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Curriculum    School Leadership   Federal Advocacy & Policy   In the States   Association News   Buy Books   Contact NAESP


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What happens when parents decide to opt-out of standardized tests?
MindShift
Ten years into the No Child Left Behind accountability standards, the backlash is gaining momentum. In New York, a growing number of parents are discovering that, as state standardized tests become a prominent part of the curriculum, their children are losing interest in school. This discovery is leading many of them to opt out of the tests altogether. But if a critical mass of parents decide that they don't buy into state mandated assessments, what will happen to the school system? Robert Kolker explores the consequences in New York City in a recent article for New York Magazine.
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School leadership matters
Principal
As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan enters year two of his second term, his focus continues to be what he calls a "cradle to career" agenda. On one end of that continuum is an emphasis on early childhood education. In fact, the department's proposed budget includes $75 billion to go toward making sure children have access to high-quality pre-K. The department's budget request also includes $98 million — a 230 percent increase — for school leadership. Duncan spoke with NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly about these and other issues facing K-8 principals.
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Survey: Common Core needs dominate districts' curriculum priorities
Education Week
As districts implement the Common Core State Standards, 68 percent plan to purchase new instructional materials — an increase from 62 percent two years ago, according to a survey by MDR, a provider of marketing information and services for education. The potential market size of purchasing Common Core materials is 7,600 district buyers, according to the survey, which will be included in MDR's EdNET Insight State of the K-12 Market 2013. This four-part report will be available in its entirety later in December. In the meantime, MDR, which is based in Shelton, Conn., shared a portion of the report's results with Education Week.
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Age of distraction: Why it's crucial for students to learn to focus
MindShift
Digital classroom tools like computers, tablets and smartphones offer exciting opportunities to deepen learning through creativity, collaboration and connection, but those very devices can also be distracting to students. Similarly, parents complain that when students are required to complete homework assignments online, it’s a challenge for students to remain on task. The ubiquity of digital technology in all realms of life isn’t going away, but if students don’t learn how to concentrate and shut out distractions, research shows they’ll have a much harder time succeeding in almost every area.
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Do schools have the infrastructure to implement the Common Core?
EdSurge
How long can students stare at a frozen screen before their minds wander off? How long can they wait for a webpage to load during testing before losing patience and focus? These were some of the critical issues facing the 800-plus technology staff, educators and administrators who attended CETPA 2013 in Pasadena, Calif. Many were searching for ways to stay ahead of the increasing demand for bandwidth as classrooms rely more and more on digital media.
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Coding across the curriculum
Edutopia (commentary)
Matthew Farber, a social studies teacher and educational technology adjunct pursuing an Ed.D., writes: "'I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.' — Steve Jobs. The quote is on the homepage of the coding website Tynker. Coding, formerly known as programming (I still remember teaching myself BASIC on my Commodore 64 back in the '80s!), has once again returned to classrooms nationwide. A range of high-profile individuals, including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Dr. Oz and Ashton Kutcher, among others, have lent their support to Code.org, a nonprofit that advocates a return to coding in the classroom."
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Is it better to have a great teacher or a small class? (The Atlantic)
Science says: Here's how to reach every student brain (eSchool News)
Art makes you smart (The New York Times)
3 strategies to promote independent thinking in classrooms (Edutopia)
VINCI and NAESP partner to support principals in early childhood education (District Administration Magazine)

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In the shadows of principals
ED.gov Blog (commentary)
Joshua Klaris, the U.S. Department of Education's Resident Principal, writes: "I admit I was nervous. Principals are busy. It's almost a cliché that they are unsung heroes who move mountains every day with very little praise and backbreaking hours. So, when it was time for the culminating event of ED Goes Back to School Principal Shadowing, I worried. As a principal myself, on assignment for the year to serve as a bridge between other school leaders and the U.S. Department of Education, I thought: 'What if our 45 area principals were too busy to show up?'"
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The right to read: Suing a state for better teaching
Center for American Progress
The research is irrefutable: Children who don't learn to read proficiently by the third grade face nearly insurmountable challenges not only in their next decade of schooling but also into their adult lives. The mounting evidence clearly linking the ability to read well in the early grades to future success has, over the past few years, prompted a number of states to consider and enact legislation to require the retention of students who cannot read at grade level in the third grade and the intervention of special instruction and support to raise their reading achievement.
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PISA results yield 4 key actions for US education
eSchool News
U.S. students lagged behind their international counterparts in reading, math, and science, and students' performance remained flat as other countries' students improved, according to much-anticipated data from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment. The PISA is an international study launched in 1997 that assesses 15-year-olds in reading, math, and science every three years in an effort to evaluate worldwide education systems.
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Gates, Zuckerberg chip in to fund broadband in schools
The Washington Post
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among several philanthropists who have pledged $9 million to a nonprofit organization that is trying to bring the Internet to public school classrooms around the country. Over the next two years, Zuckerberg has pledged to give $3 million and Gates has promised to give $2 million to Education Superhighway, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. A smattering of other, smaller foundations have agreed to give $4 million to the organization, said its chief executive, Evan Marwell.
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Seeing the toll, schools revise zero tolerance
The New York Times
Faced with mounting evidence that get-tough policies in schools are leading to arrest records, low academic achievement and high dropout rates that especially affect minority students, cities and school districts around the country are rethinking their approach to minor offenses. Perhaps nowhere has the shift been more pronounced than in Broward County's public schools. Two years ago, the school district achieved an ignominious Florida record: More students were arrested on school campuses here than in any other state district, the vast majority for misdemeanors like possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti.
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NSBA commends innovative school nutrition bill that offers public schools added flexibility
District Administration Magazine
The Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, offers relief to school districts on some of the federal mandates that have created soaring operational costs along with other unintended consequences, such as school lunches that leave students hungry in cases where serving sizes are inadequate or students do not like the food mandated and are refusing to eat it.
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Why leaders should brand their schools
Education Week (commentary)
Social media is a topic that intrigues many of us. It provides us access to some of the best resources that will help us become better teachers and school leaders. Social media helps us create relationships through our PLN, which helps us find support as we go into uncharted territories with our staff and students. The progressive educators in my PLN have inspired me to work outside of my comfort zone.
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Special educators strained by budget cuts
Disability Scoop
Budget cuts are forcing larger class sizes, bigger case loads and leaving schools with too few staff to meet the needs of students with disabilities, special educators say. In a survey of over 1,000 special education teachers, administrators and other professionals across the country, more than 80 percent reported that budget cuts have impacted the delivery of services for kids with disabilities. Just as many said that such cutbacks have left "too few personnel to meet the needs of students with disabilities" in their school districts.
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US achievement stalls as other nations make gains
Education Week
U.S. performance in reading, math, and science has remained stagnant since 2009 as other nations have plowed ahead, according to new results from a prominent international assessment. Nineteen countries and education systems scored higher than the United States in reading on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, up from nine systems when the test was last administered in 2009. Germany and Poland, for instance, have seen steady gains on the reading assessment over time, and are now ahead of the United States.
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California's K-12 transgender bathroom bill sparks war on privacy rights
The Washington Times
California has done it again. The state's lawmakers approved a bill which permits public K-12 schools to allow transgender students who feel like they belong in the opposite sex to choose which restrooms and locker-rooms they use. Although other states have adopted similar legislation, the state of California's AB1266 is the first that actually mandates action for school districts. The current California state law already denies California school districts the ability to discriminate against transgendered students based on their gender identity. Other states like Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut all have vaguely similar bills, which simply authorize the similar measures.
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FEATURED ARTICLE
TRENDING ARTICLE
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Age of distraction: Why it's crucial for students to learn to focus
MindShift
Digital classroom tools like computers, tablets and smartphones offer exciting opportunities to deepen learning through creativity, collaboration and connection, but those very devices can also be distracting to students.

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read more
The state of the Common Core
Edutopia
Millions of teachers and thousands of districts in 45 states are currently undergoing a sea change in the way that they teach and assess students. The new Common Core Standards for learning have been phased into states and districts since 2010, and the digitized Common Core Assessments are scheduled to deploy in states that have adopted them as early as the 2014-2015 school year.

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New Common Core resources for educators
eClassroom News
New resources released this month link Common Core-aligned curriculum with any school system’s assessment data, and what's more, these resources for educators are also 100 percent free. The resources, housed on Activate Instruction, are part of an open platform where educators can browse, search, rate, add, share and organize their favorite Common Core-aligned resources, and put them together in personalized playlists for students.

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Los Angeles Unified accuses state of 'shortchanging' needy students
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Unified accused state education officials of "shortchanging" the school district's impoverished students, saying they could be prevented from receiving all of the estimated $200 million due them under a new school funding system. Edgar Zazueta, L.A. Unified's chief lobbyist, said new rules requiring school districts to verify each needy student's family income in order to receive extra state dollars for them could result in a major undercount. So far, the district has received only 22 percent of the 138,000 verification forms sent out last month to students in 380 low-income schools, he said, with the initial deadline looming.
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Cursive getting squeezed out of Maine curricula
Portland Press Herald
It was "r" day in Rhonda Rush's third-grade class. Chelsea Elementary third-grader Chloe Smiley works on a cursive lesson during a recent class. Rush led her class through the cursive letter. The pencil stroke travels up to kiss the top line, then down slightly and back up, forming a little "smile," as the workbook calls it, then back down to the bottom line. The students copied a series of words that added "r" to the letters they'd already learned: race, are, after, their, rake, real, ready, there.
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Middle school students say principal banned speaking Spanish
Yahoo News
The actions of Hempstead, Texas, middle school principal, Amy Lacey, are under investigation after students allege that the administrator announced a ban on students speaking Spanish. Principal Lacey is currently on paid administrative leave while the district looks into the matter. The Texas students claim that the principal used the school's public address system on Nov. 12 to inform students that they were not to speak Spanish so that class disruptions could be avoided.
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PISA results offer model for federal policies that support educators
NAESP
Results from the Programme for International Student Assessment highlight that U.S. students continue to struggle to perform on par with their international peers in reading, math and science. NAESP joined national education organizations to call on policymakers to use PISA data to shape policies that better support schools and reinforce the authority and autonomy of principals.
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Keep families safe: Tips for parents on disaster preparedness
NAESP
Schools have emergency plans to keep students safe from threats of violence or natural disasters — and families should, too. This month's Report to Parents, "Prep for Emergencies," will help families take steps to prepare for and respond calmly to dangerous situations. 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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