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At retooled summer schools, creativity, not just catch-up
The New York Times
Just a few years ago, school districts around the country were slashing summer classes as the economic downturn eviscerated their budgets. Now, despite continuing budgetary challenges, districts are re-envisioning summer school as something more than a compulsory exercise where students who need to make up lost credits fight to stay awake inside humid classrooms. According to the National Summer Learning Association, a nonprofit group, 25 of the country’s largest school districts — including Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh; and Providence, R.I. — have developed summer school programs that move beyond the traditional remedial model.
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Primary, middle level students show gains
The Wall Street Journal
U.S. elementary and middle-school students have made notable gains on national math and reading exams since the early 1970s, while high-school students have made none, according to data by federal education officials. African American and Hispanic children are making the most rapid progress, according to results from the long-term National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as NAEP. Still, minority children post lower scores than their white counterparts in every age group.
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New science standards designed for wide range of learners
Education Week
When the writers of the Next Generation Science Standards began sketching out a new vision for K-12 science education, they gave themselves a mandate: Develop standards with all students in mind, not just the high achievers already expected to excel in the subject. Now, three years later, their notion — that every student should get a deep, rigorous science education that would prepare them for demanding coursework, a college degree in the sciences, and a career that could follow — has helped produce a set of standards meant for the most-advanced science students, as well as students who previously may have been steered away from taking a science class, writers of the standards said.
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PARCC approves test performance-level descriptions by grade, subject
Education Week
PARCC, one of two groups of states designing tests for the common standards, has approved descriptions of the skills and knowledge that students must have, at each grade level and in each subject, to demonstrate specific levels of mastery on the assessments. At its quarterly meeting yesterday, the PARCC governing board approved its "performance level descriptors." The 215-page document goes grade by grade, from 3 through 11, in math and English/language arts, detailing the "claims" and "sub claims" that the test seeks to make about students' mastery and how they should be demonstrated.
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Should schools still teach cursive?
MindShift
Sophomore Andrew Forbes of Nashville, Tenn., used cursive everyday in elementary school, from third grade through eighth grade. He was required to write out all his papers, worksheets, and notes in the flowing line of slanted script. He finds cursive so much faster and easier than printing, he still uses it daily in high school.
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  • Study: Music education helps kids learn to read
    The Washington Post
    Arts educators have for years been telling school reformers obsessed with reading and math that the arts teach valuable skills and ways of thinking that can help academics. Here cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham writes about a study that shows a link between music training and reading. Willingham is a professor and director of graduate studies in psychology at the University of Virginia and author of "Why Don't Students Like School?" His latest book is "When Can You Trust The Experts? How to tell good science from bad in education." This appeared on his Science and Education blog.
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    What does it mean to be the lead learner?
    Connected Principal (commentary)
    Jessica Johnson, a contributor for Connected Principal, writes: "When people hear the word 'principal' I am sure that most picture someone sitting in the principal's office, waiting for students that have been kicked out of class. As our roles change, the term principal no longer seems to fit. I have found 'Lead Learner' to be an ideal role title that I strive to achieve each day. 'Lead Learner' is a term that I have often read from others on Twitter, although I believe this term was first coined by principal Joe Mazza (who calls himself a Lead Learner, not a principal)."
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    Study: Charters edge out neighborhood schools in special education
    Disability Scoop
    As charter schools continue to proliferate across the country, a new study finds that they are offering benefits for students with disabilities. In a report, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University compared the performance of students at charters with that of students attending traditional public schools in 25 states, the District of Columbia and in New York City. The analysis is an update to a similar report issued in 2009. Overall, the study finds that charters are improving, particularly when it comes to often-underserved groups like poor and minority students and those with disabilities.
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    Students speak up: Trust us with devices
    MindShift
    Ten-year-old Jude Koster of Dallas, Texas, said that he could show his teachers a thing or two on his iPod Touch or 3DS. Koster creates stop-motion animations and videos with original storylines and can cut, crop and blend digital photos he takes himself, too, all of which he taught himself how to do in his limited weekly screen time outside of school, says his mother Wendy Koster. While fourth grade didn't lend itself to much of an opportunity to use digital devices in his classroom — other than a few iPad games at the end of the year — computer use wasn't a large part of Koster's class time at his Montessori school. But Koster said his teachers may not realize what he's able to do with digital technology outside of the classroom.
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    The top 10 myths about preschool
    Center for American Progress
    Across the country, momentum is building for a large federal investment in early childhood education. Over the past few months, President Barack Obama, governors, business leaders and military officers have all spoken out in favor of expanding access to high-quality early childhood education programs. The Center for American Progress released a proposal in February to expand access to preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. And the Obama administration released a plan in the fiscal year 2014 budget to invest $75 billion over the next 10 years to provide all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with access to high-quality preschool programs through a state-federal partnership.
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    Report: Professional development for mobile learning improves student engagement and interest in STEM subjects
    THE Journal
    A professional development program to provide teachers with tools and strategies for using mobile learning in the classroom has had a positive effect on student engagement and interest in science, technology, engineering and math subjects, according to new research from the International Society for Technology in Education and the Verizon Foundation. The research findings, which were announced at the International Society for Technology in Education 2013 conference and expo taking place in San Antonio, Texas, report on results from the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program.
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    Teachers use PLCs to design e-portfolio system
    Lewisville Leader
    Teachers at Creekside Elementary School, in Lewisville, Texas, participated in teacher-led professional learning communities this year, in which they worked to develop and implement meaningful, varied assessments that inform and inspire students and educators for continuous improvement and growth in a way that transforms learning and teaching.
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    iPads in the classroom: Worth doing right
    InformationWeek (commentary)
    Simply purchasing slick devices like iPads for the classroom is hardly a recipe for educational success. The temptation to do so is a symptom of an exciting, and perhaps confusing, time in educational technology. Never have students at all grades been more tech savvy, and never have educators had such an astounding range of technical resources available to them for pedagogical use. Let's talk about why iPad programs don't always succeed.
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    Robots, apps support special education students
    District Administration Magazine
    A human-like robot that can mimic emotions and play interactive games can help students with autism develop social skills. Aldebaran Robotics' "ASK NAO" robot, which is about two feet tall, mimics an emotion with gestures and sounds, and waits for children to recognize the emotion. It may then ask children the last time they experienced such an emotion. It also can teach autistic children time, taking turns, basic conversation and other communication skills.
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    Charter school performance study finds small gains
    The Huffington Post
    Charter school students on average slightly outpace comparable public school kids in reading and tie them in math, according to a large study of academic performance that shows slow but steady charter school improvement in some states since 2009.

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    Are you ready to be a school principal?
    eSchool News
    Modeling excellence, building a team of dedicated educators and instilling a sense of pride throughout the school community are all essential when it comes to establishing and maintaining a successful school culture, according to effective school principals.

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    Is the Common Core initiative in trouble?
    The Washington Post
    Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently met with Chamber of Commerce leaders and urged them to be more vocal and forceful in defending the Common Core State Standards. Why?

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    Why teachers should be trained like actors
    MindShift
    Teaching is a lot like acting, a high-energy, performance profession that requires a person to act as a role model. But when teachers go through training and professional development, the performance aspect of the job is rarely emphasized or taught. Acknowledging this aspect could be a missed opportunity to restructure ways teachers learn new skills and tactics. Actors, musicians or acrobats spend hours perfecting their craft because that's how they improve. Teachers on the other hand, are often asked to identify teaching tools and tactics they'd like to try and to reflect on how those new elements could be integrated into the classroom.
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    School mindfulness programs may reduce stress — And make teens happier, study finds
    The Huffington Post
    It's at the most stressful times of the school year — like during exam periods — that strategies to relieve academic pressure mean the most. And recent research is shedding light on an effective way for schools to help manage students' stress: mindfulness, a mental practice that aims to develop greater awareness of thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.
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    Connecting teachers and students to the best digital tools
    Edutopia
    The recent news about ConnectEd, a federal initiative to get Internet connectivity and the technology to use it into America's classrooms, is full of promise for today's students. But overcoming barriers to access is only part of the challenge of unlocking educational technology's potential to transform teaching and learning.
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    New report maps young Americans' library, technology use
    eSchool News
    Nearly all young Americans under age 30 are online, and as library patrons, are more likely than older generations to use library technology such as computers and internet connections, according to "Younger Americans' Library Habits and Expectations," a new report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Along the same lines, young Americans' library use combines traditional and technological services. While those under age 30 are just as likely as older adults to visit a library and borrow paper books, they are much more likely than older adults to use library technology, including computers, internet and research resources such as databases.
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    US standards for school snacks move beyond cafeteria to fight obesity
    The New York Times
    Last week, the Agriculture Department effectively banned the sale of snack foods like candy, cookies and sugary drinks, including sports drinks, in schools, making it harder for students to avoid the now-healthier school meals by eating snacks sold in vending machines. "Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options through school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will support their great efforts," Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, said in a statement.
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    In the Race to the Top, will Hawaii get there first?
    Education Week
    When it comes to crossing off significant policy actions and program development from its Race to the Top to-do list, Hawaii is nearly done with its work. Transition all grades to common core by 2013-2014: Check. Provide intensive teacher professional development aligned to the common core: Check. Improve and complete longitudinal data system: Check. Get agreement on new teachers' contract: Check.
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    School to pilot behavior program
    MLive
    Rockford, Mich., superintendent Mike Shibler says the district will pilot a program at Meadow Ridge Elementary this fall aimed at establishing the social culture needed to achieve academic and social gains. District families will be learning about PBIS, Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, which is used in schools nationwide to create a positive climate for learning. PBIS is a team based, systematic approach to teaching behavioral expectations throughout a school.
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    TRENDING ARTICLES
    Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

        Improving school climate? Tip No.1: Don't cut climate staff (Education Week)
    Summer learning loss study: Can 'summer slide' be prevented? (The Huffington Post)
    Study: US education spending tops global list (CBS News)
    Language intervention levels playing field for English language learners (Vanderbilt University via Science Daily )
    Fed up teachers refuse to teach summer school in Texas (TakePart)

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




    The conference of the year is just days away—Will you be there?
    NAESP
    On July 11, the 2013 NAESP annual conference will be kicking off in Baltimore. Don't miss it! NAESP has lined up the rock stars of the education world, from Freeman Hrabowski to Todd Whitaker and more. Will you be there? Don't miss the 100-plus hot topic sessions, stimulating networking, fun community events and a special Teacher Day to inspire your teacher leader team. Register now and make sure to download the conference app.
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    New opportunity for school leaders: Principal Ambassador Fellowship
    NAESP
    The U.S. Department of Education is looking for up to three of the nation's best and brightest principals for its inaugural Principal Ambassador Fellowship. Applications are now available for this part-time, year-long leadership opportunity. Principal Ambassadors are outstanding practicing principals with a record of leadership, strong communication skills and policy insight. The deadline for applications is July 16.
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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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