Before The Bell
Nov. 29, 2011

Principals protest role of testing in evaluations
The New York Times
Through the years there have been many bitter teacher strikes and too many student protests to count. But a principals' revolt? President Barack Obama and his signature education program, Race to the Top, along with John B. King Jr., the New York State commissioner of education, deserve credit for spurring what is believed to be the first principals' revolt in history. As of last night, 658 principals around the state had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, N.Y., where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students' test scores to evaluate teachers' and principals' performance.More

Census: 1 in 20 kids have a disability
Disability Scoop
About 5 percent of school-age children in the United States have a disability, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from the U.S. Census Bureau. The statistic comes from a brief released offering an in-depth look at kids ages 5 through 17 with disabilities who live in community settings. While the Census has long collected data on this group through its annual American Community Survey, this year marks the first time that government officials analyzed the results, said Matthew Brault, a Census statistician and the author of the report.More

NSF aims to 'transform' STEM learning with set of grants
Education Week
The National Science Foundation recently issued seven grants — worth about $5 million in total — to support research projects intended to "transform" STEM learning. Work is now getting underway on the set of winning proposals, which include an online "iPuzzle" project to help middle schoolers learn math, a plan to use "green" school buildings as a context for STEM learning, and research on a set of redesigned STEM-focused high schools in North Carolina.More

Novel idea unleashes surge in 'Limitless Libraries' usage
The Tennessean
Before the school day begins, Brandon Munoz is already in the library. The sixth-grader is averaging about 20 books a week. His favorites are graphic novels such as the "Bone" series, or popular fiction titles such as "Diary of the Wimpy Kid" or "Darth Paper Strikes Back." Just last school year, he mostly visited the library out of obligation, but an agreement between the Tennessee school district and Nashville Public Library — called Limitless Libraries — is making things a little more interesting. More

Study links academic setbacks to middle school transition
Education Week
While policymakers and researchers alike have focused on improving students' transition into high school, a new study of Florida schools suggests the critical transition problem may happen years before, when students enter middle school. The study, part of the Program on Education Policy and Governance Working Papers Series at Harvard University, found that students moving from grade 5 into middle school show a "sharp drop" in math and language arts achievement in the transition year that plagues them as far out as 10th-grade, even risking thwarting their ability to graduate high school and go on to college. More

Teachers' newest online worry: 'cyberbaiting'
eSchool News
A new report sheds light on an emerging trend known as "cyberbaiting," a phenomenon where students taunt their teachers to the point of outburst, then capture the teachers' reactions via cellphone videos and post those videos online for all to see. Cyberbaiting is the latest example of using social networking for bad behavior, and one in five teachers across the globe has personally experienced cyberbaiting or knows another teacher who has, according to the Norton Online Family Report, a global survey of more than 19,000 students, parents and teachers in 24 countries.More

More kids skip school shots in 8 states
The Associated Press via Fox News
More parents are opting out of school shots for their kids. In eight states now, more than 1 in 20 public school kindergartners aren't getting all the vaccines required for attendance, an Associated Press analysis found. That growing trend among parents seeking vaccine exemptions has health officials worried about outbreaks of diseases that once were all but stamped out. The AP analysis found more than half of states have seen at least a slight rise in the rate of exemptions over the past five years. States with the highest exemption rates are in the West and Upper Midwest.More

Public schools, private donations
Los Angeles Times (commentary)
If a well-heeled neighborhood wanted better police protection, would it be OK for residents to donate money to their local police station to fund more patrols on their streets? Most people would rightly say no. Law enforcement is a public service. Residents might hire a private security guard for their neighborhood, but they cannot reshape public allocations of resources to benefit themselves through private donations. So is it all right, then, for parents to lavish donations on one school, providing it with art and music classes, instructional aides and extra library hours, while a neighboring school in the same district might have none of those?More

With blocks, educators go back to basics
The New York Times
Huddled together on the reading rug of a pre-kindergarten classroom on the Upper West Side, three budding builders assembled a multilayered church with a Gothic arch. Nearby, another block artist created a castle with a connecting courtyard. Meanwhile, a fifth toiled earnestly on a shaky tower, eliciting oohs and aahs from across the room when it came tumbling down. These were not pre-kindergartners, but members of the Parents League of New York, who had crowded into an oversubscribed workshop on block building. The tower constructor, a lawyer named Matthew Hurd, was still wearing a suit.More

Supercommittee's failure will spur hefty K-12 cuts without a congressional fix
The Huffington Post
Seventy thousand teaching jobs. More than one billion in Title I grants to disadvantaged school districts. Nearly 900 million in funding for special education students. All these and more K-12 educational expenditures will be axed smack in the middle of the 2012-2013 school year — barring an act of Congress that would prevent the automatic, across-the-board cuts set by this summer's debt deal from going into effect, according to the National Education Association.More

Deadline for 2012 eRate applications announced
eSchool News
The Universal Service Administrative Co., which runs the federal eRate program, has announced the opening and closing dates of the eRate filing window for Funding Year 2012. The window will open at noon Eastern time on Monday, Jan. 9, and close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, March 20. Schools and libraries will have 72 days in which to file applications for the 2012 eRate funding year. Feb. 21 is the last date on which schools can file a Form 470 requesting new services for the 2012 program year, because of the 28-day posting requirement for that form. More

7 states to compete in Race to the Top's latest round
Education Week
Seven states that narrowly missed getting a piece of the $4 billion in Race to the Top money in the last round are going for another shot at a grant, the U.S. Department of Education announced. Nine states that scored high in the second round of the Race to the Top competition, but not quite high enough to win a grant, were eligible for this third round of funding, totaling $200 million. More

Georgia to roll out teacher evaluations in schools
The Associated Press via The Ledger-Enquirer
For the first time, student test scores will soon factor into evaluations for teachers and principals across Georgia under a new statewide program. The state will roll out a pilot of its new educator evaluation system in January, starting with the 26 school districts that signed on to Georgia's application for the federal "Race to the Top" grant competition. The state won $400 million last year to launch a host of programs aimed at improving student achievement and turning around low-performing schools.More

Texas school finance fix eludes Perry as students do without art
Bloomberg
Students at elementary schools in Amarillo, Texas, will be missing out on art classes because a five-year-old finance plan from Republicans hasn't delivered funding needed to avoid education cuts. "We'd love to offer art or foreign languages," said Rod Schroder, Amarillo's superintendent. "But we have never had the revenue to put in those programs." Perry, a contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, and legislative leaders in Austin, Texas, have blamed this year's public-education funding shortfall on a weaker economy and flaws in a 2006 tax overhaul that hasn't met projections for revenue.More

Teachers express concern over evaluation in Chicago
Chicago Tribune
As Chicago Public Schools officials begin heated negotiations over teacher evaluations, a study that will be released by the district shows teachers strongly oppose tying student achievement to their own performance. Part of a sweeping education reform package signed into law last year, Illinois' Performance Evaluation Reform Act requires that the new evaluation system include student growth as a "significant factor" in the rating of a teacher. But a CPS-funded study shows teachers are worried about what they see as a precursor to merit pay.More

Principals' Help Line: Answers, just for principals
NAESP
As a principal, usually, you're the one with all the answers — but where do you turn when you're the one with the questions? The Principals' Help Line is the place to start. This confidential, members-only advice portal allows principals to receive, via email, ideas and advice from veteran members of NAESP's National Principal Mentor Program. Have a pressing question? Submit now and receive the solutions you need to be a better school leader.More

Essential resources on RTI
NAESP
Learn the basics of RTI with new recommended books from the National Principals Resource Center, including "RTI & Math: The Classroom Connection and Implementing RTI with English Learners." Check out the latest NPRC catalog, filled with resources like these to help principals tackle education challenges. Now accepting purchase orders!More