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How big is digital education in the United States? An end of year review
Brookings
Buzz about the potential of digital learning abounds. Despite the excitement, relatively little is known about how many students are actually taking advantage of digital learning opportunities. This is partly due to online learning tools having numerous forms, rendering them difficult to track. In addition, policies also vary greatly across states. A new report, Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning, helps to shed light on the state of online learning in the United States.
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Outlook on instruction: Class around the clock
District Administration Magazine
Better ways to use data. High-tech professional development. Differentiated instruction. Some exciting advancements are on the horizon for classrooms in 2015. While they sound technical, the biggest changes aren't going to be driven by an app, a computer program or a new kind of tablet — they will come from new theories about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom. Technology will continue to transform classroom instruction in the coming years. But education leaders, such as Vanderbilt University professor Barbara Stengel and Partnership for 21st Century Skills Executive Director Helen Soule, say they hope to see an ongoing shift in what administrators, teachers, students and parents think a classroom should look like and how it should function.
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Why math might be the secret to school success
NPR
Little children are big news, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill. Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years. In New York City, an ambitious, $25 million study is collecting evidence on the best way to raise outcomes for kids in poverty. Their hunch is that it may begin with math.
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Why active listening should be an integral part of the daily lesson plan
By: Shirley Veldhuis
Seeing students remain at Tier II interventions for a long period of time was once a big concern of mine. The students could read words fluently but could not comprehend proficiently. The reading gap never closed. What was the cause? Was something missing from Tier I core instruction? The answer came a year after I retired when I began to volunteer with a group of third-grade girls at a children's summer program in northwest Detroit.
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SEL and the Common Core: Why emotion vocabulary matters
Edutopia
Maurice Elias, a contributor for Edutopia, writes: "In my previous blog, 'Connecting SEL and the Common Core, Part One,' I wrote about how the Common Core has an implicit dependence on SEL-related pedagogy if we want our children to graduate being college, career, and contribution ready. Here, in part two, I focus on how emotional vocabulary is essential for academic and interpersonal success."
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Kids in the US do a lot of pointless homework, in 2 charts
Vox via Yahoo News
American 15-year-olds do about six hours of homework per week, more than kids in most other developed countries. And the amount of homework hasn't changed much since 2003, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. All that homework, though, might not be helping much. In almost every country in the study, kids who spend more time doing homework also score higher on the math portion of the Program of International Scholastic Assessment, a standardized test organized by the OECD.
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Lifelong learning: Inspiring the quest for knowledge
By: Erick Herrmann
What is a teacher's role? The answer to this question has seemed to expand over the past few decades. On the surface, the role of the teacher is to help students learn the knowledge and skills prescribed in the various federal, state and local standards. Many teachers would share that instilling a lifelong love of learning in their students is also a primary goal. Yet, how can we do this in an era of prescriptive learning and standardized tests?
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Why the demise of field trips is bad news
The Atlantic
In Watertown, New York, the local school district recently debated scaling back field trips for students, with administrators citing the cost of providing transportation and chaperones—money that instead needs to be devoted to more purely academic endeavors. "The issue right now for us, mostly, is the fact that we don't really pay for field trips unless they're very, very tied into the curriculum," Superintendent Terry Fralick said at an October meeting of the Watertown school board.
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TRENDING ARTICLES
Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

    Fair fees? Facing cuts, more schools charge for busing (USA Today)
Magnet schools lead the list of top US public schools (By: Archita Datta Majumdar)
More students at poor US schools get free meals in federal initiative (Reuters)
Common sense for the Common Core (Scholastic Administrator)
More states make computer science count (District Administration Magazine)

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




K-12 students on technology in schools: More, please
THE Journal
Half of middle and high school students judge the amount of technology use in their schools as "moderate." A third of them consider that just fine; but 55 percent would rather see more technology in use (boys more so than girls). Six out of 10 teachers expect technology to become "very important" two years from now, whereas 41 percent consider it very important today. Another 47 percent consider it simply "important."
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Can a child's creativity and persistence be assessed by a game?
MindShift
Educators have long known academic standards are only one part of nurturing a well-rounded and successful student. There are a host of other skills like creativity, persistence, critical thinking, collaboration and empathy that help make a student successful in school and in life, but are less quantifiable. Current assessment systems aren't set up to measure these very important but less measurable skills, so policymakers have focused on standardized tests that try to capture what a student knows, not how he or she can apply that information.
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3 different ways to go 1:1
Scholastic Administrator
As most districts know, simply outfitting kids with the latest devices as part of a 1:1 push won't boost achievement. Unless you find the right tool to help students excel at learning, you could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on high-tech pencils. Three district administrators told us how they made their decisions — and what you need to know to make yours.
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Schools' discipline for girls differs by race and hue
The New York Times
To hear Mikia Hutchings speak, one must lean in close, as her voice barely rises above a whisper. In report cards, her teachers describe her as "very focused," someone who follows the rules and stays on task. So it was a surprise for her grandmother when Mikia, 12, and a friend got into trouble for writing graffiti on the walls of a gym bathroom at Dutchtown Middle School in Henry County last year.
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Common Core assessment products now make up largest sector of K-12 tech market
EdTech Magazine
The shift to Common Core State Standards in K–12 schools across the country has raised the software assessment industry to new heights. Common Core has been adopted by 43 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, according to the program's website. These voluntary K–12 benchmarks are designed to keep U.S. schools globally competitive; a key tenet is mandatory online assessments.
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Looking for similar articles? Search here, keywords COMMON CORE.


Should teachers be judged on student performance?
Education Week
Should teachers be judged on student performance? Is it a fair assessment of their skills as educators? A recent study published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis is the latest in a number of forms of research that cast doubt on whether it is feasible for states to evaluate teachers based partially on student test scores. Research shows us that little to no correlation between high quality teaching and the appraisals these teachers are given.
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What happens when kids don't have Internet at home?
The Atlantic
As students stream off the schools buses here, the typical end-of-day scene unfolds with a twist. Thrown over the kids' shoulders are sleek black laptop bags with the name of their district emblazoned on them. As part of an effort to bridge the so-called digital divide — the gap between rich and poor when it comes to access to technology — the Kent School District has for six years given every student a laptop, beginning in seventh grade.
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Principals hope spending bill will lead to more funds for school leader training
Education Week
Groups representing principals and school administrators praised the recently approved federal spending measure for recognizing principals' mounting responsibilities and for directing the U.S. Department of Education to step up professional development and support to help principals get the job done.
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GOP Senate aides working on draft ESEA bill that could ditch annual testing
Education Week
Senate GOP aides, who are hoping to get a bill reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act on the runway early in the new year, are getting started on legislation that looks very similar to a bill Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the incoming chairman of the Senate education committee, introduced last year. But there would be one major change: an end to the federal mandate for annual testing, Republican Senate aides confirm.
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What the new E-Rate funding can do for your district
THE Journal
The $1.5 billion increase in E-Rate's annual funding approved by the Federal Communications Commission is expected to allow 101,000 schools and 16,000 libraries to expand their high-speed broadband and WiFi access. That extra funding has been guaranteed for the next five years, and much of it is expected to allow Priority 2 funds to go further, according to Ronald Sheps, director of public sector programs at Westcon. Sheps spoke during a webinar hosted by Carousel Industries. Both companies provide networking and communications services and equipment in the education market.
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From potatoes to salty fries in school: Congress tweaks food rules
NPR
The gargantuan budget bill that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expected to vote does more than dole out federal dollars to keep the government running. It also tweaks federal nutrition rules. For starters, the bill — aka, the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill — includes a provision that will give school food directors more flexibility when it comes to adopting 100 percent whole grain items, such as pasta and biscuits, in school breakfast and lunch meals.
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Rural schools hit hard by budget cuts
District Administration Magazine
Funding cuts since the recession have drained the accounts of rural districts, which cannot rely on a resurgence in property tax revenues as heavily as urban school systems can. Some 9.7 million students are enrolled in rural districts, representing more than 20 percent of all U.S. public school students. And rural enrollment continues to rise, increasing by nearly 137,000 students from 2008-09 to 2009-10, according to the report "Why Rural Matters 2013-2014" from the nonprofit Rural School and Community Trust. "Many rural students are largely invisible to state policymakers because they live in states where education policy is dominated by highly visible urban problems," the report states.
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In Mississippi, education money gap grows to $1.5 billion
The Associated Press via The Huffington Post
In a state with a long history of lousy education, and a bad habit of not paying for it, nowhere is the problem more profound than in this tiny town in the middle of Mississippi. Durant Public School teachers spend their nights on the Internet, searching for math and other problems to give their students because the school doesn't have any up-to-date textbooks.
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Curl up with a great read from the NPRC
NAESP
Kick off 2015 with fresh ideas, strategies and inspiration from the National Principals Resource Center. Peruse the NPRC bookstore for resources on hot topics, including early childhood education, visible learning, Common Core implementation, social-emotional learning and more.
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Listen now: Arne Duncan on NAESP Radio
NAESP
Gail Connelly, executive director of NAESP, recently sat down with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to explore today's challenges and opportunities in education. In the latest edition of NAESP Radio, they discuss developments in early childhood education, teacher leadership and federal policy. Listen to the full interview now.
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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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