Before The Bell
Apr. 18, 2014

Grades are in: Digital learning gets more state attention
District Administration Magazine
States are passing legislation to improve technology use in K-12 classrooms, having debated more than 450 digital learning bills and having signed 132 into law last year, according to the Digital Learning Report Card 2013. Digital Learning Now!, a national initiative of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which pushes to reform education and to improve technology, recently released the report card that grades K12 education policies in each of the nation's 50 states.More

How engaged are students and teachers in American schools?
Gallup recently released a major report on the State of American Schools. Their data paints a picture of schools performing as a complex ecosystem, with the wellbeing, engagement, and performance of teachers, students and principals all intertwined. The report combines decades of surveys of 5 million American teachers and principals with the results of the Gallup Student Poll, now billed as the largest survey of American students with 600,000 5th through 12th grade participants, and several large follow-up studies. Gallup's also drawing on its background developing the Employee Engagement Survey, which has been administered to a total of almost 30 million people in all professions.More

Report: More research needed on proper use of Common Core tests
Education Week
A new study cautions that more research is needed before new Common Core assessments can be used as valid and reliable measures of teacher effectiveness. In a paper by the Center for American Progress, Morgan S. Polikoff argues that while there is "an intuitive appeal" to using results of the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests to evaluate teachers, they "have not been specifically designed" for that purpose. Nonetheless, states are planning to use the tests in a range of ways, from planning professional development and rating their schools to evaluating teachers.More

Study: Teaching social skills raises test scores
District Administration Magazine
A widely used K-6 teaching technique that integrates social and emotional learning into the school day improves academic performance, according to a study published in the American Educational Research Journal in March. Though the approach, known as Responsive Classroom, has been used for some 25 years, this is the first comprehensive study of its impact on student achievement.More

It's time for social and emotional learning for all
Edutopia (commentary)
Over the last decade, increased attention has been paid to the social and emotional learning needs of children. This area of learning is necessary and essential to address — for children and adults. It's time that schools take responsibility for meeting the entire range of learning needs that educators have — the need to use new technologies, to understand and implement new standards, to use new assessment strategies, and their needs to attend to their own social and emotional learning.More

Beyond the standardized test: Aim higher
Standardized testing is one of the "lighting rod" issues in educational policy debates. Whether it's a group of teachers boycotting a test in Seattle, districts across the United States tying teacher evaluations to test results, the new PARCC or Smarter Balanced Assessments being implemented, the ranking countries with PISA scores, or the SAT trying to revamp itself, the debate and topic of standardized testing simply will not go away. So what is an educator to do? With all these forces in play, whether at the district or federal level, it can be disheartening and daunting for an educator to create learning in the classroom.More

How educators can protect students' data from security breaches
Every day, teachers are responsible for maintaining numerous logins, passwords, data and other private information about their students. As chief technology officer in the modern century classroom, an educator's role becomes more complex (and potentially overwhelming) as more tablets, computers and Web tools are put in the hands of students. With so many tools, security and privacy are often an afterthought despite the increasing number of websites that fall victim to data breaches and security vulnerabilities each day.More

Violent behavior of students can be reduced with Vanderbilt's program
Violent behavior and beliefs among middle school students can be reduced through the implementation of a targeted violence intervention program, according to a Vanderbilt study released in the Journal of Injury and Violence Research. Manny Sethi, M.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, and his Vanderbilt co-authors evaluated 27 programs nationwide as part of a search for an appropriate school-based violence prevention program. Their findings led to a single, evidence-based conflict resolution program that was evaluated in a pilot study of a Nashville middle school with high rates of violence.More

Food marketing targets children in schools
Psychology Today
Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the next step in her Let’s Move campaign to reduce childhood obesity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a new rule that would allow marketing in schools only for foods and beverages that meet "Smart Snacks" standards, the USDA's new nutrition standards for foods that can be sold in schools outside the school lunch program. According to Mrs. Obama, "Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren't bombarded with ads for junk food. Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn't be undone by unhealthy messages at school."More

Bullying's terrible legacy: How childhood stress can change our genes forever
The Huffington Post
The memories of seventh grade have mostly receded from view for most of us. How well can you recall the faces of your fellow students? Can you summon the names of the teachers, the secretary, and the principal? Can you hear the way the bell sounded? Maybe it's all strikingly clear. Or maybe, over time, your middle-school years have been lost in the fog of so many other childhood memories. Either way, you’re carrying it all with you.More

If a student says homosexuality is a sin in school, is it bullying?
The Atlantic
What right should students have to talk about God in homework, assemblies, club meetings and graduation speeches? This is the question at stake in a new law in Tennessee and other states across the country. Recently, Gov. Bill Haslam signed the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which affirms that religious students should have the same free-speech rights as secular ones. At first, this might seem uncontroversial; religious expression has always been protected by the First Amendment. So why did two Republican state legislators feel the need to write the bill?More

Tablets turning the page on textbooks
eSchool News
With more than 170 million units sold, the iPad has revolutionized mobile computing since its release in 2010. While Apple's market share plummeted to about 36 percent last year with the emergence of cheaper Android-based tablets, it can be said that the iPad has changed the way people work, play and communicate. Four years after being introduced to consumers around the globe, the trend-setting tablet is poised to drastically change the way Raleigh County students learn by turning textbooks, plastic foam dioramas and library card catalogs into things of the past.More

New USDA mandate calls for access to free drinking water during lunchtime at schools
A new USDA mandate calling for access to free drinking water during lunchtime at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program went into effect at the start of the 2011-2012 school year. Researchers from the University of Michigan and University of Illinois at Chicago examined compliance with the new requirement as well as perceptions about drinking fountain cleanliness and water quality. The study found that most schools met the new requirement; however, additional measures are needed to promote better access and encourage students to drink more water. Their findings are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.More

Arne Duncan on waivers, Common Core, and teacher prep
Education Week
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat down on April 11 for a wide-ranging interview, including a discussion of the waivers President Barack Obama's administration has granted to states under the No Child Left Behind Act, criticism of the Common Core State Standards, and challenges involving the legacy of the administration's Race to the Top program.More

Indiana faces deadline on new education standards
The Associated Press via The San Diego Union-Tribune
As the first state to drop the national Common Core learning standards, Indiana is rushing to approve new state-crafted benchmarks in time for teachers to use them this fall, and education leaders from across the nation are closely watching. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in March signed legislation requiring new standards to replace the Common Core, even though the state was among 45 states that in recent years adopted the national standards spelling out what students should be learning in math and reading at each grade level.More

Study: Teaching social skills raises test scores
District Administration Magazine
A widely used K-6 teaching technique that integrates social and emotional learning into the school day improves academic performance, according to a study published in the American Educational Research Journal in March.More

5 common myths about school administration
eSchool News
It's not always teachers who face criticism in the U.S. Many school administrators say that misconceptions about their career motivations and the position in general still exist today — and many myths have survived for decades. More

How much teachers get paid — State by state
The Washington Post
How much do teachers across the United States get paid? Here is data, state by state, collected from the National Center for Education Statistics by Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president at DePaul University in Chicago. More

How effective are online classes for K-12 students in Michigan?
Michigan Radio
Make no mistake about it: online learning is here and it is growing. The number of students taking online courses has grown 52 percent in the past three years. In the 2012-2013 school year, some 55,000 students in Michigan took a virtual course. A new report from the Michigan Virtual University looks at virtual learning for K-12 students — who's taking online classes, what kinds of classes and how effective the classes are. The results are mixed.More

Ohio elementary pilots a tutoring and mentoring program to help students
The Plain Dealer
Guidance counselor Jessica Stringer created a pilot tutoring program for Heritage South and North buildings. There are two components to the program. First, sixth graders from North help third and fourth graders from South improve their math skills. The younger students' teachers provide the older kids materials and math game suggestions for this peer-to-peer tutoring component. Younger students who are working on reading skills will read aloud to their peer tutors.More

Register for upcoming mentor trainings in Chicago and Nashville
Being a principal is a tough job, especially with today's increasing demands on school leaders. Mentoring can provide crucial support to new principals. The NAESP National Mentor Program is designed to engage retired and experienced principals to give back to their profession by supporting new, newly assigned, or even experienced principals through mentoring. Ready to dive in? The next mentor training session is May 1-3 in Chicago. More

2014 NAESP election results are in
The votes have been tallied! Congratulations to the winners of this year's NAESP Election, who will serve on the NAESP Board of Directors starting on July 1, 2014.More