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US Education Secretary Arne Duncan: Headmaster of US school reform
The Christian Science Monitor    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As students head back to school, educators nationwide are implementing controversial school reform wrought by Arne Duncan. Pushing competitive market approaches and armed with unprecedented funding and support from the president, he is possibly the most powerful education secretary ever. More

Formula to grade teachers' skill gains acceptance, and critics
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
How good is one teacher compared with another? A growing number of school districts have adopted a system called value-added modeling to answer that question, provoking battles from Washington to Los Angeles — with some saying it is an effective method for increasing teacher accountability, and others arguing that it can give an inaccurate picture of teachers' work. More

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California votes to reject Texas textbook changes
The Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
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California lawmakers are seeking to prevent a revised social studies curriculum approved in Texas from being taught in the nation's largest public school system. The state Senate voted 21-13 to send SB 1451 to the governor. It requires the California Board of Education to look out for any of the Texas content as part of its standard practice of reviewing public school textbooks. More

Kindergarten age cutoff rises
San Jose Mercury News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
This school year, a child can start kindergarten as long as he or she turns 5 by Dec. 2. In the 2014-2015 school year, children will have to turn five by Sept. 1, thanks to a bill approved by the California Legislature. Education officials say the earlier cutoff is good for students, but some lawmakers and scholars say they don't understand the state's plan for spending money that will be saved by shifting the start dates. More

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Cyber-bullying defies traditional school bully stereotype
The Washington Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The advent of social networking sites and text messaging has allowed young girls the opportunity to take on a role traditionally reserved for boys, experts say. The girls have become bullies — or, more specifically, cyber-bullies. The Virginia Department of Education defines cyber-bullying as "using information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cellphones, text messaging, instant messaging and websites to support deliberate, hostile behavior intended to harm others." Cyber-bullying in Virginia's Fairfax County public schools seems to occur primarily in middle schools, said Sgt. William H. Fulton of Fairfax County police, school resource officer supervisor. More

Social and emotional learning and the start of school
Edutopia    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
From a Social and Emotional Learning point of view, the most important consideration at the start of the new school year is to create positive feelings and optimism about school. This has many practical implications for both educators and parents. Make a special effort to greet children in a positive and uplifting way at the start of school. Create a festive atmosphere, not a "get down to business" factory atmosphere. More

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Are schools today better prepared for disaster?
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Five years ago, the levees broke in New Orleans and we all learned just how unprepared our cities and schools and families were to face a large-scale disaster. For the anniversary, two new studies suggest we're not much more prepared. Save the Children's second annual report card on state practices found only 12 states have basic safeguards in place to protect children during similar disasters. The group queried states on whether they require all schools and licensed child-care providers to have four elements in place the organization considers essential to emergency planning for children: a written evacuation plan to move children at the school or center to a safe location; a written plan to notify parents or guardians of the emergency and reunite them with an evacuated child; a written emergency plan that includes procedures for students with special needs; and a school emergency plan that accounts for different types of disasters the school might encounter, including natural disasters or terrorist acts. More



Will Race to Top winners help advance legislative priorities?
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Back before the Race to the Top Round One winners were announced, people wondered whether the Education Department would select winners from states with influential members of Congress, who might be able to help U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan move his agenda. Of course, the selection process was set up in a way intended to assure that political influence was not a factor in determining who actually won — no state got extra points for being the home of a powerful member of Congress. More

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New York City study gives K-8 schools an edge over middle schools
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A new study of New York City public school students suggests that moving to middle school can be more detrimental to students' continued academic progress than staying in a K-8 school. According to the study, which was posted online by the journal Education Next, students who move from elementary school to middle school experience a bigger dip in mathematics and language arts achievement than their K-8 counterparts do, and they tend to be absent more often. Moreover, the report says, the earlier students move to a middle school, the greater the gap between them and their K-8 — attending peers — and that gap only widens as students age. More

Big incentive for school attendance: Cash
STLtoday    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
For the first time, a local organization is offering parents a cash incentive to enroll their children at Jefferson Elementary School. The money is limited to students who didn't attend the school last year. To get it, the kids must finish this semester with near-perfect attendance and receive no out-of-school suspensions; the parent must attend three Parent Teacher Organization meetings. The program is being offered to families in three mixed-income housing complexes surrounding the school, where most of the students live. More

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When does holding teachers accountable go too far?
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The start of the school year brings another one of those nagging, often unquenchable worries of parenthood: How good will my child's teachers be? Teachers tend to have word-of-mouth reputations, of course. But it is hard to know how well those reputations match up with a teacher’s actual abilities. Schools generally do not allow parents to see any part of a teacher's past evaluations, for instance. And there is nothing resembling a rigorous, Consumer Reports-like analysis of schools, let alone of individual teachers. For the most part, parents just have to hope for the best. More

Texas Education Agency may cut spending on
English textbooks, science labs

The Dallas Morning News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
English textbooks and new science labs for Texas students would be on the chopping block under a proposal to trim some education spending by 10 percent in the next two-year budget. The Texas Education Agency's budget reduction plan, requested by Gov. Rick Perry and other state leaders in anticipation of a revenue shortfall that could reach $18 billion, also would scale back the state's merit pay program for teachers and reduce funding for a steroid testing program for high school athletes. Cutbacks in the proposal total nearly $262 million for the 2012-2013 budget. More

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Calling the shots: Students might have to stay home
IndyStar.com    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
New immunization requirements that took effect this school year could lead to fewer students in the classroom as parents scramble to find records or visit clinics and health departments for shots. Even though the state law requiring the immunizations was approved last year and school officials sent home information before school let out this past spring, districts across Central Indiana are reporting students lacking the proper vaccination information. More

Survey finds limited familiarity, success with turnarounds
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A new survey finds that few school districts are familiar with the four federal models for turning around low-performing schools and even fewer have implemented them. More than a third of school districts reported they had no familiarity with the models that are part of the federal School Improvement Grants heading to school districts this fall in a bid by the Obama administration to change the fortunes of the bottom five percent of America's schools, according to the report from the Washington-based Center on Education Policy. And fewer than 12 percent had implemented any of the models in their schools. More



Mentor training program starts up in September
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Novice school principals face the same issues as seasoned administrators — budget cuts, staff accountability, increased class size, and diverse learning communities, to name a few — but who can they count on for support and guidance? Perhaps it's you. More

Online auction starts Sep. 16
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The NAESP Foundation is holding an online auction from Sep. 16-30. Bidding on every item starts at $1 with no reserve. Preview some of the great items up for sale, and register today to receive $20 in bid bucks for every $10 you purchase! More

Before the Bell will arrive late next Tuesday
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On Tuesday, Sept. 7, Before the Bell will appear in your inbox in the afternoon instead of the morning. Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend.



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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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