Before The Bell
Nov. 25, 2014

Letting learning technology flourish in schools
District Administration Magazine
A photo on Scott McLeod's popular "Dangerously Irrelevant" blog carries the caption, "We're so busy doing 20th century teaching, we don't have time to initiate 21st century learning." That, in a nutshell, is McLeod's driving concern about K12 education. A country that doesn't embrace technology and innovation in its education system cannot hope to compete in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. "Job growth in America, in terms of numbers, is around non-routine cognitive work — the stuff that requires sophisticated mental thinking, creative work, problem-solving, collaboration — and we aren't doing a good job preparing students for that," he says.More

When teachers and administrators collaborate
Edutopia
Those of us in education know that systemic change requires collaboration. And when trying to implement large-scale initiatives like the Common Core State Standards that require rethinking professional learning, curriculum and instructional materials, family engagement activities, assessment and other aspects of the education system, collaboration is particularly important.More

Common Core math standards put new focus on English learners
Education Week
When he began working the Common Core State Standards into his instruction three years ago, New York City middle school mathematics teacher Silvestre Arcos noticed that his English language learner students were showing less progress on unit assessments than his other students. "It wasn't necessarily because they didn't have the numeracy skills," recalled Arcos, who is now a math instructional coach and the seventh grade lead teacher at KIPP Washington Heights Middle School, a charter school in New York. More

Multi-state K-12 collaborative seeks proposals for open educational resources
eSchool News
The K-12 OER Collaborative, an initiative led by a group of 11 states with the goal of creating comprehensive, high-quality, open educational resources, is releasing a Request for Proposals to create open educational resources supporting K–12 mathematics and English language arts. The resources will be designed to enable all students to master foundational skills and knowledge to achieve college and career readiness.More

Common Core reading: Difficult, Dahl, repeat
NPR
All week we've been reporting on big changes in reading instruction brought on by the Common Core State Standards: a doubling-down on evidence-based reading, writing and speaking; increased use of nonfiction; and a big push to get kids reading more "complex texts." Whatever you think of these shifts, they're meaningless ideas without a classroom and kids to make sense of them. More

10 lessons learned from the assessment field tests
THE Journal
According to Chief Technology Officer Brandt Redd, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium saw "significantly" fewer problems than it had expected during its spring 2014 field tests. "Things went more smoothly than our expectations," said Redd. "We didn't have any system-wide issues; issues that happened tended to be isolated." That lack of major issues was in large part due to the efforts of educators all over the country who put in the time to make sure everything would work before nearly 5 million students showed up to take the field tests — whether for Smarter Balanced, PARCC or one of the alternative state online initiatives.More

Unlocking extra money for your schools
Scholastic Administrator
School spending varies greatly around the country, but the one constant is that every school would welcome more money. Since the 2008 recession, at least 29 states are spending less on education today than six years ago, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Fourteen states' funding has dropped by at least 10 percent since 2008, and Oklahoma's per-pupil spending plunged almost 24 percent in that time, according to an article in USA Today.More

Technology skills only scratch the surface of the digital divide
The Hechinger Report
The realities of the "digital divide" are increasingly apparent. In a consumer culture that equates status with early adoption of the newest iPhone, access to new technology necessarily splits pretty clearly along socio-economic class lines. According to U.S. census data, for example, more than 30 million homes have no broadband access, most of them concentrated in some of the poorest parts of the country.More

An elegant solution for middle schoolers with suicidal thoughts
By: Nancy Gahles
Early adolescence is a time of tempestuous changes in physical, mental, emotional and social spheres. It is a time when peer pressure abounds. But peer pressure is only one area of challenge during middle school. There are many others that beset the growing adolescent and, when left to their own devices, young teens may devise harmful coping strategies. An elegant solution has emerged in response to a recent study co-funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.More

Modern-day segregation in public schools
The Atlantic
A U.S. Department of Education press release last month had a disorienting, retro ring to it: "Black students to be afforded equal access to advanced, higher-level learning opportunities," the announcement proclaimed — six decades after the country's Supreme Court determined that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional in the landmark ruling known as Brown vs. Board of Education.More

How poorly designed classroom space puts student learning at risk
The Hechinger Report (commentary)
Space matters. For over 200 years we have been teaching in row-by-column seating. Many experts argue that this classroom style has conditioned both educators and students to ineffectively utilize space. Researchers have said that space affects human behavior in powerful ways. So it is striking to realize that in education, empirical research on space is largely underutilized.More

Obama makes pitch to expand high-speed Internet access to schools
The New York Times
President Barack Obama took a break from crisis and gridlock to advance two often-overlooked priorities focused on children, one to wire more of the nation's schools to the Internet and the other to overhaul child care for low-income families. Even as the capital buzzes with anger over Obama's planned announcement on immigration reform and the Senate blocking passage of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the president staged back-to-back events at the White House to showcase progress in these two areas and, along the way, to try to reinforce that he still has a role to play even though he now faces an opposition Congress for his final two years in office.More

How to reframe the education reform debate
The Washington Post (commentary)
Education policymakers have successfully framed the language of modern school reform to reflect specific values — "accountability," for example, means standardized test-based accountability, and "no excuses" means that teachers are to blame if students don't do well. The author of the following post argues that to move past this limiting reform model supporters of public education will have to reframe the debate with language that infuses their own values of shared responsibility and empathy.More

Obama's immigration plan will affect these K-12 students with undocumented parents
The Huffington Post
President Barack Obama will announce his plan for executive action on immigration, which is expected to grant deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. Obama's proposal could impact not only the estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., but also their young children, according to new data from Pew Research Center. Recently, Pew's Hispanic Trends Project released a report outlining the numbers of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S as of 2012. The report estimates that the nation's population of unauthorized immigrants has dropped in recent years, down from 12.2 million in 2007 to 11.2 million in 2012.More

States expanded availability and uses of student K-12 data, new report says
Education Week
The number of states that provide data to parents allowing them to track their children's academic progress has more than doubled in the last three years from eight to 17, while more than 100 bills designed to better safeguard student data were considered in states, according to a recent report from the Washington-based Data Quality Campaign. The "Data for Action 2014" report from the group, which advocates for the availability and use of student data to improve K-12 achievement.More

Are NOLA schools failing students with disabilities?
NPR
In New Orleans, schools have long struggled to provide for students with physical, emotional and mental disabilities. Even before Hurricane Katrina, many parents had to fight for extra help. But many say things have only gotten harder since the city's public school district shifted almost entirely to charter schools. Crystal Walker is a 34-year-old single mother of two boys, ages 7 and 9, and a 12-year-old daughter. All three attend Akili Academy charter school in New Orleans, and all have been diagnosed with various physical, emotional and learning disabilities, including ADHD and dyslexia.More

A Principal Ambassador's view: On the best practice journey
NAESP
In December 2013, the U.S. Department of Education named Jill Levine one of three inaugural Principal Ambassador Fellows. Here, Levine, principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, shares a snapshot of her work at the department.More

8 bright ideas from National Principals Month
NAESP
During National Principals Month in October, NAESP celebrated by collecting and sharing "31 Days of Bright Ideas and Best Practices." These top tips and inspiration were submitted by members of the 2014 class of National Distinguished Principals and shared on Facebook and Twitter. Here are your favorites, based on Facebook "likes" and shares.More