The Weekly Connect 10/24/22

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:

LGBTQ+ students report less access to positive curricular resources or supportive staff.

Schools can access $280 million in federal funds to provide students with more access to mental health services

Boston grapples with late and no-show school buses

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

LGBTQ+ Students Report Less Access to Positive Curricular Resources or Supportive Staff
K-12 Dive: Access to LGTBQ+ related books and resources in schools decreased in 2021 compared to 2019, when access was the highest, according to a new report on LGBTQ+ student experiences in public schools released by GLSEN. The organization, which advocates for inclusive public schools for LGBTQ+ students, surveyed students between April and August 2021. Students also reported seeing fewer instances of positive LGBTQ+ material in classroom lessons in 2021 than in 2019, even though these curricular supports were already uncommon. In 2021, the percentage of students who reported having many LGBTQ+ supportive school personnel also dipped compared to 2013-2019.

The Psychological Toll of High-Stakes Testing
Edutopia: A recent study conducted by Brian Galla, a psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, with Angela Duckworth and colleagues, concluded that high school grades are actually more predictive of college graduation than standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. The researchers assert that standardized tests have a major blind spot: the exams fail to capture “soft skills,” such as a student’s ability to develop good study habits, take academic risks, and persist through challenges. High school grades appear to do a better job mapping the area where resilience and knowledge meet. Arguably, that’s the place where potential is translated into real achievement.

These 7 Pandemic-Era Lessons Can Inform School Emergency Planning
K-12 Dive: When the COVID-19 pandemic caught school systems nationwide off guard, educators and students alike were forced to pivot to a new remote learning reality as mass shutdowns and social distancing measures kept schools closed for in-person learning. Schools are now considering lessons learned from the pandemic to adapt to future disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, water crises, and blizzards. Experts recommend these seven best practices: 1) create a district response team, 2) ensure continuity of learning by making sure students can quickly switch to remote learning during an emergency if needed, 3) safeguard the basics, from child nutrition to payroll, 4) reexamine IT fail-safes, 5) run through practice scenarios, 6) communicate the plan, and 7) build relationships with government and community agencies.

Boys Left Behind: Education Gender Gaps Across the US
Brookings: In every U.S. state, young women are more likely than their male counterparts to have a bachelor’s degree. The education gender gap emerges well before college, however: girls are more likely to graduate high school on time and perform substantially better on standardized reading tests than boys (and about as well in math). Understanding the dynamics of the gender gaps in education, especially for less–advantaged boys and men, is essential to informing policy solutions for gender gaps in education. Moreover, the variation in disparities between different cities and states may also offer useful lessons to policymakers and researchers. 

How to Help Students Manage Their Emotions
Edutopia: Not everyone has the training to support students’ emotional well-being, but that need is growing. In order to support students’ academic success, it’s essential that we address their immediate emotional needs. Without the proper education and experience, it’s easy for teachers and staff members to feel overwhelmed. When talking to students who need emotional support, educators should consider the following tips. First, determine if you should just listen or take action. Second, empower students to self-regulate using strategies such as deep breathing or taking a walk around the building. Third, give students hope, especially if you have an established relationship with the student. Lastly, be sure to have a structure in place to know when to call the students’ parents and seek help from the school counselor or social worker.


Kids’ Mental Health is in Crisis. Schools Can Get Them Help Through a $1 Billion Fund.
EdSurge: The U.S. Department of Education is ready to give schools $280 million through two grant programs to help young people access mental health care. It’s the first wave of a total of $1 billion—funded through the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—that the department will spend on youth mental health programs over the next five years. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona says the funding will fill the gap faced by schools that lack mental health services. Its intent is “recruiting, preparing, hiring, and training highly qualified school-based mental health providers,” he said in a call for applications to the grant funds.

California Will Start Disaggregating English Learner Academic Data
New America: On September 30, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1868 (Rivas) into law which means the picture of English learner (EL) performance in California is about to become much clearer. Starting in 2023, the California Department of Education (CDE) will be required to report disaggregated standardized test scores in English language arts, math, and science for different subgroups of ELs, including long-term English learners (LTELs), those at risk of becoming long-term English learners, current ELs, and ELs who have been reclassified. The bill would also require the department to report how many English learners have been dual-identified as having a disability.

Around the Nation

Addressing the Link Between Anxiety, Depression, and Student Attendance
Education Week: Studies suggest 1 percent to 2 percent of all students experience school refusal at some point in their school careers, and students with specific disabilities can be particularly at risk in middle and high school. Moreover, research suggests that most students who refuse to attend school have one or more depressive or anxiety disorders. The more classes students miss, the more anxiety they can develop about falling behind and out of touch with peers. Schools are addressing school avoidance by building an environment to ease fears about school for students with anxiety or depressive disorders while providing academic remediation and disability services. See related article: The 74 Million: “Analysis: States To ‘Likely See a Doubling’ of Pre-Pandemic Chronic Absenteeism.”

Students Belong in Class, so This School Redesigned Discipline to Honor That
EdNC: A lot of research tells us chronic absenteeism deeply impacts academic performance, graduation rates, and postsecondary outcomes. Often, efforts to combat persistent absences are directed at parents — but what about when the school keeps kids out of class? What about when schools are so focused on punishing bad behavior that the same kids keep missing class because of suspensions? Using a restorative justice approach, Southwest Guilford High School in North Carolina confronted and addressed this issue by recreating a culture of belonging, improving emotional regulation, and increasing attendance. As a result, in-school suspension looks a lot different now. Not only is it less utilized, but when it is used, its purpose is to restore students to the classroom with new tools.

With Boston Special Education Students Missing Classes Because of Late Buses, Two Advocacy Organizations Seek State Intervention
Boston Globe: The Boston school system’s perennial failure to provide timely bus service violates the educational rights of students with disabilities by causing them to miss instruction and therapies, advocates for six students and their families argue in a complaint filed with the state. The complaint, filed by two advocacy organizations, represents the latest attempt by exasperated Boston Public Schools parents and advocates to force the school district to address chronic problems of late- and no-show buses and potentially elevate the transportation debacle to a civil rights issue. Unreliable buses can sometimes cause students to arrive more than two hours late or miss entire school days if they don’t show up.

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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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