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Cheating our children: Suspicious school test scores across the nation
The Atlanta Journal Constitution    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
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. The analysis doesn't prove cheating. But it reveals that test scores in hundreds of cities followed a pattern that, in Atlanta, indicated cheating in multiple schools. More

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Supporting continuous improvement with data
eSchool News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Difficult. Clunky. Frustrating. Those were three words often used by administrators, teachers and staff of Minnesota's Wayzata Public Schools to describe their previous data warehouse. Because the system was complicated, people didn't use it. Instead, student achievement data was stored in disparate locations all over the school district. The new goal was to get that data into one place. But more important, educators wanted to make it easy to view, understand and act upon that data. They also wanted to make it easy for our teachers to review and compare different types of student data — from national and state assessments to district benchmarks and formative assessments — to see how they tie together and then use this data to inform their instruction. More



Momentum builds for dual-language learning
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In a pre-school class at Gardner Academy, a public elementary school near downtown San Jose, Calif., teacher Rosemary Zavala sketched a tree as she fired off questions about what plants need to grow. "¿Qué necesitan las plantas?" she asked her 4-year-old charges in Spanish. "Las flores toman agua" was the exuberant answer from one girl, who said that flowers drink water. A boy answered in English: "I saw a tree in my yard." The next day, Zavala's questions about plants would continue — but in English. This classroom, with its steady stream of lively, vocabulary-laden conversations in Spanish and in English, is what many educators and advocates hope represents the future of language instruction in the United States for both English language learners and native English speakers. More

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Do students know enough smart learning strategies?
MindShift    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
What's the key to effective learning? One intriguing body of research suggests a rather gnomic answer: It's not just what you know. It's what you know about what you know. To put it in more straightforward terms, anytime a student learns, he or she has to bring in two kinds of prior knowledge: knowledge about the subject at hand (say, mathematics or history) and knowledge about how learning works. Parents and educators are pretty good at imparting the first kind of knowledge. We're comfortable talking about concrete information: names, dates, numbers and facts. But the guidance we offer on the act of learning itself — the "metacognitive" aspects of learning — is more hit-or-miss, and it shows. More

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The Common Core math standards
Education Next    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
More than 40 states have now signed onto the Common Core standards in English language arts and math, which have been both celebrated as a tremendous advance and criticized as misguided and for bearing the heavy thumbprint of the federal government. Assessing the merits of the Common Core math standards are Ze'ev Wurman and W. Stephen Wilson. Wurman, who was a U.S. Department of Education official under George W. Bush, is co-author with Sandra Stotsky of "Common Core's Standards Still Don't Make the Grade." More

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Arne Duncan: Newspapers shouldn't publish teacher ratings
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Publishing teachers' ratings in the newspaper in the way The New York Times and other outlets have done recently is not a good use of performance data, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an interview. "Do you need to publish every single teacher's rating in the paper? I don't think you do," he said. "There's not much of an upside there, and there's a tremendous downside for teachers. We're at a time where morale is at a record low. ... We need to be sort of strengthening teachers, and elevating and supporting them." More

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Caring teachers may help keep kids from trying alcohol, drugs
HealthDay News via Yahoo News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The connections youth have with their teachers may help prevent kids from experimenting with alcohol and drugs at an early age, a new study suggests. The researchers found that students in middle school who felt more emotional support from teachers had a lower risk of early alcohol and illicit drug use. The students defined teacher support as feeling close to a teacher or being able to discuss problems with a teacher. More

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Study: MRI reveals brain function differs in math-phobic children
HealthImaging    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Children who get anxious about doing math have brain function that differs from children who don't, with math-specific fear interfering with the parts of the brain involved in problem-solving, according to functional MRI scans of 7- to 9-year olds that formed the basis of a study published in Psychological Science. Researchers from Sanford School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., performed fMRI scans on 46 second- and third-grade students while they did addition and subtraction problems to look for biological evidence of the existence of math anxiety. More

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What do kids know about online privacy? More than you think
MindShift    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Much of the anxiety around tweens and social media lies in the fear that they don't care about or understand privacy settings. Parents worry that kids will either willingly or unintentionally expose themselves to dangerous anonymous predators, or that they don't fully understand that the information they share about themselves can be used against them. But tweens are much more savvy about their privacy settings than adults give them credit for, even when it comes to subtleties of "frenemies" dynamics, according to a small, qualitative study by researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that's forthcoming in the journal Learning, Media, & Technology. More

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Dyslexia definition now covers wider range of reading disorders
The Issaquah Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
There are several myths about the reading disability known as dyslexia, according to Cornell Atwater, director of Issaquah's Learning Rx center. For one thing, and perhaps most importantly, dyslexia has nothing to do with mixing up letters. People who have dyslexia do not necessarily see words differently than other people. Further, persons diagnosed with dyslexia do not have one single form of reading disorder. More



Latest NCLB waiver hopefuls learned from 1st round
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In the latest round of applications for waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act, states seem to have learned lessons from their predecessors and dodged pitfalls that triggered some big revisions from first-round states. The second-round group of 26 states, plus the District of Columbia, did a better job explaining how they will help English-learners and special education students succeed. And they are not straying as far from the 2002 law's original emphasis on holding schools accountable for the performance of small groups of students deemed at risk. More

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'Pink slime' is vanishing from school cafeterias
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Andy Gomez, a ninth-grader at Brighton High School, was not sure why hamburgers and meatballs had disappeared from the cafeteria, but he was not happy about it. "Today I just ate peanut butter and jelly," he said. "I don't like the chicken patty." The absence of ground beef at lunch — at Brighton High and 43 other public schools here — could be explained by a peek into the freezer, where 21 boxes of ground beef products sat, cordoned off from the rest of the meat by a clinical-looking cover of white paper reading "Do not use." This is the frozen mass at the center of growing public concern, stoked by news coverage and social media outrage, over so-called pink slime, the low-cost blend of ammonia-treated bits of cow. More

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Duncan defends big increase in school funding
The Washington Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Education Secretary Arne Duncan used an appearance before a key House subcommittee to not only defend the Obama administration's request for a $1.7 billion increase in school funding for fiscal 2013, but also to rip the GOP budget proposal laid out by Rep. Paul Ryan. "However well-intentioned, the Ryan plan would lead to catastrophic cuts in education," Duncan said of the blueprint put forth by Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee. Ryan's panel passed his proposal, and it is expected to come to the House floor soon. More



Residency rule near for Arizona students
Arizona Daily Star    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
All parents of students attending pre-school through 12th grade in Arizona public schools will need to fill out new forms showing proof of residency for the upcoming school year. The forms meet Arizona Department of Education requirements that determine whether a student lives in the state. That is determined by the residency of the parent or guardian with whom the student lives. The requirements and forms were distributed to public schools in the fall and are based on a new law passed by the Legislature during the last session, said Andrew LeFevre, a spokesman for the state Department of Education. More

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Superintendent: Hugging 'ban' at Matawan Aberdeen Middle in New Jersey not explicit
The Huffington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A New Jersey school superintendent says there's no policy against hugging in the district, and says the issue of middle schoolers being told by their principal not to hug each other anymore is being blown out of proportion. The district says Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School Principal Tyler Blackmore made an announcement that its 900 students were in a "no hugging school" following some "incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions." School Superintendent David Healy said the district has the responsibility to teach children about appropriate interactions. But he said no one would be disciplined for hugging. More

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California urged to consider non-seniority-based teacher layoffs
Los Angeles Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
California school districts issue more pink slips than necessary and the state should consider alternatives to seniority-based layoffs, according to a report from the state legislative analyst's office. In the report the nonpartisan analyst said that because state and local budget information is available only after the initial deadline for districts to send out layoff notices, more pink slips are issued than may be needed. The initial notices are required by state law to be sent out by March 15. More

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Tennessee schools work hard to close achievement gap
The Tennessean    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Tennessee's Clovercroft Elementary's fourth- and fifth-graders arrived this year with the highest math scores in Williamson County and few problems with any other subject. Still, Principal Laura LaChance holds her breath when she thinks about what Clovercroft, which just opened in August, has to prove during TCAP testing next month. Only 3 percent of her students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches, and there are very few English language learners — a group that traditionally has struggled with standardized testing in Tennessee. But under the state's new measuring system, even students at the top will have to make learning gains of at least 3 percent every year. More



Dual-language programs growing in popularity across California
California Watch    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
At Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School in California, students are taught lessons every week in a combination of Spanish, English and Mandarin. The public school, which has more than 400 students on its wait list, is hoping to eventually add a fourth language, the principal says, to better prepare pupils for the global economy. "I think as we become more and more globally aware, we're realizing that kids need to be prepared to be competitive in world markets," said Principal Jorge Ramirez. "Kids need to be multilingual and multiliterate." More

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Colorado's elementary schools strive to give kids more exercise
The Denver Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Yoga, themed recess and brain breaks have found their place at elementary schools across Colorado as educators find more ways to get kids moving — and to comply with new laws. "We have been finding some schools really made an effort," said Karen Ryan, policy director for Live Well Colorado, a nonprofit focusing on decreasing obesity rates. More



NAESP elections now open
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
This spring, eligible NAESP members will elect a new president-elect as well as directors for Zones 5, 7 and 9. Voting opened Monday and will close Tuesday, April 24. Electronic ballots are available through our website — click here to vote now or see our election page for candidate information and tips for logging in to the NAESP website. More

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The conference is over, but the learning continues
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The NAESP Annual Conference and Expo — BEST PRACTICES FOR BETTER SCHOOLS™ — wrapped up this weekend, but there's still plenty to see on Convention News Online. Catch up on sessions you missed with our blog posts or see all the photos from the event. Plus, our mobile app is still available, and you can download presentation handouts right from it. Check it out now. More
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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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