Before The Bell
Sep. 17, 2013

A state-by-state look at top education-technology initiatives
eSchool News
Sometimes, an education-technology initiative grabs national headlines. Other times, a technology initiative quietly spreads throughout a school building or district as it connects teachers with mentors, helps administrators become more efficient, or boosts student achievement and engagement. Here, eSchool News compiled a list of one ed-tech initiative in each state and the District of Columbia, to offer a look at some of the great technology advocacy and work being done around the nation.More

Study: Kindergarten 'redshirting' less common than previously reported
The Washington Post
The practice of "redshirting" kindergarten students by delaying their school entrance for a year is not as widespread as previously reported, according to a recent study from the University of Virginia and Stanford University. About 4 percent of children delay kindergarten, the study found, based on an analysis of national longitudinal data that tracked more than 10,000 infants from birth in 2001 through school entry. More

Promise seen in college-awareness program for middle schoolers
Education Week
Educators eager for the right formula to motivate low-income students to aspire to college can find promise in a new study that endorses early exposure to college, mentoring, and community service leadership. University of Michigan researchers found strong evidence that this combination of interventions used by the 22-year-old, non-profit College for Every Student had a substantial impact on college-going attitudes of disadvantaged students. Seventy-five percent of its program participants in the study plan to attend four-year colleges, compared with 5 percent of students in a control group.More

How engineering is moving up in science classes
eSchool News
After two years, the final Next Generation Science Standards arrived in April, and along with a focus on rigor and real-world application, the standards include a focus on engineering — and education leaders are ensuring that their teachers have the resources to teach the subject. Historically, many engineering education advocates have said they felt that engineering is the "forgotten E" in STEM. And while many are lauding the renewed focus on engineering, others wonder if classroom teachers have the experience required to teach engineering.More

Can emotional intelligence be taught?
The New York Times
One day last spring, James Wade sat cross-legged on the carpet and called his kindergarten class to order. Lanky and soft-spoken, Wade has a gentle charisma well suited to his role as a teacher of small children: steady, rather than exuberant. When a child performs a requested task, like closing the door after recess, he will often acknowledge the moment by murmuring, "Thank you, sweet pea," in a mild Texas drawl.More

Is it time to redefine gifted and talented?
Manhattan mom Heather McFadden is grateful that entrance into the prized New York City Gifted and Talented program has worked out for her two kids. Her daughter cleared both hurdles — she scored in the 99th percentile on the test, and then was lucky enough to get chosen for the lottery. Her son tested in as well. "I am thankful they [gifted programs] exist. There simply wasn't a school in our district we would send our kids to because of their ratings," McFadden said. More

Begin the day with a new question
Education Week (commentary)
The current reform agenda in education is based upon a basic belief that we are not good enough. That belief has seeped into our offices and our classrooms and even into our psyches. We must not allow that to continue. We do need to get better results, especially with those children living in poverty. Now external forces are driving the changes we make and the timeline on which we make them. We know the damage done when children are told they are not good enough. We now resist the same consequences for ourselves and our staffMore

Poll: Majority of teachers support Common Core
U.S. News & World Report
Although more than three-quarters of teachers support adopting the Common Core State Standards for English and math, many in high-poverty schools doubt that their districts are prepared to implement the standards, according to a new poll from the National Education Association. In a poll released on Thursday, the NEA found that the majority of its members either "wholeheartedly" supported the standards (26 percent) or supported them with "some reservations" (50 percent). The NEA is the nation's largest teachers union, representing roughly 3 million employees working in every education level, from preschool through college.More

Students' happiness at school goes a long way in learning
News-Leader (commentary)
Got out an old study of school climate that my good and faithful research team conducted a fistful of years back. Why is a good learning environment so important? When students feel safe, enjoy being where they are and are happy, they tend to return more often, they tend to behave and they tend to learn. The overall climate of a school begins in the classroom. My research team discovered that classrooms could be new, old, high tech, low tech, large, small, near the principal's office or far away. It didn't matter.More

Youth more likely to be bullied at schools with anti-bullying programs, UT Arlington researcher finds
Medical News Today
Anti-bullying initiatives have become standard at schools across the country, but a new UT Arlington study finds that students attending those schools may be more likely to be a victim of bullying than children at schools without such programs. The findings run counter to the common perception that bullying prevention programs can help protect kids from repeated harassment or physical and emotional attacks.More

New principal makes commitment to single-gender classes
Tampa Bay Times
A little more than six years ago, Westside Elementary School embarked on a trailblazing experiment based on a rather simple premise: Boys and girls don't always learn best when they're together. Citing research that shows the best learning environment for one gender isn't always ideal for the other and that the two genders tend to distract each other, the school started offering all-girls and all-boys classrooms at each grade level, becoming one of the first schools in the Tampa Bay area to do so.More

What message are we sending with our first contact with parents?
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
Chris Wejr, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: "As we start a new school year, one of the key aspects to consider is our relationships with the parents and families of our students. In the past year, not only have I had reflective conversations with parents and educators about moving to a focus on communication WITH parents (rather than communication TO parents), but I have also discussed preschool and kindergarten beginnings with close friends as well as people in my family."More

'Race to the Top' for education a flop, report finds
The Obama administration's signature $4 billion Race to the Top initiative, designed to spur far-reaching education reforms across the country and raise student achievement, is largely a failure, an analysis concludes. Most winning states made what the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education labeled "unrealistic and impossible" promises to boost student achievement in exchange for prizes that were ultimately paltry in comparison with their pledges.More

5 tips for engaging parent volunteers in the classroom
Do you find yourself wanting (more) help from parent volunteers, but are either not getting it, or not getting the kind of help that would be truly useful to you and your students? Is managing parent volunteers time-consuming or burdensome? More

How many hours do educators actually work?
EdTech Magazine
If you were offered a job that paid an average annual salary of $49,000 and required you to work 12- to 16-hour days, would you take it? Sounds like a lot of work for not much pay. But, as a new infographic shows, that's about what the average U.S. teacher can expect when walking into a classroom. More

From the principal's office: 6 steps for curbing email miscommunication
How many times have you sent an email and immediately regretted doing so after pushing the send button? How many times have you sent an email, and the receiver of that email got it all wrong about what you meant to say?More

State and locals to US Senate: Rewrite No Child Left Behind Act
Education Week
A collection of big-name state and local government groups really, really wants U.S. Senate leaders to bring a bill to the floor to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and soon. "State governments, localities, and schools need a long-term resolution for the issues raised by the current federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act," write the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National League of Cities, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and four other groups, in a letter sent to Senate leaders.More

Study: Michigan cut school funding more than 33 other states since 2008
The Detroit News
Michigan has cut investment in K-12 schools by 9 percent since 2008, a deeper cut than 33 other states, according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. "It's very clear that states that have good schools and educated workforces reap the benefits through stronger economic growth. We are moving in the wrong direction by reducing our investment in our schools and students," said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.More

Study: Most states' school funding tumbles since recession
Bloomberg News
More than two-thirds of U.S. states are spending less per child on schools than they were five years ago, a study found, showing how slowly governments are replacing funding that was cut because of the recession. At least 34 states will devote less on kindergarten through 12th grade on a per-pupil basis during the current school year than in 2008, once inflation is taken into account, according to a report released today by the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which tracks the impact of government decisions on those with low incomes.More

School districts install, expand iPad programs for hands-on lessons
The Columbian
As Mike Holland paced the front of his seventh-grade math class at La Center Middle School in Washington, his students settled into their seats, touch screens in hand. There was no click-a-tat of three-ring binders opening or the rustling of glossy textbook pages turning. There was just the silent unsheathing of tablet computers from their cloth vessels and the chatter of excited voices. This is the new classroom.More

Elementary puts new focus on technology
The Spokesman-Review
Some North Idaho fifth-graders sat in their school library and chatted with students across town on a brand-new video-conferencing system. Before long they may use the high-end equipment to embark on virtual tours of distant museums, drop in on classrooms around the world or watch a team of surgeons at work. "It's very exciting. This opens up so much for us," said Lisa Pica, the principal at Hayden Meadows Elementary School.More

Webinar today: Moving ordinary schools to extraordinary
Are you ready to move your school to extraordinary? Join a panel of principals for "Moving Ordinary Schools to Extraordinary: Five Essential Skills for Every Effective Principal," a webinar today, Sept. 17. Participants will share how they have exercised practices described in a recent report from The Wallace Foundation, The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning to improve teaching and learning at their schools.More

Starting the year with a 1:1 iPad initiative
Dodgeland Elementary School in Juneau, Wisconsin, just started a1:1 iPad initiative. "I am convinced that this iPad initiative will engage students and be a game-changing tool to personalize their learning," writes Dodgeland principal Jessica Johnson. In a special guest post for NAESP's Communicator, Johnson shares how she and her team implemented the initiative and tackled obstacles.More