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


July 13,
Issue 61
Student Health
Vaccination rates for California 7th graders in the 2016-17 school year reached their highest recorded levels, the California Department of Public Health said. The department said 98.4 percent of 7th graders were up-to-date in immunizations against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, also known as whooping cough. That's an increase of 1.8 percent over the last three years.

The increase in rates follows outbreaks of measles and whooping cough in California. In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new vaccination law, Senate Bill 277, that eliminated the ability of parents to opt-out of vaccinations for their school-attending children because of their personal beliefs.

Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are bacterial diseases that can be serious and even fatal. Seventh grade students must receive a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (collectively known as Tdap) booster vaccination before entering school, a requirement introduced in the 2011-12 school year. A medical exemption from a doctor will release a student from the vaccination requirement. Exceptions also are made for students who are homeschooled or enrolled in independent study without classroom instruction. In addition, students who qualify for special education services will receive those services regardless of their vaccination status.

Community immunity, also known as herd immunity, is the goal, the health department said. The higher the vaccination rate, the greater the protection from disease for infants too young to be vaccinated, individuals whose immune systems are compromised and the elderly. Nine out of 58 California counties reported 7th grade Tdap vaccination rates below 95 percent, noted the California Department of Public Health. Those counties were: Calaveras, Humboldt, Lassen, Nevada, Plumas, Santa Cruz, Sutter, Trinity and Tuolumne.

To view a school-by-school breakdown of 7th grade vaccination rates, go here.

Social and Emotional Learning
A new review of a variety of studies from around the world found that students who were taught positive social skills at school reported higher levels of those skills months and even years afterwards, compared to their peers.

The long-term benefits of social and emotional learning appeared regardless of the students' economic or racial background or the rural, suburban or city location of the school, according to the meta-analysis published in the journal Child Development. Social and emotional learning is an organized approach to teaching students personal skills, including how to identify emotions, empathize with others and resolve conflicts.

Four researchers affiliated with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, a Chicago-based organization that promotes social and emotional learning, analyzed 82 studies that tracked students who had participated in youth development programs that included social and emotional skill-building.

The majority of the follow-up studies looked at student attitudes, feelings and behaviors. But eight of the studies tracked academic results for an average of 3.75 years later. Participants in social and emotional learning activities performed about 13 percent higher in grades and test scores than their peers, the study found.

Was the increase in test scores caused by social and emotional learning interventions? "You really can't say that for sure," said study co-author Joseph Durlak, a senior research scientist at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning and an emeritus professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago. It's an area for further study, he said.
Antwan Wilson, who left the top job at Oakland Unified at the end of January after a two-year run, is now the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. In both jobs, he has advocated for social and emotional learning as an integral part of positive, dynamic classrooms. In an opinion piece in the Hechinger Report, Wilson offered six pieces of advice. Among them are these two, Wilson wrote:
  • "Avoid mandating or rushing social and emotional learning. We are not telling our schools that they have to do this. We are helping them find resources and time so that they can buy into this work -- and lead it.
  • "Give teachers time for support and implementation. We want to invest resources in giving people more time to talk, learn from experts, plan lessons and activities, and meet with students to ask what they need to thrive. It is a strategic decision to give people time, so we are budgeting explicitly for this work, and building it into district professional development."
Read more.
Special Education Services
In its annual review of how well states are educating students and young children with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education reported that the California Department of Education is not meeting its requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The federal government issues four levels of findings on states, with increasing levels of technical assistance and enforcement:
  • Meets the requirements and purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Needs assistance in implementing the requirements of the federal law
  • Needs intervention, typically with a length of time specified, and
  • Needs substantial intervention.
The federal government found that California "needs assistance for two or more consecutive years" to improve its services for students from ages 3 to 21 and "needs intervention" for one year for its services to children with disabilities from birth through age 2. Early intervention for children with disabilities is considered a key strategy that can reduce or eliminate the need for services as a child grows up.

The federal government said 22 states "meet requirements" under the federal law, while the remaining states need assistance or intervention. Standards for meeting requirements changed  in 2014 when the federal government asked states to show they are improving results in academics and behavior, in addition to showing that they are complying with rules governing assessments and paperwork.
The Los Angeles Unified school board jumped ahead of a new state law and instructed the school district to immediately create a plan to train teachers on the leading learning disability in California: a reading impairment known as dyslexia.

The demand by the board of the second-largest school district in the U.S. was hailed by parent advocates as a signal that districts across the state, and potentially the nation, might finally provide interventions that help students with dyslexia learn to read.

Read more at EdSource.
Student Mental Health
By Takesha Cooper, MD

For the first time in my career as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I binge-watched a television show for work. The Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" tells the story of a high school student who commits suicide, and the 13 tapes she leaves behind to explain her motivation.Since its release in March, the show has received a wide range of kudos and criticisms-kudos for raising awareness about teen suicide and criticisms, rightly, for glamorizing suicide.

Read more at EdSource.
Live-Streamed Briefing
Where does social and emotional learning fit in the Every Student Succeeds Act accountability system?
The Learning Policy Institute will host a briefing in Washington, D.C. about social and emotional learning and the Every Student Succeeds Act, and folks at home can live stream the event on Tuesday, July 18.

The briefing includes a panel discussion of findings from a Learning Policy Institute report, Encouraging Social and Emotional Learning In the Context of New Accountability, by Hanna Melnick, Channa Cook-Harvey and Linda Darling-Hammond.

The Learning Policy Institute said that discussion topics will include:
  • How and why does students' social and emotional learning affect college and career readiness?
  • What is the role of a positive and inclusive school climate in fostering students' social and emotional learning?
  • How can social and emotional learning and school climate be measured and what are appropriate uses of these measures?
What: "How can states and districts support social and emotional learning for continuous school improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act?"

Who: Opening remarks: Sen. Chris Murphy, D- CT, and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio
Panelists: Victoria Blakeney, State of Nevada Department of Education
Linda Darling-Hammond, president, Learning Policy Institute
Leticia Guzman Ingram, 2016 Colorado Teacher of the Year
Hanna Melnick, policy associate, Learning Policy Institute
Stephan Turnipseed, executive vice president, Destination Imagination

When: Tuesday, July 18, 8:15 to 9:30 a.m. PT

Click here at the time of the event to watch the live-stream coverage. Go here to learn more.

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