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What would happen if the state took over your school district?
The Atlantic
How bad does a public school system need to be for the state to take over? Are low student test scores alone enough? And what is a realistic time frame for the state to either turn schools around or restore local control? The looming prospects of state takeovers are making headlines from Maryland to Ohio, as lawmakers express frustration with the glacial pace of school improvement and stagnant student achievement. Proponents of state takeovers say this drastic measure is the best way of promoting radical change in failing schools, improving accountability, and giving students access to better programs and services.
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Bill Gates: A fairer way to evaluate teachers
The Washington Post (commentary)
Tom Brady may be the best quarterback in football, but he is also infamously, hilariously slow. YouTube videos of his 40-yard dash have gotten many thousands of hits from sports fans looking for a good laugh. If the New England Patriots had chosen a quarterback based only on foot speed, they would have missed out on three Super Bowl victories. But National Football League teams ask prospects to run, jump and lift weights. They interview them for hours. They watch game film. In short, they use multiple measures to determine the best players.
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Keeping cursive in the classroom
District Administration Magazine
In 2014, elementary students in 45 states must know how to type on a computer when the new Common Core State Standards are implemented, but some states are holding on to an old, basic skill — the art of cursive handwriting. The movement to keep this form of writing alive in 21st century classrooms is growing. Over a year ago, education leaders and researchers met at The Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit to discuss the role of handwriting instruction and the benefits of handwriting instruction, which include improved literacy and overall academic achievement.
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Engaging learners through games: Help or hype?
eSchool News
"Engagement" has become a popular buzzword, as educators increasingly cite disengaged students as a problem that needs to be fixed. In this context, games are often trumpeted as the perfect tool for creating student engagement. But what do we really know about how engagement works? What opportunities and risks do games present as tools for increasing engagement? And how can educators judge whether a game product truly helps drive student engagement or is merely hype?
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Math and science the right way
ED.gov Blog (commentary)
"That's it! I'm digging in!" With that, a third grader at Griggs Elementary in Mobile, Ala., pulled on his surgical glove to examine an owl pellet for rodent bones. Engaging explorations in STEM content are daily occurrences for the young mathematicians and scientists-in-training at Griggs and other schools throughout the state of Alabama. Here, students benefit from rigorous, hands on, investigative science and math instruction provided through a partnership with the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, or AMSTI. This state-funded initiative partners with K-12 schools to ramp up the integration of STEM education at the elementary school level.
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Prekindergarten program boosts children's skills
Society for Research in Child Development via Science Daily
Boston Public Schools' prekindergarten program is substantially improving children's readiness to start kindergarten, according to a new study of more than 2,000 children enrolled there. The program uses research-based curricula and coaching of teachers, is taught primarily by masters-level teachers, and is open to any child regardless of family income. The study, out of Harvard University, appears in the journal Child Development. Some of the study's findings on the effects of the program are the largest found to date in evaluations of large-scale public prekindergarten programs.
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Hiring heats up in K-12 teaching specialties
U.S. News & World Report
Big changes in education, driven by changing curriculum standards, demographics and diagnoses of kids with special needs, are creating opportunities for graduates with the right skill sets. Josh Fernandez is one new teacher who has capitalized on these changes. In 2008, Fernandez, a communications grad of East Carolina University, began working as a paraprofessional at Maryland's Gaithersburg High School, helping a paraplegic student with his day-to-day activities.
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How 3 districts are tracking student data
eSchool News
Education stakeholders and reformers increasingly focus on data to help inform instruction and offer clues on student achievement patterns, and a partnership among three organizations aims to help districts use data in pursuit of those goals. "Closing the Gap: Turning Data into Action" is a collaboration among the American Association of School Administrators, Consortium for School Networking and Gartner Inc., a global information technology research and advisory company, to support schools as they move forward in implementing these new systems and practices.
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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.


Discussions on classroom technology ask wrong questions, experts say
Desert News
In the education community, there is a common analogy comparing emerging technologies and blended learning models with the common pencil. The concept behind the analogy is a hypothetical world where writing, pencils and books do not exist. Then, when the pencil appears as an emerging technology, as tablet devices and competency-based learning programs are now, the question is whether it would be quickly embraced, or whether policymakers would call for pencil pilot programs to study their effect on classroom learning.
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Getting the best people into the toughest jobs
Center for American Progress (commentary)
It is indisputable that teachers and principals have the greatest impact on student learning. Unfortunately, the education system has hired and tenured thousands of ineffective teachers and principals, particularly in high-poverty urban and rural schools. As a consequence, these schools have low levels of student learning.To remedy this problem, the nation is engaged in multiple activities to get effective teachers into all classrooms and effective principals into all schools through more "strategic management" of education talent. Strategic talent management is an approach that manages all human resource programs — recruitment, selection, placement, development, evaluation, tenure, promotion, dismissal and compensation — around a set of effectiveness metrics that capture instructional practice and student-learning growth.
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Measuring good teachers
Scholastic Administrator
When the eight-day Chicago teachers' strike ended last fall, organized labor celebrated a big win, but not over salary raises. The new contract bumped teacher pay by about 18 percent — far short of the 30 percent increase the union was seeking. Instead, teachers claimed a victory over Mayor Rahm Emanuel on an issue not directly tied to money. A major focus of the fight, it turned out, was evaluation — specifically, how much of a teacher's evaluation should be based on student test scores.
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How districts are increasing student access to technology
EdTech Magazine
In just a year and a half, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories must begin new -computerized student assessments that align with the Common Core State Standards they've adopted. The testing will replace existing state assessments for schools that have moved to Common Core curricula in mathematics and English, which aim to ensure that students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and the workplace.
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The thirst for charter schools
Chicago Tribune (commentary)
It's no secret that this page strongly supports charter schools. That support is based on the outstanding performance of the best charter schools, on the growing demand from parents and students for more education options and on the vast potential for innovation at these schools. Charter schools attract excellent young teachers and offer them wide latitude to reach students. The schools pour money into the classroom, not into bureaucracy. Many charters generate impressive results where it matters most: in student performance.
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Why schools filter with Blue Coat
EdTech Magazine
For school districts struggling to comply with Web-filtering requirements mandated by the Children's Internet Protection Act and E-Rate, deciding what to block isn't always clear-cut. "It really depends on school culture and the community in which you're based," says Daniel Vomastek, director of information and technology systems for Portage Public Schools in southwest Michigan. "I've worked in three districts, and each one was different."
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Schools struggle to provide dental health safety net
KQED News
As California educators grapple with boosting student achievement across economic lines, the teeth of poor children are holding them back. Hundreds of thousands of children suffering from dental disease, some with teeth rotted to the gum line, are presenting California school districts with a widespread public health problem. Increasingly, dental health advocates are looking to school districts to help solve the crisis. Innovative oral health care projects have been launched in school districts around the state that provide students with no-cost dental screening or treatment. Insurance companies are billed whenever possible.
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Engaging learners through games: Help or hype?
eSchool News
"Engagement" has become a popular buzzword, as educators increasingly cite disengaged students as a problem that needs to be fixed. In this context, games are often trumpeted as the perfect tool for creating student engagement.

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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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US Senate set to consider school safety bill
Education Week
School districts would be able to tap into grants to help upgrade their safety infrastructure, under a measure set for consideration in the U.S. Senate. The legislation, which also includes gun control measures, represents Congress' first big legislative response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.
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Hey kids, let's get cooking!
ED.gov Blog (commentary)
First Lady Michelle Obama is once again challenging America's most creative junior chefs to put their talents to good use and whip up some delicious lunchtime recipes. Let's Move! is thrilled to announce the Second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids' State Dinner, a nationwide recipe challenge that originated to promote healthy eating among America's youth, sponsored by The White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious.
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Report: State kindergarten policies show inequities
Education Week
In 11 states and the District of Columbia, full-day kindergarten is a requirement, but in five states, the decision to offer kindergarten is left up to individual districts. A "full day" of kindergarten ranges from four to seven hours, depending on where a child lives. And in 35 states, kindergarten attendance is not mandated even if kindergarten is available. The wide variation in kindergarten policies means that some children are not receiving strong early-learning opportunities, even as all children are being held to rigorous academic standards, says a recent report from the Denver-based Education Commission of the States.
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Crucible of change in Memphis, Tenn., as state takes on failing schools
The New York Times
Not far off a scruffy boulevard lined with dollar stores and payday loan shops in a neighborhood of run-down brick bungalows, Corning Achievement Elementary School here is a pristine refuge, with gleaming tile floors and signs in classrooms proclaiming "Whatever it takes." In this Mississippi River town marked by pockets of entrenched poverty, some of the worst schools in the state are in the midst of a radical experiment in reinventing public education.
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California districts' waiver bid now in review phase
Education Week
The U.S. Department of Education and a band of outside peer reviewers are now weighing the details of a precedent-setting waiver application from nine districts in California that want flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act even though their state's bid for a waiver was unsuccessful. If approved, it would be the first time the federal department has granted such sweeping flexibility to individual districts. Until now, states have been the only recipients of the broad NCLB waivers first announced by President Barack Obama in 2011 — and only if they agreed to the strings attached, such as implementing teacher-evaluation systems linked to student test scores.
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Kentucky moves 173 school districts to the cloud
Government Technology
In Kentucky, a private cloud now handles the financial information of 173 school districts, and according to state education leaders, other school districts and states should consider something similar. Kentucky faced a choice when it wanted to move to the next generation of its Tyler Technologies financial system: Switch all of its school districts to a different database engine, operating system and server, or move to the cloud.
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Scandal in Atlanta reignites debate over tests' role
The New York Times
There are few more contentious issues in public education than the increased reliance on standardized testing. In the context of a fiery debate, the Atlanta school cheating scandal, the largest in recent history, detonates like a bomb, fueling critics who say that standardized testing as a way to measure student achievement should be scaled back. Evidence of systemic cheating has emerged in as many as a dozen places across the country, and protests in Chicago, New York City, Seattle, across Texas and elsewhere represent a growing backlash among educators and parents against high-stakes testing.
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Fiction novel opens the door to life skills in Louisiana district
District Administration Magazine
Starting this April, 1,500 eighth graders across nine middle schools in the Ouachita Parish School System in Monroe, La., will learn the keys of character building and life skills through a new pilot program based on a fantasy fiction novel. Author and leadership consultant Scotty Sanders says he wrote "Quest of the Keys" to teach young adults the importance of developing personal character and life skills, such as dealing with bullying, responsibility, preparation and critical thinking.
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Don't miss Jeans and Jerseys
NAESP
Join NAESP for Jeans and Jerseys, a star-studded bash to kick off the 2013 NAESP Conference. On Wednesday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m., the Center Club in Baltimore will come to life with music, food, drinks, a silent auction and a book signing with bestselling author James Patterson. Proceeds from the event will support NAESP's student leadership programs. Visit the conference website for more information about Jeans and Jerseys, along with other exciting preconference festivities.
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Apply for leadership grant from I Am A Leader
NAESP
I Am A Leader is a private grant-making foundation dedicated to sponsoring programs that build character and leadership skills in students around the world. It offers grants to elementary schools with principals, teachers, staff and parents who demonstrate commitment toward long-term implementation of "The Leader in Me" process, based on the life work of Dr. Stephen R. Covey. The organization is accepting applications now, and the deadline is April 30.
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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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