The Weekly Connect 2.13.23

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:

Students who meet with counselors are more likely to apply for financial aid

President Biden renews his call for youth mental health funding.

A California nonprofit organization forms a supportive peer group for African-American students

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

Parents Today: Less ‘Helicoptering,’ More Concern About Kids’ Mental Health
Education Week: In the wake of pandemic disruptions and an unprecedented rise in school shootings, a majority of parents place less of a premium on their children’s academic success than on their mental well-being and character. The data are part of the Pew Research Center’s latest edition of Parenting in America Today, a nationally representative survey of more than 3,700 U.S. parents with children under age 18. Findings give educators a window into the priorities and parenting approaches of their students’ families at a time when schools need parents to buy into intensive academic interventions to help students catch up academically. These findings suggest educators will need to make parents aware of the mental and social-emotional supports they give students, not just academic ones.

Students Who Met With Counselors More Likely to Apply for College Aid
K-12 Dive: Students were more likely to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and receive need-based grants when they met with high school counselors about college financial aid, according to a recent publication from the Institution of Education Sciences that uses longitudinal data from more than 23,000 students who were 9th graders in 2009. For students planning on college, 87% who met with a counselor completed the FAFSA, compared to 59% of those who did not meet with a counselor. The report highlighting the role counselors play comes against a backdrop of national school counselor shortages at the same time some states and districts are using emergency pandemic funding to boost counseling programs.

Survey: Nearly Half of Students Started Last Fall Below Grade Level — Usually in Math and Reading — but Tutoring Remains Elusive
The 74 Million: Nearly half of the nation’s students entered school last fall below grade level in at least one subject, most often in reading or math, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The NCES data found that schools are employing a variety of recovery strategies to get students back on grade level, including using assessments to identify their needs (88%), covering material students missed (81%), and holding longer classes (29%). Schools were least likely to extend the school day (19%) or extend the school year (10%). More than a third of schools (37%) say they offer high-dosage tutoring, defined as at least a half hour of one-on-one or small group instruction three times a week with a trained educator. But less than a third of students in those schools participate.


Biden Reignites Call for Youth Mental Health Funding, Child Tax Credit
K-12 Dive: Calls for increasing public school teachers’ pay, restoring the full child tax credit, establishing universal preschool, and improving access to mental health care in schools — all of those initiatives were among President Joe Biden’s nods to education during his second State of the Union address. Biden also asked Congress “to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on our kids” and to pass bipartisan legislation banning targeted advertising to children online. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act got a callout from Biden as well when he said, “thank God we did” something to address gun violence following the May mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. But he said Congress must do more to “finish the job” and stop gun violence, as he called for a ban on assault weapons. See related article: Education Week “Biden Calls for More Mental Health Care at Schools in State of the Union.” 

States Rethink School Accountability After Pandemic Pause
Chalkbeat: As accountability systems re-emerge after a pandemic pause, a debate about whether to ease up on academic expectations or double down is flaring up across the country. Mandated by federal and state laws, the systems set goals for schools, rate their performance, and direct support to schools identified as struggling. But the pandemic has complicated every step of that process. What are reasonable goals after student test scores plunged last year to their lowest level in decades? How to acknowledge schools’ dogged efforts to distribute meals and laptops, offer COVID testing, and track down absent students? And what is the right way to target support when so many students need so much help? As states try to answer those questions, longstanding disagreements about testing students and rating schools have resurfaced — and calls to rethink those practices have grown.

USDA Proposal Would Shift School Nutrition Standards Through 2029
K-12 Dive: School nutrition standards could see a significant update to requirements on whole grains, sugar, and sodium, made gradually between fall 2024 and fall 2029, under a proposal announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Beginning in fall 2024, schools would be required to offer mostly whole grain products, with the choice of occasional enriched grain products. By fall 2025, they would be expected to reduce weekly sodium limits for breakfast and lunch by 10% and limit high-sugar products like yogurts and cereal, though some flavored milk options with “reasonable limits” on added sugars would be allowed. By fall 2027, added sugars would be limited to less than 10% of calories per week for breakfast and lunch, and weekly limits for sodium would decrease by another 10%. Sodium would then be reduced an additional 10% for school lunches alone in fall 2029.

Around the Nation

‘This is who I am’: Black Students find Support, Culture, Purpose Through Peer Group
EdSource: Black Students of California United, a Fresno-based nonprofit, is a network of hundreds of Black middle and high school students throughout the state who meet regularly to brainstorm about policy and take action on issues affecting them – from mental health to gun violence to substance abuse to school funding. Through social media, conferences, opinion pieces, college tours, movie nights, and other events, the students involved with the nonprofit have made inroads at hundreds of schools across California, even those with very few Black students. With a focus on social justice, civil rights, and health, the group has three core initiatives: a youth senate, health ambassadors who promote physical and mental health, and a Black male mentorship program. The goal, according to the group’s website, is to connect and inspire young Black people to “improve the quality of all Black lives.”

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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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