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Schools take the boring out of long bus rides
District Administration Magazine
Innovations ranging from on-board music to digital mapping and alternative fuels are making long bus rides better experiences for students while also helping districts make transportation more efficient. Experience shows that children who spend more time on buses are likely to get bored or behave badly. For rural districts, where hour-long rides are not uncommon and some may exceed two hours, the situation can be especially problematic.
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Reform in a recession
Scholastic Administrator
Making lasting change to a large educational system isn’t easy even when jobs and resources are plentiful. But the last few years, since the beginning of the Great Recession — and especially since the wind-down of the federal stimulus program — have shown that making progress is extremely difficult during tough economic times. Whether reform efforts will stall out before the economy begins to rebound is anybody's guess. There are things that can get done during hard times that might otherwise be too difficult or unpopular to accomplish. A crisis should never be wasted, as Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel likes to say.
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Kindergarten gets tough as kids are forced to bubble in multiple choice tests
New York Daily News
Goodbye Play-Doh, hello No. 2 pencils. Because of a tough new curriculum and teacher evaluations, 4- and 5-year-olds are learning how to fill in bubbles on standardized math tests to show how much they know about numbers, shapes and order. Teachers said kindergartners are bewildered. "Sharing is not caring anymore; developmentally, it's not the right thing to do," said one Queens teacher, whose pupils kept trying to help one another on the math test she gave for the first time this fall.
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Can music help low-income students close the academic gap?
MindShift
Fascinating research: "Children's brains show evidence of faster development when they are learning to play an instrument. And studies comparing the brains of adult musicians and non-musicians find the most pronounced enhancements in brain structure in those who began their music training early in childhood."
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Elementary students learn keyboard typing ahead of new Common Core tests
The Washington Post
The 7-year-olds in Natalie May's class have to stretch their fingers across the keyboards to reach "ASDF" and "JKL;" as they listen to the animated characters on their computer screens talk about "home keys." "After 15 minutes, some of them will say their fingers are hurting, so we take a break," said May, a Phoenix educator who began teaching typing to second-graders this school year. Of the major shifts taking place in American classrooms as a result of the new national Common Core academic standards, one little-noticed but sweeping change is the fact that children as early as kindergarten are learning to use a keyboard.
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Study: Students in foster care face 'invisible achievement gap'
Los Angeles Times
Thousands of California students in foster care are suffering from an "invisible achievement gap," with worse academic performance, a higher dropout rate and placement in more failing schools than their statewide peers, according to a study. The study, which provides the first detailed statewide look at foster youths and their academic challenges, was made possible by a new data-sharing agreement between the state education and social services agencies. It comes as school districts across California prepare to launch the nation's first effort to systematically address the yawning academic deficiencies among foster youths, using additional money provided by the state's new school financing law.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Teamwork in schools: What administrators should know (eSchool News)
Happiness: A key outcome of equitable schools (Edutopia)
The votes are in: Sandy Hook Elementary will be torn down (NPR)
Handwriting vs. typing: Which skill do students need most? (EdTech Magazine)
School bans most balls during recess: Smart move or going too far? (CNN)

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


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School lunch could hit skids if shutdown persists
Education Week
So unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the White House and congressional Republicans have actually started talking to each other, about maybe, possibly ending the government shutdown, although there was no final deal yet as of Friday afternoon. The move can't come soon enough for one key program that K-12 schools depend on federal money for: school lunch. Quick primer on that program works: Schools are "reimbursed" by the feds for some portion of their expenditures on a monthly basis. That's why there hasn't been a major disruption in October — schools already had the necessary cash on hand.
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What makes a successful tutor?
Edutopia
Several things become apparent after tutoring for 20 years. For one, the number of students working with tutors continues to grow. Two, working 1:1 with students is immensely gratifying, both for the tutor and tutee. And three, a few specific yet generalized characteristics become crystalized about all successful tutors.
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Surveys synthesized: What are teachers' attitudes about classroom technology?
MindShift
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center reviewed five national surveys that polled K-12 classroom teachers about their practices and uses of technology. The report includes findings from PBS LearningMedia's Teacher Technology Usage Survey (January 2012); The Gates Foundation's Technology and Effective Teaching in the U.S. (February 2012); The Joan Ganz Cooney Center's National Survey of Teacher Attitudes & Beliefs on Digital Games & Learning (May 2012); Common Sense Media's Children, Teens, and Entertainment Media (Fall 2012); and Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project Online Survey of Teachers (February 2013). The review highlights some of the benefits and obstacles of using different kinds of technology in the classroom, but it also raises some great questions that have yet to be explored with thorough surveys.
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What to consider for eBook implementation
eSchool News
eBook implementation is becoming crucial for schools and districts as part of the digital content movement. As mobile devices become a classroom staple, printed books are becoming a staple of the past. But as more schools begin to consider eBooks, many administrators are asking "Where do we start?" According to Carl Harvey, school librarian at North Elementary School in Noblesville, Ind., and past president of the American Association of School Librarians, the first question most administrators ask is "What should we focus on? The content or the device?"
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6 ways to engage in Connected Educator Month
eSchool News
During Connected Educator Month, it's important to realize that the skills, information, and resources shared among school leaders and teachers should be used and applied all year long for the most impactful teaching and learning. Here, Patrick Larkin, the assistant superintendent for Learning for Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts, outlines some key steps school leaders can take to support Connected Educator Month in October, and all year long: "A few years ago, I was leading a conversation on the topic of getting more school leaders 'connected' at a conference in Philadelphia with my friend George Couros, a school administrator from Edmonton, Alberta."
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School cafeterias with debit systems could spur kids to consume more calories
The Huffington Post
Many school cafeterias have turned to debit card systems, where parents can put money into an account linked with a card that students use to purchase food. But a new study from Cornell University shows that this cashless system could actually increase the amount of junk food students consume. Researchers David Just and Brian Wansink, who are the co-directors of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, analyzed food types and calories consumed among more than 2,300 students from first through 12th grade whose cafeterias had cash-only, cash-and-debit and debit-only systems.
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States' teacher evaluation methods vary widely
eSchool News
In the drive to hold teachers more accountable for student learning, states are revolutionizing how they evaluate teachers. This year, for example, 34 school districts in Illinois will begin evaluating teachers based in part on student test scores for the first time. Tennessee recently joined a handful of other states in tying student scores to whether their teachers' keep their licenses.
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Tablets in schools: What could go wrong?
Bloomberg Businessweek
With the consumer market for mobile devices hurtling toward saturation, tech companies are falling back on the old adage: Get 'em while they're young. And if you're looking for young people, there's no better place to find them than in schools. Amazon said that it had acquired TenMarks, a company that makes math apps that comply with standards for the Common Core curriculum, which has been adopted by a majority of U.S. states. TenMarks says its products are already in use at tens of thousands of schools. The deal allows Amazon to load up its Kindles with exclusive content. This will bolster its pitch as it elbows for space in the crowd of tech companies trying to get in on the educational-technology buying binge.
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Reform in a recession
Scholastic Administrator
Making lasting change to a large educational system isn't easy even when jobs and resources are plentiful. But the last few years, since the beginning of the Great Recession — and especially since the wind-down of the federal stimulus program — have shown that making progress is extremely difficult during tough economic times.

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read more
States tackle chronic absence in schools
Stateline
School attendance is about more than figuring out who is playing hooky. Until recently, schools mostly looked at the student body's overall attendance rate and the truancy — or unexcused absences — of individual students.

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10 things we've learned about learning
Smithsonian Magazine
It's the time of year when learning seems remarkably possible. Students are excited, teachers are motivated–let the learnfest begin. But by next month, it will become clear once again that the teaching/learning routine is a tricky dance, that all kinds of things, both in our heads and in our lives, can knock it off balance.

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Group presses for safeguards on the personal data of schoolchildren
The New York Times
A leading children's advocacy group is challenging the educational technology software industry, an estimated $8 billion market, to develop national safeguards for the personal data collected about students from kindergarten through high school. In a letter sent to 16 educational technology vendors — including Google Apps for Education, Samsung School, Scholastic and Pearson Schoolnet — Common Sense Media, an advocacy group in San Francisco that rates children's videos and apps for age appropriateness, urged the industry to use student data only for educational purposes, and not for marketing products to children or their families.
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Shutdown leaves hollow staffing at education department
Education Week
Until Oct. 1, Jenelle Leonard served as the director of school support and rural programs within the U.S. Department of Education. Then the federal government shut down, leaving 4,000 of the department's workers, including Ms. Leonard, without a paycheck. What about Laura G. Johns, senior program advisor for the Office of Educational Technology? And Samuel Lopez, education program specialist at the office of English Language Acquisition? Yep, them too. Most of the Education Department's phone lines now end up giving callers the same message: "There's a temporary shutdown of the U.S. government due to a lapse in appropriations. I will respond to your message as soon as possible after the temporary shutdown ends."
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Experts: E-rate changes certain, but details unknown
eSchool News
In the midst of a federal government shutdown, strained school budgets, and calls for education reform are potentially wide-reaching changes to the eRate — the federal $2.25-billion-a-year program that makes it possible for schools and libraries to connect to the internet and give students the opportunity to cultivate the skills they need to compete in a global economy. Recent efforts to improve schools' access to reliable high-speed internet have increased, and manifested most notably in President Obama's ConnectED initiative, which aims to connect 99 percent of U.S. students and schools to high-speed broadband internet in five years.
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Budget tensions cloud hopes for end to 'sequester'
Education Week
Sequestration — the across-the-board budget cuts that represent the biggest slash in federal education spending in recent history — may continue for the foreseeable future, education advocates fear, a consequence of the budget deadlock that shuttered the U.S. government and congressional brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. With those twin fiscal crises having consumed lawmakers' attention for weeks, stopping the sequestration cuts has been shoved to the side, leaving school districts likely to cope with yet another round of reductions to programs that serve the neediest children and students in special education.
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Texas schools are expanding the reach of technology
By Archita Datta Majumdar
The Texas Long Range Plan for Technology was adopted by the State Board of Education in November 2006 as a comprehensive program to bring about technology literacy in students. As stated in its mandate, the purpose of this program is to equip students with advanced digital knowledge and prepare them for future technologies by bringing in the latest to them at the earliest. The program also makes available the latest teaching tools so educators can use them to instruct and prepare their students for a digitally advanced future, but there are some drawbacks to the plan.

Survey: Is this technology program working for Texas schools?

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Report: Louisiana part of trend on teacher reviews
The Advocate
Louisiana is part of a national wave of states that has overhauled the way public school teachers are evaluated, according to a report. "Since 2009 the vast majority of states have made significant changes to how teachers are evaluated for the main purpose of improving instruction," according to a study by the National School Boards Association Center for Public Education. In addition, most of the overhauls, like those in Louisiana, link at least part of the annual reviews to the growth of student achievement, wrote Jim Hull, senior policy analyst for the group, in his 38-page report.
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Tennessee's Metro Nashville's middle schools are now called middle 'preps'
The Tennessean
Don't call them middle schools anymore. They're middle preps — and they have logos to show it. Borrowing terminology used by charter and private schools, Metro Nashville, Tenn., Public Schools are re-branding their collection of 40 middle schools as the "Middle Preps of Nashville" as part of a new plan to retain more students at the age when they often exit the district. Though an official announcement is still in the works, Metro has started rolling out the new label. Individual schools, which each have "prep" logos based on their school colors, won't see new signs on marquees or buildings. But principals can choose whether to adopt the "prep" name for self-identification, and many are embracing the change.
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Do teacher evaluations help out students?
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Some local principals have a new report card and way of grading their teachers. Laramie County School District 1 is involved in a national study on teacher and leader evaluations. It examines the link between teacher and principal evaluations and student learning and growth, assistant superintendent of human resources John Lyttle said. The two-year Teacher and Leader Evaluation Systems study is through the American Institutes for Research. "Many states are mandating that a certain portion of a teacher's evaluation be based on student performance, but there really hasn't been any comprehensive research connecting good quality teacher evaluations to student performance. That's never occurred, and that's basically what this study does," Lyttle said.
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Looking to share your expertise?
MultiBriefs via NAESP
In an effort to enhance the overall content of Before the Bell, we'd like to include peer-written articles in future editions. As a member of NAESP, your knowledge of the industry lends itself to unprecedented expertise. And we're hoping you'll share this expertise with your peers through well-written commentary. Because of the digital format, there's no word or graphical limit and our group of talented editors can help with final edits. If you're interested in participating, please contact Ronnie Richard to discuss logistics.
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Submit a principal story for National Principals Month
NAESP
This month, NAESP invites educators, students, and parents to celebrate the contributions of principals during National Principals Month. Submit stories, photos, videos, or poems about principals to our Hats Off to Principals Facebook contest. Principals, you're welcome to honor a colleague or an assistant principal, too! Visit our Facebook page to upload your tribute, and you could win excellent prizes.
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Explore early learning and creativity with Principal magazine
NAESP
The September/November issue of NAESP's flagship magazine focuses on developing a continuum of learning for pre-K-3 students. Explore the importance of play in early education, tips for building foundations for literacy, and strategies to maximize staff collaboration. Plus, don't miss this issue's special supplement on creativity.
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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.

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