder technology access in communities nationwide, according to a digital equity resource guide from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. Suggested strategies include building partnerships with internet service providers to improve equitable broadband infrastructure and using public spaces and community partnerships to create more internet access. According to the guide, ongoing federal, state, or local funding can help districts buy equipment and provide affordable internet access and digital literacy programs.

States, Districts Directing ESSER Dollars Toward Literacy Development 
K-12 Dive: State and local school systems are committing a notable amount of federal emergency relief funds toward literacy development activities, including phonics-based teacher training, instruction and materials. The state education agencies in Utah, North Carolina and other states, as well as 35 of the nation’s 100 largest school districts, have indicated they are budgeting money from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds for literacy training. The interest in using ESSER money on literacy development is likely due to disappointing reading assessment results during the pandemic that showed lower than expected progress, as well as the widening of achievement gaps between White, wealthier students and students of color and those from low-income families.

Around the Nation

Schools Nationwide Offer Students Mental Health Days
News Nation: Schools in 12 states across the nation are allowing students to take mental health days as a move to try and combat the mental health crisis kids are facing in the wake of the pandemic. The idea is spreading and is now being proposed in at least five other states. It works just like a sick day. The student’s parents would call the school to let them know their child is sick and needs to stay home. In this case, they would take the day to try to seek care if it is available in an attempt to help them cope with feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression. States with school mental health days include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. 

Facing Regional Shortages, U.S. Schools Now Employing 160,000 ‘Underqualified’ Teachers
The 74 Million: U.S. schools currently employ at least 163,650 underqualified educators, teachers working without state certification or outside of their subject area. In 2017, at least 109,000 underqualified teachers were estimated to be in classrooms. The underqualified group comprises roughly 5% of the U.S. teaching force. States with the highest ratios of these hires relative to the student population include Washington, Utah, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, and Maryland. Black, brown and low-income students are still more likely to be taught by underqualified educators than peers, research shows, despite federal efforts to protect against this by requiring states receiving Title I funding to make plans to address disparities. See related article: K-12 Dive “OSEP: States Can’t Let Special Educators Teach Under Emergency Licenses.” 

In a Struggling School District, Partnerships Bring Progress
The New York Times: In the Cuba, N.M., school district, where one-third of the 741 students are homeless, creating a community school district was a response to students’ vast needs. The district is 79% Native American and 20% Latino. In 2018, 62% of students graduated high school. Since 2018, Superintendent Karen Sanchez-Griego has overhauled the curriculum, added an Indian education department, hired a community schools director and Native American employees who spoke the Navajo language, established an on-site pantry, hired grandparents to connect with other grandparents raising children, and set up classes and gatherings for family members. The school district also partnered with neighboring universities to hire students to research their own communities’ language and culture. In 2022, the district’s graduation rate rose to 95%.

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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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