NAESP Before the Bell
Feb. 1, 2011

How a tight budget can improve education
Arne Duncan, 46, a 6-foot-5 former basketball player (he played professionally in Australia), was on the Harvard University team that set the NCAA record for highest free-throw percentage. He and his teammates, he jokes, shot well only when no one was guarding them. As secretary of education, he has grades K through 12 in a full-court press. Duncan says No Child Left Behind got things "exactly wrong" by being "loose on goals but prescriptive about how to get to them," which marks him as a friend of federalism. Some of the $4 billion in Race to the Top funding — incentives for innovations — has been used to prod states to repeal laws that prohibited linking teacher evaluations to students' achievements. More

Will tests improve learning?
The Principal Difference Blog
New research may help school leaders with two important challenges that they face on a daily basis. First, in these tight budget times with fewer teachers, larger classes, and fewer resources, how do we improve student performance? Second, given the complexity of course content how do we enhance our skills as instructional leaders?More

Gender, ethnic gaps revealed in science assessment
THE Journal
The latest National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) science report for grades fourth, eighth and 12th sets a baseline for future national science assessments. With significant changes to the test, the results are not comparable with previous assessments, so no year-over-year trends emerge, either positive or negative. Further, there won't be another test across all three grade levels until 2015, according to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which sets policy for NAEP. So educators and policymakers will have to wait five or six more years for those results to be made public before any conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness of policy actions that result from the 2009 report.More

Schools provide chess for students' enjoyment, intellect
USA Today
Some may think chess is boring and too difficult, but many students who are members of chess clubs across the country couldn’t care less what others may think of it. Chances are most of them have only one thing on their mind: Fun. But many educators believe there is a correlation between the thought-provoking pastime and how well a student does in life. "Chess teaches them not so much the movement of the pieces but what your opponent can throw at you...preparing for the unforeseen by trying to predict...just like life," said Josh Bentley, a volunteer chess instructor at Sartell Middle School in Minnesota.More

Children stressed at school because of home troubles
The New York Times
Diane and Eric Kehler tried not to talk about it in front of the children, but as Jen Hegerty, the guidance counselor at Wilson Hill Elementary School, says, "Children have eagle ears." Eric Kehler lost his $90,000-a-year job as an information technology manager. And though he and his wife discussed their problems in whispers, eagle ears don't miss much. Their son Mathias, 12, a quiet, cerebral sixth-grader at Wilson Hill, got quieter. "Our house was sort of in a state of despair. We weren't as happy as usual," Mathias said. The emotional strain on children is plain from the names of the support groups the guidance counselor, Hegerty, has created: The Chicken Little group; the Volcano Management group; the Family Change group.More

The importance of digital citizenship in social media
While students and teachers alike are anxious to integrate new learning tools into the classroom, educators especially must err on the side of caution. It's the educator's responsibility to empower the students by giving them the fundamental lessons in digital citizenship.More

Teen turns texting into anti-bullying tool for schools
The Associated Press via The School Boards
Ashley Craig recalls a turning point in her life. She was an eighth-grader at Sussex Middle School in New Jersey when a classmate sat her down at a desk. "I'm going to end it," she recalls him saying. "I don't have any friends. People make fun of me. I'm going to end my life." She promised to keep his secret but immediately told a guidance counselor. The boy went into therapy, and later thanked her for saving his life. Craig, a victim of taunting herself, decided to take a stand against bullying. After eight months of research, the now-14-year-old presented an anti-bullying campaign to the High Point Board of Education, and the board unanimously approved her initiative, "Students Against Being Bullied," as a student group. Craig, with assistance from school officials, is now implementing her three-tiered plan, which relies largely on teen favorite for communication: Text messaging.More

Wanted: Ways to assess the majority of teachers
Education Week
The debate about "value added" measures of teaching may be the most divisive topic in teacher-quality policy. It has generated sharp-tongued exchanges in public forums, in news stories, and on editorial pages. And it has produced enough policy briefs to fell whole forests. But for most of the nation's teachers, who do not teach subjects or grades in which value-added data are available, that debate is also largely irrelevant. Now, teachers' unions, content-area experts, and administrators in many states and communities are hard at work examining measures that could be used to weigh teachers' contributions to learning in subjects ranging from career and technical education to art, music, and history — the subjects, in other words, that are far less frequently tested.More

School nurses help students succeed in school
The Associated Press via NECN-TV
This one's a big problem. Alana Alford is up to the challenge. The second-grader at Orchard Elementary School in Jackson, Miss., struggles at first with the math problem on the board: 53-26. Her teacher provides a little direction, a reminder on borrowing. Alana counts on her fingers, eyes focused. She taps a pinky on her desk, and she's got it. She writes the answer in red marker on her dry-erase board. Big smile. "I like to do math," Alana said in a soft-spoken voice, just a notch above a whisper.More

ESEA renewal may see new momentum
Education Week
Education leaders in Congress are signaling that they're prepared to collaborate with the White House on a long-stalled reauthorization of the main federal law for K-12 education, after President Barack Obama sought to move education back to the top of the national agenda in his State of the Union address. Precollegiate policy is widely seen as one of the few areas on which the politically divided Congress can cooperate with the Obama administration. White House backing is considered crucial to building and sustaining momentum for a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which an array of observers have argued is in serious need of revision. Its current version, the No Child Left Behind Act, was signed into law nine years ago. More

Los Angeles Catholic schools to add 20 days to academic year
Los Angeles Times
Most elementary schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will add 20 days to their schedules, making their school year one of the longest in the United States. In announcing the expansion to a 200-day calendar, Cardinal Roger Mahony insisted that the archdiocese was not trying to gain a competitive advantage over the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has cut its school year to 175 days this year. He said the Catholic schools which serve 52,000 elementary and middle school children in three counties, were simply trying to step up their performance to ensure that students would become globally competitive.More

Nation-building through education
"The future is ours to win" was a major theme in President Obama's second State of the Union address. President Obama focused primarily on his efforts to increase jobs and strengthen the nation's economy, but he took time to emphasize the critical role a quality education plays in realizing those goals.More

7 ways you save by attending NAESP's Convention
Because NAESP is featuring the fullest roster of expert speakers you will find anywhere this year for the 2011 Annual Convention & Exposition, it is definitely the best deal around, no matter how you slice it. Learn all seven ways you can save by attending. More