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Expert calls students' science scores 'unacceptable'
The Huffington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
About a third of eighth-graders who took a national science exam in 2011 were proficient, according to results released Thursday, a statistic called "unacceptable" by a teachers association leader. Average scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress science test inched up two points from 150 in 2009 to 152 (out of 300) in 2011, the U.S. Department of Education's research arm reported, but experts are cautioning against calling it a victory. More

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The ABCs of beating obesity
The Wall Street Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Obesity is so entrenched in the U.S. that it would take an intense push by schools, employers, doctors and others to reverse an epidemic that accounts for billions of dollars in annual health care costs, concluded a report. The report by the Institute of Medicine, an influential independent body that advises the federal government on health policy, recommended requiring at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day in schools and considering excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages. It urged food companies to improve nutritional standards for foods marketed to people under 18 years old, recommending that mandatory standards be considered at all levels of government if the companies don't adopt their own. More



Education and the path to a sexually healthy nation
Education Week (commentary)    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Science and evidence are making a comeback in many of America's classrooms, and not a moment too soon. After a decade of denial in which more than $1 billion in federal money was spent on failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, many local communities are moving toward a model of evidence-based sex education that helps young people delay too-early sexual activity while also providing accurate information about condoms and birth control. This welcome news provides educators and advocates with an opportunity to assess our progress and chart a path toward further improving sexual health education for America's youths. More

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Why more schools aren't teaching Web literacy — and how they can start
eSchool News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In 1998, a 15-year-old high school student used the personal website of a professor at Northwestern University, Arthur Butz, as justification for writing a history paper called "The Historic Myth of Concentration Camps." That student, who we will call Zack, had been encouraged to use the internet for research, but he had not been taught to decode the meaning of the characters in a web address. When he read the web address, http://pubweb.northwestern.edu/~abutz/di/intro.html, he assumed that the domain name "northwestern.edu" automatically meant it was a credible source. He did not understand that the "~" character, inserted after the domain name, should be read as a personal Web page and not an official document of the university. As with any media, punctuation counts. It turns out that validating content is not rocket science. Even a first-grade student can begin to understand the organization of information on the Web. More



Fruit, fiber and recommendations for healthier schoolkids
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When the Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust for America's Health presented a set of recommendations to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, they may not have expected to hear a tale about dancing vegetables. The groups are pushing for changes, noting the connection between student achievement and students who are healthy, well-fed, well-rested, and attend schools without fear of being bullied or injured. More

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Should students evaluate their teachers?
Edutopia (commentary)    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Colleges and universities routinely survey students regarding their instructors as part of the instructor evaluation and program evaluation. Should K-12 teachers do it too? Schools do not do this on an institutional basis, but student feedback can be valuable for shaping instruction, if teachers are brave enough to ask for it. More

Should kindergarteners use iPads in the classroom?
Government Technology    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Children under a certain age once played with toy computers to simulate the experience of working on the real thing. But in recent years, children as young as 2 and 3 years old have bypassed the step of starting out with a toy version of a piece of technology and are now playing on iPads and other devices before they start kindergarten. Schools are left to decide if the use of devices like iPads should be integrated into class curriculums. While some education officials praise the newer strategy for aiding learning, others claim devices like iPads have no place in the classroom. More

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FCC tells phone companies to follow low-price rule for schools
ProPublica    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
After 15 years of neglect, federal regulators are finally planning to tell phone companies selling services to schools and libraries how to comply with a rule requiring them to charge bargain prices. Last week ProPublica revealed that the Federal Communications Commission had failed to provide guidance for the low pricing rule case since the 1997 launch of the school program, called E-Rate. Lawsuits and other legal actions in four states turned up evidence that AT&T and Verizon charged local school districts much higher rates than it gave to similar customers or more than what the program allowed. More

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Districts draw the line on school meal debt
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
School districts have resorted to hiring debt collectors, employing constables, and swapping out standard meals for scaled-back versions to try to coerce parents to pay off school lunch debt that, in recent years, appears to have surged as the result of a faltering economy and better record-keeping. While the average school lunch costs just about $2, when meals go unpaid repeatedly, cafeteria managers have found the debt adds up quickly. In New York City schools, for example, several years of uncollected meal payments led to the accumulation of $42 million in debt. Ultimately, the burden falls to cash-strapped districts to pay off if school food-service departments can't collect. Nutrition directors, under pressure from school boards about the losses, are clamoring for help from the federal government. More

Districts scrimp on summer school in Texas
Fort Worth Star-Telegram    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Some school districts are putting summer school programs on the chopping block as the latest victims of state budget cuts. The Fort Worth, Texas, school board is expected to adopt a summer school schedule that will eliminate the traditional summer school it once held for elementary students and replace it with a one-week remediation program. And the Birdville school district will no longer offer a summer program for fifth-graders who fail state-mandated tests, though some campuses may have programs funded with grants. More

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Pittsburgh schools seek to base layoffs on teachers' effectiveness
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
No one disputes that this fall will be a year of unsought change as Pittsburgh Public Schools battles a projected deficit. About 1 in 4 classroom teachers won't be back in the same school as staffs are reduced and class sizes are increased. Nearly 1 in 6 classroom teaching positions will be eliminated, leading to what is likely to be an unprecedented number of layoffs, depending on how many teachers retire or resign. District officials say the cuts may be so deep that they could affect elementary teachers with as many as seven years of experience. More

Kentucky students to face more rigorous state tests
The Courier-Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The standards are higher, the tests will be longer and more difficult, and the initial results could be grim. That's how school officials are describing the new era of state testing that will begin in schools across Kentucky over the next few weeks, when roughly 500,000 students in grades three to 12 will take tests in reading, math, science, social studies and writing. But while the subjects are the same, the kind of tests they will take and the way their schools will be judged will be vastly different. More

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California schools warn of grim future for students
Yahoo News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As California's public schools face reductions in staff levels, a new report reveals that teachers' stress levels are already on the rise. The state's university system, too, revealed that continued funding cuts are damaging the Golden State's ability to provide an affordable higher education to its students. More

Will Louisiana's new parent trigger law actually make a difference?
The Hechinger Report    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Louisiana became the fourth state in the country to put in place a controversial "parent trigger," joining California, Mississippi and Texas. The laws essentially allow parents to force through significant changes in governance or leadership at a struggling school through a majority vote. (Connecticut also has a parent trigger provision in place, but parents' ability to make changes are far more limited.) It will remain to be seen whether Louisiana's parent trigger has any practical effect, however. More

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Florida Board of Education approves school grade changes
The Associated Press via The Tampa Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The state Board of Education approved additional changes in how school grades are calculated, despite concerns from district leaders who say the adjustments will unfairly penalize disabled students and English learners. At its meeting in Tampa, Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson proposed five amendments to school grade changes adopted in February. He said the changes were necessary in order to comply with current state statute and Florida's No Child Left Behind waiver. More

Michigan is making changes to add clarity to school ratings system
Detroit Free Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Parents would get clearer information about the quality of schools under a change state officials are making to revamp the school report card system. The Michigan Department of Education, as part of a request to waive some of the rules of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, had planned to create scorecards for each school that would assign green, yellow or red ratings based on how well the schools met academic goals. But under that system, most schools would be rated yellow — meaning they had met most of the goals, but not all. And a coalition of groups said in a letter to state Superintendent Mike Flanagan last week that most schools in urban areas such as Detroit would receive red ratings, meaning they hadn't met most or any of the goals. More

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Garden helps Sandy Spring Friends School students learn to grow nutritious food
The Washington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Can the food you throw out today help put fresh healthy food on your plate in the future? Yes, say students at Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland. There's been a community garden since 2006, but until this year it was run by volunteers. Now, under the guidance of two full-time farmers who are Sandy Spring graduates, the farm is quickly becoming a place where teachers can extend their lessons in science, nutrition or healthful living by giving all 570 students, from pre-K to high school, some hands-on experience during the year. Using raised planting beds outside their classrooms or several acres of plowed fields, kids help grow dozens of different vegetables and herbs for their school cafeteria. More

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Getting lessons on water by designing a playground
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The sixth-graders at Stephen A. Halsey Junior High School 157 in Queens, N.Y., have a tough assignment before them: design a new playground that will transform a sea of black asphalt at their school into a recreational oasis — and, while they are at it, help clean up New York City's waterways. More



Free webinar Monday on Common Core
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Get ready to implement the Common Core standards at your school with a free one-hour webinar from NAESP. An encore presentation of "Dialogues on the Common Core" will be held Monday, May 14, from 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Join Lucille Davy, a national expert on the standards, and Kenny Jones, a Wyoming principal preparing his school for implementation, for Common Core tips and tricks. More

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Invite a colleague to join NAESP and win free creative products
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When you sign up to support NAESP membership growth by recruiting JUST ONE new member, you'll be automatically entered in a drawing to win $100 in free Crayola products for your school. The May drawing closes midnight on May 31, so join the JUST ONE team now. More
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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 Cynthia Rosso at crosso@naesp.org.
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