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Report: Despite some gains, most states don't pass education policy evaluation
U.S. News & World Report
Although the nation as a whole and many states have made progress in improving education policies, the majority still received poor grades in terms of implementing policies that will improve academic growth, according to a new report. StudentsFirst, a K-12 education advocacy group founded by former District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, released its second annual "State Policy Report Card" evaluation Tuesday, with no states receiving an A grade. In fact, the vast majority of states received D's and F's for the past year, although the number of failing schools decreased from 11 to seven.
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Grouping students: Heterogeneous, homogeneous and random structures
By Erick Herrmann
What is the typical classroom seating arrangement? Are students seated in neat rows, in a U shape, in small groups of 4 or 5, at tables or at desks? Teachers have long recognized the power of grouping students together for a variety of reasons: to collaborate with each other on a project, for cooperative learning opportunities, to work with a small group of students on a particular skill and more. But how do teachers decide how to group students together, and when is a particular grouping structure best, given the learning or task at hand?
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Common Core in action: Why collaboration and communication matter
Edutopia
When students graduate from high school, there is a collection of important (or core) skills we want them to possess. That's where the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor standards come in. With 32 anchor standards in total in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language, these anchor standards are generalized and quite broad. However, you can find more specific skills for teaching each of the anchor standards embedded within the grade-level Common Core state standards.
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How to create assessments for the Common Core
eSchool News
The rigors of the Common Core State Standards ask today's educators not to simply measure students' factual knowledge, but instead accurately assess students' critical thinking. With such a major transition from multiple-choice testing, it's important to know how to create assessments for these 21st Century standards.
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7 things we should start teaching in schools ASAP
The Huffington Post
Americans typically learn a lot of things in school — spelling, math, why plants are green — that are actually useful in our day-to-day lives. But they also learn a lot of other things — cursive, long division, how to play "Hot Crossed Buns" on the recorder — that are probably not. No, we didn't waste our time with those lessons. Learning something new isn't ever a net loss. Playing the recorder provides building blocks for understanding music, and writing cursive has been shown to increase reading comprehension, for example. But it is worth reconsidering what we teach in the classroom and figuring out which lessons could better prepare students for life after graduation.
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Push for full-day kindergarten grows
USA Today
In the not too distant past, kindergarten was a place where children learned to color, share and play. But a higher regard for kindergarten is emerging, including a move toward all-day sessions in some states, as a growing body of research underscores the importance of learning in the earliest years. The percentage of kindergartners attending full-day programs has grown from about 10 percent in the 1970s to about 76 percent in 2012, with a steep increase from 2002 to 2006, according to Child Trends, a non-profit research center. While some programs took a hit during the recession, several states have taken action recently to expand access to full-day kindergarten. Part-day kindergarten typically last two or three hours, while full-day kindergarten can range from four to seven hours.
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Report: Most teachers use social media, worry it will cause conflict
THE Journal
Eighty percent of K-12 teachers use social media for personal or professional reasons, yet the same number worry about conflicts that may arise with their students or their parents as a result, according to a new survey from the University of Phoenix College of Education. "Students are engaged daily in social media, so it presents a great way to connect with them," said Kathy Cook, director of educational technology for University of Phoenix College of Education, in a prepared statement. "Social media can also help tie classroom learning to real-world scenarios, which can enhance student learning. Many teachers see the value of using these tools in the classroom, but may be reluctant to engage without clear guidelines and training."
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Middle school: Not so bad
The Atlantic
Middle school has a terrible reputation. The titles of James Patterson's middle-school series say it all: From the number-one New York Times bestseller "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life", which launched the series in 2011, to last summer's "Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill", to this spring's "Middle School: Ultimate Showdown!", the titles reflect a dystopian vision of life in middle school. And he's far from alone in this. When it comes to young adolescents in schools, Americans seem determined to perpetuate a narrative of hormones and horror.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    US permanently relaxes rules aimed at healthier school meals (Reuters)
From the principal's office: Be present (Tech & Learning)
Should principals stop visiting classrooms? (The Washington Post)
Ease up on 'no tolerance' policies, US agencies tell schools (NPR)
4 concerns — and solutions — About online testing (THE Journal)

Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.


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The 6 hidden tricks for BYOD success
eSchool News
By now, most districts considering the implementation of BYOD know there's a lot more to success than apps and devices. But how can districts accurately measure how much bandwidth is needed? How do you ensure the quality of student work outside of simply using an app? And can you truly ensure equity? According to one school district, there are hidden gems of BYOD implementation wisdom … and they're ready to share what they've uncovered.
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5 fresh ways to keep professional development engaging
eSchool News
Teachers operate in complex and lively environments where success depends on their ability to be creative and flexible. As a result, sustainable and meaningful professional development needs to move beyond traditional information and planning sessions, to more of a project development and embedded model. This updated model requires ongoing collaboration and communication among educators, community members, caregivers, and students. The most meaningful PD is continuous, on-demand and social, while providing for unique classroom situations, individual teaching styles and various comfort levels with technology and new techniques.
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Exposure to food commercialism in schools 'still high for students'
Medical News Today
Food commercialism in schools is characterized by exclusive beverage or food contracts with certain companies, along with incentives, profits and advertising. Although beverage vending in schools has decreased over the past 5 years, a new study reveals that students are still highly exposed to the marketing of certain food products — most of which are nutritionally poor.
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Study: School violence leads to 90,000-plus emergency-room trips a year
Education Week
Every year, 90,000 students suffer "intentional" injuries at school that are bad enough to warrant trips to the emergency room, according to a new study reported by NBC News. That's a slight decline over previous years, but not as much of a drop as researchers anticipated given anti-bullying and anti-violence efforts in schools. Researchers at Brown University analyzed 2001-2008 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to arrive at their conclusions.
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Motivation: The gas that fuels a child's educational engine
District Administration Magazine
Do we know why third graders in America are not reading at grade level? More than 50 percent of children in affluent homes and 80 percent of children growing up in less affluent homes are not reading proficiently. Reading drops off significantly after age nine. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent focusing on the act of reading, but little progress is being made when it comes to identifying the root of the problem. What if the real issue is in the underlying motivation for children to be more engaged in their learning?
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New report guides redesign of grading for competency learning
THE Journal
Schools that have or are planning to adopt competency-based learning have access to a new report that offers guidance in how to assess student progress. In 42 pages "Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education" walks educators through the process of redesigning their grading practices from one that uses simple letter or number grades to determine whether somebody has passed the class to one that communicates learning progressions in a more nuanced fashion.
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How did the NEA grade members of Congress?
Education Week
Want to know what the National Education Association thinks of your congressman or senator? The NEA is happy to tell you — every year the nation's largest teachers' union gives an A-through-F grade to every member of Congress, taking into account how they vote on key issues. In 2013, that included immigration overhaul, higher education policy, state taxation of online sales, and workforce issues. Candidates who earn high marks from the union sometimes brag about it on their websites, and in campaign speeches.
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Arne Duncan: School expectations are too low in the United States
U.S. News & World Report
Today's parent advocates do not limit themselves to coaching soccer teams and organizing bake sales as a way to get involved in their students' schools. But parents, educators and policymakers alike need to do more to "walk the walk" in working to close achievement gaps and improve education in the United States, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told an audience of parent leaders Monday. While other countries have made strides in student performance on international tests in reading, math and science, American students have stagnated, and in some cases regressed, while achievement gaps in the country remain "staggeringly large," Duncan said at an education summit for parent leaders hosted by the National Assessment Governing Board.
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Push for full-day kindergarten grows
USA Today
In the not too distant past, kindergarten was a place where children learned to color, share and play. But a higher regard for kindergarten is emerging, including a move toward all-day sessions in some states, as a growing body of research underscores the importance of learning in the earliest years.

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read 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.

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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.

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State, local officials square off on who calls shots on K-12
Education Week
Clashes between state governments and Washington over education policy fit a well-worn political narrative: far-away bureaucrats meddling in day-to-day operations — and imposing costly mandates without the funding to pay for them. But that same tension is often evident in the complex and interdependent relationship between those at the state and local levels. From school accountability to control over charters, some local K-12 leaders say state officials who complain about the White House or Congress have been just as guilty of imposing requirements on schools, in conjunction with outside advocacy groups but without proper debate or sober consideration.
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Budget bill would let schools opt out of nutrition standards
Herald Times Reporter
Schools could avoid new federal standards for healthier breakfasts and snack foods under a fiscal 2014 spending bill Congress is expected to vote. The waiver provision was added to the $1 trillion bill by an Alabama Republican whose constituents told him students are unhappy with the smaller portions and healthier ingredients.
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10 years of change: Public-private initiative for Texas education
By Archita Datta Majumdar
Recent times have seen Texas shine bright in a few key areas — a more stable economy compared to other states, state tax policies aiding in growth of business and the mastery of project-based learning (PBL) while other areas are just warming up to the concept. The state has gone a step further to set up the public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas, which is better known as "Educate Texas." At the 10-year anniversary of the innovative and revolutionary program, now is a good time to reflect and see how it has affected Texan students.

Survey: Has "Educate Texas" helped improve education in the state?

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Wyoming education officials say principal training, support critical
Wyoming's News Source
When research was done looking at schools that defied national patterns, strong or charismatic principals were found to be one of the keys to those successes, Laramie County School District 1 Superintendent Mark Stock said. In refining that work, though, the emphasis has changed to a strong principal supported by a strong district, he said. "They've found that good schools with good principals only stay good schools as long as there's a good principal, unless they're attached to a good system," he said. "Good school systems tend to foster a lot more good schools because the principals have the support they need, and that's been a district lack here that we're now trying to focus on."
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Research looks to deliver nutrition education more effectively
Fremont Tribune
A first of its kind research project being conducted in Fremont Public Schools seeks to find a more effective way to curb childhood obesity by changing how and where students receive health-related education. Students at Johnson Crossing Academic Center are taking part in the KidQuest program, which seeks to increase physical activity and improve overall eating behavior. Melissa Wallinga, extension educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, said the KidQuest program was designed by South Dakota State University specifically for fifth- and sixth-grade students, and is being conducted in Fremont through a partnership between South Dakota State and UNL with grant funding from the USDA.
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10 tips for effective fundraisers
NAESP
Though principals may have conflicting feelings about fundraising, the vast majority agree that the results are worth the effort. This is especially true with opportunities such as the newly launched fundraising and reading program, Club Connect. To maximize such a program, follow these fundraising tips collected from principals, parents, teachers and fundraising professionals.
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Calling all principals: Nominate a new principal in your community
NAESP
NAESP is excited to announce the launch of the new National Panel of Early Career Principals, an initiative to take the pulse of new principals around the country during their critical first years on the job. It's simple and the time commitment is minimal. Panelists are invited, via email, to take five minutes once a month to answer a question on a relevant topic. Each time they participate, they receive a $10 gift certificate to shop in the National Principal Resource Center.
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Before the Bell is a benefit of your membership in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). For information about other member benefits, visit www.naesp.org or contact us at naesp@naesp.org.

Before the Bell is a digest of the most important news selected for NAESP from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. The presence of such advertising does not endorse, or imply endorsement of, any products or services by NAESP. Neither NAESP nor Multiview is liable for the use of or reliance on any information contained in this briefing.

Feedback about an article? Contact NAESP Liaison Meredith Barnett at MBarnett@naesp.org.
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601   Download media kit
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