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Common Core passes field test — with a few snags
District Administration Magazine
Field testing for the Common Core assessments wrapped up in June, with districts in 36 states reporting mostly successful first runs despite some challenges around technology, test questions and scheduling. Some four million students in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers participated in the trial run. Most field tests last 2.5 to 4.5 hours, depending on subject and grade level. The actual tests will take between 7.5 and 10 hours, spread out over two weeks.
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Skill development with after-school programs
By: Archita Datta Majumdar
What started as a novel idea has now become an important development for parents and administrations alike. In the last two decades, after-school programs have mushroomed across the length and breadth of the country. In doing so, quality after-school programs have shown how they have positively affected the youth of the nation. The after-school hours of 3-6 p.m. are ripe for juvenile crime, and the increase in these programs are a great way to keep the kids constructively engaged and under adult supervision.
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Report: US children read, but not well or often
Reuters
Although American children still spend part of their days reading, they are spending less time doing it for pleasure than decades ago, with significant gaps in proficiency, according to a report. The San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media, which focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, published the report, which brings together information from several national studies and databases.
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Study: You really can 'work smarter, not harder'
The Atlantic
Learning is more effective if a lesson or experience is deliberately coupled with time spent thinking about what was just presented, a new study shows. A team of researchers from HEC Paris, Harvard Business School, and the University of North Carolina conducted what they call the first empirical test of the effect of reflection on learning. By "reflection," they mean taking time after a lesson to synthesize, abstract or articulate the important points.
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More school districts rethink zero-tolerance policies
NPR
When a child is suspended or expelled, it rarely improves his behavior or his academics. One school in Houston has adopted an old technique to handle student disputes: the healing circle.
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The key to preparing difficult students for the real world
Edutopia
Some of the best and most effective practices to motivate difficult students and improve their behavior at school are met with skepticism and even dismay from more than a handful of educators. These educators argue that using such practices fails to prepare kids for the real world.
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Using games to measure student skills
eSchool News
Game-based learning is one of the most popular trends in education today, and for good reason–a well-designed game engages students, boosts their interest in the topic it addresses, and immerses students in an educational and challenge-driven environment in an almost seamless manner. But this is just scratching the surface. Many researchers and educators say games have a positive impact on student learning and that they help students develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration.
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Study: Outdoor exercise is more beneficial than indoor for children
Science World Report
As statistics show that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, many after school programs have pushed for greater physical activity, particularly outdoors. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom hones in on the advantages of outdoor activities. Findings showed that children who spent more time involved in exercise outdoors decreased their risk for obesity and other weight-related health issues.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    The single biggest task facing every successful school leader (Forbes)
Making mistakes is the key to learning (By: Brian Stack)
New research into bullying and its effect on children's mental health (Medical News Today)
Turning data into action (District Administration Magazine)
School districts get advice on 'doing more with less' (Education Week)

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


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Research detects bias in classroom observations
Education Week
As the rubber hits the road in the implementation of states’ revamped teacher-evaluation systems, new research illuminates a troubling source of bias. School principals — when conducting classroom observations — appear to give some teachers an unfair boost based on the students they're assigned to teach, rather than based on their own instructional savvy. Observers tended to give the best marks to teachers whose incoming students were high performing, while those teachers working with academically struggling students were penalized, according to an analysis of thousands of observation scores.
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Big gaps in pre-K availability nationwide, report finds
TIME
Despite widespread political campaigning on pre-kindergarten education programs, a new study finds the reality doesn't quite match the rhetoric, with enrollment figures falling and ten states with no programs at all. A new survey of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs finds a wide disparity in the availability of early education nationwide, as enrollment figures fell for the first time in over a decade.
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What students really think about technology in the classroom
The Hechinger Report
The grownups who make and debate education policy disagree about a lot of things, but they often take it as a given that kids love technology. And tapping into that love of gadgetry and games is a way to make students "more engaged" in learning, or so many believe. Interviews with students in the middle-income, rural district of Quakertown, on the outskirts of Philadelphia’s suburbs, suggest that kids' relationship with technology in school is more complicated than the adults may have imagined.
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Teaching that's tailored to learners
The Christian Science Monitor
Sometimes a new idea seems so obvious that we slap our foreheads and wonder what we were thinking all along. In the early 19th century, the German educator Friedrich Froebel came up with the idea that young children should be encouraged in what they naturally want to do: play. Teachers could help them along through games and other forms of loosely structured education, bearing in mind that each child learns at a different pace. The charming word he gave to his concept is now used worldwide: kindergarten.
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Digital education is supposed to transform public education, but many schools can't even get online
The Hechinger Report
To technology advocates, these scenes are a vision of how technology could transform American classrooms. With a computer — or a laptop, or tablet or even a smart phone — in every student and every teacher's hand, the idea is that school will be better tailored to students' needs and also better able to prepare them for the sorts of high-skilled, technology-centric jobs that will dominate in the future. It could even help close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students.
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Which digital media are worthy of classroom use?
EdTech Magazine
Finding great educational apps for classroom use is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. Ask a teacher or instructional technology specialist for guidance — let alone a definitive source of high-quality, high-value content — and they'll likely respond that "It really depends on what you consider to be educational." The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of loosely categorized and sorted "educational" technology products in online marketplaces right now. Separating the wheat from the chaff — that is, finding relevant tools that match teachers' specific needs — can be difficult.
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How to stop worrying and love your tech
Scholastic Administrator Magazine
Steven Anderson and his team at Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in North Carolina are used to dealing with tech newbies. They train and support 4,000 teachers on a variety of equipment and software. But when one experienced, and respected, teacher said that she simply did not want to use technology in her classroom, it became the group's challenge to change her mind. "She told her principal that she taught well enough and she had data to show that her kids were growing," recalls Anderson, the North Carolina district's director of instructional technology.
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School segregation across the country proves students are still separate
The Huffington Post
While many of the major gains in the South since the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education have been reversed in recent years, a new report says that, at the very least, things are not as bad as they were before the court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools.
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Report finds weak link between value-added measures and teacher instruction
U.S. News & World Report
A spreading method of teacher performance that places significant importance on student growth measures has a weak to nonexistent link with teacher performance, according to new research published Tuesday. Morgan Polikoff and Andrew Porter, two education experts, analyzed the relationships between "value-added model" measures of teacher performance and the content or quality of teachers' instruction by evaluating data from 327 fourth and eighth grade math and English teachers in six school districts. The weak relationships made them question whether the data would be useful in evaluating teachers or improving classroom instruction, the report says.
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Is 8th grade too early to pick a career?
National Journal
If you want middle and high school students to give greater thought to their career paths, one key step is to hire and train good guidance counselors. So goes one of the primary lessons from South Carolina's nearly nine-year experiment to bring career counseling into its public school classrooms as a way to better connect graduating students to the ever-changing demands of the labor market. "We want students to become more aware of their career choices and understand the ideas in terms of salaries and the job market outlook," says Dr. Sabrina Moore of the South Carolina Education Department.
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Using games to measure student skills
eSchool News
Game-based learning is one of the most popular trends in education today, and for good reason–a well-designed game engages students, boosts their interest in the topic it addresses, and immerses students in an educational and challenge-driven environment in an almost seamless manner.

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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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Education Department: Civil Rights laws apply equally to charters
Education Week
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued guidance clarifying that charter schools have the same obligations to abide by federal civil rights laws as regular public schools. The "Dear Colleague" letter by Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon includes specific guidance for charter schools related to admissions, students with disabilities, English language learners, and discipline.
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District offers retired principals as coaches for new ones
Omaha World-Herald
Laura Croom settled into a chair in Greg Betts' office at Nebraska's Westside's Sunset Hills Elementary before school one morning and asked how things were working out with his plan to use an iPad to videotape teachers as part of his evaluations. Betts said he didn't have to take down everything, as he would if he were just taking notes. And he could play back the videos and go over details of their techniques with the teachers. "I think it's worked out great," he said. The give and take between Betts, a first-year principal, and Croom, a veteran Westside principal who retired last year, is part of a slightly different tack that the Westside Community Schools have taken this year in providing professional development for principals.
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NAESP calls for lawmakers' support on pre-K bill
NAESP
The Strong Start for America's Children Act, supported by NAESP, was passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. NAESP applauds the committee's approval of this legislation, which would invest in high-quality prekindergarten programs for low-income families. NAESP urges both the Senate and the House to pass this important bipartisan legislation.
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Being, leading and teaching introverts
NAESP
Susan Cain is leading a "Quiet Revolution." Cain, author of the bestselling "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," sat down with NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly to explore the role principals play in supporting introverts. Listen to the latest episode of NAESP Radio for the full, fascinating discussion.
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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.

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