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Here's why great principals matter
eSchool News
Strong leadership is essential to any school's success, and school principals play a vital role in ensuring teachers and students are successful in the classroom. With strong and flexible leadership, teachers say they feel they have freedom to explore new teaching techniques and approaches. Principals who foster positive school cultures see the returns of such efforts in student achievement, engagement and teacher satisfaction.
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New index reveals sobering picture of how much African-American children lag
The Christian Science Monitor
Children of color — and African-American children in particular — face enormous opportunity barriers compared with their white and Asian counterparts, according to a new report, which characterized the wide gaps as a national crisis. The "Race for Results" report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, part of its annual "Kids Count" publications, broke down data on education, family resources, and neighborhood by race and by state, looking at key indicators that predict how likely a child is to succeed in life. It found immense differences in the barriers encountered by children of different races.
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Programs across the nation boosting interest in STEM fields
By: Archita Datta Majumdar
There seems to a dichotomy between the STEM crisis and STEM demand in recent years. Conflicting reports claim that there are more STEM graduates than jobs available, while others claim that a lack of STEM graduates is a major factor in a surge of foreign students and more H1-B visas. Which one is true and which one should we believe? Perhaps a bit of both, but the underlying fact between the two is that we need a solid and indigenous population of graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
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More states require kindergarten entrance exams, database shows
Education Week
More than half of the states and the District of Columbia now require children to take kindergarten entrance assessments, a trend that continues to grow, the Denver-based Education Commission of the States reports. Such exams aim to gauge students' abilities in the areas of language and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge, motor skills, and social and emotional development, the organization reports in a 50-state analysis of kindergarten policies released March 27.
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Assessing readiness for Common Core assessments
EdTech Magazine
The clock is ticking on the official implementation of the Common Core State Standards by the 44 states (along with the District of Columbia and U.S. territories) that have adopted them. These voluntary K–12 academic benchmarks in English language arts and mathematics align with real-world college and career expectations and are designed to ensure that all students have the skills and knowledge required to collaborate and compete with their peers globally.
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3 advances in special education instruction
eSchool News
Advances in educational technology make it possible for educators to tailor their instruction for students with special needs. These technologies, including online speech therapy and platforms to align goals in a student's Individual Education Plan with Common Core objectives, make it easier for teachers to spend more one-on-one time with students who have special needs or require additional classroom accommodations.
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10 things wrong with what kids learn in school
The Washington Post (commentary)
The debate over the Common Core State Standards overlooks the broad problems inherent in the core curriculum that has been taught in schools for decades. Marion Brady explains. Brady has worked as a teacher, administrator, college professor, contributor to academic journals, textbook and professional book author, consultant to publishers and foundations, newspaper columnist.
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As popularity rises, so does risk of being bullied
USA Today
Adolescents are often targeted for bullying because of their appearance, sexual orientation or loner status. But not all bullying victims fit that profile. New research suggests that as students become more popular and climb the social hierarchy of middle and high school, they are at increased risk for gossip, harassment and even physical attacks from rivals competing for status. And the adverse consequences of that bullying — including increased depression, anxiety and anger, and decreased school attachment — are magnified the more popular the victim, according to the paper published in April's American Sociological Review.
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Reimagining schools
Scholastic Administrator
The models are all different: In one successful school, kids help choose the lunch plan. In another, classes start at 10 a.m. (with less homework — and more field trips). And in a third school, physical education happens three times a day, instead of once a week. Sound like items from a third-grader's wish list? Nope. These are initiatives from real schools where, instead of nibbling at the edges of curriculum and technology, administrators have embraced radically new approaches to the very idea of school itself. We caught up with leaders at three such schools to find out how it's working out for them — and to show you what you can steal for your own district, without necessarily turning your whole model upside down.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Schools coping with Common Core turbulence (District Administration Magazine)
Pros and cons of Common Core State Standards (By: Archita Datta Majumdar)
More advanced math and reading in kindergarten benefits school performance (Medical News Today)
Principals pressed for time to lead instructional change (Education Week)
Why principals should be wary of homework (District Administration Magazine)

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


Three reasons students should opt out of standardized tests — and three reasons they shouldn't
The Hechinger Report
Now that spring is finally here, kids cooped up during this particularly brutal winter might be looking forward to enjoying some sunshine. Many will have to control the wiggles a little longer, though. It's standardized testing season, which means silent hallways, desks arranged in rows, and for many kids, a lot of anxiety until it's over. Now that the tests in many states are getting harder in order to align with the new Common Core standards and being used to grade teachers, not just students, they're also producing a lot of anxiety among parents and teachers, too. In response to the added pressure this year, a movement against standardized testing is gathering steam as some parents decide to let their children opt out of the tests.
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The 4 components of a DIY professional development toolkit
Edutopia
Education has always been a reflection of broader cultural values. As such, the roles of teachers and students have evolved as our models of education have moved from one iteration to another. Teachers who once traveled to town to instruct a heterogeneous room full of passive learners on matters of rote memorization have come to adopt new roles and philosophies toward learning. As these new models have emerged, educators have been required to hone their skills and adapt to ever changing sets of priorities, needs and expectations.
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Can schools be held accountable without standardized tests?
MindShift
The focus on scoring well on standardized tests has wedged educators into a difficult spot. Teachers are concerned that a poor showing on the tests will jeopardize school funding, or even their jobs, and often feel they have to suspend everything else in order to focus on test prep. Putting so much energy into one assessment — one that doesn't give teachers and students any granular, actionable information — takes resources, time, and energy away from other kinds of rich learning experiences.
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Is it possible to teach children to be less prejudiced?
The Atlantic
Kids start understanding prejudice by the time they're three years old. They can distinguish between physical traits — hair color, height, weight, etc. — even earlier. But by the time children enter preschool, they can already tell how certain characteristics, like skin color or gender, affect how people see them and their peers. As kids get older, this can lead to intolerance and discrimination in schools. A California Student Survey found that nearly one-fourth of students across grades report being harassed or bullied on school property because of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
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What is our legacy to be: Curious or furious?
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
Stephen Harris, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: "'I am so furious with you.' These were the words I heard this afternoon from a mum who was having quick words with her young child near the supermarket. Her child looked about 2 or 3. I don't know what had led to this quite public reprimand, but it immediately brought to mind the word we have placed high on our agenda at school this year: curiosity."
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Bipartisan House bill would make research more timely, relevant
Education Week
The U.S. Department of Education's research arm — the Institute of Education Sciences — would get a makeover under a bipartisan bill aimed at providing more relevant, but equally rigorous research. Unveiled by lawmakers on the House Education Committee, the bill would make it clear that all IES research needs to be distributed in a timely way, so that educators can take quick advantage of the findings to improve classroom and district practice.
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Here's why great principals matter
eSchool News
Strong leadership is essential to any school's success, and school principals play a vital role in ensuring teachers and students are successful in the classroom. With strong and flexible leadership, teachers say they feel they have freedom to explore new teaching techniques and approaches.

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read more
5 common myths about school administration
eSchool News
It's not always teachers who face criticism in the U.S. Many school administrators say that misconceptions about their career motivations and the position in general still exist today — and many myths have survived for decades.

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How much teachers get paid — State by state
The Washington Post
How much do teachers across the United States get paid? Here is data, state by state, collected from the National Center for Education Statistics by Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president at DePaul University in Chicago.

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Some states seek to bless prayer in public schools
NPR
Religious groups have been testing the limits on prayer in public school for decades. Now they think they've come up with a new strategy that will allow students to pray wherever and whenever they want. Bills have been moving in a number of states that would allow students to engage in prayer at school functions such as graduation. "I believe there's discrimination involved, yes I do, against individuals who would like to express some value to their faith," says state Sen. Ferrell Haile, sponsor of a school prayer bill in Tennessee awaiting approval from GOP Gov. Bill Haslam.
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Michigan losing ground to other states in education, new analysis says
Detroit Free Press
A new analysis of student performance on a rigorous national exam shows that not only are Michigan students not keeping pace with the rest of the nation, but many states are soaring past Michigan and showing faster improvement. The analysis, prepared by the Education Trust-Midwest — a Royal Oak-based education advocacy and research organization — is based on 10 years' worth of data on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an exam given regularly to a representative sample of fourth, eighth- and 12th-graders nationwide.
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Cheating on standardized tests? Washington state to keep closer watch
The Seattle Times
When Washington state switches to the new, Common Core tests in spring 2015, it will, for the first time, do the kind of post-test analyses that many experts recommend to detect any cheating, like the problems that have cropped up in Georgia and a number of other states. Recently, the Inspector General's office at the U.S. Department of Education joined those urging all states to do such analyses, saying neglecting them would be a "missed opportunity to detect and prevent cheating." That recommendation was part of an audit of test security in five states: Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina and Texas.
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US official pushes for more education technology in Utah schools
The Salt Lake Tribune
Children as young as 3 or 4 can benefit greatly from technology, but educators have been slow to adopt digital devices in preschool classrooms, a U.S. Department of Education deputy secretary said in Salt Lake City. Libby Doggett, who heads up the Obama administration's early-childhood education office, spent the day touring Granite School District's innovative preschool program and spoke at an event sponsored in the afternoon by the Waterford Institute.
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Sign up for April 9 webinar on grit and determination
NAESP
What allows some students to take on challenges more easily? On Wednesday, April 9, join presenter Jim Grant for a discussion on grit and motivation. Participants will leave this webinar with tips, tricks, and strategies to help students learn to positively respond to failure.
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Recognize student excellence with the President's Education Awards
NAESP
Celebrate achievement in your school with the President's Education Awards Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, PEAP offers principals a way to recognize and honor students' dedication to learning. Each award includes an embossed certificate signed by President Barack Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and you.
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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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