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New Common Core tests: Worth the price?
The Washington Post
Now that both of the federally-funded consortia of states designing standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards have released pricing data for each exam, states are assessing whether they can afford to pay. Already some aren't liking what they see. The 21-state Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, announced how much it would cost for the Core-aligned test: $29.50 a student for summative math and reading tests. More than half of the states in the consortium now pay less for their current assessment tests. When officials in Georgia heard the numbers, they pulled out of the consortium, given that they now spend a total of $12 a student for math and reading tests.
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Are schools meeting their technology goals?
MindShift
The best way to find out how technology is being used in classrooms and where schools could use more support is to ask educators. That's the goal of the annual Software and Information Industry Association's 2013 Vision K-20 survey. The association reached out to educators around the country through partner organizations, asking them to complete a mostly quantitative survey with a few open-ended questions included. This year more than 1,400 educators responded from all over the country. The responses were evenly distributed between educators at K-12 and post-secondary institutions.
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Common Core meets aging education technology
InformationWeek
The Common Core State Standards program represents a huge shift in what teachers teach and students learn in the K-12 grades. The standards, which are focused on college and career readiness, rely heavily on effective use of technology for instruction, collaborative learning, assessment and data analysis. However, as schools and districts across the United States begin to implement the standards — 45 states plus the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted them — many are finding that there is a significant gap between the technology they need and the tech they actually have.
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Deluged by Common Core 'aligned' materials
Education Week
Educators face quite a challenge as they try to figure out what's good and what isn't in the world of instructional materials for the new standards. Of course this is hardly a new situation. State standards — and the flood of vendor-produced materials that respond to them — have been around for decades now. And caveat emptor applies as much to the educational-materials marketplace as it does to any other swath of the free-market system. But in an era when one set of standards is being used by so many states, vendors have a shot at selling the same product to many states.
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Can playing video games give girls an edge in math?
MindShift
Girls should play more video games. That's one of the unexpected lessons I take away from a rash of recent studies on the importance of — and the malleability of — spatial skills. First, why spatial skills matter: The ability to mentally manipulate shapes and otherwise understand how the three-dimensional world works turns out to be an important predictor of creative and scholarly achievements, according to research published in the journal Psychological Science. The long-term study found that 13-year-olds' scores on traditional measures of mathematical and verbal reasoning predicted the number of scholarly papers and patents these individuals produced three decades later.
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Does grouping by ability work?
Daily Record
The idea of grouping students by ability levels in the classroom — placing high-achievers in one cluster, average students in another and poor performers in still another — was common in more than three-quarters of the nation's classrooms from the early 1960s through the late 1980s. But by the late 1980s and early 1990s, ability grouping had fallen out of favor. Critics argued it stigmatized some students, pigeonholed them throughout their school careers and tended to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
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Teachers hit the books to master new education standards
NPR
Almost all the states and Washington, D.C., are grappling with a big challenge as the new school year nears: getting teachers up to speed on the Common Core, a sweeping set of new education standards for English language arts and math. The Common Core will soon apply to most of America's students from kindergarten through high school. The policymakers behind the Core know that it could fail if they don't help teachers make the change. So this summer, the state of Maryland has been hosting what it calls "academies" to do just that.
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From the principal's office: Sensible learning
Tech&Learning (commentary)
Social Media is bad and has no place in education. It is a distraction to the teaching and learning process. If students are allowed to use social media in school they will stay off task or exhibit inappropriate behavior. Worse, teachers will spend countless hours "socializing" instead of educating. This is the misguided stigma that social media carries and, as a result, it is often banned in schools. However, there are a growing number of passionate educators who have embraced social media as a powerful tool for learning. When you look at how reliant the world is when it comes to social media use these educators look like geniuses.
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6 districts get creative to find the principals of their dreams
eSchool News
At a time when the job of principal has become more demanding and less attractive to some aspiring leaders, a new report details how six urban districts are training and retaining school leadership talent. "The importance of principals to lead education reform, such as the Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation, has been documented in research and demonstrated in these six districts," said Jody Spiro, The Wallace Foundation's director of education leadership. "There is much that they can and should do to support principals, including setting high performance standards, ensuring that leaders are well prepared and supported."
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The iPad as a tool for creation to strengthen learning
MindShift
Imagine walking up to a stream. On the far side lies our ideal learning environment — student-centric, inquiry-based, resource-rich — our Someday. A series of stepping stones indicates a way across. These are our Mondays; achievable objectives interspersed across a torrent of new technologies, practices and theories. This Someday/Monday dichotomy captures one of the core challenges in teacher professional development around educational technology.
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Study: Only popular kids give most attention to popular kids
Psychology Today
Okay, let's be frank: Everybody gives attention to popular kids. From preschoolers to high-schoolers to monkeys, subjects will pick out their popular peers in videos and watch these popular peers longer than they watch the less popular ones. Yes, even gentle bonobos give high-status apes more attention. But a study on early view at the journal Child Development asks an interesting question: who cares? Really what the article asks is who most cares about popular people? Sure, everyone gives popular kids more attention, but who is most likely to give the most attention?
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    From the principal's office: 6 steps for curbing email miscommunication (Tech&Learning)
Duncan to principals: Shouldn't have to sacrifice your lives for job (Education Week)
American public schools are not broken, they are just obsolete (By C. Fredrick Crum)
Obama threatens veto of House GOP 'No Child Left Behind' update (The Hill)
The charter school vs. public school debate continues (NPR)

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It's called leadership
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
Let's be honest with each other for a moment. Let's take back all the fake smiles and friendly little emails. Let's tell all the cute puppies to go home and cast aside all the colorful rainbows ... Sometimes people just don't care what you think. They could honestly care less about your opinion and your existence (or lack thereof). You really don't have much of an effect on them. This is not all people and is most likely not most people, however there are those out there that are just not interested in you and what you have to say.
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Getting your school tech ready for Common Core assessments
THE Journal
Northshore has already made the move to online assessments, but district leaders still saw the need to participate in the Smarter Balanced scientific pilot as part of "being prepared," says Miedema: "That's the culture of our district. When these things happen, we generally don't wait until the last minute." While Northshore has a healthy population of devices in hand and sufficient bandwidth for assessment and instructional purposes, the challenge Miedema expects to face is the same one that has beset his district every time it has tried out a new type of online testing: figuring out what technology skills students will need.
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Teachers union chief: Bad teachers should find new jobs
The Associated Press via Deseret News
Teachers who aren't up to snuff shouldn't be in classrooms and should find new professions, the head of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers said Monday. Randi Weingarten told a gathering of her union's rank-and-file members that they should be more vigilant about their colleagues' abilities and said weak educators who don't make improvements only hurt the profession. The tough warning comes as state education chiefs have been trying to implement tougher standards for those in the classrooms and weed out teachers whose students aren't making progress.
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Perceived risk leaps onto school playgrounds
District Administration Magazine
Standing high on the platform of the school playground's zip line, a student imagines a wild jungle across a craggy, bottomless canyon. Behind, the pack of imaginary tigers leaping from the wall mural is getting so close, the child can see the animals' fangs. The student grabs the handle and zooms through the air like Indiana Jones, reaching the other side with a massive boost in confidence that will pay off for the rest of the school day and beyond. The teacher supervising recess has a clear view of a child who's not really that high, gliding safely over a soft, rubber surface. And it is one of many playgrounds being built on elementary school grounds across the nation.
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Perceived risk leaps onto school playgrounds
District Administration Magazine
Standing high on the platform of the school playground's zip line, a student imagines a wild jungle across a craggy, bottomless canyon. Behind, the pack of imaginary tigers leaping from the wall mural is getting so close, the child can see the animals' fangs.

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Duncan to principals: Shouldn't have to sacrifice your lives for job
Education Week
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan yesterday told hundreds of elementary and middle school principals who are gathered here for a conference that they shouldn't have to fear for their lives on the job.

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Debating iPads or Chromebooks for 1:1? Why not both?
THE Journal
As more school districts consider 1:1 initiatives, they are faced with the decision of which device to roll out. Chromebooks and iPads are two popular choices, but instead of choosing between them, some innovative school districts are deploying both.

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Why we need a new education law — and why education technology should play a role
eSchool News (commentary)
The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act has eluded Congress for too long. Without Congressional action, the current administration has seized the moment and used regulatory fiat to implement its policies. But many of us feel that the policies being implemented lack counsel from the educators in the trenches. The voices of teachers, principals, superintendents, and board members go unheeded, and we are on the verge of causing serious harm to an educational system weighed down by federal rules and regulations. The reauthorization effort will re-establish a democratic process that will allow those in the field once again to weigh in with suggestions that might put us back on the road to true education reform.
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When bad things happen to good NAEP data
Education Week
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is widely viewed as the most accurate and reliable yardstick of U.S. students' academic knowledge. But when it comes to many of the ways the exam's data are used, researchers have gotten used to gritting their teeth. Results from the venerable exam are frequently pressed into service to bolster claims about the effect that policies, from test-based accountability to collective bargaining to specific reading and math interventions, have had on student achievement.
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Obama budget threatens popular STEM education initiatives
Scientific America
The Obama administration's fiscal year 2014 budget lays out a sweeping restructuring intended to consolidate STEM education in the U.S. into three agencies — the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution — and to cut down on the inefficiency of overlapping initiatives. Funding overall for STEM programs is actually slated to increase by 6 percent, to $3 billion, under the proposal. But support for popular educational initiatives from the National Institutes of Health, along with those from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, appears to have been lost in the consolidation shuffle.
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Education overhaul faces a test of partisanship
The Education Week
On the day that President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law in early 2002, he flew to a high school in Hamilton, Ohio, the home district of Representative John A. Boehner, a leading Republican supporter of the bill. Later that afternoon, the president appeared in Boston and praised the bill's Democratic sponsor in the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy. Nearly a dozen years later, that bipartisanship spirit in federal education policy has evaporated.
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Georgia, Oklahoma say Common Core tests are too costly and decide not to adopt them
The Washington Post
Citing costs, Georgia and Oklahoma have decided against adopting standardized tests being created by a consortium of states as part of the new Common Core national academic standards. And politicians in other states — including Indiana and Florida, which has been a leader in the development of the Common Core — are voicing similar concerns, suggesting that more defections could be on the way. "I'm disappointed to see those states drop off, but I'm not surprised," said Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts's education commissioner, who chairs one of the two groups of states that are designing math and reading tests linked to the Common Core standards. Georgia and Oklahoma are members of the 21-state consortium, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
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Pittsburgh schools make student data accessible from smartphones
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Imagine being able to access your child's grades, add money to a school lunch account or get directions to an away high school basketball game with a touch of your smartphone. Those capabilities are available or on the horizon in a handful of local school districts where cell phone apps are being created. The North Hills School District launched an app in January and so far it has been downloaded by 1,425 users. Recently, the Carlynton and Duquesne City school districts have created apps, which are still in the process of being constructed. Mt. Lebanon will launch one next month, and in Quaker Valley, district officials are brainstorming about what functions they'd like to offer the community in an app.
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Early moves that create a continuum of success
NAESP
Brain research has identified the skills that children must develop at early ages to have a strong foundation for learning. In the latest edition of NAESP Radio, psychologist and author Deborah Leong explores how principals can help teachers develop these skills in their students. Listen now as she shares with NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly how to support young learners' brain development.
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Focusing on what matters: 4 facts and strategies from Eric Jensen
NAESP
"When teachers focus on what matters most, good things happen," says Eric Jensen. So, what matters most? Jensen explored that in his plenary session at the 2013 NAESP Conference, "Teaching With Poverty in Mind." He provided four key facts and strategies that educators can take to support all students with an environment of acceptance and excellence.
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