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Under education reform, school principals swamped by teacher evaluations
The Christian Science Monitor    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Sharon McNary believes in having tough teacher evaluations. But these days, the Memphis principal finds herself rushing to cram in what amounts to 20 times the number of observations previously required for veteran teachers — including those she knows are excellent — sometimes to the detriment of her other duties. "I don't think there's a principal that would say they don't agree we don't need a more rigorous evaluation system," says McNary, who is president of the Tennessee Principals Association as well as principal at Richland Elementary. More

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Feds: States should do more to reach students
The Associated Press via The Salt Lake Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In its initial review of No Child Left Behind waiver requests, the U.S. Education Department highlighted a similar weakness in nearly every application: States did not do enough to ensure schools would be held accountable for the performance of all students. The Obama administration praised the states for their high academic standards. But nearly every application was criticized for being loose about setting high goals and, when necessary, interventions for all student groups — including minorities, the disabled and low-income — or for failing to create sufficient incentives to close the achievement gap. More



Digital Learning Day draws nearly 2 million students
eSchool News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Thirty-nine states, 15,000 teachers and 1.7 million students participated in the first Digital Learning Day on Feb. 1, which aimed to demonstrate how technology is improving teaching and learning across the nation. Headed by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day kicked off with web sessions focusing on leadership and innovation, instruction, and professional learning and teacher effectiveness before attendees viewed a national town hall webcast featuring Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, and video conferences with teachers and students from exemplary schools across the nation. More

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Analysis raises questions about rigor of teacher tests
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The average scores of graduating teacher-candidates on state-required licensing exams are uniformly higher, often significantly, than the passing scores states set for such exams, according to an Education Week analysis of preliminary data from a half-dozen states. The pattern appears across subjects, grade levels, and test instruments supplied by a variety of vendors, the new data show, raising questions about the rigor and utility of current licensing tests. There are, in essence, two main ways to interpret the findings. Some observers say the data suggest most states set low passing marks, screening out only candidates with the very lowest level of content knowledge. More

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What happens to the kids when charter schools fail?
Time    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Terri Griffin made herself a promise when her youngest daughter was ready for kindergarten: the little girl would never set foot in an Akron public school. Griffin, a jewelry-store clerk and graduate of the Ohio city's school system, had sent eight children — two of her own and six others she raised as her own — to traditional public schools. She felt they were pushed through to a diploma and didn't learn enough. Teachers were eager to recommend special education, but Griffin couldn't get them to provide other, basic help. So for her youngest daughter, she sought out a charter school, Lighthouse Academy, and hoped for a better outcome. More

Research: How humor affects children's brains
HealthDay News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Specific areas of children's brains that are activated by humor have been identified by researchers in a first-of-a-kind study. The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, will provide a base for understanding how humor and other positive emotions can affect a child's well-being, according to the Stanford University School of Medicine team. "Humor is a very important component of emotional health, maintaining relationships, developing cognitive [brain] function and perhaps even medical health," senior study author Dr. Allan Reiss, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford, said in a university news release. More

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From math helper to community organizer
Harvard Education Letter    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Is the student who organizes tag during recess or chooses to help a classmate with math on track to be a senator, a CEO, or a community leader? He — or she — may well be. Behaviors like embracing novel experiences, supporting peers, even pestering parents for lessons can predict whether a child will emerge as a leader in adulthood, according to researchers who say they are the first to plot a pathway from childhood experiences to adult leadership. The research may also help educators encourage leadership — a commonly heralded "21st century skill" — if teachers know what behaviors to look for and support, they say. More

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Obama wants schools to speed digital transition
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Obama administration is asking every U.S. school to accelerate the transition to digital textbooks. Obama's goal: an e-textbook in every student's hand by 2017. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will recommend at a summit of industry and education officials that states modify the textbook adoption process, allowing K-12 schools to use taxpayer funding once reserved for printed books on iPads, Kindles and the like — as well as software. They'll begin pushing publishers, computer tablet makers and Internet service providers to work together and lower costs if they want to sell their products to the nation's 50 million schoolkids. More

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Kline teacher proposal would create winners and losers
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
States that have seen big explosions in population — including Nevada, Utah, and Arizona — also would see a big jump in federal funding for teacher quality under a little-noticed provision of a draft bill to renew the No Child Left Behind Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House education committee. But other states that have lost people in recent years — including New York, Michigan, and Kline's home state of Minnesota — would see a dip in funding, according to an analysis Center for American Progress. More



Principal turnover evident in salaries
Richmond Times-Dispatch    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Cheryl Burke is in her 15th year as principal of Chimborazo Elementary School in Richmond, Va. She's an anomaly. Hers is a profession in which leaders tend to move from school to school, and the tougher the environment, the shorter the likely tenure. While Burke is well-settled at Chimborazo, the leaders of many of the area's other chronically poor schools are not, and that fact is apparent when examining salaries for area school leaders. More

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States mulling creativity indexes for schools
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
At a time when U.S. political and business leaders are raising concerns about the need to better nurture creativity and innovative thinking among young people, several states are exploring the development of an index that would gauge the extent to which schools provide opportunities to foster those qualities. In Massachusetts, a new state commission began meeting last fall to draft recommendations for such an index for all public schools, in response to a legislative requirement. Meanwhile, the California Senate last month approved a bill calling for the development of a voluntary Creative and Innovative Education Index. More

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A quarter of Oregon students chronically absent
The Associated Press via Stamford Advocate    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A quarter of Oregon's public school children miss at least 10 percent of the school year, according to a new analysis of state education data by a coalition of nonprofits that believes school attendance is closely tied to student achievement. Chronic absence, which is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year, is also an early indicator that a student will eventually drop out of school, said Hedy Chang, director of Attendance Works, a national organization that focuses on improving attendance. More

Colorado lawmakers consider trans-fat ban in schools
The Associated Press via Fox News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The nation's leanest state is taking aim at junk food in school cafeterias as it considers the nation's toughest school trans-fat ban. A Colorado House committee was scheduled to hear a bill to forbid any trans-fat in school food — not just the food served through regular cafeteria lunches. That would mean vending machines, after-school bake sales and popular "a la carte" items on lunch lines such as ice creams or pizza would have to be produced without artery-clogging trans fats. More

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McGill: Consequences to raising teacher pay
The Times-Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Alabama Sen. Shadrack McGill defended a pay raise his predecessors in the Legislature passed, but said doubling teacher pay could lead to less-qualified educators. More

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Superintendent survey: Texas students are not sheltered from budget cuts
Texas AFT    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A recent Texas AFT survey of public school superintendents from 241 districts found that state budget cuts of $5.4 billion are having a significant impact on classroom instruction, teacher morale and help for struggling students. More

Bill to allow home-schooled students to play public school athletics clears Virginia committee
The Washington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Legislation that would allow home-schooled children play public school varsity sports cleared a hurdle that it's never passed before and — over pointed objections from public school officials and others — is fast-tracked for House passage. The House Education Committee voted 14-8 for the "Tim Tebow bill," borrowing the renown of the Denver Broncos quarterback who was home-schooled and went on to win a Heisman Trophy at the University of Florida where he led the Gators to a national football title. More

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Educators criticize latest Florida school rankings
Orlando Sentinel    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Florida's more than 3,000 public schools have been ranked from best to worst in a new database released by the state. The school rankings come a week after the state released its first ranking of its 67 school districts. The latest ranking lists schools by the points they earned in Florida's school grading formula, which grades schools A to F. So all the top ranked schools are A's, but the new list shows the best of the A's — and also the worst of the F's. More

Teacher fight heating up in Connecticut
The Wall Street Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
For years, Connecticut didn't adequately respond to a carrot held out by the federal government, failing to pass and implement strong enough laws to win hundreds of millions of dollars in Race to the Top education funding. Now, the state's education commissioner is trying to wield a stick offered by the federal government to force lasting changes to public schools. More

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Sign up now for free mentoring webinar
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Join us on Tuesday, Feb. 21 for Inspired to Lead: Tips to Encourage the Next Generation of Great Principals, a free webinar on how to inspire, encourage and motivate aspiring principals to become game-changing school leaders. More

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New NAESP Career Center offers you the best job-hunting tools
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The revitalized NAESP Career Center, now supported by Job Target, is the only dedicated national job bank for principals in public and private elementary and middle schools. With more jobs, a wider network, and powerful career coaching tools, the Career Center is where school leaders go to get hired and school systems look to find the perfect new principal. More
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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 Cynthia Rosso at crosso@naesp.org.
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