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US students show incremental progress on national test
The Washington Post
The nation's fourth- and eighth-graders made incremental progress on math and reading tests administered earlier this year by the federal government, according to data. The results detail performance in 2013 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, that U.S. students have taken every two years since the early 1990s. The test, also known as the Nation's Report Card, is the country's most consistent measure of K-12 academic progress.
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10 facts about teacher evaluation policies
eSchool News
New teacher evaluation policies are being developed across states, but states still have a long way to go in connecting the data from these evaluations to action — specifically when it comes to either rewarding or disciplining teachers, and developing professional development programs, according to a new report. Spurred partly by federal Race to the Top program funds, as well as by federal conditions to be followed by states pursuing waivers of No Child Left Behind, "the widespread adoption of more rigorous teacher evaluation policies represents a seismic shift rarely seen in education policy in general or state teacher policy specifically," according to the report.
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Common Core ELA resources for middle school educators
Edutopia (commentary)
Matt Davis, a contributor for Edutopia, writes: "Many educators this year are updating existing curriculum for the Common Core. And it's going to be a long process for everyone. Here, I've collected some open resources that might help in that process, with links to lessons that can serve as building blocks for Common Core-aligned units. The emphasis this time is on English language arts in middle school."
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PARCC releases sample Common Core test items
THE Journal
PARCC has released additional sample test questions for its upcoming assessments of Common Core Tate Standards. With this release, the group has now made sample questions available across all grade levels. PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is one of the two state coalitions tasked with developing assessments for Common Core State Standards that will be administered nationwide in the 2014–2015 school year. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia currently make up the coalition, representing about 22 million K-12 students enrolled in public schools.
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Standardized test results are only one measure of our work
Education Week (commentary)
Standardized tests measure only one facet of our work. Why not measure and report a broader view of our work? This would put standardized test results in their place among all the other measures of our efforts. Educators are not purveyors of information. We are responsible for the intellectual, social, emotional and physical wellbeing of our students. Our teaching includes their academic learning, civic conduct and social behaviors.
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How the power of interest drives learning
MindShift
In recent years researchers have begun to build a science of interest, investigating what interest is, how interest develops, what makes things interesting, and how we can cultivate interest in ourselves and others. They are finding that interest can help us think more clearly, understand more deeply, and remember more accurately. Interest has the power to transform struggling performers, and to lift high achievers to a new plane. So what is interest? Interest is a psychological state of engagement, experienced in the moment, and also a predisposition to engage repeatedly with particular ideas, events, or objects over time.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    A teacher perspective: Advice for principals (Edutopia)
Study: Children quick to judge peers with autism (Disability Scoop)
Report: Teacher-evaluation policies becoming increasingly 'rigorous' (Education Week)
4 caution lights for school leaders (Connected Principals Blog)
Talking about numbers, not just counting, builds kids' understanding (KPBS-TV)

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


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6 tips on dealing with difficult people
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
William Parker, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: "If you are like me, you want school leadership to be about inspiring or encouraging others to reach shared goals. So often, motivational leadership also requires managing complicated situations or people. Over the years, I have begun to learn practical skills in dealing with people who are upset, angry, or just plain mean."
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How much freedom to give kids with school-issued iPads?
MindShift
Parents pack into a gym at Cahuilla Desert Academy, a middle school in the southern California city of Thermal. The near triple-digit daytime heat of the Coachella Valley, southeast of Palm Springs, has given way to a cool evening. It's iPad information night. Before addressing the crowd, Principal Encarnacion Becerra talks up the district's ambitious new iPads-for-all initiative with the fervor of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. "It's truly a revolution, what's happening," he says. "Technology has finally caught up to where truly you hold the Internet in the palm of your hands. The power of the mobile devices that exist now — we have to have to leverage that capacity and to evolve as educators to address those needs."
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Developing and deploying Facebook for school districts
eSchool News (commentary)
The Norris School District has deliberately cultivated a combined social media brand over the last several years by deploying multiple official district-managed Twitter feeds, and primarily by deploying a Facebook fan page. Our school district is a system of about 2,100 students in southeast Nebraska. The district covers a wide geographic area and is a consolidated system serving students in seven small communities, as well as in rural areas just south of Lincoln, Neb.
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In public education, edge still goes to rich
The New York Times
"There aren't many things that are more important to that idea of economic mobility — the idea that you can make it if you try — than a good education," President Barack Obama told students at the State University of New York in Buffalo in August. It is hardly a partisan belief. About a decade ago, on signing the No Child Left Behind Act, President George W. Bush argued that the nation's biggest challenge was to ensure that "every single child, regardless of where they live, how they're raised, the income level of their family, every child receive a first-class education in America."
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Advocates believe dogs will make schools safer
The Associated Press via Lancaster Eagle Gazette
While some say school safety hinges on guns, cameras or alarms in classrooms, Mark Gomer and Kristi Schiller think specially trained dogs should take point in preventing violence in schools. Gomer's for-profit company has sent a gun- and drug-detecting dog to patrol the halls of an Ohio high school, while Schiller is launching a nonprofit in Houston to give schools the trained canines for free. Their programs are still in their infancy, so questions remain about dogs that can distract, scare or send kids into sneezing fits. But they think they can cultivate their ideas to help schools across the country stay safe.
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The school that won't let students play tag or hold hands
The Atlantic
An elementary school in British Columbia, Canada has outlawed tag. In a letter to kindergarten parents sent home recently, Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School administrators wrote that students were no longer allowed to engage in "hands-on play" during recess. Specifically banned activities include "tag, holding hands, and any and all imaginary fighting games."
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House GOP to probe how healthcare law has hit schools and colleges
Education Week
The hottest topic in Washington these days is the bumpy rollout of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare to its critics). And now the House Education and the Workforce Committee is getting in on the action. The panel announced today it plans to explore the impact of the law on schools. The hearing, entitled "The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities," will involve the full committee and take place next Thursday, Nov. 14. Pre-hearing homework: Read my colleague, Sean Cavanagh's take on the edu-implications of the ACA.
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Feds post food allergy guidelines for schools
The Associated Press via The Huffington Post
The federal government is issuing its first guidelines to schools on how to protect children with food allergies. The voluntary guidelines call on schools to take such steps as restricting nuts, shellfish or other foods that can cause allergic reactions, and make sure emergency allergy medicine — like EpiPens — are available. About 15 states — and numerous individual schools or school districts — already have policies of their own. "The need is here" for a more comprehensive, standardized way for schools to deal with this issue, said Dr. Wayne Giles, who oversaw development of the advice for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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6 tips on dealing with difficult people
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
William Parker, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: “If you are like me, you want school leadership to be about inspiring or encouraging others to reach shared goals. So often, motivational leadership also requires managing complicated situations or people."

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Teamwork in schools: What administrators should know
eSchool News
Administrators are tasked with an ever-growing list of responsibilities in their schools and districts. Central to ensuring smooth operations? Teamwork. When school administrators, teachers, and staff members work together collaboratively, school operations and initiative are more efficient.

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11 tips on teaching Common Core critical vocabulary
Edutopia
Teaching vocabulary within the Common Core State Standards is an essential component of standards-based curriculum alignment. Making the critical words second nature to our students will enhance achievement on assessments and will be useful in college and career.

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Secretary Duncan links federal Race to Top investments to NAEP gains
Education Week
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is spinning the new NAEP results as a payoff for the Race to the Top program, even though not every state that received money under the federal competition soared on the "nation's report card." In a conference call with reporters the day before Thursday's results came out, Duncan commended what he called the "encouraging but modest" results, which show progress in math and reading in 8th grade, but only in math in 4th grade. And despite experts' urgings not to use NAEP to establish causation between policies and results, Duncan suggested that the results vindicate his department's investments in states.
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Defeat of school tax stings Colorado Democrats
The New York Times
They had $10 million in contributions, a barrage of advertising and support from the usually warring factions of the educational establishment. But Democratic leaders in this swing state were dealt a stinging defeat on Tuesday as voters resoundingly rejected an effort to raise taxes by $1 billion a year to pay for a sweeping school overhaul. The outcome, a warning to Democrats nationally, was a drubbing for teachers unions as well as wealthy philanthropists like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Bill and Melinda Gates, who pumped millions of dollars into the measure, and it offered a sharp rebuke to Gov. John W. Hickenlooper and the Democratically led legislature, who have recently tugged Colorado to the left with laws on gun control and clean energy.
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Teacher uses exercise balls to control squirming students
Orlando Sentinel
When Seminole Springs Elementary teacher Stephanie Burnett told her colleagues she was going to issue bouncy, inflatable stability balls to her wiggly 6- and 7-year-old students instead of desk chairs, the initial reaction was shock. "When people realized what I intended to do the first thing people said was, 'I think it's great, but I think you're crazy,'" said Burnett, 31, who is in her third year teaching. "'You're not going to have chairs at all?'"
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Louisiana teachers seek pipeline to promotion
The advertiser
Louisiana school districts need to do more to prepare teachers for leadership roles, according to the results of a new survey. The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana surveyed more than 400 teachers from 56 school systems last month. At least three in 10 said they were at least somewhat interested in becoming an assistant principal or principal. But more than half of the respondents said their school systems did not have formal processes to identify, recruit or develop potential school leaders.
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Senators question if school budget will meet state's needs
Herald-Tribune
State senators questioned whether the Department of Education's proposed public school budget for next year would meet Florida's education needs in areas like transportation, health insurance and technology. After lawmakers approved a budget in the spring that gave the kindergarten through high school system a $1 billion boost, including $480 million for teacher pay raises, the department and the state Board of Education are advancing a budget for 2014-2015 with a more modest $387 million increase.
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Tennessee and the District lead education reform
USA Today
How often does Tennessee get cited nationally for producing great academic gains for its children? Almost never, about the same number of times Washington, D.C., gets touted for its superior academic results. And yet both Tennessee and D.C. stood out Thursday for making the fastest education gains as the results from the "nation's report card," the respected National Assessment of Educational Progress, were released.
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School district is building its classrooms with tech in mind
EdTech Magazine
Third-grade teacher Michelle Lingenfelter stands in front of what looks like the ultimate wall unit in her classroom at South Carolina's Charleston Progressive Academy. At its center is a floor-to-ceiling cabinet with an interactive whiteboard mounted to it. On each side of the cabinet are open shelves stocked with a computer, document camera, tablet-charging station and other equipment. Whiteboards slide across the open shelves and lock, providing secure storage space when the equipment isn't in use.
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2-day celebration honors distinguished principals
NAESP
NAESP honored this year's National Distinguished Principals with a two-day celebration that culminated Friday, Oct. 25, with an awards banquet in Washington, D.C. Hailing from public and private schools around the country and overseas, the sixty-one 2013 National Distinguished Principals enjoyed an evening of festivities at the Capital Hilton Hotel. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered remarks, congratulating principals for all they do for our nation's children.
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Boost bus safety: Tips for parents
NAESP
When students ride the bus, they must follow specific rules to avoid dangerous situations. Get your school's families on board with bus safety with this month's issue of Report to Parents, "Boost Bus Safety." Encourage families to review these general bus safety principles. Report to Parents is NAESP's a family-friendly bulletin that you can post on your school website, forward to your teachers or parents, or distribute at your next school event.
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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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