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Cuts imminent, Senate rejects stopgap efforts
The Associated Press via Google News
Squabbling away the hours, the Senate swatted aside last-ditch plans to block $85 billion in broad-based federal spending reductions as President Barack Obama and Republicans blamed each other for the latest outbreak of gridlock and the administration readied plans to put the cuts into effect. So entrenched were the two parties that the Senate chaplain, Barry Black, opened the day's session with a prayer that beseeched a higher power to intervene. "Rise up, O God, and save us from ourselves," he said of cuts due to take effect. The immediate impact of the reductions on the public was uncertain, and the administration pulled back on its earlier warnings of long lines developing quickly at airports and teacher layoffs affecting classrooms.
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School leaders brace for cuts as sequestration occurs
eSchool News
School districts around the country are bracing for more than $2 billion in federal spending cuts that kicked in March 1 after lawmakers failed to reach a deficit-reduction deal. School administrators say the cuts will result in fewer staff, larger class sizes and the delay of ed-tech purchases, among other effects. The cuts come as school districts are trying to prepare for more rigorous assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and district leaders say the cuts will hinder these efforts.
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STEM research initiative brings together US, Finland
Education Week
Researchers in the United States and Finland are teaming up on a set of projects aimed at improving STEM education at the K-12 and college levels. The partnership, announced by the National Science Foundation, seeks to explore and develop some of the best ideas from researchers in both countries, according to an NSF press release. The projects together represent a total of $4 million in grant awards from the American and Finnish governments.
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Homework or not? That is the (research) question
District Administration Magazine
Woe unto the administrator who ventures forth into the homework wars. Scale it back, and parents will be at your door complaining about a lack of academic rigor. Dial it up, and you'll get an earful from other parents about interference with after-school activities and family time. If you're looking to bolster your particular position with research results, you're in luck, because there are studies that back the more-is-better approach and others that support the less-is-better tack.
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Handling teacher and student testing burnout
Edutopia
Ben Johnson, a high school principal, consultant, author and instructional learning coach, writes: "I am so fed up with testing. In the state of Texas, out of 180 days of instruction, there are over 35 days of testing of one form or another. That is nearly 20 percent of the instructional year spent on state standardized testing. That does not include the district benchmarks, SAT, PSAT, ACT, AP course testing and even a few more. In Texas, if a student does not pass each of the five STAAR end-of-course tests each year, the student could be taking 15 discrete tests and retests their senior year in order to graduate."
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Survey: Teachers don't want to carry guns, do support armed guards
CNN
Nearly three-fourths of the nation's teachers say they personally would not bring a firearm to their school if allowed, but most educators believe armed guards would improve campus safety, a new survey showed. Since the December massacre by a lone gunman in Newtown, Conn., many schools have hastened to add safety measures in an effort to prevent similar violence.
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Study: Childhood ADHD may lead to troubles later on
Reuters
Nearly a third of people diagnosed as children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder still have the condition in adulthood, according to a large new study that also found they're more likely to develop other mental disorders and to commit suicide. U.S. researchers who published their findings in Pediatrics found that about 29 percent of participants in the study who were diagnosed with ADHD as children ended up carrying that diagnosis into their late twenties.
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When bullying goes high-tech
CNN
As many as 25 percent of teenagers have experienced cyberbullying at some point, said Justin W. Patchin, who studies the phenomenon at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He and colleagues have conducted formal surveys of 15,000 middle and high school students throughout the United States, and found that about 10 percent of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last 30 days.
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Teaching 2.0: Is tech in the classroom worth the cost?
NPR
The hallways at Westlake High School in Maryland are just like thousands of other school hallways around the country: kids milling around, laughing and chatting on their way to class. On a recent morning, about 30 kids took their seats in a classroom that initially seems like any other. The major difference here is that instead of a chalkboard and a lectern at the head of the class, there are two enormous flat-panel screens and thin, white microphones hanging in four rows across the ceiling.
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Authors: Develop digital games to improve brain function and well-being
Science Daily
Neuroscientists should help to develop compelling digital games that boost brain function and improve well-being, say two professors specializing in the field in a commentary article published in the science journal Nature. In the Feb. 28 issue, the two — Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester and Richard J. Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison — urge game designers and brain scientists to work together to design new games that train the brain, producing positive effects on behavior, such as decreasing anxiety, sharpening attention and improving empathy. Already, some video games are designed to treat depression and to encourage cancer patients to stick with treatment, the authors note.
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Evaluating sources in a Wikipedia world
District Administration Magazine
A recent Pew Research Center study found that when performing online research, students rely heavily on sources with questionable academic quality, such as Wikipedia, and value immediacy over quality. This phenomenon is part of the new literacies, or digital media literacy, that has reverberated across K-12 classes.
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Amazon's Kindle gets exclusive role in new PTA family reading program
Fast Company
Amazon's Kindle is the exclusive sponsor of the new Family Reading Experience program that the National PTA wants to roll out across the U.S. to boost kids' reading thanks to family participation. Amazon points out, in its press release, that children's reading especially develops with family involvement between the ages of 7 and 11 years old, when they move on from picture books.
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What to consider when flipping the K-12 classroom
eSchool News
Flipping the classroom is one of the top trends in school reform, with more and more teachers trying the approach in an attempt to boost student engagement and achievement. The concept is simple: Teachers create or find online short videos that explain a lesson or concept, and students watch the videos at home. Students then come to class the next day prepared to complete "homework" during class time.
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73 percent of teachers use cellphones for classroom activities
Mashable
More middle- and secondary-school teachers are using digital tools in their classrooms and professional lives, a new report says. A study by Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project released delves into teachers' increasing technology use, but also expresses educators' concerns about the digital divide. The study surveyed Advance Placement and National Writing Project teachers across the United States, and 92 percent say the Internet has a "major impact" on their ability to access content, resources and materials for teaching. Teachers are becoming advanced tech users, according to Kristen Purcell, Pew's associate director for research.
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STEM research initiative brings together US, Finland
Education Week
Researchers in the United States and Finland are teaming up on a set of projects aimed at improving STEM education at the K-12 and college levels. The partnership, announced by the National Science Foundation, seeks to explore and develop some of the best ideas from researchers in both countries, according to an NSF press release. The projects together represent a total of $4 million in grant awards from the American and Finnish governments.

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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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Cheating our children: Suspicious school test scores across the nation
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Suspicious test scores in roughly 200 school districts resemble those that entangled Atlanta in the biggest cheating scandal in American history, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. The newspaper analyzed test results for 69,000 public schools and found high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast. The findings represent an unprecedented examination of the integrity of school testing.

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America's middle class promise starts early
ED.gov Blog
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke forcefully about America's basic bargain that people who work hard and shoulder their responsibilities should be able to climb into a thriving middle class. Restoring that bargain, he said, is the unfinished work of our generation. But for millions of young children in this country, the first rung on that ladder is missing because they are cut off from the kind of early learning that would set them up for success in school — with consequences that could last the rest of their lives.
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Budget cuts to hit military school districts first
eSchool News
Public schools everywhere will be affected by the government's automatic budget cuts that went into effect March 1, but few might feel the funding pinch faster than those on and around military bases. School districts with military ties from coast to coast are bracing for increased class sizes and delayed building repairs. Others already have axed sports teams and even eliminated teaching positions, but they still might have to tap savings just to make it through year's end. And there's little hope for softening any future financial blows.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Survey: Principals under more stress (eSchool News)
US schools brace for federal funding cuts (The Washington Post)
Are K-12 teachers bearing the burden of digital innovation? (Digital Book World)
Views of technology differ among elementary, high school educators (Education Week)
Can student-driven learning happen under Common Core? (MindShift)

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


Top K-12 senators ask Arne Duncan for more info on sequestration
Education Week
Two top Republican senators on education issues have some major questions for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when it comes to the way the Obama administration has been describing the automatic, across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. In a letter to sent to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Senate K-12 policy committee, and Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the top Republican on the panel that oversees education spending, have questioned the department's estimate that 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs, made on CBS' Face the Nation.
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Teacher-evaluation plans bedevil waiver states
Education Week
Even though 34 states and the District of Columbia have No Child Left Behind Act waivers in hand, many of them are still negotiating with the U.S. Department of Education over their teacher-evaluation systems — a crucial component if they want to keep their newfound flexibility. More than six months after waiver recipients turned in their guidelines to the department, only 12 waiver states have gotten the green light for their evaluation systems. Education Department officials expect to start sending more approval letters soon, along with notices on which plans need more work.
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Pennsylvania, Texas, Wyoming request flexibility from No Child Left Behind
U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education announced it has received requests from Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming for flexibility from No Child Left Behind in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and careers, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership. Since fall 2011, 47 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Education have requested waivers from NCLB in order to implement next-generation education reforms that go far beyond the law's rigid, top-down prescriptions. The department has approved requests from 34 states and D.C., with other applications still pending.
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Chicago public schools will start sex education in kindergarten
The Daily Caller
The dismally low graduation rate for students who attend Chicago Public Schools is barely over 60 percent — substantially lower than the national rate of roughly 75 percent. Nevertheless, citizens of the Second City will surely take heart, because the Chicago Board of Education just passed a new policy that requires sex education to begin in kindergarten. The new policy is part of a broader makeover of the school district's sexual health program, sometime within the next two years, students in every grade, including kindergarten, will be required to spend a certain amount of time on the birds and the bees.
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Teacher standoff stokes debate over standardized tests
Reuters
A boycott by Seattle teachers of a widely used standardized test has attracted national attention and given new momentum to a growing protest movement that seeks to limit standardized testing in U.S. public schools. The revolt by Seattle public school teachers, joining educators and students elsewhere, comes at a time of bitter political wrangling over how best to reinvigorate a $525 billion public school system that leaves American children lagging their counterparts in countries like Finland and South Korea.
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Children's Book Award deadline next week
NAESP
Calling all aspiring authors! Submissions for National Children's Book Award Contest are due Thursday, March 15. Prospective authors may submit a picture or chapter book written for children ages 3-16. Judging will be based on content, originality, and age-appropriateness. Winners will receive a contract with Charlesbridge Publishing.
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PD spotlight: Creating positive school culture
NAESP
When he was a rookie teacher, Ray Chavez — now principal of Tuscon's Apollo Middle School — had an epiphany. One day, students asked him if he believed in ghosts. He said no, but that he did believe in La Llorona, a spirit of Mexican lore — and his normally unruly class snapped to attention. "That's the day I found out what was missing: a connection from their home to school," says Chavez, who is featured in a PD 360 video on culturally relevant instruction. This month, NAESP members have exclusive access to this video and three more on school culture, packed with strategies for you and your staff. Start learning now.
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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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