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Study suggests using poverty as a factor in teacher evaluation
Education Week
A forthcoming study by University of Missouri researchers finds that accounting for factors like poverty when comparing schools could lead to a more "effective and equitable" teacher-evaluation system. The study compares a so-called "proportional evaluation" system with two other methods of teacher evaluation: A basic value-added model and one in which the performance of individual students is compared to that of their peers. Unlike the other models, proportional evaluation takes into consideration factors outside of the classroom, including school resources and the socioeconomic backgrounds of students.
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Should we use digital technology to 'drill' children?
THE Journal
Once upon a time, paper technology enabled educators to drill children on their number facts and times tables using notecards. This information was necessary for living and, importantly, the bits of information matched nicely with the properties of the technology. The flashcard said "2x2=?." The student said "4," then turned over the card to check the answer. This great use of technology was affordable and effective. Now, software technology enables educators to drill children on virtually every type of factoid. Students can read how infectious diseases are spread or about the Battle of Normandy.
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Mindfulness exercises improve kids' math scores
Time
Fourth- and fifth-graders who did mindfulness exercises had 15 percent better math scores than their peers. In adults, mindfulness has been shown to have all kinds of amazing effects throughout the body: it can combat stress, protect your heart, shorten migraines and possibly even extend life. But a new trial published in the journal Developmental Psychology suggests that the effects are also powerful in kids as young as 9 — so much so that improving mindfulness showed to improve everything from social skills to math scores.
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Welcoming the new ESL student
Scholastic (commentary)
Rhonda Stewart, a contributor for Scholastic, writes: "While writing my last post, 'Making New Students Feel Welcome in Your Classroom,' an idea for a companion post was born. As I was going through my notes and making sure that I had workable tips for teachers to welcome a new student, I realized I should not assume that new students are always English speaking. Even though I have not had a non-English speaking student in a couple of years, it does not mean that I do not have to be prepared to receive one. So as I was crafting that broader post, I was thinking about addressing this concern. How do I prepare for a non-English speaking student? Would the techniques be the same as getting any new student?"
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No-tech board games that teach coding skills to young children
MindShift
Thanks in part to STEM education initiatives and the tech boom, coding in the classroom has become more ubiquitous. Computer programming tasks students to persistently work to solve problems by thinking logically. What's more, learning how to code is a desired 21st century career skill. There are several digital games designed for kids as young as 5 that turn coding into a fun activity, such as Kodable and Scratch Jr. But some game designers are going further back to programming's fundamentals by creating physical games that can't be found in any app store.
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Welcoming immigrant students into the classroom
Edutopia
According to the Pew Hispanic Research Center, there are roughly 1.7 million undocumented students under age 30, who are enrolled in high school, have graduated or obtained a GED, or are currently enrolled in elementary or middle school. Additionally, this past summer our nation witnessed a spike in unaccompanied minors crossing our southern border with more than 50,000 children fleeing persecution from Central America and Mexico. Most of them await immigration court dates while staying with relatives or sponsors, but in the meantime, our laws require that they attend school. In 1982, the Supreme Court determined in Plyer v. Doe that all students, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to access K-12 education.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keywords COMMON CORE.


The importance of co-assessing
By: Savanna Flakes (commentary)
In the prior two articles, we discussed co-planning and co-teaching. The last component of an effective co-taught classroom is working together to "co-assess" student data and growth. If teachers assess students frequently throughout the class period, they will be able to differentiate instruction and provide frequent feedback. Assessment practices for co-teachers can be divided into many categories.
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Principals have a complex job
Education Week (commentary)
The word "principal" conjures different memories and definitions for all of us. One thing is for sure, if we attended school, we had one. They were towering figures of power and confidence. They were the ones who handed out the awards and diplomas and were the ones with the power to discipline. Beyond the stature of our teachers, they were the ones in charge. From the parents' point of view, principals are responsible for children's safety and the guarantee that children are receiving quality education and fair and compassionate treatment.
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Is this the end of standardized testing as we know it?
By: Caitlin Harrison
No Child Left Behind is back in the news again. And this time it may mean big changes are in store. The U.S. Senate has begun its most concentrated effort yet on revamping the 13-year-old law. The sweeping overhaul began with a hearing focusing on one of the law's most notorious requirements: standardized testing. In the works are proposals to revamp testing by removing the tests' high stakes or even toss out the requirement that students be tested annually.
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Psychological stress on schools
District Administration Magazine
In many schools, psychologists have time for little more than assessing students. That prevents them from using their range of skills in counseling, data analysis and preventing bullying, suicide and violence. As the number of psychologists shrinks in many districts, the priority becomes compliance with federal special education laws, leaning away from providing services that are not legally mandated but that help the general population of students.
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Girls lead boys in academic achievement globally
University of Missouri-Columbia via Science Daily
Considerable attention has been paid to how boys' educational achievements in science and math compare to girls' accomplishments in those areas, often leading to the assumption that boys outperform girls in these areas. Now, using international data, researchers have determined that girls outperform boys in educational achievement in 70 percent of the countries they studied — regardless of the level of gender, political, economic or social equality.
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Parents' belief that a child will attend college plays big role in early academic success
UCLA via Science Daily
The factors influencing children's readiness for kindergarten include not only whether they attend preschool, but also their families' behaviors, attitudes and values, research indicates. In addition, parents' expectations go a long way toward predicting children's success throughout their schooling, the researchers found.
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Should teachers be allowed to touch students?
The Atlantic (commentary)
Jessica Lahey, a contributor for The Atlantic, writes: "Touch has been an important part of my teaching for the past decade. When I was working as a middle-school teacher, I used touch on a daily basis to both connect with and correct the behavior of my students. If a student was having trouble focusing, a light touch on the shoulder served as a gentle reminder to get back to work. When parents divorced, grandmothers fell ill, or guinea pigs died, hugs served as a tangible reminder of my emotional support on an otherwise anxious or upsetting day."
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Shaking the money tree: Sources for after-school funding
Education Week
The growth in after-school programs, especially those focused on academics and enrichment activities in the arts, computer coding, and hands-on science, all have at least one challenge in common — funding. The price of running high-quality, out-of-school-time programs ranges from an average of $3,450 to $3,780 per student, according to a 2009 study by The Wallace Foundation. But those are somewhat blunt figures. Costs can vary considerably based on such factors as location, grade level, whether the program is run by a school or community group, the length of the program, and how often each student attends.
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Tablet computers good medium for educational materials
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Science Daily
Despite being more commonly thought of as a device designed for the passive consumption of content, touch-screen tablet computers can support the learning process when used in an educational setting — and not just as a mere e-reader or laptop replacement, according to new research from a team of University of Illinois experts in business and e-Learning. With technology in education becoming the new normal, it's increasingly important for educators to understand how ubiquitous mobile technology such as tablets can enhance learning instead of being classroom distractions, says Dilip Chhajed, a professor of business administration at Illinois and co-author of the study.
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Mom: Common Core wants kids to develop reading skills at the same pace. My daughters didn't.
The Washington Post (commentary)
Early childhood experts have raised the alarm about some of the Common Core State Standards in the earliest grades, saying that they are not developmentally appropriate. The Core calls for kindergartners to develop reading skills, which some kindergartners are capable of accomplishing. But plenty of them are not ready to, and some can take into third grade (and beyond) to feel confident with reading. A recent report noted that forcing kids to read in kindergarten can wind up being harmful to some of them.
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K-12 gets short shrift in State of the Union speech
Education Week
Even as Congress has jump-started the most serious attempt in a decade to revise the No Child Left Behind Act with a heated debate over high-stakes testing, President Barack Obama stayed above the fray in his State of the Union address. He didn't mention the law — the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — by name. In fact, he barely referenced K-12 education at all.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Warning signs for a learning disability: Short attention span, plus 7 others (Medical Daily)
Study: Suspensions harm 'well-behaved' kids (EdSource)
Is Facebook the new school Web page? (EdTech Magazine)
Inside the brain of a struggling reader (District Administration Magazine)
For principals, continuous learning critical to career success (Education Week)

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




Study: Why school snow days are good for students
WPRI-TV
With cities and towns across Southern New England preparing for a blizzard over the next several days, they might want consider giving students an extra day off from school. That's because a 2012 study released by Harvard Kennedy School of Government found that weather-related school closures do not have a negative impact on student learning, in part because the days are often made up at the end of the year. The study, prepared by assistant professor Joshua Goodman, also found that a district's decision to keep school open during inclement weather can actually be detrimental for students because "many kids will miss school regardless either because of transportation issues or parental discretion."
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Would principals be better off under the current law?
NAESP
We are now drafting comments to provide official positions on several provisions contained in the ESEA reauthorization proposal. The proposed discussion draft would make several important changes such as removing the arbitrary 100 percent proficiency requirements, eliminating the controversial "School Improvement Grant" program and "turnaround/transformation models" that require firing principals and teachers, removing the one-size-fits all punitive accountability system and giving states exponentially more authority in making decisions about education systems within the state and local districts.
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NAESP Board of Directors election opens Feb. 27
NAESP
This spring, eligible NAESP members will elect a new president-elect and vice president. For 2015, new Zone Directors will be elected in Zones 5, 7 and 9. Electronic ballots will be available through the NAESP website, and members will need to log in to access the ballot. Visit the election page to meet the candidates and review how to vote.
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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.

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