The Weekly Connect 5/8/23

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:

History and civics scores on the NAEP — the nation’s report card — fell to 1990s levels. 

Four-day school weeks gain popularity. 

The Nelsonville, Ohio, school district focuses on students’ mental health

To read more, click on the following links.

Research & Practice

ADHD Treatment: Many Kids May Be Falling Through the Cracks
MedPage Today: Many kids with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may not be getting the treatment they need, a cross-sectional study suggested. Of 1,206 children with parent-reported ADHD, only 26.2% ever received any form of outpatient mental health care, according to Dr. Mark Olfson and his colleagues. Olfson is affiliated with Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Furthermore, only 12.9% of kids were receiving ADHD medications at the time of the study. Gaps in participant treatment for ADHD, which were not directly associated with socioeconomic disadvantage, underscore the challenges of improving communication and access to outpatient mental health care for children with ADHD.

History Achievement Falls to 1990s Levels on NAEP; Civics Scores Take First-Ever Dive
Education Week: Eighth graders’ scores in U.S. history and civics dropped on the test known as the “Nation’s Report Card”—a decline that brings student achievement in these subjects back down to 1990s levels. The new results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mark the first time that 8th grade civics scores decreased significantly in the test’s nearly 25-year history and a continuation of a yearslong downward trend in U.S. history performance. More students are now scoring at the lowest level in both subjects. “The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress further affirms the profound impact the pandemic had on student learning in subjects beyond math and reading,” U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. 

Teens: Life Improving Overall, But Need More Mental Health Support At School
K-12 Dive: Teens ages 13-18 said their mental health, motivation, relationships with friends and overall happiness have improved since the early months of the COVID pandemic, according to a survey conducted by Morning Consult, a business intelligence company, and EdChoice, a nonprofit that advocates for school choice. Black teens, Hispanic teens, teens from urban areas and adolescent boys were somewhat more likely to report feeling better than other groups. LGBTQ students, adolescent girls, and those living in rural areas were least likely to say they were thriving. Around half of teens reported they feel supported by their schools when it comes to academics and their future, but only one-third of survey respondents said they feel supported by their schools in terms of mental health.


Bills Limiting Student Pronoun Use Introduced In Almost Half The States
K-12 Dive: Almost half of states saw legislation introduced in the first three months of 2023 that would regulate student pronoun usage in schools, according to a count by the National Conference of State Legislatures. As of April 6, there had been at least 43 pieces of legislation introduced that would regulate students’ pronoun use across 24 states. Legislatures in many of the same states have previously proposed or passed laws regulating curricula related to gender and sexuality in public schools. A majority of those 43 bills would prohibit school employees from using students’ preferred pronouns if they don’t align with their sex assigned at birth or their legal name without first notifying or getting parental consent. However, the repercussions, enforcement, and language of these bills vary widely by state.

4-Day School Weeks, Gaining in Popularity, Face Pushback From Lawmakers
Pew Trust: Nationwide, the number of four-day schools has increased by 600% over the past two decades, now numbering more than 1,600 in 24 states, according to research published in 2021. The schedule is most popular in small, rural districts. In Colorado, which has the largest percentage, 124 of the state’s 178 districts (70%) follow a four-day schedule. Many four-day schools report higher test scores, fewer discipline problems, and strong support from parents, teachers, and staff. But amid the success stories, emerging research points to academic declines and other problems. School districts that go from five days to four typically make up at least some of the missing hours by adding time to the other days or extending the school year. But four-day schedules average only 148 school days per year, resulting in less time in school than the national average of 180 days per year for five-day schools.

Office For Civil Rights Fielded More Title IX Complaints Than Any Other Kind In Fiscal 2022
K-12 Dive: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights received 18,804 complaints in fiscal year 2022 — the most in its history and 12% higher than the previous record high of 16,720 complaints in 2016, according to the office’s annual report. Although the greatest share of complaints — 9,498 complaints, or 48% of the total — were related to Title IX sex discrimination, 7,339 of those were filed by one person. That skewed the usual trend of disability complaints taking the top spot. As a result, disability complaints came in at the second-highest portion of complaints for 2022, at 6,467, or 32% of complaints. The third-most common complaints related to race, color, or national origin, at 17% or 3,239 total.

Around the Nation

To Fight The Mental Health Crisis, An Ohio School Is Trying Everything
In Nelsonville, Ohio, a small town snug in the foothills of Appalachia, kindergartners gather in a circle to learn about hard emotions. Cindy Price, a therapist at their school, leads the discussion as 12 children name the toughest feelings they know. Frustration. Fear. Anger. This is mental health three years into the pandemic: For many kids, the crisis is not over. There are still long waiting lists for therapists and surging mental health needs at schools. Adolescents already struggled before the pandemic, with rising rates of depression and anxiety. Then schools shut down in 2020, isolating and further disconnecting them. School leaders believed that if kids weren’t emotionally and psychologically stable, they wouldn’t thrive academically. So the school district leaders put off other initiatives and zeroed in on mental health. The district’s efforts for the 2022-2023 school year were large and small, scripted and improvised — home visits, grocery donations, therapy sessions, animal encounters, curriculum change.

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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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