Education Week - August 19, 2015 - (Page 44)

COMMENTARY How Do We Help Students With Mental-Health Issues Return to School? A By Laura C. Murray s we prepare this August for the start of another academic year, it's important to acknowledge an often invisible, seldom-talked-about population of students: young people who are recovering from mentalhealth disorders and are transitioning back to school after a time away. Mental-health challenges in young people are common, and they create major barriers to learning. But as is true with adults suffering from such problems, the young can and do recover-even those with serious challenges. As educators, we can provide critical support in their recovery and help them as they work to integrate back into classes and get on with learning and with life. Although the literature on children and teens returning to school after hospitalizations for chronic medical illness abounds, research on youths returning after hospitalization for psychiatric illness is fairly sparse. The literature that does exist emphasizes the importance of "inclusion" for all children, the belief that every student deserves and can achieve a good education, and the potential that school-community partnerships hold in promoting health and wellness. This all makes intuitive sense, but what are we actually supposed to do on the ground? Recently, I was invited to speak to a class of teacher- Getty candidates on the topic of youth mental health. I presented these preservice secondary school teachers with a wealth of basic information-the prevalence of mental-health disorders in this population, how such conditions affect learning and development, and so on. But as the afternoon wore on, I found that I had learned more from them than they had from me. Students in the class shared many stories from their " Teacher-training programs need to include youth mental health in preservice teachers' curricula." particular teaching sites-stories that illuminated the unmet youth mental-health needs better than a set of PowerPoints ever could. Below is just one story shared that day, but there were many more as powerful and troubling as this. Molly, who was training to become a high school English teacher, described a day last November when she was at her school placement in a large, urban public school in the Northeast. On this morning, she and her classroom mentor were in the middle of their secondperiod class of 10th graders when a girl Molly had never seen before walked into the room. The girl looked Lessons From Successful School Improvement Grants O By Greg Anrig ne of the Obama administration's signature initiatives for revitalizing the nation's worstperforming schools is in grave danger. As part of the 2009 economic-stimulus bill, the School Improvement Grant program received a huge, $3 billion infusion over the previous allocation of about $500 million. Now, both the House and the Senate bills reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would scrap the SIG program, which has provided up to $2 million a year for three years to about 1,300 deeply troubled schools since 2010. A number of studies have attempted to evaluate the impact of the program, with more still in the pipeline. On balance, that still-preliminary research has found modestly positive results, especially in the first two years after the schools received the grants. But what is most notable about the SIG program, and what should give pause to its opponents, is that the grants clearly set in motion genuine school turnarounds in a meaningful subset of cases, some of which are highlighted in my recent Century Foundation report. Because many critics maintain that transforming dysfunctional public schools in high-poverty, racially isolated settings simply can't be done, much greater attention should be paid to the success stories as guideposts for learning how to make them more common. After conducting a federal experiment as ambitious and unprecedented as the big funding increase for SIGs, zooming in on what worked is a much more " What is most notable about the SIG program ... is that the grants clearly set in motion genuine school turnarounds in a meaningful subset of cases." 44 | EDUCATION WEEK | August 19, 2015 | productive response than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That's especially true because among the SIG schools that showed the strongest results, there are many shared characteristics-characteristics that are also shared by non-SIG schools that show consistent improvement over time. According to my research, some of the schools receiving SIGs that demonstrated the largest improvements in test scores, student attendance, discipline measures, grade promotion, and graduation rates include McKay High School in Salem, Ore.; Leslie County High School in Hyden, Ky.; Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Boston; Charlotte M. Murkland Elementary School in Lowell, Mass.; and Horace Mann Elementary in St. Louis. The strategies those schools implemented after receiving their SIGs were remarkably similar, and largely conformed with practices that the Council of the Great City Schools found in its 2015 examination of the most successful SIG schools. Those commonalities include: * An intense focus on improving classroom instruction through ongoing, data-driven collaboration-within schools, among administrators and teachers-led largely by teachers with oversight from the principal; * A concerted, systematic effort to create a safe and orderly school environment through implementation of research-supported practices that all staff members can adopt; * An expansion of both classroom and nonclassroom time throughout the school week dedicated to instruction and tutoring in core academic subjects; * A strengthening of connections to parents, community groups, and local service providers to support the efforts of school staff to build a culture that expects success of all students; and * A limited reliance on expert consultants to jump-start changes that school leaders and teachers sustain on their own. All of those elements appeared to be essential and conform with other research on the characteristics of effective schools. However, a team-based, data-driven focus on improving teaching is the most important. For example, after McKay High School received its SIG in 2010, Principal Ken Parshall instituted a 50-minute block of time before each school day for collaborative teacher teams to concentrate on improving their instructional practices. In those meetings, teachers shared strategies and techniques, while paying close attention to student scores on the tests they had developed to identify whether students or teachers needed more support. When Parshall was recruiting additional teachers funded by the grant, as well as replacing those who left as part of the high turnover common in impoverished schools, he particularly sought applicants who were comfortable and experienced with having their work analyzed by supervisors and peers. McKay High, which serves more than 1,800 predominantly low-income Hispanic students in a neighborhood with a long his-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - August 19, 2015

Education Week - August 19, 2015
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Rookie Principals’ Group Sheds Light on Early-Career Challenges
Education Week Acquires Television Production Company
Historians See AP U.S. History Revisions as ‘Evenhanded’
Handcuffing of Students Reignites Debate On Use of Restraint
Study Casts Doubt on Impact of Teacher Professional Development
Teachers Use Minecraft to Fuel Creative Ideas, Analytical Thinking
Blogs of the Week
Education Stakes Are High in Ky., La., and Miss. Governor Races
Accountability 3.0: What Will State Systems Look Like?
Budget Deadline Could Put Education Programs at Risk
Blogs of the Week
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
How Do We Help Students With Mental-Health Issues Return to School?
Lessons From Successful School Improvement Grants
2005: In the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
Do We Need Quality Assurance for Teacher Feedback?

Education Week - August 19, 2015