The Weekly Connect 3/13/17

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

School districts could be affected by changes to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because schools receive Medicaid funding to pay for services for children in special education.

There’s an experimental app for that: It lets parents know when their children miss classes or don’t turn in assignments. So far, the app has reduced course failures and improved attendance.

Schools can successfully make radical changes to improve education. Just look at Louisiana and Massachusetts.

Researchers say that all elementary school students should have daily recess.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 2/27/17

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Questions persist about an ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act) spending provision that wasn’t finalized during the Obama administration.

Students who believe their schools are unfair may face long-term effects.

Head Start could function as a test site for innovations in early education.

Boston-area suburbs are seeing more poverty. Some towns have twice as many needy students as they did 10 years ago.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading

The Weekly Connect 12/26/16

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

These are some of the things we’ve been reading about:

Social-emotional learning is gaining ground across states as educators increasingly see it as a way to give students an edge.

A Texas Supreme Court ruling that found the state’s inequitable school funding to be constitutional is now bumping up against research that says investing more money does improve educational outcomes. “States that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see significantly more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t.”

If schools started an hour later, and teenagers got more sleep, their scores on standardized tests would rise, researchers say.

Last week, researchers found that schools had more law enforcement officers than school counselors. Now Education Week reports that states are beefing up their school counseling corps.

And Massachusetts gets credit for building a world-class school system, according to the Ed Week Top Performers Blog.

To read more, click on the following links. Continue reading

Year in review: City Connects by the numbers, 2013-14

As we prepare for the opening of school, we would like to take a moment and reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. In 2013-14, we are proud to have partnered with 56 schools in 6 districts across 3 states, where City Connects staff linked 17,500 students to 105,000 services and enrichment opportunities. We are looking forward to another wonderful year in our Massachusetts, Ohio, and New York sites in 2014-15!

2013-14 City Connects by the numbers

 

City Connects is an evidence-based system of student support that makes available to all students a wide array of enrichment, early intervention, and intensive intervention services. In each school, a full-time student support professional (a licensed social worker/school counselor) called a School Site Coordinator:

  • Works with teachers and others to assess strengths and needs of every student in key areas of development (academics, social/emotional, health, and family);
  • Identifies a unique support plan for each student and connects the student to a tailored set of support services and enrichment opportunities;
  • Develops and maintains partnerships with community agencies;
  • Tracks the support plan electronically for each student; and
  • Follows up to assure service delivery and effectiveness.

Each student receives a unique set of services. They may be prevention and enrichment services, including before- and after-school programs, sports, summer programs, and health and wellness classes; early intervention services such as adult mentoring, academic support, social skills interventions, family assistance, and tutoring; or more intensive services or crisis interventions such as mental health counseling, health services, screening or diagnostic testing, violence intervention, or family counseling.

For example, an elementary school student who has struggled with obesity, has challenges with reading, and loves music may be connected to a healthy cooking club, an after-school program with a focus on literacy tutoring, and a summer music program.

Evaluation shows that City Connects’ comprehensive, customized student support has immediate and long-term benefits to students–for more information on the impact of City Connects, check out our evaluation report, The Impact of City Connects: Progress Report 2014.

 

 

Four City Connects Turnaround Schools Upgraded as Statewide Test Results Announced

Four City Connects schools in Massachusetts have been upgraded from “Turnaround” status with the results of the 2012-13 MCAS statewide tests, announced today by the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. We extend our congratulations to the following schools:

  • Boston Public Schools:
    • JFK Elementary
    • Orchard Gardens K-8
  • Springfield Public Schools:
    • Gerena Elementary School
    • Zanetti K-8

City Connects is proud to be a part of the large Turnaround effort that had positive results in these schools!

For more information:

Boston Moves for Health challenges Boston Public Schools to increase student physical activity

Last week, Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino announced several exciting developments that will improve student health and wellness in Boston Public Schools (BPS).

The Mayor announced that donations from Partners HealthCare and Shaw’s and Star Market will provide support for 105 Wellness Champions in 100 schools and help educate students about healthy eating.  To celebrate, Mayor Menino launched two challenges in schools: the Physical Education Challenge and Physical Activity Challenge.

For the Physical Education Challenge, from October 15 through November 9, BPS schools will compete for the most steps taken by students during physical education classes. The Physical Activity Challenge, from January 15 to February 15, students will compete to log the most minutes of physical activity during the school day. All data will be logged into the Boston Moves for Health website so city youth can contribute to meeting Mayor Menino’s citywide 10 million mile challenge. Winning schools will receive funding for curriculum and athletic equipment.

In a press release, the Mayor said:

“Today’s students have a lot on their plates to balance, but their health is our highest priority. We know that kids who maintain a healthy lifestyle do better in the classroom, so it’s only natural that we encourage good habits in schools. This partnership is a fun and engaging way to promote healthy choices, and I want to thank Partners and Shaw’s for their commitment to keeping our kids in shape.”

For more information:

MCAS Results Released

Results from Massachusetts’ statewide standardized tests, the MCAS (short for Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System), were released last week. The Boston Globe summarized the results:

Nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts public schools are falling short of performance targets under the state’s new evaluation system, even as struggling urban districts achieve solid gains, state officials reported Wednesday.

In Boston, as well as other city districts, results on the standardized tests were mixed. Scores among 10th-graders rose to new heights. But in the lower grades, results were largely stagnant, and in a number of cases dropped.

Statewide, about 1,000 of nearly 1,600 public schools did not meet the new targets on the standardized tests this year, ­either for “high-needs” students, such as those with disabilities or from low-income families, or for the student body as a whole.

Here at City Connects, we are especially proud of four of our Springfield Public Schools–these ” turnaround” schools made double-digit gains in scores over the last two years: Homer Street, Zanettti, Brookings, and Gerena.

Our evaluation shows that students in City Connects schools outperform their Boston peers in middle school and achieve close to state proficiency levels in both English and Math MCAS. After leaving a City Connects school at the end of grade 5, significant long-term effects continue through eighth grade. Learn more about our impact on MCAS scores here.

For more information:

City Connects Awarded $400,000 Grant to Develop Student Support Sustainability Plan

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has awarded City Connects a $400,000, two-year award to develop strategies that build district capacity to sustain effective student support programs in schools. City Connects will be partnering with Boston and Springfield public schools for this work, which is supported by the DESE Priority Partners for Turnaround Investment Fund.

“We are pleased to receive this award, which will allow us to develop a strategy to sustain evidence-based student support efforts in schools,” said Mary E. Walsh, PhD, executive director of City Connects and the Kearns Professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. “It is crucial that schools and districts are able to maintain systemic student support after the federal funding has run its course. We look forward to collaborating with Boston and Springfield districts to devise strategies to enable them to keep the work going.”

Read the full press release here.