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Can analytics predict the best teachers?
District Administration Magazine
Big data and analytics now offer districts some clues about which teacher candidates will be the most effective in the classroom. These programs are designed to accurately gauge the impact teacher candidates will have on student test scores. Analytics companies such as TeacherMatch and Hanover Research are working with hundreds of districts nationwide to aid in the hiring process. Though still a relatively new practice, predictive analytics is becoming more common in both public- and private-sector hiring, says Jonah Rockoff, a Columbia University associate professor of finance and economics who studies teacher hiring systems.
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Schools nationwide struggle with substitute teacher shortage
The Associated Press via ABC News
Carrie Swing wasn't alarmed when her fifth-grade daughter, Ivy, spent a day in a first-grade classroom at her San Francisco school, filling out worksheets and helping younger students read because no substitute could be found for her absent teacher. But when it happened the next four days too, Swing became so concerned that she considered quitting her public relations job to homeschool her daughter. "The situation was really awful," Swing said. "The kids had a sense of, 'Nobody's in charge here,' and I think that was really hard on them."
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Earth Day: Lesson plans, reading lists and classroom ideas
Edutopia
Earth Day is right around the corner, and this year, the theme is "It's Our Turn to Lead." Are you planning on incorporating the annual event in your classroom? There are many different learning opportunities on Earth Day, whether your students will be doing science-based investigations, thematic reading, or creative arts projects. To help teachers brainstorm some ways to incorporate Earth Day into the curriculum, we've compiled a list of resources that teachers can use. There's a bit of everything, including lesson plans, tools and resources, and student reading lists.
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How much academic homework is too much?
Psychology Today (commentary)
Harris Cooper, professor of psychology at Duke, reviewed more than 60 studies regarding the amount of time a child might do homework to achieve the optimal results. In a paper, published in 2006, he recommended that this time was 10 to 20 minutes per grade in school. In theory, a second grader would be expected to sit, distraction free, for 20 minutes, while a sixth grader would have approximately 60 minutes allocated for homework.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keywords HOMEWORK.


For preschoolers, math means more than counting to 10
Phys.org
Effectively teaching mathematics in preschool is becoming increasingly important. According to Mable Kinzie, a professor of education at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, mathematics knowledge and skills as children enter elementary school have been found to be the strongest predictor of later academic success — even more than early literacy skills. A research team at the Curry School's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning has been developing and testing a professional development program for pre-kindergarten teachers focused primarily on math and science.
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6 powerful motivations driving social learning by teens
MindShift
Along with Google search, Wikipedia has become the first point of reference for most of us. Wikipedia's first incarnation, Nupedia, relied upon the authority of academic experts to provide quality control for Jimmy Wales' first attempt at an online encyclopedia. After months of peer-review, only a handful of articles had appeared on Nupedia. Wales decision to "go open" not only allowed Wikipedia to flourish, it led to the emergence of the "pro-am" (an amateur who possesses professional levels of expertise). The initial academic concerns over the reliability of information in Wikipedia articles have now largely dissipated, assuaged by an army of volunteers, who correct over half the cases of "vandalism" in less than four minutes. It is a powerful example of a self-correcting organism.
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Garden-based learning
Edutopia
Schools and community gardens are living classrooms with great potential for learning. In How to Grow a School Garden, Arden Buck-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle cite the following: "Numerous studies point to school gardens as a means of improving academic achievement, promoting healthy lifestyles, demonstrating the principles of stewardship, encouraging community and social development, and instilling a sense of place." In addition, gardens are places where students can connect with global issues through the natural resources of earth, advance community development efforts through neighborhood beautification, and leave their green-print in our ecosystem. Gardens, and the people in the community near your garden, are an incredible asset to schools and out-of-school-time programs.
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How can I prepare my child for the upcoming IEP meeting?
By: Howard Margolis (commentary)
Parents often ask me how to prepare for IEP meetings. One way is to send your child's case manager a list of questions you need answered. Let the case manager know that you need the answers to effectively contribute to the development an appropriate IEP — one likely to produce important progress in important areas. When writing the questions, make sure they're important, specific and answerable. Here are sample questions from the parents of Lucas Enigma, a mythical child with reading and other learning disabilities.
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Want to personalize learning? Try personalizing PD first
eSchool News
In Meriden, Conn., school district leaders are rethinking traditional approaches to instruction. For the past five years, the district has had a "no zero" grading policy to encourage the completion of all student work. Middle school students can take online courses for high school credit, and high school students can design their own studies with the help of a faculty advisor. "We put students at the center of everything we do," said superintendent Mark Benigni.
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Study: Children who start school later are more likely to drop out
Science World Report
A new study by researchers at Duke University shows that children who start kindergarten a bit later are more likely to drop out of school and commit serious crimes. However, the outcomes are more likely for children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who start later start out with a bit of an advantage. "This research provides the first compelling evidence of a causal link between dropout and crime. It supports the view that crime outcomes should be considered in evaluating school reforms," said lead author Philip J. Cook, a professor in Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy.
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Fundraising site for teachers illuminates classroom disparities
NPR
What happens when a teacher wants to assign an extra book for class, but the school can't afford a copy for every student? For Dana Vanderford, an English teacher at L.W. Higgins High School in New Orleans, the book was "Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation." Buying enough copies for her class would have cost more than $800. Not an option. "I get $80 a year to buy resources for my classroom," Vanderford says. "And I have 90 students per semester. So that $80 doesn't go very far." In the past, teachers in Vanderford's position had a few options: Pay for the costs themselves, ask students to pay, or somehow try to raise the money.
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The role of parents in improving school diversity
The Atlantic
Across America, public-education systems struggle with a lack of racial and economic diversity. How should that factor into families' choices when deciding where to send their children?
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With fewer new teachers, why do some stick around?
NPR
Recently, NPR reported on an alarming drop in enrollment at teacher training programs in several large states. Considering the job's long hours, generally low pay and unpopular testing requirements, many teachers in our audience weren't surprised by the trend. This made us wonder: Why, in spite of all the reasons to quit, do so many teachers keep at it? In 2012, The Gates Foundation (which supports NPR's coverage of education) surveyed more than 10,000 public school teachers — to find out what factors were important in retaining good teachers. 68 percent said that supportive leadership was "absolutely essential." Only 34 percent said the same about higher salaries.
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Why should we fear teachers visiting their students' homes?
The Washington Post
Dave Levin thought he was going to be fired from his Houston school the day he picked up a huge, unruly sixth-grader and dropped him in his seat. He had touched a kid. That was a big no-no. He felt so bad that he went to the boy's small wood-frame home after school — another thing he had been told never to do — and apologized to the boy's mother. To his surprise, the woman seemed pleased by his visit. "Listen," she said, "you're the first teacher that ever came to the house. Do whatever you have to do to my son. He doesn't listen to me. Do whatever you have to do."
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Turning district academic visions into classroom realities
Education Week
While principal- and superintendent-training programs are ubiquitous, and in many cases a necessary step toward taking on those roles, preparation programs specifically for chief academic officers simply do not exist. That's in part because the role itself presents something of a dichotomy: It's a 30,000-foot-level executive position with the boots-on-the-ground focus of classroom instruction. And while superintendents are at times recruited from noneducation sectors — politics, business, law — the need for CAOs to have a strong instructional background means many have climbed the district ladder, starting from the classroom.
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Duncan: Step up and fund education
The U.S. Department of Education
Recently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Edwin M. Stanton Elementary in Philadelphia to highlight the need to support teachers and students by investing in our nation's schools. During the visit, Duncan joined U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., superintendent of Philadelphia schools Dr. William Hite, and acting Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera for a community roundtable discussion. Neighborhood residents, parents and teachers talked about how the community came together to keep the small school from closing a few years prior.
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Bill would limit use of student data
The New York Times
Is the digital revolution in the classroom giving the education technology industry carte blanche to exploit student data? That was the question some teacher and parents groups have posed in their public responses to the news that Pearson, the education publisher, had been covertly monitoring social media sites to identify students who might have disclosed questions from its assessment tests. In an effort to ease parent and teacher concerns, two congressmen are planning to introduce a bill that would place limits on how education technology companies can use information about kindergarten through 12th-grade students.
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Baltimore schools paying millions in additional income
The Baltimore Sun
As the Baltimore school system was running up a $72 million deficit last year — a gap that officials say will force layoffs for the first time in more than a decade — it paid out $46 million in bonuses, overtime pay and accrued leave, pushing the earnings of many employees well into six figures. The payouts, which have drawn the ire of school officials and lawmakers alike, dwarf the $36.5 million state funding cut that district officials and state lawmakers have fought in recent weeks to restore to avoid what they say would be debilitating cuts to schools and programs.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    How compatible are Common Core and technology? (The Hechinger Report)
The 5 keys to successful comprehensive assessment in action (Edutopia)
Schools overcoming homeless hurdles (District Administration Magazine)
Homework vs. no homework is the wrong question (Edutopia)
Reversing the teacher dropout problem (Scholastic Administrator Magazine)

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


Districts ramp up efforts to link spending, academic priorities
Education Week
When the Wylie school district in Texas crafts its annual budget, finance officials closely consult with key academic leaders to ensure spending decisions match up with the district's strategic plans and goals. Michele Trongaard, the chief financial officer in the 14,000-student district, shadows principals to better understand their needs as she shapes the budget.
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Seattle parents renew calls for school recess changes
KING-TV
Holding green signs demanding answers, a group of parents went before the Seattle Public School Board of Directors, furious about the lack of action on school lunch and recess time. Since the beginning of the school year, parents and a collection of students called the "Recess Army" have complained recess and lunch time routinely falls well short of district guidelines of 20 minutes. Instead, parents claim students often have less than 10 minutes of break, impacting their learning.
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Takeaways from Digital Learning Day
NAESP
Digital Learning Day on March 13 brought together thousands of educators engaged in digital learning. Over 40,000 people tuned in online to watch Digital Learning Day Live!, a town hall-style event in downtown Washington D.C., that featured best practices from schools and districts nationwide. For those of you who missed it, you can watch the recorded event on the Digital Learning Day website.
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Strengthening leadership capacity: Investing in the future
NAESP
Cynthia Roberts, a fifth-year principal, is a confident, assured and skilled leader who contributes to not only the growth of her school but to the strength of the district leadership. She was supported in her position by a school district with a strong vision for the most important position in the public school organization: the school principal. The district invested in her development from aspiring principal to experienced school leader. Her transition from classroom teacher of 25 students to leading a school of 600 students was well orchestrated, planned and implemented.
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