The Weekly Connect 2/21/23

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:

Dramatic increases in mental health challenges for teenage girls.

Proposed New York State law would limit length of school suspensions.

Most of the United States is dealing with a teacher shortage.

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

CDC Calls on Schools to Help Address Historic High Teen Trauma
K-12 Dive: The CDC called on schools to prevent and reduce the negative impact of violence and other trauma on teens, as it released a report finding dramatic increases in mental health challenges for teenage girls. The report found nearly 3 in 5 teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, double the rate for boys and a nearly 60% increase over the highest level recorded in the past decade. Nearly 1 in 3 teenage girls seriously considered attempting suicide, also marking a 60% increase from a decade ago. And 1 in 5 said they had experienced sexual violence in the past year, with more than 1 in 10 teen girls experiencing rape. In light of the data, the CDC said school-based activities “can make a profound difference in the lives of teens with a relatively small infusion of support to schools.” See related article: The 74 Million “Nearly 1 in 5 Teen Girls ‘Engulfed’ In Wave of Sexual Violence; Many Suicidal.”

The Pandemic Missing: Hundreds of Thousands of Students Didn’t Go Back to School
Education Week: An analysis by The Associated Press and Stanford Univeristy found an estimated 230,000 students in 21 states whose absences could not be accounted for. The analysis highlights thousands of students who may have dropped out of school or missed out on the basics of reading and school routines in kindergarten and first grade. Over months of reporting, the AP learned of students and families avoiding school for a range of reasons including COVID-19 fears, homelessness, and depression. During the prolonged online learning, some students fell so far behind developmentally and academically that they no longer knew how to behave or learn at school. Many of these students, while largely absent from class, are still officially on school rosters.

How to Lead Post-Pandemic Students to Thrive After Years of Isolation
Tech & Learning: Post-pandemic children entering middle school experienced half of their school years in utter social isolation, which inhibited natural development that occurs in typical social situations. From walking school halls with peers to eating lunch together and playing semi-organized games at recess, children missed the moments that help them learn to resolve typical day-to-day conflicts. This has perpetuated an escalation in conflict. To help post-pandemic students learn to resolve conflict constructively, experts suggest helping young people move away from primal reactions and toward deep-focus logic, find wins and embrace failure, and encourage empathy building. By implementing practices such as the use of tech tools to tune the mind, students can learn to sort through their challenges.

4 Studies to Know on 4-Day School Weeks
Education Week: In the last decade, 4- day school weeks have been adopted in more than 1,600 schools in 650 school districts nationwide. Initially seen as a way to cut costs, rural districts in particular have lauded the model as a way to draw in teachers and students looking for more-flexible schedules. However, implementation has varied significantly, and in recent years, the model has sparked heated debates over whether it is consistent with efforts to regain academic ground lost during the pandemic. Experts offer the following recommendations based on four key studies pertaining to a shortened school schedule: 1) get community buy-in for the four-day schedule and communicate regularly with parents, 2) audit instructional minutes for each subject to commit to maintaining or increasing instructional time, and 3) closely monitor student achievement and engagement and compare the data to prior district data and those of surrounding districts.

Are Your School Counselors Being Pushed Beyond Their Job Descriptions?
District Administration: School counselors are frequently performing tasks outside their job descriptions, such as building student schedules and coordinating 504 plans, according to a new survey of K-12 administrators. Most K-12 leaders agree that school counselors are tasked with supporting students’ academic success, career development, and social/emotional development through comprehensive counseling programs, says a new report by the American School Counselor Association. But significant percentages of administrators also noted that counselors in their schools are saddled with responsibilities outside their purviews. Still, most of the district and building administrators surveyed said their counselors were delivering a comprehensive counseling program and fulfilling other vital roles, such as making data-driven decisions; working to improve student achievement, attendance, and discipline rates; and implementing a college and career readiness curriculum. Most administrators also said counselors were regularly providing individual, small group, and family counseling.

Policy

In New York State, Students can be Suspended for up to an Entire School Year
Hechinger Report: New York state allows students to be suspended for up to 180 days — an entire school year. As a result, thousands of students across the state have been kept out of school for a month or more, cut off from their peers, and receiving just an hour or two of instruction per day. A bill recently introduced for the fifth consecutive state legislative session would ban suspensions of more than 20 school days under most circumstances. At least 15 states already have similar laws in place. A recent report from a State Education Department task force recommends such a limit in all but the rarest of circumstances. New York’s proposed legislation, called the Solutions, not Suspensions bill, is co-sponsored by more than a third of state senators and has been co-sponsored by nearly half the members of the state assembly but is still in committee.

Around the Nation

High School Equivalency Exam is Now Free for Learners in Mass.
WBUR: Adult learners earning their high school credentials in Massachusetts can now take the high school equivalency exam for free. The state has been covering the cost of the General Educational Development exam, or GED, since the fall of 2022. Beginning this week, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education started covering the cost for the state’s other recognized option, known as the High School Equivalency Test, or HiSET, according to a news release. While classes for adult learners are free, earning the full high school, credential requires that students pass a battery of tests, which could cost up to $143 per test, according to DESE. Officials say the goal is to remove the financial barriers for adults.

Most of the US is Dealing with a Teaching Shortage, but the Data Isn’t so Simple
ABC News: More than three-quarters of U.S. states are experiencing a teacher shortage, highlighting a growing concern among public education and government officials about challenges that were exacerbated during three years of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on pandemic learning published in June 2022 found that public education lost about 7% of its total teaching population (233,000) between 2019 and 2021 — with many educators, in phone calls, text messages, and interviews with ABC News, citing strict time demands, persisting behavioral issues, and lack of administrative support, among other obstacles. According to the education departments, agencies, and associations surveyed for this story, staffing issues have continued. See related article: K-12 Dive “Seniority, Performance Most often Weighed in Teacher Layoffs.”

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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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