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Inclusion on 'Nation's Report Card' goes up, but achievement gaps stay wide
Education Week
Despite the attention that Maryland is drawing for excluding high percentages of students with disabilities and English language learners from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, nationwide, higher percentages than ever of students in those categories are being tested, according to stats presented at a Dec. 6 meeting of the board that sets policy for the assessment. In 2010, the National Assessment Governing Board, set a goal to assess 95 percent of all students selected to participate in the test, which measures fourth and eighth grade students every two years on reading and math. (Students are also tested on periodically on other subjects.) For students with disabilities and students learning English, the goal was to test 85 percent of those selected to participate.
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Age of distraction: Why it's crucial for students to learn to focus
MindShift
Digital classroom tools like computers, tablets and smartphones offer exciting opportunities to deepen learning through creativity, collaboration and connection, but those very devices can also be distracting to students. Similarly, parents complain that when students are required to complete homework assignments online, it’s a challenge for students to remain on task. The ubiquity of digital technology in all realms of life isn’t going away, but if students don’t learn how to concentrate and shut out distractions, research shows they’ll have a much harder time succeeding in almost every area.
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Dyslexia linked to brain communication breakdown
Scientific American
Dyslexia may be caused by impaired connections between auditory and speech centers of the brain, according to a study published in Science. The research could help to resolve conflicting theories about the root causes of the disorder, and lead to targeted interventions. When people learn to read, their brains make connections between written symbols and components of spoken words. But people with dyslexia seem to have difficulty identifying and manipulating the speech sounds to be linked to written symbols. Researchers have long debated whether the underlying representations of these sounds are disrupted in the dyslexic brain, or whether they are intact but language-processing centers are simply unable to access them properly.
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Special educators strained by budget cuts
Disability Scoop
Budget cuts are forcing larger class sizes, bigger case loads and leaving schools with too few staff to meet the needs of students with disabilities, special educators say. In a survey of over 1,000 special education teachers, administrators and other professionals across the country, more than 80 percent reported that budget cuts have impacted the delivery of services for kids with disabilities. Just as many said that such cutbacks have left "too few personnel to meet the needs of students with disabilities" in their school districts.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keyword SPECIAL EDUCATORS.


US achievement stalls as other nations make gains
Education Week
U.S. performance in reading, math, and science has remained stagnant since 2009 as other nations have plowed ahead, according to new results from a prominent international assessment. Nineteen countries and education systems scored higher than the United States in reading on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, up from nine systems when the test was last administered in 2009. Germany and Poland, for instance, have seen steady gains on the reading assessment over time, and are now ahead of the United States.
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Could these new standards work better than Common Core?
eSchool News
Imagine this "unicorn" scenario in education: You take an entire subject–one whose mastery could push the country to the forefront of innovation — and spend years doing nothing but perfecting its standards and assessments with absolutely no looming deadlines or high-stakes requirements. Be prepared to believe, educators, because this scenario is real, and it's happening with new science standards. In a recent webinar hosted by the Alliance for Excellent Education, "Scientific Assessments: Innovations in the next generation of state assessments," noted state education leaders described the enormous potential the Next Generation Science Standards could have for states and how assessments may be developed from these standards.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Researchers explore links between learning disorders in children (Medical News Today)
Recognizing the signs of dyslexia (Leader-Post)
Common Core academic standards force teachers to work on critical thinking over memorization (The Associated Press via Fox News)
How an iPad can overcome 'print disabled' curriculum (eSchool News)
Survey: Districts heavily focused on new tests, materials, for Common Core (Education Week)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.


How to get students to love reading
Edudemic
Reading is one of the major foundations of any student's studies. In any subject — including math — understanding how to read and being able to comprehend words on a page is a make or break in academics and in life more generally. Some kids take to reading naturally, and you'll find them with their nose in a book at any given time and nearly every time you turn around. Others don't take to it quite as naturally, though they'll eventually get into it, and others feel the same about reading as they feel about going to the dentist.
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The right to read: Suing a state for better teaching
Center for American Progress
The research is irrefutable: Children who don't learn to read proficiently by the third grade face nearly insurmountable challenges not only in their next decade of schooling but also into their adult lives. The mounting evidence clearly linking the ability to read well in the early grades to future success has, over the past few years, prompted a number of states to consider and enact legislation to require the retention of students who cannot read at grade level in the third grade and the intervention of special instruction and support to raise their reading achievement.
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TRENDING ARTICLE
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Special educators strained by budget cuts
Disability Scoop
Budget cuts are forcing larger class sizes, bigger case loads and leaving schools with too few staff to meet the needs of students with disabilities, special educators say. In a survey of over 1,000 special education teachers, administrators and other professionals across the country, more than 80 percent reported that budget cuts have impacted the delivery of services for kids with disabilities.

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Common Core's promise collides with IEP realities
Education Week
One of the most promising elements of common academic standards for students with disabilities, say experts in special education, is that they offer explicit connections from one set of skills to another.

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Study: MRI might allow earlier diagnosis of dyslexia
HealthDay News
Brain scans may help diagnose people with the common reading disorder dyslexia, a new study reveals. MRI scans in 40 kindergarten children revealed a link between poor pre-reading skills and the size of a structure that connects two language-processing areas in the brain, the researchers said.

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Survey: Common Core needs dominate districts' curriculum priorities
Education Week
As districts implement the Common Core State Standards, 68 percent plan to purchase new instructional materials — an increase from 62 percent two years ago, according to a survey by MDR, a provider of marketing information and services for education. The potential market size of purchasing Common Core materials is 7,600 district buyers, according to the survey, which will be included in MDR's EdNET Insight State of the K-12 Market 2013. This four-part report will be available in its entirety later in December. In the meantime, MDR, which is based in Shelton, Conn., shared a portion of the report's results with Education Week.
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What response is needed to combat cyberbullying?
The Christian Science Monitor
Two Florida girls who allegedly harassed and bullied 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick before she committed suicide last month were arrested on felony charges of aggravated stalking. The girls, who are 12 and 14 years old, are accused of threatening to beat Rebecca up and sending her messages encouraging her to kill herself. "Drink bleach and die," one of the messages reportedly said. Authorities have been investigating the harassment since Rebecca jumped to her death last month. They've said as many as 15 girls may have been involved in the online bullying that they believe was a factor in her suicide.
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What happens when parents decide to opt-out of standardized tests?
MindShift
Ten years into the No Child Left Behind accountability standards, the backlash is gaining momentum. In New York, a growing number of parents are discovering that, as state standardized tests become a prominent part of the curriculum, their children are losing interest in school. This discovery is leading many of them to opt out of the tests altogether. But if a critical mass of parents decide that they don't buy into state mandated assessments, what will happen to the school system? Robert Kolker explores the consequences in New York City in a recent article for New York Magazine.
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Los Angeles Unified accuses state of 'shortchanging' needy students
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Unified accused state education officials of "shortchanging" the school district's impoverished students, saying they could be prevented from receiving all of the estimated $200 million due them under a new school funding system. Edgar Zazueta, L.A. Unified's chief lobbyist, said new rules requiring school districts to verify each needy student's family income in order to receive extra state dollars for them could result in a major undercount. So far, the district has received only 22 percent of the 138,000 verification forms sent out last month to students in 380 low-income schools, he said, with the initial deadline looming.
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