An online newsletter produced by EdSource
with support from The California Endowment 


August 8, 2015
Issue 36

School Discipline
Rethinking Discipline: New Tools For Educators

This U.S. Department of Education interactive map has data from districts across the country on out-of-school suspensions, percentages of students with disabilities who have been suspended and suspension rates by race, gender and disability. The data are from 2011-12. Click the image of the map or click here to go to the map. 

Following a national White House conference for educators on how to "Rethink Discipline" on July 22, the U.S. Department of Education has released a slew of tools to help districts.

Among them is a guide to collecting and understanding data on suspension and expulsion, particularly as it relates to "disproportionate" rates of discipline, in which a certain demographic is over-represented in suspensions and expulsions. "Addressing the Root Causes of Disparities in School Discipline: An Educator's Action Planning Guide" will walk school staff through the task of looking closely at the data to understand why some groups of students are more likely to be disciplined, while other groups of students are not -- even for the same infractions.

Other tools include:
Family Engagement

Joyce Epstein talks about how to get families more involved in school -- for the good of the student

As school administrators focus attention on the new school year, they will be faced with a perennial challenge: How best to involve parents in their child's education.

Research has shown that behavior improves, grades go up and graduation rates increase for students when their parents are involved in school activities, talk to teachers and show an interest in what's being studied.

Joyce Epstein, director of the Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University, will review the research and discuss strategies to get parents active in schools in a webinar from the U.S. Department of Education's Regional Educational Laboratory - Mid-Atlantic.

What: "Engaging families in partnership programs to promote student success"

Who: Joyce Epstein, director of the Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University

When: Thursday, August 27, 12 noon PT

Register here.

School Climate
As superintendent of Benicia Unified School District, Janice Adams found herself face to face with a first when a mother asked what Adams could do to support her kindergarten child, who was born a boy but identified as a girl.

"If your experience is anything like my own, you will be in unfamiliar - perhaps uncomfortable - territory," Adams wrote to her fellow administrators in an introduction to a new 68-page report, Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools, released this week by five organizations, including the National Education Association. "It is important, however," Adams continued, "that your own personal uncertainties do not interfere with your ability to do the right thing to protect the safety and well-being of these vulnerable children."

Read more at EdSource Today.

Of all the middle school anxieties facing 5th-graders at Argonne Elementary School in San Francisco last spring, the most tangible was a round-faced combination lock.

Elementary school, a land of cubbies and coat hooks, soon would be in the past for these 11- and 12-year-olds, who practiced spinning the dials right-left-right in a Transition to Middle School workshop. Middle school would mean a metal locker with a lock to open, fast, at the risk of floundering in the hall and being late to class.

Fear of being publicly embarrassed or even physically hurt is widespread among students who are entering middle school, according to research studies, including a 2015 survey that ranked 225 5th-graders' top concerns: getting undressed in front of others for physical education class, coping with peer pressure, dealing with bullying and opening a combination lock.

Read more at EdSource Today.

High-Needs Students
School districts must spell out how they will help the state's 310,000 homeless students and make goals for their progress under a new law that may be the first of its kind nationwide.

Read more at EdSource Today.

Special Education
The federal Office for Special Education said it has received reports that students with autism spectrum disorder may not be receiving needed services from speech and language pathologists. Instead, some schools may be relying exclusively on therapists trained in behavioral analysis, the federal office stated in a letter to schools, recently posted on its website, reminding administrators of their obligations.

'Wow! They care about what I think': Middle school students talk about social-emotional learning

Check out This Is My Place: Middle Schoolers Talk About Social and Emotional Learning, a four-minute video from What Kids Can Do (WKCD), a Rhode-Island based nonprofit group. Middle school students at the School of the Future in New York City talk about making a mistake in gym class, contributing their opinions in class and how it feels to work in groups.
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