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As 2014 comes to a close, NAESP would like to wish its members, partners and other industry professionals a safe and happy holiday season. As we reflect on the past year for the industry, we would like to provide the readers of NAESP's Before the Bell, a look at the most accessed articles from the year. Our regular publication will resume Tuesday, Jan. 6.


Kindergarten is the new first grade, researchers find
University of Virginia via Science Daily
From Feb. 7: Kindergarten classrooms nationwide have changed dramatically since the late 1990s and nearly all of these changes are in the direction of a heightened focus on academics, particularly literacy, according to researchers from EdPolicyWorks, the center on education policy and workforce competitiveness at the University of Virginia. In a working paper titled "Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Changing Nature of Kindergarten in the Age of Accountability," U.Va. researchers Daphna Bassok and Anna Rorem posit that increased emphasis on accountability led to meaningful changes in the kindergartener experience.
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Homework: An unnecessary evil? ... Surprising findings from new research
The Washington Post
From Oct. 10: A brand-new study on the academic effects of homework offers not only some intriguing results but also a lesson on how to read a study — and a reminder of the importance of doing just that: reading studies (carefully) rather than relying on summaries by journalists or even by the researchers themselves. Let's start by reviewing what we know from earlier investigations. First, no research has ever found a benefit to assigning homework (of any kind or in any amount) in elementary school.
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Here's why great principals matter
eSchool News
From April 4: Strong leadership is essential to any school's success, and school principals play a vital role in ensuring teachers and students are successful in the classroom. With strong and flexible leadership, teachers say they feel they have freedom to explore new teaching techniques and approaches. Principals who foster positive school cultures see the returns of such efforts in student achievement, engagement and teacher satisfaction.
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Why poor schools can't win at standardized testing
The Atlantic
From July 18: You hear a lot nowadays about the magic of big data. Getting hold of the right numbers can increase revenue, improve decision-making, or help you find a mate — or so the thinking goes. In 2009, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told a crowd of education researchers: "I am a deep believer in the power of data to drive our decisions. Data gives us the roadmap to reform. It tells us where we are, where we need to go, and who is most at risk."
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8 qualities of leaders who deliver value every day
Entrepreneur
From Dec. 2: Leadership is a means to create value for others through self-expression. How a leader shows up is everything as it sets the tone for others to either emulate or evade. Making the jump from manager to director to leader is never a clear-cut process. The position itself changes but the "how to lead" skills are never made clear, so what happens is newly-appointed leaders apply yesterday's management tactics to today's leadership demands, and the two don't play nicely.
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What makes a great school leader?
Edutopia (commentary)
From May 27: Elena Aguilar, a transformational leadership coach from Oakland, California, writes: "This is the time of year when, for many different reasons, some teachers consider taking positions at other schools. I've received a number of calls from friends and colleagues this spring asking for my advice on this difficult decision. Here's what I always say: It's all about the principal or head of school. Find a site with a great leader and while your struggles might not be over, they'll be significantly reduced. The three qualities I find most indicative of a great school leader are visionary leadership, community builder, and emotional intelligence."
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The high cost of principal turnover
Marketplace
From Dec. 4: Heather Wolpert-Gawron has been teaching for eleven years at Jefferson Middle School in San Gabriel, Calif. During that time, she says, the school has had about ten principals. "We had many years where the morale was low," she says. "We just kind of felt abandoned." Some of those principals left on their own. Some were removed. According to a new report from the nonprofit School Leaders Network, half of new principals quit in their third year on the job.
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7 mid-school year reminders on finishing strong
Connected Principals Blog (commentary)
From Jan. 21: William Parker, a contributor for Connected Principals Blog, writes: "Recently, I was inspired by the story of Diana Nyad, who made it a personal goal to swim from Cuba to Florida and did so at the age of 64. Her 100-mile feat came with many unsuccessful previous attempts, the pain of jellyfish attacks, hallucinations and unwavering teamwork. Like long-distance swimming, being an educator is a marathon, not a sprint. And the start of a new semester is a great time to remind ourselves of what our goals are for the remainder of the school year."
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Why principals need to 'get messy,' stop micromanaging instruction, and build capacity
Scholastic Administrator
From April 29: As testing scandals continue to plague districts, and school leaders grapple with teacher evaluation and tenure, school closures and the new standards, principals are increasingly under pressure. In his new book, "The Principal," Michael Fullan calls for urgent change in the principal's role and how schools are run.
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Education Department puts spotlight on principals' central role
Education Week
From Dec. 2: In the second term of the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Education, under Secretary Arne Duncan, has trained its efforts on principals by rolling out a series of initiatives that build on the growing body of research underscoring the role they play in schools' success.
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How iPads can refresh traditional classrooms
Edudemic
From Sept. 30: Following the trend of mass mobile device adoption, educators increasingly contemplate possibilities of using iPads in classroom. State-of-the-art mobile technology is getting more and more popular in different settings and schools are no exception. Adoption of mobile devices is transforming traditional classrooms into a place that delivers real-world knowledge using efficient tech resources.
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Changing classes isn't just for middle school anymore
National Journal
From Nov. 21: Superintendent Renee Foose thinks first grade is not too early to change classes for different subjects. The idea that young children need to spend all their school time being taught by just one teacher "is an antiquated model," she says. Different teachers have different strengths, and it behooves students of all ages to be exposed to a range. Foose, who runs the Howard County Public School System in Maryland, last year instituted "departmentalization" in a handful of the district's lowest-performing elementary schools. Even the youngest students in those schools now have two academic teachers — one for math and science and another for reading, spelling and social studies.
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Schools try shuffling schedules for success
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
From Nov. 18: For years, schools have grappled with how to help the most struggling pupils catch up to their classmates. In many cases, holding them back to repeat a grade hasn't worked. Neither has social promotion — allowing children to move to the next grade with their classmates, where they may fall further behind. So what would it take to get a pupil the needed help without the stigma of repeating a grade? Two schools in the Pattonville School District in Missouri are shaking up schedules and class structures in an effort to find out.
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Should principals stop visiting classrooms?
The Washington Post (commentary)
From Jan. 10: What does it mean for an administrator to be an instructional leader? As often as this phrase is repeated, you'd think there would be well-researched techniques with proven effectiveness. There is no shortage of authors offering protips: Amazon has over a thousand titles that include the phrase.
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5 reasons schools hate snow days
CNN
From Feb. 11: The horror stories have been stacking up all winter: Students sliding and stomping through knee-deep snow on their walks to school, or trapped inside school buses, or nestling in for a surprise slumber party in the school gym. It happened in the Southeast, when a snowstorm hit during the school day. Parents were questioning it Wednesday when New York schools canceled all field trips, but didn't cancel classes, even as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a weather emergency.
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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.
Colby Horton, Vice President of Publishing, 469.420.2601   Download media kit
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