The Weekly Connect 10/31/22

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:

Many students struggling with anxiety and depression say they can’t find help at school. 

Dress code policies can make schools less equitable. 

An Alabama town is using federal Covid relief funds to hire more teachers who can teach students who are learning English.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

NAEP Scores for Grades 4 and 8 Skid to Lows Not Seen in Years
K-12 Dive: The Nation’s Report Card is in, and the scores show declines in both reading and math at grades 4 and 8 for the majority of states in 2022, according to results released for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Average national reading scores in 2022 reverted back to levels last seen in the 1990s, and math scores saw the largest declines ever recorded in that subject. The average math score for 4th graders fell 5 points since 2019 (from 241 to 236), while the score for 8th graders dipped 8 points (from 282 to 274), according to the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics. In reading, average score declines were not as steep, but still decreased by 3 points in both grades compared to 2019. See related articles: Education Week “Two Decades of Progress, Nearly Gone: National Math, Reading Scores Hit Historic Lows” and National Public Radio: “Student Math Scores are Down From Pre-COVID Levels, the National Report Card Finds.” 

​​What Schools Miss When They’re Missing Relationship Data
Christensen Institute: There is significant interest from schools and the communities that support them in doubling down on the crucial role that relationships play in young people’s lives. Relationships and the resources they can offer drive healthy development, learning, and access to opportunity. One strategy to gain a more complete picture of students’ networks is to ask students themselves. Often, this takes the form of an activity called relationship mapping, or the practice of better understanding students’ social connections by having them map out their social networks. Several entrepreneurs are thinking of ways to build tools to supercharge schools’ ability to access and store secure data on students’ networks to help both young people and the institutions that serve them keep track of their connections.

Students Say Depression, Anxiety Are Holding Them Back. But They Can’t Find Help at School
Education Week: Middle and high school students say overwhelmingly that depression, stress, and anxiety are the biggest barriers to their learning, according to a new report released by YouthTruth. At the same time, they also report struggling to get the support they need from their schools. Only about a fifth of secondary students said they had access to a school counselor, psychologist, or therapist when they felt upset or had a problem. When asked if their school has services or programs to help them when they are having problems, fewer than half of middle school students and only about a third of high school students agreed that they did. Less than half of middle and high school students say that they have an adult at their school they can talk to when they feel upset or stressed.

Cellphones in School: What to Know
US News & World Report: As smartphones have become ubiquitous among teens, schools have increasingly had to wrestle with managing their use in class. While some educators feel there’s a place for smartphones in the classroom, others see them as a distraction and a source of cyberbullying. And research indicates they can have a negative effect on learning and attention. By 2020, 77% of schools reported prohibiting cell phones for non-academic use, according to the federal National Center for Education Statistics. When schools shifted to virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, policies to limit or ban cellphones became meaningless, as many students relied on their phones for both schoolwork and entertainment. Now, educators say they’re seeing smartphone dependence become a difficult habit to break in classrooms that are hoping to return to pre-pandemic procedures.


Dress Code Policies Can Make Schools Less Equitable and Safe
K-12 Dive: The U.S. Department of Education should develop resources for schools on creating equitable dress code policies to reduce subjectivity and exclusionary discipline for violations, according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report. Schools that enforce strict dress codes have statistically significant higher rates of discipline that remove students from the classroom, the report said. Additionally, schools that enforce strict dress codes predominantly enroll Black and Hispanic students. GAO is also recommending that the Education Department provide resources to schools, districts, and states on equitably enforcing discipline policies, including dress codes.

Florida State Board Approves Strict Implementation of Anti-LGBTQ Laws
K-12 Dive: The Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved several new rules implementing the Parental Rights in Education law, known as “Don’t Say Gay,” that took effect on July 1. One rule will allow teachers to be fired and their licenses suspended or revoked if they “intentionally provide classroom instruction to students in kindergarten through grade 3 on sexual orientation or gender identity.” Another requires districts that allow students to use bathrooms, locker rooms, or other facilities based on gender identity to post their policy online and inform parents of the procedures being implemented. At a minimum, the policies must include how the district plans to supervise students in locker rooms where transgender youth are permitted, such as by stationing chaperones or coaches there.

Around the Nation

States Opt Out of Federal Teen Survey Even as Youth Mental Health Worsens
Chalkbeat: Colorado, Florida, and Idaho will not participate in a key part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior surveys that reach more than 80,000 students. Over the past 30 years, the state-level surveys, conducted anonymously during each odd-numbered year, have helped elucidate the mental health stressors and safety risks for high school students. Each state has its own rationale for opting out, but their withdrawal — when suicides and feelings of hopelessness are up — has caught the attention of school psychologists and federal and state health officials. The reduction in the number of states participating in the state-level CDC survey will make it harder for those states to track the conditions and behaviors that signal poor mental health, like depression, drug and alcohol misuse, and suicidal ideation, experts said.

English Language Teachers are Scarce. One Alabama Town is Trying to Change That
The Hechinger Report: A northern Alabama community with large numbers of Hispanic immigrants is using federal COVID-19 relief money for an experiment to serve students who are still learning English. They are hiring and certifying more local, Spanish-speaking staff. More than half of the 2,500 students in the small Russellville city school district identify as Hispanic or Latino, and about a quarter are still learning English — they’re known as EL students. Districtwide, the percentage of students who met their language proficiency goals increased from 46 percent in 2019 to 61 percent in 2022 after hiring and certifying more local, Spanish-speaking staff. At the two elementary schools, proficiency jumped by nearly 30 percentage points.

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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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