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School security tightens in wake of Sandy Hook
Stateline via The Huffington Post
Back to school usually means new notebooks, new clothes and new teachers. But this year it also means more security, after the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. "We would be remiss if we didn't take a lesson from the Sandy Hook shooting, as horrible as it was," said North Carolina Republican Rep. Craig Horn. He co-sponsored the state's new plan to allow retired police officers or military veterans to serve as volunteer school security officers if they meet requirements set by local sheriffs and police chiefs.
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How peanuts became Public Health Enemy No. 1
Education Week
Researchers aren't sure why, but over the past several years, the number of children reported to have allergies has doubled, to 5 percent of children in the United States. Yet at the same time, in schools and elsewhere, allergies have drawn what some see as an oversized amount of attention. A new paper out of Princeton University explores why that may have happened.
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Just how effective are the Common Core State Standards?
eSchool News
With all the hype about the Common Core State Standards, it's easy to forget that some states have decided not to adopt the standards–plus, some adopting states are now re-evaluating their decisions. Now, a new infographic questions some of the basic tenets of the Common Core State Standards. Perhaps one of the biggest arguments against the standards, according to the infographic, is that "while core curriculum has improved performance in states with traditionally good education systems," states that have struggled academically wonder if the standards are more a one-size-fits-all pathway instead of a "great equalizing force," in which the common standards bridge a gap between vocational education and the university pathway.
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How video games and social media fuel students' passion for art
MindShift
The average teenager consumes about 10 hours of media per day according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, and that's often through a gadget like smartphone or tablet. But depending on what we choose to focus on, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The same devices that are used to consume art have also allowed students to create on their own, often with little instruction or direction.
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A look at ELL performance so far on Common Core aligned tests
Education Week
Student performance on New York's new Common Core aligned tests was weak across the board, as results confirmed the low expectations that education officials in that state had been steeling the public for over the last several months. Statewide, the proficiency rates in English/language arts sank from 55.1 percent on the non-Common Core aligned exams from the 2011-12 school year, to 31.1 percent on the Common Core aligned tests given this past spring. In math, the proficiency rates fell from 64.8 percent to 31 percent.
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Helping students learn the language of science
NSTA Blog
Science students at all grade levels often struggle with the vocabulary. It's as if we're all SLLs — Science Language Learners. Textbooks and websites are full of specialized words that challenge our students. Some are technical and relate specifically to science (e.g., photosynthesis, thermodynamics, plate tectonics) while others have meanings in science that differ from common usage (e.g., theory, hypothesis, matter). Sometimes we think that students understand a word, only to find out on an assessment that they are confused.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Social media's impact in schools (eSchool News)
Tests linked to Common Core in critics' cross hairs (Education Week)
Missed summer learning spells out long-term struggles (NPR)
Study: States struggle to fund stricter school curriculum (Reuters)
Tax dollars for private school tuition gain in states (Stateline via The Huffington Post)

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Empathy: The most important back-to-school supply
Edutopia
The most important back-to-school supply doesn't fit in a backpack, and it can't be ordered online. It's as essential as a pencil, but unlike a pencil, no technology can replace it. In a sense, like a fresh box of crayons, it can come in many colors. Better than the latest gadget, it's possible to equip every student with it, and even better, when we do, it can transform our world.
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Improving student health at elementary and middle schools
Medical News Today
Despite widespread cuts to physical education classes and recess, an Indiana University study has shown that schools can play an important role in helping their students live healthier lives. Schools that implemented coordinated school health programs saw increases in students' physical activity. "With support from teachers, administrators and parents, our schools can become healthier places," said Mindy Hightower King, evaluation manager at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at IU Bloomington.
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New visual tool teaches kids how to code at home
MindShift
As the conversation about education shifts towards helping students develop useful skills in life beyond the classroom, a new spotlight on computer coding has emerged. Kids are impressing adults with their creativity, with their facility in learning new technologies, and their ability to design challenging video games. More and more, parents are beginning to see computer science and programming as the key to success for their children. And like other foreign languages, even if the child doesn't grow up to be a computer programmer, learning to code can yield many other benefits, the thinking goes.
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Chinese students coming to US middle schools? It's starting to happen.
The Christian Science Monitor
Peggy Wang has lived in China her entire life. A successful, English-speaking executive, she frequently travels abroad for work, but never imagined that her most recent itinerary would include dropping off her 15-year-old daughter at a prestigious boarding school outside Washington. While there is a long history of Chinese students pursuing advanced degrees abroad, especially in the United States, Wang's daughter, Susan Li, is part of a rapidly growing trend in which Chinese students are choosing to seek their education overseas as early as middle school or high school.
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Don't segregate boys and girls in classrooms
CNN (commentary)
Is your daughter a tomboy? Your son not especially into football? Does your daughter excel at math? Your son a skilled artist? Or does your daughter switch roles, relatively easily, from skinning her knees on a soccer field to worrying about what to wear to a party? Or does your son, like mine, come home sweaty and bruised from lacrosse practice only to sing gorgeously in the shower as a member of his high school a cappella group? If your answers are yes — and probably most parents recognize some elements of these traits in their children — you can breathe a bit easier today. That is, at least, if you happen to live in Wood County, West Virginia.
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When charter schools are in churches, conflict is in the air
The New York Times
Three years, 5,000 door hangers and several garage sales after its opening, Beta Academy has a long waiting list but an empty bank account. But if the school's founder, Latisha Andrews, has her way, Beta, a private elementary school that operates out of the Houston Christian Temple Assembly of God Church, will soon transform into a new operation: a publicly financed charter school. If the state approves Andrews's application this fall, Beta Academy will join the many charter schools that have partnerships with religious institutions that have cropped up in cities across Texas since the charter school system was established in 1995. In the past three years, 16 of the 23 charter contracts the state has awarded have gone to entities with religious ties.
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Crowdsourcing ideas for a better school
NPR
Robyn Gee, a contributor for NPR, writes: "In my previous life as a high school English teacher, I often felt disconnected from everyone making the decisions that affected how I did my job. A new curriculum handed down from the district. Tutorials to learn how to process student data. Elective classes swapped out for study halls. I just learned to roll with the punches. But crowdsourcing tools are slowly working their way into the education policy world, designed to give teachers and district employees more say on big decisions that affect their school environment."
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Why are so many students bored?
Psychology Today (commentary)
Diane Dreher, a best-selling author, positive psychology coach, and professor of English at Santa Clara University, writes: "While preparing for another school year, I wonder why some of my students come to class curious, motivated, eager to learn while others are bored, restless, and don't seem to care. What makes the difference? Intrinsic motivation — a natural curiosity and desire to learn. We're all born with it. Babies and toddlers reach out to touch things, eager to explore their world, and young children are always asking, 'Why?' According to research in positive psychology, our natural curiosity is one of the character strengths that brings us greater health, joy, and vitality. But why do so many of us lose it somewhere along the way?"
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How video games and social media fuel students' passion for art
MindShift
The average teenager consumes about 10 hours of media per day according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, and that's often through a gadget like smartphone or tablet. But depending on what we choose to focus on, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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From the principal's office: 6 steps for curbing email miscommunication
Tech&Learning
How many times have you sent an email and immediately regretted doing so after pushing the send button? How many times have you sent an email, and the receiver of that email got it all wrong about what you meant to say?

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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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Obama administration aloof as lawmakers tangle over ESEA
Education Week
Not since passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 has Congress been so outwardly engaged in K-12 policy, yet most advocates remain pessimistic that there will be a new version of the flagship federal education law anytime soon. A big part of the reason: The Obama administration has little incentive to see a bill to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act advance in the current legislative climate, in which lawmakers seem more likely to erode, rather than support, the president's policy priorities. Congress has been working on two highly partisan ESEA bills — one of which, the GOP-backed House measure, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto.
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States struggling to secure staffing and resources for Common Core
THE Journal
While 30 states have already begun implementing curricula aligned to the Common Core State Standards, many of them are struggling to provide the staffing and resources required to implement CCSS effectively, according to a new report from the Center on Education Policy at The George Washington University. The report, "Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: An Overview of States' Progress and Challenges," is based on a survey of state deputy superintendents or their designees in 40 of the 46 states that have adopted CCSS in math, English language arts, or both. The survey was conducted from February to May of this year.
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Northern Kentucky schools build relationships by making home visits
Cincinnati.com
As her son Leonard starts eighth grade at Tichenor Middle School, Staci Allgeyer is concerned. "He spells so many words wrong," she told her son's teacher. Allgeyer didn't have to make an appointment or go to the school to discuss her concerns — she simply brought it up when the teacher and a counselor stopped by her house. Several Northern Kentucky school districts are sending teachers out of the classroom and into homes to get to know their students and their families. Experts say teacher home visits can result in increased attendance, decreased discipline problems, more parental involvement and — ultimately — higher test scores.
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Longer school days for struggling students, or everyone
National Journal
The District of Columbia Public Schools released their test results for the 2012-2013 school year last week to great fanfare, and not without reason. The students achieved their greatest leap in achievement in recent history. They showed the highest growth in proficiency since 2008 in reading and since 2009 in math. Yes, those proficiency levels are still below 50 percent (47.4 percent for reading and 49.5 percent for math), but they are a huge improvement from 2007, when those percentages hovered around 30 percent. Washington D.C. is something of a petri dish for the nation's education policy. Its schools have all the urban problems of a bifurcated poor and rich population, a long history of neglect, and almost half of the students in charter schools.
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Obama administration approves NCLB flexibility request for Maine
U.S. Department of Education
The Obama administration approved the state of Maine for a waiver from No Child Left Behind, in exchange for state-developed plans to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership. Since fall 2011, 45 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Education have requested waivers from NCLB in order to implement next-generation education reforms that go far beyond the law's rigid, top-down prescriptions. The Education Department has now approved requests from 40 states and D.C., with other applications still pending.
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Study: Louisiana among top states for charter school gains
The Advertiser
Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Superintendent John White announced that a recent 26-state study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that Louisiana is a national leader in student achievement at charter schools, ranking near the top in both reading and math gains. A more detailed state study released today, which examines the progress students of particular backgrounds make academically over time, also found that charter schools in Louisiana achieve particularly significant progress with low-income students and students with disabilities.
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Survey of school leaders reveals school uniform trends
NAESP
According to a recent survey of principals conducted by NAESP and Lands' End School Uniform, school uniforms or a formal dress code policy in public schools are on the rise. Nearly half (49 percent) of schools have a policy in place or have plans to implement one — more than double the number in 2000. Principals report that uniforms positively impact discipline, school safety and student achievement.
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Apply for $5,000 Sharing the Dream grant
NAESP
NAESP has again partnered with the MetLife Foundation to offer the Sharing the Dream grant program. Schools have an opportunity to win $5,000 grants to support global learning projects that engage children in transformative, multidisciplinary learning experiences. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Sept. 11.
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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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