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Principals' group: Focus less on test scores, more on building capacity
Education Week
Policymakers should focus more on building principals' effectiveness and capacity as instructional and building leaders and less on standardized tests, according to a set of policy recommendations by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The NAESP released the recommendations in conjunction with its National Leaders Conference. The association frames its recommendations as a response to federal regulations that increasingly tie principal effectiveness and evaluation to students' test scores. The recommendations focus on how to measure, define and build effective leadership.
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What would sequestration mean for K-12?
District Administration Magazine
Districts are bracing themselves for the impact of the major education cuts set to occur with the March 1 sequestration as they plan their budget and staffing choices for the fall, said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement, and some teachers have already received pink slips. If congressional lawmakers are unable to compromise on another plan to trim the national budget, Department of Education funding will be scaled back 9 percent just this year alone, according to the national Center on Budget & Policy Priorities.
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Can student-driven learning happen under Common Core?
MindShift
Teachers use different strategies to help students learn. With the inevitable arrival of the Common Core State Standards, however, the big unknown is what will happen when the assessments are released and the states and the federal government develop policies to accommodate them. If the assessments fall back on the kinds of narrow questions we saw with No Child Left Behind, and if governments create the same kind of high-stakes accountability, teachers will be herded back towards lower levels of prescriptive learning that leave little room for student voice and ownership.
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Social studies on the outside looking in
District Administration Magazine
Many social studies teachers are nervous about the coming of Common Core State Standards. With so much emphasis placed on literacy, social studies teachers fear they will see content slashed to leave time for meeting English's nonfiction standards. Already reeling from a lack of attention from the benchmarks put in place by No Child Left Behind, those devoted to social studies feel like they are once again on the outside looking in. However, could the implementation of Common Core actually bring social studies back into focus?
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How to prepare for Common Core testing — and why current teacher evaluation systems won't help
eSchool News
To prepare for more rigorous assessments aligned with the Common Core standards, teachers will need more time and opportunities to collaborate with each other, education professor Linda Darling-Hammond told superintendents at the American Association of School Administrators' National Conference. But she also warned that using value-added models to rank and evaluate teachers — a practice that is spreading among school districts nationwide — has the potential to impede this work, thereby hindering students' readiness for Common Core testing.
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States size up Obama pre-K proposal
Education Week
Well before President Barack Obama vaulted early-childhood learning to the top of the education agenda in his recent State of the Union address, states were taking steps to bolster their own preschool programs. More than a dozen states — including some, such as Hawaii and Mississippi, that have had no state-financed preschool programs in the past — are currently eyeing proposals to launch or expand early education.
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Districts matter: Cultivating the principals urban schools need
The Wallace Foundation
An effective school requires an effective leader, but great principals rarely just happen. They are cultivated. This Wallace Perspective draws on a decade of foundation research and work in school leadership to show how urban school districts can play a major role in ensuring they have principals who can boost teaching and learning in troubled schools. Key actions include establishing selective hiring procedures and providing mentoring to novice leaders.
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States struggle to keep online schools accountable
Government Technology
Online classes have exploded in popularity, with more than six times as many students enrolled in electronic K-12 courses now as compared to a decade ago, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Advocates say online classes offer a more flexible and personalized form of education, allowing students to progress at their own pace and on their own time. Supporters also tout online education as a way to dramatically expand course offerings, particularly at rural schools.
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Teachers say they are unprepared for Common Core
Education Week
Even as the Common Core State Standards are being put into practice across most of the country, nearly half of teachers feel unprepared to teach them, especially to disadvantaged students, according to a new survey. The study by the EPE Research Center, an arm of Editorial Projects in Education, the publisher of Education Week, found deep wells of concern among teachers about their readiness to meet the challenges posed by the common core in English/language arts and mathematics.
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Study: More sleep equals smarter children
redOrbit
A new study by researchers from the University of Tübingen's Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology reinforces how necessary sleep is for a child's brain, even more so than adults. Researchers wrote in the journal Nature Neuroscience about how children's brains turn learned material into active knowledge as they sleep and how their brains do it even more effectively than an adult's. Past studies have shown sleeping after learning helps long-term storage of the material learned, because during sleep, memory is turned into a form that makes future learning easier.
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Survey finds gap in Internet access between rich, poor students
The Washington Post
Technology has become essential to middle school and high school learning, but a gap in access to the Internet between the rich and poor is leading to troubling disparities in education, according to a survey of teachers. Students depend strongly on the Web to find information and complete their assignments. The vast majority of teachers say they also rely on sites such as Wikipedia and social media to find teaching resources and materials, connect with other teachers and interact with parents, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
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Report: Black students' learning gaps start early
Los Angeles Times
African American public school students in Los Angeles County demonstrate significant learning gaps by second grade; those gaps widen with age and lead to the highest school dropout rate among all races, according to a report. Black students are far less likely to take the rigorous college preparatory classes required for admission to California universities and miss more school days because of suspensions than their white counterparts, according to the study by The Education Trust-West.
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A $1 million bet on students without teachers
CNN
What if everything you thought you knew about education was wrong? What if students learn more quickly on their own, working in teams, than in a classroom with a teacher? What if tests and discipline get in the way of the learning process rather than accelerate it?
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First lady announces effort to help kids exercise
The Associated Press via Google News
Imagine students learning their ABCs while dancing, or memorizing multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks. Some schools are using both methods of instruction, and Michelle Obama would like to see more of them use other creative ways to help students get the recommended hour of daily exercise. In Chicago, the first lady announced a new public-private partnership to help schools do just that. "Let's Move Active Schools" starts with a website, www.letsmoveschools.org, where school officials and others can sign up to get started.
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Districts matter: Cultivating the principals urban schools need
The Wallace Foundation
An effective school requires an effective leader, but great principals rarely just happen. They are cultivated. This Wallace Perspective draws on a decade of foundation research and work in school leadership to show how urban school districts can play a major role in ensuring they have principals who can boost teaching and learning in troubled schools. Key actions include establishing selective hiring procedures and providing mentoring to novice leaders.

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Teacher absence as a leading indicator of student achievement
Center for American Progress
On any given school day, up to 40 percent of teachers in New Jersey's Camden City Public Schools are absent from their classrooms. Such a high figure probably would not stand out in parts of the developing world, but it contrasts sharply with the 3 percent national rate of absence for full-time wage and salaried American workers, and the 5.3 percent rate of absence for American teachers overall.

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School dress codes aren't just for students anymore
USA Today
When kids in one Kansas school district return to class this fall, they won't be seeing cutoff shorts, pajama pants or flip flops — on teachers. The Wichita School District is just one of a growing number in the nation cracking down on teacher apparel. Jeans are banned in at least one elementary school in New York City. A school district in Phoenix is requiring teachers to cover up tattoos and excessive piercings. And several Arizona schools are strictly defining business casual.

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Community Pulse: Do today's children spend too much time indoors?
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10 facts about K-12 students' technology use
eSchool News
More than half of students in grades 6-8 now have access to a tablet computer — a percentage that has doubled since last year. And Twitter use has grown three-fold among high school students in the last year, with a third of high schoolers now using the popular micro-blogging service. These are a few of the results that the nonprofit Project Tomorrow has released from its annual Speak Up survey of students' and parents' technology use, as well as their attitudes and opinions about ed tech.
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Sequestration and education: 12 frequently asked questions
Education Week
Now that sequestration, that looming, scary, Inside-the-Beltway possibility, is finally upon us, what does that mean for states and school districts? Here's a rundown. What exactly is sequestration? Sequestration is a series of across-the-board cuts to a broad range of federal programs, including those in the U.S. Department of Education, set to hit the government on March 1, unless Congress and the Obama administration make a last-ditch effort to stop them. Programs in the U.S. Department of Education would be cut by about 5.3 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office. The cuts aren't just for this year, either. They're aimed at chopping $1.2 trillion out of the federal deficit over the next decade. So, if nothing happens, they're the new normal.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Zero tolerance — or zero sense? (eSchool News)
Social media training for kids: A 60-minute class workshop (The Huffington Post)
Survey finds rising job frustration among principals (Education Week)
Study says states doing a poor job preparing K-12 principals (The Addison Eagle)
Schools confront digital textbook challenges (eSchool News)

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


Sequester spells uncertainty for many public schools
NPR
If Congress and the Obama administration can't agree on a budget deal, the federal government will be forced to cut $85 billion from just about every federally funded program. Every state could lose federal aid, and a myriad of government programs could shut down or curtail services — and that includes the nation's public schools. There is one bit of good news for schools: Because most federal aid to schools is forward-funded, the cuts triggered by sequestration would not hit classrooms until September at the earliest. But once they do hit, federal funding for education in some places will drop considerably.
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Announcing a new School Turnaround AmeriCorps program
ED.gov Blog
As education leaders from across the country gathered at the Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C., we were pleased to announce a new collaboration between our agencies: School Turnaround AmeriCorps. This competitive, three-year grant program is designed to strengthen and accelerate interventions in our nation's lowest-performing schools. The new initiative will engage hundreds of AmeriCorps members in turnaround schools across the country. AmeriCorps members will help students, teachers and principals to transform struggling schools by providing opportunities for academic enrichment, extended learning time and individual supports for students.
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Sequestration 2013: How many teachers could your state lose?
The Huffington Post
Sequestration could cost thousands of teachers their jobs, according to a grim report the White House released. That's just one possible impact of the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to kick in Friday unless Congress reaches an increasingly unlikely deficit reduction deal that includes added tax revenue. Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned that the looming cuts to schools are "very, very worrying" and that there is nothing he can do to prevent teachers from losing their jobs should sequestration take effect.
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Sequestration would hurt students, teachers and schools
ED.gov Blog
If Congress fails to reach an agreement before March 1, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts — also known as the sequester — will go into effect. The cuts will have real consequences for real people — especially teachers, young children in low-income families and students with special needs. Secretary Arne Duncan testified before the Senate about the negative effects of sequestration. "When the cuts hit, they will hurt the most vulnerable students worst," Duncan said during his testimony.
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Nebraska bill would restrict cellphone use by school bus drivers
The Associated Press via Journal Star
A Nebraska lawmaker is pushing for a state law that would prohibit school bus drivers from using cellphones while their vehicles are moving. Sen. Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids said Nebraska should join 19 other states and the District of Columbia in banning the practice. Sullivan told the Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee that her bill would apply to school buses that contract with districts or directly with parents.
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Texas 10 Commandments resolution calls for prayer, religious displays in schools
The Huffington Post
Texas state Rep. Phil Stephenson, R-District 85, filed a resolution calling for more "acknowledgement" of Christianity in public schools, encouraging Ten Commandments displays, prayer and use of the word "God." "The overwhelming of majority of voters in the 2010 Republican Party Primary Election voted in favor of the public acknowledgement of God, and the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas affirms 'that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength,'" reads the resolution.
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Revamping the 'Core' of education
The San Diego Union-Tribune
When Tina Rasori teaches math to fourth- and fifth-graders at Fay Elementary School in City Heights, Calif., she expects her students to do more than calculate the correct answers. Students work through problems and demonstrate how they arrive at answers. After conferring with classmates, they also must critique the reasoning of their peers. This is math infused with Common Core, academic standards that are set to hit California classrooms in the 2014-2015 school year. The guidelines — developed by a nationwide consortium of educators and other officials — are designed to emphasize critical-thinking skills over rote memorization and better prepare students for college and career.
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Principals tackle tough issues at National Leaders Conference
NAESP
Sequestration. Race to the Top. Charters and school choice. Education's hot topics were on the menu Monday at NAESP's National Leaders Conference. In presentations from policy experts, principals from around the country got the scoop on the education and funding issues that have Capitol Hill divided.
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Announcing NAESP's first Dissertation Competition
NAESP
Recently finished your dissertation? Here's your chance to share your research — and win up to $1000. NAESP is offering the first Elementary School Dissertation Competition, open to doctoral students who have completed and successfully defended their dissertation between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. Deadline for competition applications is April 30.
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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.
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601   Download media kit
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