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Does Common Core ask too much of kindergarten readers?
MindShift
Sandwiched between preschool and first grade, kindergarteners often start school at very different stages of development depending on their exposure to preschool, home environments and biology. For the first time, the Common Core includes kindergarten in academic standards laying out what students should be able to do by the end of the grade. Kindergartners are expected to know basic phonics and word recognition as well as read beginner texts, skills some childhood development experts argue are developmentally inappropriate. These critics caution that pushing kindergarteners to move too quickly into reading can cause gaps in foundational thinking crucial for strong reading.
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It takes courage to make schools better
Edutopia
Courage is not something that is reserved for leaders. Anyone who wants to see a school improve needs it — and needs to be prepared to initiate and participate in courageous conversations. As an example, let me tell you briefly about besa. This is a main value in Albanian culture. When the Nazis overran Albania in World War II, they demanded all the Jews be turned over for termination. Because of besa — the value of protecting guests even at the cost of one's own life — the people of Albania, without having meetings or being asked, took all the Jews into their families.
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Coding from kindergarten to graduation
District Administration Magazine
We interact with computing devices every day — so should we have a better understanding of the science behind them? An increasing number of districts are saying yes. This year, 25 states require computer science courses for high school graduation, compared to only 11 states in 2013, according to the Computer Science Teachers Association. Districts are teaching basic coding to students as early as kindergarten, embedding computer science principles into core curriculum and mandating computer science courses for graduation. The lessons teach students logical reasoning, algorithmic thinking and structured problem-solving — concepts and skills that are valuable in any discipline, proponents say.
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Do the arts go hand in hand with Common Core?
The Hechinger Report
Fourteen-year-old Zarria Porter spends her days surrounded by fine works of art. On her way to dance and computer classes, she passes through a sun-drenched lobby showcasing Georgia O'Keeffe's "Brooklyn Bridge," Albert Bierstadt's "In the Mountains" and her personal favorite, "Song of the Towers" by Aaron Douglas. This is Zarria's middle school. It is modeled after elite private prep schools, filled with high-quality reproductions of famous paintings from around the world. But Zarria is a student in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of New York City's poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods, and her school is a public charter.
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Key to vocabulary gap is quality of conversation, not dearth of words
Education Week
For 20 years, a chasm of words has yawned between the children of college-educated professionals and those of high school dropouts, quantifying the academic disadvantage faced by the latter group long before they even start school. That statistic has led to a generation of vocabulary-centered interventions to close achievement gaps, including the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, the Clinton Foundation's "Too Small to Fail" initiative and many others.
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Brain science: Should schools teach boys and girls different subjects?
The Washington Post
Among the more thought-provoking discoveries in the emerging science regarding the teen brain is the fact that the pace of brain development differs in males and females. In her best-selling book, "The Teenage Brain," Frances Jensen discusses how the part of the brain that processes information grows during childhood and then starts to pare down, reaching a peak level of cognitive development when girls are between 12 and 13 years old and when boys are 15- to 16-years-old, generally speaking.
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Students learn to write by teaching this robot
EdTech Magazine
A team of Swiss researchers have created a robot-powered education app that is opening new pathways for learning by turning students into teachers. The NAO CoWriter Project helps students learn handwriting by teaching techniques to a 23-inch humanoid robot. The open-source app walks students through writing each letter, and then the robot performs its own handwriting on a tablet. Students then get a chance to correct the performance, and the robot gets a chance to improve its work.
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A better recess using rock-paper-scissors
Dr. Melinda Bossenmeye
Students at Jefferson Elementary School are participating in a new playground program designed to reduce conflicts during recess time. The solution is Rock, Paper, Scissors and it’s part of the Peaceful Playground Program. “Boys and girls take turns,” Biddle said. “If there is a problem they do rock, paper, scissors or talk it out.” Third-grader Carlos Biddle said that the playground is friendlier than it was last year.
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Promoted by Dr. Melinda Bossenmeye




Top principals expand reach to multiple schools
Education Week
Two big-city school districts are piloting initiatives to expand the reach of their successful principals by allowing those leaders to manage two schools simultaneously. The hope is that the selected principals will produce the same high achievement in the additional school they are responsible for managing. The pilot programs in Clark County, Nev., and Denver — which borrow tenets from franchising in the business world — are an attempt to solve a persistent conundrum in K-12: how to scale the successes of exceptional school leaders and maximize their exposure to more teachers and students.
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How does a teacher's race affect which students get to be identified as gifted?
The Washington Post
Black students are more likely to be identified as "gifted" when they attend schools with higher proportions of black teachers, according to a new study, and Latino students are more likely to be called gifted when they go to schools with more Latino teachers. The study doesn't get at why there is such a correlation, but it adds another layer to a long-simmering debate about why black and Latino children are less likely to be called "gifted" than their white and Asian peers.
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Standing desks keep kids better tuned in
THE Journal
Children who stand at their desks instead of sitting stay on task better, according to a new research project by a team at Texas A&M University. The preliminary results suggest that students improve their ability to stay on task by 12 percent. That's the equivalent of gaining an extra seven minutes per hour of instruction time. The research was led by members of the Department of Educational Psychology from the Texas institution as well as a member of the School of Public Health & Information Sciences from the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
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Could sharing iPads boost achievement?
eSchool News
Students who shared iPads significantly outperformed their peers in one-to-one classrooms and in classrooms without iPads, according to data from a Northwestern University researcher. According to the International Communication Association, researcher Courtney Blackwell studied 352 kindergarten students in a Midwestern suburban school district that was in the middle of an iPad implementation.
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Report pushes for new look at STEM definition, training
Education Week
A new report calls for an expanded view of the term "STEM workforce." Consequently, it highlights the need for more STEM education and training in the K-12 sphere and beyond. The study by the National Science Foundation's National Science Board says this training is important even for students who aren't considering traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) because those skills are transferable to other areas, including sales, marketing and management. Simply put, STEM skills will make anyone more marketable for high-paying, high-demand jobs, even in fields like marketing, sales or management, according to the report.
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Only alternative for some students sitting out standardized tests: Do nothing
The New York Times
Richard Hughes, the superintendent of Central Valley School District in upstate New York, is being haunted by two minivans and an S.U.V. All three vehicles have been circulating around town with painted-on messages of protest. One message, "refuse NYS testing," is directed at parents. But another is clearly aimed at Dr. Hughes and his school board: "Central Valley sit and stare policy," it says, punctuated on either side by a frowny face.
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Thousands of students opt out of Common Core tests in protest
The Associated Press via PBS Newshour
Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance. This "opt-out" movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing.
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The importance of connected schools
Scholastic Administrator Magazine
To test his network in preparation for the Common Core–aligned PARCC assessment, Keith Bockwoldt packed a gymnasium with 225 iPad-wielding students and asked them to all fire up YouTube videos at the same time. The trial went off without a hitch. "We didn't have any buffering or any loss of connectivity," says Bockwoldt, director of technology services for Township High School District 214 in northern Illinois. "A couple of years ago, we wouldn't have had enough bandwidth to support that."
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Education Department reminds schools they can't ignore LGBT harassment
The Huffington Post
The U.S. Department of Education released guidance to remind schools that they must respond to reports of harassment based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and that each school is expected to have a Title IX coordinator handling such cases. The Education Department's Dear Colleague letter and resource guide is the latest step in the Obama administration's ramping up of enforcement under Title IX, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex in K-12 schools and colleges. The department clarified in a major 2011 release that colleges must address allegations of sexual assault on campus, and last year it said that Title IX protects gay and transgender students from discrimination as well.
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More Kansas schools to close early for lack of funds
The Huffington Post
Six school districts in Kansas will close early this year, following budget cuts signed in March by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Two school districts, Concordia Unified School District and Twin Valley Unified School District, announced earlier this month that they would end the year early because they lacked the funds to keep the schools open. Recently, four more districts confirmed they would also shorten their calendars, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
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In Texas, questions about prosecuting truancy
NPR
As long as there have been schools and classes, there have have been students who don't show up. And educators scratching their heads over what to do about it. In most states, missing a lot of school means a trip to the principal's office. In Texas, parents and students are more likely to end up in front of a judge. Truancy there is treated as a criminal offense, a class C misdemeanor. In 2013, school districts in the state filed 115,000 truancy cases. The problem is so big, state lawmakers and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating whether prosecuting children and teenagers in adult criminal courts is doing more harm than good.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    As student tests move online, keyboarding enters curriculum (The Associated Press)
5 tech tools that support Common Core State Standards (The Journal)
A new era in teaching: The rise of personalized learning (By: Brian Stack)
Simple exercises to improve ELL reading skills — Part 3 (By: Douglas Magrath)
Administrators: How to get out of the office and into classrooms (Edutopia)

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




Register for May 5 webinar on home and school connections
NAESP
Dr. Searetha Smith-Collins, Educational Strategist, Executive Consultant, and Author of the popular book, "An Agenda for Equity: Responding to the Needs of Diverse Learners (2012) has done extensive work in Pre-K-12 education, including discussing best practices for ensuring that students and schools are prepared for today's educational issues and challenges. Bringing together research, practical knowledge and experiences as teacher, principal, reading specialist, curriculum and instruction specialist, superintendent, and parent, she will discuss the optimal mix of ingredients needed for leveraging talent, both in school and at home.
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Principals' Help Line: Answers, just for principals
NAESP
As a principal, usually, you're the one with all the answers — but where do you turn when you're the one with the questions? The Principals' Help Line is the place to start. This confidential, members-only advice portal allows principals to receive, via email, ideas and advice from veteran members of NAESP's National Principal Mentor Program. Have a pressing question? Submit now and receive the solutions you need to be a better school leader.
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