August 31, 2016
Inside this issue
  Social Emotional Learning LIVES....  
 

The September 1st meeting has been postponed!!

Just as a reminder, you can read this original notice:  Tennessee Social and Personal Competencies.  You will see on the second page a list of the members of the 'first team' and the notice of the first meeting, now postponed.

This notice from Ms. Conner seems to indicate that the $5,000 grant from CASEL will not be used (?), however, don't think for a minute that means that the students in the public schools will not be exposed to Social Emotional Learning.  Remember, the Tool Kit has already been developed (July 2015) and is available for use by any teacher interested.

Read the article below and especially click on the Pyramid Equity Project and check that out.

Parents, you MUST speak up to your school board, to your principal, your student's teacher.  It is YOUR VOICE that is the most important!!


FROM MS. CONNER:
The previously scheduled meeting for Thursday has been postponed. We will reach out soon with a new date for our first meeting.
 
The work around social and personal competencies is vital to Tennessee students' readiness for the workforce. Thus, it is critical to align this work with other state goals around workforce readiness. Due to the time required to ensure this alignment, we cannot meet the timeline set forth by CASEL. As a result, we will not be able to be a part of the Collaborative States Initiative. However, based on the feedback we continue to hear about the need to support teachers in meeting the non-academic needs of all students, we will continue to independently develop Tennessee social and personal competencies. These competencies will be optional and will not be assessed.
 
We are excited about this continuing work and will have internal dates and agendas forthcoming. In addition, opportunities for external stakeholder engagement will be announced soon.
 
Best,
 
Pat Conner | Executive Director
Office of Safe & Supportive Schools
710 James Robertson Parkway, 11th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 253-0018
Pat.conner@tn.gov
 
 

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  Nashville pre-K will focus on discipline practices [SEL]  
 
, jagonzales@tennessean.com

Metro Nashville Public Schools is one of only two districts in the country to receive the benefits of a federal grant aimed at bettering discipline practices for students of color in pre-kindergarten.

Newly opened Cambridge Early Learning Center, which serves pre-kindergarten students, will join a New Jersey school in working toward establishing national models for addressing issues of implicit bias and uneven implementation of discipline in early learning programs, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The center's efforts will include a focus on lowering and bettering the suspension and expulsion rate of students of color through the $1 million grant. The district will by guided by the Pyramid Equity Project, a partnership between the department and two universities that aims to develop tools, materials and procedures to address equity issues in discipline.

This is the second federal pre-K grant awarded to Metro Nashville Public Schools in the last two years. In 2014, the district was awarded a $33 million grant to expand early learning options for families. The district has since expanded its programs, as well as focused on creating additional supports for students and parents.

"This opportunity is one that will be shared across Tennessee as Cambridge ELC becomes a national model for social-emotional best practices to other districts and early childhood programs," said Dana Eckman, director of Nashville's early learning centers, in a district news release.

 

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  Social-Emotional Learning: States Collaborate to Craft Standards, Policies  
 
 

Eight states will work collaboratively to create and implement plans to encourage social-emotional learning in their schools, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning announced this month.

The organization, which is also known as CASEL, will assist the states through consultation with its own staff and a panel of experts. The participating states are California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington. And an 11 additional states that originally applied to join the collaborative will have access to the materials it develops.

Each participating state has a unique plan, and many of those plans include creating developmentally sensitive standards that show how social and emotional skills are demonstrated at each grade level, developing materials to infuse traditional classroom concepts with social-emotional learning concepts, building strategies for state-level support, and implementing professional-development plans for schools about the subject. 

Advocates for social-emotional learning hope the work, in particular the standards each state develops, will help answer "the whole question of how to align from the statehouse to the classroom," said Roger Weissberg, the chief knowledge officer for CASEL.

"Having state standards helps inform districts, central offices, and boards of education what might be prioritized," he said. "They can provide more guidance and help inform schools."

Schools Increasingly Emphasize Social-Emotional Learning

The work comes as an increasing number of schools explore social-emotional learning, a field that emphasizes nurturing concepts like students' relational skills, decisionmaking, and self-management to help foster greater life success both inside and outside the classroom. It also comes as the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education law, places a greater emphasis on non-academic concepts and "whole child" issues.

To this point, the boldest, most comprehensive work in social-emotional learning and non-cognitive skills has been done at the school and district level. The state collaborative was inspired in part by CASEL's work with a group of large, mostly urban, school districts that have committed to implementing districtwide SEL plans and allowing researchers to study their results, Weissberg said. And other districts not affiliated with the organization have undergone similar efforts, strategies that include reworking discipline policies, directly teaching social and emotional concepts in the classroom, and working to improve child-adult relationships within schools.

As an increasing number of schools grow interested in the field, more are asking states for standards and assistance, said Linda Dusenbury, a senior research scientist at CASEL. States, in turn, are eager to collaborate to develop research-based approaches, she said. In a nationwide review, CASEL researchers learned that, while all 50 states have social-emotional learning standards for pre-k, just three have state social-emotional learning standards that span all grade levels: Illinois, West Virginia, and Kansas. Twenty-six states applied to join the collaborative.

"We have amassed so much research by this point that we're now ready, I believe, to really be helping to inform education through things like policy and learning standards," Dusenbury said. "And what's really exciting is that the states seem very eager to partner in that effort."


 

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Judge Rules in Favor of Parents on Florida's Mandatory Third Grade Retention

By
 

Parents in Florida saw a victory last week when Judge Karen Gievers gave students who were not promoted to the fourth grade due to their minimal participation in the Florida Standards Assessment. Gievers gave a temporary injunction allowing some third graders to be promoted where school districts did not allow "a teacher-compiled portfolio that consists of non-test class work and test-based standards assessments."

Gievers sided with the parents, finding that the Department of Education and the Hernando County School Board violated the law when they illegally refused to provide any portfolio option and that "neither the [Department of Education or local school boards] have the discretion to ignore the Florida Laws." Gievers' ruling defined what "minimal participation" is by stating that "the children were present at the time, broke the seal on the materials and wrote their names, thus meeting their obligation to participate." In addition, she wrote: "The School Board and [Department of Education] had no right to ignore the legislatively adopted portfolio option" and ordered the Hernando County School Board to "immediately refrain from further actions and must provide the portfolio option." She ordered education officials "to stop refusing to accept a student portfolio or report card based on classroom work throughout the course of the school year."

The Court also found it unlawful in districts such as Hernando County where a child without a reading deficiency who has not passed the FSA is held back, citing Florida Statute 1008.25(5)(c)(6) which prohibits retaining students solely for FSA non-compliance.

The judge ordered the Department of Education to stop disseminating misinformation that promotion required a level 2 score on the statewide test, finding that report cards and classroom work could be used to promote a third grader.

     
Students who use digital devices in class 'perform worse in exams'

Study finds use of computers by students in lectures and seminars has 'substantial negative effect' on performance

Allowing students to use computers and the internet in classrooms substantially harms their results, a study has found.

The paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students barred from using laptops or digital devices in lectures and seminars did better in their exams than those allowed to use computers and access the internet.

The researchers suggested that removing laptops and iPads from classes was the equivalent of improving the quality of teaching.

The study divided 726 undergraduates randomly into three groups in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. The control group's classrooms were "technology-free," meaning students were not allowed to use laptops or tablets at their desk. Another group was allowed to use computers and other devices, and the third group had restricted access to tablets.

"The results from our randomised experiment suggest that computer devices have a substantial negative effect on academic performance," the researchers concluded, suggesting that the distraction of an electronic device complete with internet access outweighed their use for note-taking or research during lessons.

The research had an unusual twist: the students involved were studying at the West Point academy in the US, where cadets are ruthlessly ranked by exam results, meaning they were motivated to perform well and may have been more disciplined than typical undergraduates.

But even for the cream of the US army's future crop, the lure of the digital world appears to have been too much, and exam performance after a full course of studying economics was lower among those in classes allowed to use devices.