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America's school funding problems, state by state
The Washington Post
A new report on school funding reveals how uneven and unfair public school funding is in states across the country. The report, titled "Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card," looks at funding data from 2007 through 2011, analyzing the condition of state school finance systems with a focus on the fair distribution of resources to the neediest students. It covers the period before the big 2008 recession and through the start of the recovery.
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Another requirement for teachers sparks controversy
eSchool News
A new policy brief making the education rounds this week has sparked controversy over whether or not teachers should be required to prove data proficiency as part of their licensure. Proponents say it will ensure student achievement; opponents say it's a premature move based on not-yet-there data systems. The report, "Teacher Data Literacy: It’s About Time," produced by the Data Quality Campaign with support from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Council of Chief State School Officers, says that state and federal policies have not gone far enough to promote the skills teachers needs to be data literate.
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Teaching empathy: Turning a lesson plan into a life skill
Edutopia (commentary)
Joe Hirsch, an educator at Akiba Academy of Dallas, writes: "Worried about the shrinking presence of empathy in our schools? I know how you feel. With classrooms operating more like grade factories, it's hard to make the case for school-driven empathy. Faced with an endless cycle of memorize, drill, spit back and test, teachers have become the wardens of a new educational reality that pits the head against the heart."
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Kindergarten is the new first grade, researchers find
University of Virginia via Science Daily
Kindergarten classrooms nationwide have changed dramatically since the late 1990s and nearly all of these changes are in the direction of a heightened focus on academics, particularly literacy, according to researchers from EdPolicyWorks, the center on education policy and workforce competitiveness at the University of Virginia. In a working paper titled "Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Changing Nature of Kindergarten in the Age of Accountability," U.Va. researchers Daphna Bassok and Anna Rorem posit that increased emphasis on accountability led to meaningful changes in the kindergartener experience.
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Data-driven team is key to sustaining positive behavior framework in schools
Medical News Today
A new study finds that a dedicated team that makes decisions based on data is crucial for launching and sustaining a framework designed at the University of Oregon in the early 1990s to prevent and reduce behavioral problems in the nation's schools. The study, published in the January issue of the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, involved a comprehensive survey of 257 school team members or school district personnel involved in the implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports at 234 schools in 14 states.
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3 things we should stop doing in professional development
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
George Couros, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: "Spending the last week in Oslo, Norway, with the visionary Ann Michaelsen and other school leaders here, I have really thought about the way that we deliver professional development, and to be honest, some of the practices that either don't make sense anymore, or we have to rethink. Although this is focused mainly on what we do as adults in our time together, many of these lessons have applications to the classroom."
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Study: Districts vary widely in the amount of time they spend on testing
Education Week
Students in some school districts spend 20 more hours annually on district- and state-mandated math and English/language arts tests than do their peers in other districts, a new study has found. "The Student & the Stopwatch," released Wednesday by TeachPlus, examines the wide variations in the time spent on testing. Nationwide, it found that some districts spend five times more time on tests than others. Urban schoolchildren tend to spend more time in testing than those in the suburbs. And teachers say that testing costs them twice as much instructional time as their students actually spend taking the tests.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    The evolving principal's office (District Administration Magazine)
Great English teachers improve students' math scores (The Hechinger Report)
Teaching the essential skills of the mobile classroom (Edutopia)
How do you learn best? Hands-on style tops survey results (Education Week)
Recess without rules (The Atlantic)

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6 BYOD discussions every school should have
Edutopia
Vicki Davis, a contributor for Edutopia, writes: "We've been in BYOD mode for half a year, and I've already shared some best practices for the classroom with you. Putting on my IT hat, here are some of the things I've learned that you should consider as you work through your own BYOD plans and implementation."
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keyword BYOD.


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Do your libraries need a change?
eSchool News
Seeking to ensure school librarians' roles reflect the changing nature of education, one Texas school district changed its librarians' positions to better support digital learning. Library and IT specialists in the Willis Independent School District knew they needed to transform school librarians into vital educational leaders who instruct and engage students with innovative resources and opportunities, and who are actively involved in helping students learn about and evaluate digital resources and information.
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Study: Shy kids know the answer — They just won't say it out loud
The Atlantic
This is a good moment to be an introvert. A host of books and articles have been published in recent years extolling the virtues of being reserved, and defending inhibited personalities from the longstanding cultural belief that being outgoing and gregarious is the key to success. A new study from researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of Connecticut is the latest good news for quieter people. Researchers have long found that socially inhibited kids appear to have weaker language skills than their more outgoing peers. This new study complicates that picture slightly. After examining 408 same-sex twin pairs at the ages of 14, 20, and 24 months, the researchers found that inhibited kids didn't actually know less—they were simply less eager to express their knowledge out loud.
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Obama announces nearly $3 billion in education technology commitments
U.S. News & World Report
President Barack Obama announced nearly $3 billion in commitments from the Federal Communications Commission and several private technology companies that aim to "close the technology gap in our schools." During the announcement at a middle school in Maryland, Obama said the commitments will help "put the world and outer space at every child's fingertips, whether they live in a big city or a quiet suburb or rural America." In addition to the FCC's $2 billion commitment to serve as a down payment for providing high-speed broadband Internet access to 15,000 schools, the Department of Agriculture will provide more than $10 million in distance-learning grants for rural schools, according to documents provided by the White House.
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US Department of Education announces awards to 7 states to continue efforts to turn around lowest-performing schools
U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that seven states will receive more than $39 million to continue efforts to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools through new awards from the Department's School Improvement Grants program. The states receiving these new awards are: Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Utah and Washington.
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eCYBERMISSION, a web-based STEM competition for middle school students and sponsored by the U.S. Army, is seeking dedicated individuals over the age of 18 with a background or interest in STEM—to serve as a virtual judge for the program. Virtual Judge registration closes on Saturday, March 1, 2014. MORE.


3 immediate ways the eRate is improving for schools
eSchool News
In what could be one of the most heartening examples of putting money where a mouth is, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler just announced that the eRate will change in three significant ways to put money into the hands of schools immediately in order to provide internet access and close the digital divide. "A little known fact about today's eRate program is that only about half of the program's funds go for broadband connectivity," explained Wheeler. "Well less than half goes for the kind of 100 mbps and higher speeds necessary for today's learning environment. In a 2013 National School Speed Test 72 percent of schools–that is nearly 40 million students didn't have the access speeds they needed."
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High cost of Common Core has states rethinking the national education standards
Fox News
States are learning the cost of Common Core is uncommonly high. The federally-backed standards initiative, first proposed by the nation's governors and an educators' association, seeks to impose a national standard for achievement among K-12 students. So far, 45 states plus the District of Columbia have signed on, with some implementing curriculum designed for the Common Core Standards Initiative during the current school year and the rest set to take part in the next school year. But several states are reconsidering their participation, and one big reason is the cost.
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Stakes are high for K-12 policy in 2014 elections
Education Week
State elections involving three dozen governors and more than 6,000 legislators this year could have major consequences for a variety of education policies, with the Common Core State Standards, school choice, collective bargaining, and early education among the topics most likely to get time in the spotlight and on the stump. In some states, the 2014 elections may prove pivotal for the fate of controversial education measures enacted as a result of Republicans' strong showing in 2010. The GOP took control of 12 additional state legislatures and six more governorships that year.
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Texas man funds lunch for school kids
CNN
Recently, dozens of children at a Utah elementary school had their lunch trays snatched away from them before they could take a bite. Workers at Uintah Elementary School removed the already-served food because some students had negative balances in the accounts used to pay for lunches. Kenny Thompson didn't want to see that repeated at Houston's Valley Oaks Elementary School. KPRC reports that on Monday, the longtime mentor and tutor paid off the negative lunch account balances of more than 60 students. Thompson told KPRC, "I know that's probably a situation at my school, and the school my son goes to, and the other schools I mentor at. So I came in and inquired about it."
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Study: Shy kids know the answer — They just won't say it out loud
The Atlantic
This is a good moment to be an introvert. A host of books and articles have been published in recent years extolling the virtues of being reserved, and defending inhibited personalities from the longstanding cultural belief that being outgoing and gregarious is the key to success.

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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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Vouchers get fresh attention from state policymakers
Education Week
Policymakers around the country are embroiled in debates over private school vouchers, with school choice-related legislation bidding for attention in multiple statehouses, as well as in the U.S. Senate. Proposals to create programs that provide public funds for private school tuition have been introduced in Alaska, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. And in North Carolina, a lawsuit aimed at curtailing a new voucher program has been gaining support from school districts.
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California asks all public K-12 schools to make salaries public
Los Angeles Times
State Controller John Chiang has asked every public school district in the state to provide salary and benefit information for all employees and elected officials so that it can be posted on the Internet and shared with the public. Chiang has said that making the salary information easy to access on a state Web page is another step toward government transparency in the wake of the 2010 salary scandal in Bell. The controller mailed a letter Monday to 58 county offices of education, 949 school districts and 992 charter schools, requesting the information within 90 days. The website lists the salaries and benefits of employees and elected officials working for the state, counties, cities, special districts and the 23 state university campuses.
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Many educators blame students' study habits for Montgomery County math exam failures
The Washington Post
Many Montgomery County teachers blame student study habits for the high failure rates on math exams, according to a survey that also revealed educators' concerns about grading policies that make it possible to fail a final exam but still pass a course. As county schools officials continue to delve into the causes of students failing some math finals at a rate of more than 50 percent, teachers say that many students choose to skimp on exam preparation and don't know how to prepare for a test that covers material that spans several months.
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For the first time, major survey asks Alaska teachers what they see as classroom problems, fixes
Anchorage Daily News
The first major study to ask Alaska teachers about what they see in their own classrooms was released, amid heated political debate in Juneau over the future of funding Alaska's public schools. The Enhancing Student Learning and Performance 2013 Statewide Survey, prepared by the Northern Economics consulting firm, was released in its full, 187-page form by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.
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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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Explore assessments, evaluations and data in latest issue of Principal
NAESP
Today, many principals are feeling the pressure of introducing multiple, new assessment and evaluation processes in their schools. The data can seem like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that must be ordered in a way that feels cohesive, and then ultimately benefits children. The January/February issue of Principal explores how school leaders can bring data pieces together for positive outcomes.
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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.
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