Before The Bell
Nov. 22, 2011

Teacher evaluations more prevalent in schools across the country
The Huffington Post
Teachers and principals are worrying more about their own report cards these days. They're being graded on more than student test scores. The way educators are evaluated is changing across the country, with a switch from routine "satisfactory" ratings to actual proof that students are learning. President Barack Obama's recent use of executive authority to revise the No Child Left Behind education law is one of several factors driving a trend toward using student test scores, classroom observation and potentially even input from students, among other measures, to determine just how effective educators are. A growing number of states are using these evaluations to decide critical issues such as pay, tenure, firings and the awarding of teaching licenses.More

Sweets ban at school parties may cut calorie overload
WebMD Health News
As childhood obesity rises, more schools have banned parents from bringing baked goods and other sugary treats for class parties. Now a new study suggests those controversial "cupcake crackdowns" may be on the right track. The study shows that kids can eat as many as one-third of all the calories they need in a day at a typical half-hour birthday party. And those calories are coming from foods high in fat and sugar and low in nutrients — such as cake, fruit punch, ice cream and chips. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that getting no more than 5 percent to 15 percent of your daily calories from solid fats and added sugars.More

Study highlights 'power of more time' for science learning
Education Week
A new report makes the case for restructuring the school calendar to allow more learning time for science, and through a set of case studies seeks to explain promising approaches to make the most of that extra time. "Together, these schools offer a glimpse of what is possible when schools and districts make science a priority and when they furnish students and teachers with the time they need to build dynamic science programs," reads the report from the National Center on Time & Learning, a research and advocacy group.More

Survey of school administrators explores digital classrooms, major challenges
THE Journal
Nearly two-thirds or 63 percent of school administrators who responded to a recent survey said 1:1 computing classrooms where teachers act as a coach for students are the future of education, in a poll that looked at some of the changes, opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for schools. More than 300 district superintendents, assistant superintendents and school principals from districts with 2,500 students or more participated in the online survey.More

'Value-added' formulas strain collaboration
Education Week
More than half the states now require districts to take student achievement into account when evaluating a teacher's performance. Value-added, or growth, models track individual students' test scores from year to year, which advocates say can help isolate the effect of the instruction that students receive during one school year from their academic backgrounds and prior education experiences. Critics — including many teachers' unions — argue that annual test scores do not give a full picture of student growth, and that the statistical models used for the measures are not designed to evaluate teachers.More

10 ways to change the minds of tech-reluctant staff
eSchool News
We often hear about tech-savvy educators and administrators who have an array of best practices and whose love for technology is evident. But as anyone who's ever been part of a school or district knows, not all teachers and administrators are as comfortable or familiar with technology. More

Poor students with poorly educated parents more disadvantaged in US than other countries
The Huffington Post
Intuitively, a child's academic performance is likely higher if he or she has highly educated parents, and lower if the child has less educated parents. A new report confirms that's true, but reveals that American children of poorly educated parents do a lot worse than their counterparts in other countries. For the Pew Economic Mobility Project's report, "Does America promote mobility as well as other nations?," researchers in 10 countries analyzed socioeconomic advantage as a function of parental education. They found that a child's economic and educational status is more affected by parental education than in any other country studied.More

Race to the top round 3: 9 states can apply for $200 million with STEM education focus
The Huffington Post
Nine states that were the runner-up finalists from last year's Race to the Top competition can apply for a portion of the $200 million Race to the Top round three fund. The Department of Education announced Wednesday that Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina can seek funding for part of their Race to the Top plan, which should include a focus to improve science, technology, engineering and math education. "Race to the Top round three will enable these nine states to further their reform efforts already underway and help them get better faster," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.More

Gov. Christie's New Jersey education overhaul runs up against clock
Gov. Chris Christie, after proclaiming 2011 the "year of education reform" in January, is running out of time to make good on overhauling New Jersey's school system before lawmakers wrap up the current session. Christie, 49, a first-term Republican, said during a Nov. 18 speech at the University of Notre Dame that the teachers' union has a "$130 million political slush fund" to thwart his plans. He said the New Jersey Education Association uses it "to help their friends and punish their enemies." Christie has urged the Democratic-led Legislature to act before the session ends in January on bills to overhaul schools, as well as ethics and civil-service rules. His education measures take aim at tenure and pay, and would offer vouchers to students from poor families. More

Public to have say on grading teachers, principals in Chicago
Chicago Tribune
How well students perform academically would count for as little as one-quarter of a teacher's evaluation next school year, if Chicago Public Schools becomes the first district in Illinois to implement new teacher assessments. That's one proposal advanced by the state Board of Education, part of a complex series of proposed guidelines for evaluating teachers and principals that will be open for public comment through the end of the year. After two years, the student growth component of the evaluations would jump to a minimum of 30 percent, still a far cry from the 50 percent or more in place in Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio and elsewhere.More

Gov. Jindal gains support for his agenda, superintendent pick on BESE with runoff election
The Associated Press via The Republic
The charter school movement and state education overhaul plans sought by Gov. Bobby Jindal got a boost from the runoff elections for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. And the stalemate over Louisiana's next education superintendent appears on track to end, with Jindal's contender likely to get the post. In all three BESE runoffs, candidates considered closely aligned with Jindal's policies — and distant from teacher unions and other traditional public education leadership — won their contests.More

Common assessments: Ohio makes its choice
Education Week
Little by little, states have been deciding which common assessment approach to go with: Will it be the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium? Ohio has made its choice: It's going with PARCC. As we've told you, most states have chosen one or the other assessment consortium by now. A few, however, have insisted on being polygamous, maintaining membership in both consortia until they decide which approach is best for them.More

Gov. Branstad: Bilingual education gives students leg up in global economy
Iowa's Gov. Terry Branstad touted at an education town hall meeting the advantages bilingual students possess when entering a globally competitive workforce. Speaking to more than 200 people at Marshalltown High School, which has a large Spanish-speaking student body, Branstad touted Singapore as an example of a country with diverse schools that has achieved academic excellence. Several students and community members raised questions about how teachers will be evaluated when teaching students not fluent in English, and whether native English speakers should be required to learn a second language.More

Tennessee's tougher teacher evaluation system prompts schools to ban student teachers
eSchool News
Tennessee's new teacher evaluation system has prompted some school districts to ban student teachers from working in core high school subjects, college education officials say. The reason: So much of a teacher's evaluation is now based on student test scores that some teachers don't want to cede control of their classroom to a student teacher. Recent changes in state law — including teacher evaluations and toughening the curriculum — allowed Tennessee to win $500 million in the national Race to the Top education grant competition.More

Calling all aspiring authors
Don't miss this opportunity to break into the publishing world and have your fiction or non-fiction manuscripts reviewed by a dedicated team of publishing professionals. The NAESP Foundation, in cooperation with Charlesbridge Publishing, invites you to participate in the 2011 Children's Book of the Year Contest. Applications are due in February.More

Do more with less: Tips from Principal
Check out Principal online for Web extras and exclusives for the latest issue. This month, Principal is packed with ideas to help you lead in challenging economic times, including strategies for grant-seeking and creative tips for keeping student achievement up in the face of financial setbacks. Not an NAESP member? Join today for access to Principal.More