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Racing the iPad in K-12 education
District Administration Magazine
In the move to 1:1 computing, school district leaders are increasingly looking for alternatives to traditional PCs and laptops, and for many districts, the go-to device is the iPad. But now, for a growing roster of Apple competitors, the time has come to give the iPad a run for its money. Lining up against Apple are some heavy hitters, including Google, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell and CDI, the largest provider of refurbished computers to schools. Such competitors say their devices provide important benefits missing in the iPad: easy content entry, long battery life, lower cost and safe transferability among students.
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Civil rights groups: School safety not dependent on guns
Education Week
In a pre-emptive move against a school safety proposal from the National Rifle Association that is expected to include a call for more people trained and approved to carry guns at schools, a coalition of civil rights groups unveiled its own safety plan. It seeks the creation of positive school climates, thoughtful and comprehensive crisis plans, and improved safety features that don't turn schools into fortresses. Both plans — from groups not necessarily considered school safety experts — come as schools have been reworking safety and security measures after the deadliest shootings on a K-12 campus in U.S. history. The December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., took the lives of 20 first-graders and six employees.
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Students would do well to learn cursive, advocate says
Los Angeles Times
Before students hunker down to take their SATs this spring, many will have an array of tools to help them with the exam. Flash cards, study guides and — cursive handwriting? For many, cursive handwriting is a thing of the past, an archaic method taught in the days before keyboards and touch screens. But some argue that writing longhand could help in placement exams. National core standards don't require cursive to be taught to students, but some states, including California, Alabama and Georgia, have included cursive handwriting in their state requirements in early elementary grades, something supporters say should be more widespread.
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Are schools getting tongue-tied?
District Administration Magazine
English as a Second Language programs have historically focused on Spanish speaking students, but the ESL map is undergoing a dramatic transformation that is challenging K-12 schools to cope with a burgeoning number of different native languages — more than 100 in some locations — as new immigrants arrive in districts across the country. And the number of English language learners has increased by 65 percent between 1993 and 2004 compared to barely a 7 percent increase in the total K-12 population, according to a 2006 study by the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition. And according to the Migration Policy Center, better than 70 percent of ESL students are Spanish speaking.
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What's needed for preschool to pay off? Two studies offer insights
The Christian Science Monitor
President Barack Obama's plan to expand high-quality preschool is expected to emerge in greater detail with his budget proposal in early April. While it's unclear if it will go anywhere given the austere mood in Washington, members of Congress have already introduced (or reintroduced) no fewer than half a dozen pre-K bills. As Washington and the public debate how much and how best to invest in preschool, two new studies of large-scale programs — one in multiple districts in New Jersey and one in Boston — have shown significant gains for students, compared with similar peers who were not enrolled.
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ADHD seen in 11 percent of US children as diagnoses rise
The New York Times
Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the ADHD diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children.
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School suspensions: Does racial bias feed the school-to-prison pipeline?
The Christian Science Monitor
Two students set off fire alarms in the same school district. One of them, an African-American kindergartner, is suspended for five days; the other, a white ninth-grader, is suspended for one day. An African-American high-schooler is suspended for a day for using a cellphone and an iPod in class. In the same school, a white student with a similar disciplinary history gets detention for using headphones. Two middle-schoolers push each other; the white student receives a three-day, in-school suspension, while the native American student is arrested and suspended, out of school, for 10 days. Civil rights groups have been saying for years that school discipline is not meted out fairly, citing examples like these reported last year from around the country by the U.S. Department of Education.
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Studies will examine KIPP students' achievement
U.S. Department of Education
A recent study of middle-school students attending KIPP charter schools compared their performance in four core academic subjects over a three-year period and found that they gained between 11 and 14 additional months of learning over students in comparable traditional public schools. The study was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, using multiple research strategies, including a rigorous, random-assignment methodology that compared students admitted to KIPP schools through its lottery system with students who applied to KIPP but were not admitted.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Teaching emotions: A different approach to ending school violence (The Huffington Post)
How the Common Core is redefining math instruction (eClassroom News)
How would mental-health screening for kids at school work? (Palm Beach Post)
5 tools to help students learn how to learn (MindShift)
Which path for the Common Core? (Education Week)

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


Why teachers cheat
The Huffington Post (commentary)
The indictment of 35 teachers and administrators in Atlanta for manipulating test scores is just the latest chapter in that city's long festering "teacher cheating" scandal. In turn, Atlanta is just one of many cities where evidence has surfaced that educators fudged testing data. Perhaps the best way to think of these cheating scandals is that they are the result of a natural experiment: What happens when you change incentives so that low test numbers translate into pain and high test numbers translate into rewards?
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The test? Find more straight-A teachers
The New York Times
"We know a good teacher when we see one," said Jaak Aaviksoo, the minister for education in Estonia. Yet beyond that apparently simple recognition lurked a host of other questions: What makes a great teacher great? Can it be labeled or measured? And if we do manage to identify the ingredients, how can we create more great teachers? These were among the issues at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession, convened in Amsterdam in March by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Education ministers, leaders of teachers' unions and policy makers from 25 countries gathered with 150 teachers from around the world to discuss the current state of classroom practices. The most passionate disagreements concerned the topic of using evaluation to improve teaching.
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With GOP advocate, education issues could gain steam in Congress
Education Week
Education issues — which haven't gotten a lot of attention from Congress over the past four years — may have picked up an unlikely but powerful advocate: U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor. As the majority leader in the House of Representatives, the Virginia Republican has a major role in setting the agenda for the chamber. Throughout President Barack Obama's first term, Cantor served as a key counterweight to the administration's agenda on a broad swath of domestic issues, largely aligning himself with more conservative House Republicans on everything from health care to deficit reduction.
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Federal employees respond as sequester takes toll
By Maurice Leach
With the arrival of April 1, the across-the-board automatic spending cuts known as the sequester are still on schedule to go into effect. The $1.2 trillion in cuts authorized under the Budget Control Act negotiated by President Barack Obama and Congress were signed into law in August 2011. The cuts will have a serious impact on the federal workforce, including furloughs of more than 1 million federal workers, a hiring freeze, cutbacks on overtime hours and a freeze on pay raises for six months.
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Industry Pulse: Are sequestration cuts the right move to balance the country's budget?
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Fourth round of Investing in Innovation kicks off with pre-screening
Education Week
If you have a good, innovative idea to solve a vexing education problem — and it's relatively untested — then this pre-application process is for you. The U.S Department of Education is accepting "pre-applications" for its small $3 million development grants, which are part of a larger $150 million Investing in Innovation grant contest. The deadline to apply is April 26. Applications for the larger "scale-up" and "validation" grants — ;which require more evidence of past success but can win applicants up to $25 million — will be available later this spring.
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Dozens of Atlanta teachers indicted in cheating scandal
The Atlantic Wire
A grand jury has indicted 35 school administrators and teachers for their alleged part in the biggest standardized test cheating ring in our nation's history. "What's the big deal?" you may wonder. After all, even those hoity-toity Harvard kids aren't above cheating once or twice. Why not the 50,000 or so students in Atlanta's public school system? Well, according to Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., who spoke at the press conference announcing the indictment, federal funds were used in bonuses awarded to schools and teachers based on the results of Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, and employees who didn't participate in the ring were fired.
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Are schools getting tongue-tied?
District Administration Magazine
English as a Second Language programs have historically focused on Spanish speaking students, but the ESL map is undergoing a dramatic transformation that is challenging K-12 schools to cope with a burgeoning number of different native languages — more than 100 in some locations — as new immigrants arrive in districts across the country.

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What learning cursive does for your brain
Psychology Today
Dr. William Klemm, a Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, writes: "Ever try to read your physician's prescriptions? Children increasingly print their writing because they don't know cursive or theirs is unreadable."

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Survey finds rising job frustration among principals
Education Week
A new national survey finds that three out of four K-12 public school principals, regardless of the types of schools they work in, believe the job has become "too complex," and about a third say they are likely to go into a different occupation within next five years.

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Michigan's 13,000 'redshirt' kindergartners
Bridge Magazine
Kindergarten classes in Escanaba, Mich., and Dearborn, Mich., are quite similar, with 5-year-olds wiggling in their chairs and brightly-colored artwork lining the walls. But when children walked out of those classrooms in the spring of 2011, they faced different futures. In Escanaba Area Public Schools, almost 40 percent of the children were told they weren't moving on to first grade and would be taking a second year of kindergarten; in Dearborn City Schools, less than 2 percent were asked to repeat kindergarten.
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Student suspended for butter knife she brought to middle school in packed lunch
The Huffington Post
A Massachusetts middle school student was suspended after she brought a butter knife to school in her lunch, Fox 25 Boston reports. According to the 13-year-old's mother, Morgan LaPlume was taken to the office and handed a one-day suspension after Wamsutta Middle School's assistant principal spotted the butter knife, Attleboro's Sun Chronicle reports. LaPlume packed the butter knife with her lunch in order to cut a pear, explaining to Fox 25 that she can't bite into the fruit because of her braces.
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Curious grade for teachers: Nearly all pass
The New York Times
Across the country, education reformers and their allies in both parties have revamped the way teachers are graded, abandoning methods under which nearly everyone was deemed satisfactory, even when students were falling behind. More than half the states now require new teacher evaluation systems and, thanks to a deal announced in Albany, New York City will soon have one, too.
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Zombie class at Oregon middle school canceled after parents complain
The Huffington Post
The Armand Larive Middle School in Hermiston, Ore., has canceled its after-school zombie apocalypse survival class, the Associated Press reports — a move that could leave developing brains vulnerable should the undead infiltrate northern Oregon. CNET.com reports teacher Rich Harshberge's extracurricular program informed students about the viral nature of the zombie disease and what to do if grandma is bitten — but the course was really about getting students to read and write. Harshberge told the East Oregonian that he was able to engage students who would have otherwise ignored the material or reading assignments such as "The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead."
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Teamwork is key for Arizona principal
Navajo Times
Arizona's Ganado Primary School Principal Helen Aseret was recently awarded the AdvancED Excellence in Education Award by the AdvancED/Navajo Nation State Office, which is dedicated to advancing excellence in education worldwide. She has implemented a staff development model called a professional learning community, where teachers, faculty and staff are allowed to brainstorm, share their ideas and become empowered about achieving school goals.
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3-D printer enlivens students' ideas
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In the corner of Jason Steele's classroom at Oblock Junior High School in Plum, Pa., two 3-D printers whirred softly as they slowly created two objects out of blue plastic thread. Steele is using the four printers in his eighth-grade technology education classes to allow students to develop a three-dimensional object on a computer and turn it into a physical product. The 3-D printers could completely change the way objects are manufactured — instead of finding a supplier, ordering an item, paying for shipping and waiting for delivery, manufacturers will be able to make their own objects in a matter of minutes or hours. Steele wants his students to be ready. And it's important for them to learn a "digital language," he said.
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NAESP election now open
NAESP
NAESP's election is now open. Eligible NAESP members will elect a new president-elect as well as directors for Zones 3, 4 and 6. Voting will be open through April 30. Electronic ballots are available on the NAESP website — but you will need to log in to access the ballot, which is members-only content. Visit the NAESP election page for candidate information and instructions for logging in.
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PD spotlight: Parents as partners
NAESP
At J. Erik Jonsson Community School, families are welcomed as partners — in fact, every parent writes a vision statement for their child. Learn more about the creative methods the school uses to engage parents in a new video from PD 360. This month, NAESP members have exclusive access to this video and three more on parent involvement, 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.
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