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Does class size matter in education?
By: Archita Datta Majumdar
Texas school districts were in the spotlight again as recent reports revealed thousands of elementary classes exceeding their set 22-pupil maximum size limit. The number of classrooms that exceeded this limit in 2014 was up to 5,883, meaning 130,000 K-4 students were crammed in together. The fast-growing school districts in the state have sought more funding so they can hire more teachers and deal with the influx of students. But Texas is not the only state facing such a dilemma.
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A principal's reflection on a year at the Education Department
Education Week
Until last month, Jill Levine, the principal of Normal Park Museum Magnet School in Chattanooga, Tenn., was the full-time campus principal ambassador fellow at the Department of Education. In that role, she harnessed the "thoughts, opinions and stories of principals" to help inform and shape education policies at the department. As principal ambassador, Levine often traveled with Education Secretary Arne Duncan; helped to organize face-to-face meetings between Duncan, education department staffers, and principals; and worked to ensure that the perspectives of principals and school leaders — some of whom had long lamented that they were overlooked in policymaking decisions — remained relevant and at the forefront of major deliberations.
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Minecraft in school? How video games could be the future of learning
The Christian Science Monitor
Math, geography, art, design — these are just some of the things that children can learn from the popular video game Minecraft, a new study shows. Essentially a kind of digital Lego through which users can create their own building-block worlds, the game has the potential to engage students in problem-solving, research, creative thinking, and even social interaction, say the Australia-based researchers. Their findings add to a growing body of research supporting not only the use of video games in classroom learning, but also the idea that learning is less an exercise in one-time memorization than an exciting, continuous experience.
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3 reasons why many schools won't offer LGBT curriculum
Education Week (commentary)
Imagine walking into school each day and not hearing any stories through books or curriculum that depict the life that you are living? The common language heard is used by peers in a negative way, and most adults don't intervene to stop it. Imagine that you attend a public school, but the "public" discussion that is accepted hardly ever mentions things you can relate to? That's how many LGBT students feel.
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How to build a bridge from pre-kindergarten to third grade
EdSource
The month of June marked transitions for many of our students, but few more so than the very youngest. This month, thousands of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds completed their first years of formal education in San Francisco Unified. Research suggests they will be significantly better prepared to succeed in school because of their high-quality preschool experience. What these children don't know — and it should be invisible to them — is that they are on the leading edge of our district's strategy to align pre-K–3rd grade instruction. Our goal with this approach is to shrink a stubborn achievement gap by aligning primary school teaching to a formerly separate pre-K system. If we are going to bridge the gap, we have to start earlier, and that early work must be connected and coherent with the work in the grades that follow.
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  Improve Instruction with Actionable Data

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Implementing Common Core: The problem of instructional time
Brookings (commentary)
In 1963, psychologist John B. Carroll published a short essay, "A Model of School Learning" in Teachers College Record. Carroll proposed a parsimonious model of learning that expressed the degree of learning (or what today is commonly called achievement) as a function of the ratio of time spent on learning to the time needed to learn. The numerator, time spent learning, has also been given the term opportunity to learn. The denominator, time needed to learn, is synonymous with student aptitude.
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What do students need to know to be 'proficient' in reading and math? It depends on where they live.
The Washington Post
No Child Left Behind, the much-maligned 2002 federal education law, required schools to ensure that all students were proficient in math and reading by 2014. But what does "proficient" mean? It depends on where you live. A new federal report released Thursday found a huge variation in how states defined "proficiency" on their 2013 standardized tests. In states with the lowest expectations, "proficiency" was three to four grade levels below proficiency in states with the highest expectations.
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Steps to help schools transform to competency-based learning
MindShift
It's no longer a given that if a child spends twelve years in school, he or she will learn enough to succeed in higher education or a career. To address this issue, some educators are taking bold measures to help students. Traditionally, classes move forward, covering the curriculum according to schedule. Students are taught the same materials at the same pace. If a student fails to learn a skill, he or she accepts that result and moves on to the next topic with the rest of the class.
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Students' reading and math skills are still all over the map
NPR
A federal report reinforces the notion that when it comes to state standards, proficiency is still in the eye of the beholder. A top-scoring student on Arizona's reading test may fall far below average in states with more rigorous exams, like Massachusetts or Wisconsin. The new report, by the National Center for Education Statistics, compares each state's performance on state tests with their performance on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Performance — or NAEP.
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How standardized tests are scored (hint: Humans are involved)
NPR
Standardized tests tied to the Common Core are under fire in lots of places for lots of reasons. But who makes them and how they're scored is a mystery. For a peek behind the curtain, I traveled to the home of the nation's largest test-scoring facility: San Antonio. The facility is one of Pearson's — the British-owned company that dominates the testing industry in the U.S. and is one of the largest publishing houses behind these mysterious standardized tests. The company scores its test results in 21 centers across the country. The one in San Antonio is the largest.
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Hot areas for education technology investment in 2015
K-12 TechDecisions
Investment in educational technology has exploded over the past few years, with ed tech companies raising more than $1.36 billion in 2014, according to an Edsurge analysis. This figure accounts for 201 rounds of funding that raised money from nearly 400 unique investors. The largest deals were made in the areas of curriculum products, teacher needs, school operations, post-secondary and "other."
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keywords TECHNOLOGY.


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  Stop Bullying/Help Prevent Suicide

Learn more about these new online training programs to help improve the climate and culture in your schools. Based on the movie, Contest, Stand Up Say No to Bullying teaches students how to handle conflict and bullying. Signs Matter helps teachers and administrators identify students who may be contemplating suicide. You can help save lives.
 


Using psychology to help at-risk students
Medical News Today
There are many rewards for doing research in psychology. For one, it is just plain fun. There is something powerful about making progress on one of the world's great scientific mysteries. For another, the things we learn about psychology have the potential to make people’s lives better. That is the impetus behind a fascinating paper in the June 2015 issue of Psychological Science by David Paunesku, Gregory Walton, Carissa Romero, Eric Smith, David Yeager and Carol Dweck.
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Report: Asbestos found in kids' crayons, toy kits
HealthDay News via WebMD
Asbestos fibers have been found in crayons and other toys sold in the United States, according to a new report from an environmental health advocacy group. The fibers were found in four brands of crayons and two children's crime-scene toy fingerprint kits, according to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Action Fund report. "We were surprised," said report co-author Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based group. "Crayons and crime-scene toys were found to have asbestos in years gone by, and the manufacturers of both had already promised to deal with the problem," she explained.
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How connected are your state's classrooms? Check out this map
eSchool News
As efforts to increase bandwidth and internet connectivity in K-12 schools grow, a new report from CDW-G, based on a survey of 400 K-12 IT professionals, reveals just how connected — or not — the nation's classrooms are today. The "CDW-G K-12 Connected Heat Map" outlines wired and wireless connectivity in a state-by-state display. The map is an ongoing project and CDW-G is asking schools to fill in their details to help make it more complete. Currently, there is not enough data to shade several states in the midwest and west.
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Some states would lose big money with proposed education funding changes
The Washington Post
Congress's debate about rewriting the nation's main education law has featured high-profile disagreements over testing, vouchers and school accountability, but there is another issue that has just as much potential to derail the legislation: Money. A forthcoming amendment from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., would change the formula used to allocate Title I funds, a move that would create big winners and losers among the states. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia would gain Title I dollars, which are meant to educate poor children. But that leaves 14 states that would see cuts, including big losers New York (whose districts would lose $310 million), Illinois ($188 million) and Pennsylvania ($120 million).
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ESEA reauthorization: 5 key principles to guide consideration of any ESEA Title I formula change
Center for American Progress (commentary)
Last year, the federal government spent more than $14 billion to help educate low-income students as part of Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA. For schools, particularly low-income schools, these federal investments make a huge difference. If Title I was used to only fund teachers, for instance, it would support the jobs of more than 200,000 educators. But while federal education dollars bring many benefits for students, they are distributed in a way that is deeply unfair both between and within states. This unfairness stems from the following flaws in the allocation formula.
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Life after No Child Left Behind
The Atlantic
No Child Left Behind is really, really unpopular. Roughly three in 10 Americans think the George W. Bush-era federal education law has actually worsened the quality of education, according to a 2012 Gallup poll. The original law on which No Child Left Behind is based — the half-century-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act — was supposed to be renewed nearly a decade ago. Politics just kept getting in the way.
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4 additional states meet Education Department special education program requirements
iSchoolGuide
This year, four more states met the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education's special education program. This is the second year of a new, tougher evaluation system, according to Education Week. Nineteen states earned a "meets requirement" rating from the U.S. Department of Education's office of special education programs for the 2013-2014 school year, up from 15 states last year. The new, "results-driven accountability" matrix is reportedly designed to make sure states are committing to special education student performance as well as compliance issues, such as whether states meet various deadlines mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    What is personalized learning and how do you get there? (K-12TechDecisions)
How phonics is taught can affect how well a child learns to read (THE Journal)
Principal selection methods matter (District Administration Magazine)
Poverty rates in every US school district (The Washington Post)
Lessons on state adoptions of the Next Generation Science Standards (Education Week)

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


New Jersey won't tear down Common Core standards, state officials say
The Times of Trenton
Top New Jersey education officials say the state's review of Common Core most likely won't lead to major changes to the controversial education standards. The review is intended as an opportunity to build on the existing standards through clarification, addition and omission, Assistant Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington told the state Board of Education during a presentation. "We will not be tearing down and starting over," Harrington said.
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Rigor and developmental science: Focusing on the sweet spot
NAESP
NAESP Conference blogger Judy Kuan writes: "Academic rigor is upheld widely in education, as is developmental science. But how often do we see the two converge, and what potential does that convergence hold in pre-K-3 education? According to Dr. William Teale, who is the Director of the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Literacy, it is fairly easy but less effective to implement either academic rigor or developmentally-appropriate instruction on its own."
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9 tech tools for classroom use
NAESP
About 850 apps are downloaded from Apple's App Store every second. Even with the plethora of options, some apps stand out from the crowd. Here are some top apps that can help educators accomplish their goals.
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