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Articles: Teaching & Learning

City of Fairfax Schools Superintendent Peter Noonan says PLCs take leadership from both teachers and administrators.

City of Fairfax Schools' leader has been a champion of professional learning communities for teachrs and administrators in large and small distrcits, and has seen results in increased AP participation, higher test scores and improved discipline.

Donna Schulze, above, is a paraeducator at Phelps Luck School in the Howard County Public Schools in Maryland.

Paraeducators are no longer on the periphery of the classroom. Now a significant part of the learning process, they are facilitating one-on-one and small-group instruction among special needs students.

San Diego USD’s Language Academy dedicated its newly revitalized campus in July, complete with new environmentally-friendly classrooms and schoolwide air conditioning.

The Language Academy is a multicultural K8 school that offers bilingual immersion courses in English, Spanish and French. Students also gain knowledge of the history and culture of the language they study. At the ceremony, students led the Pledge of Allegiance in each language.

High school students work to defend their computer network at this spring’s CyberPatriot cybersecurity competition in Washington, D.C.

CyberPatriot is all about protecting U.S. interests, and the heroes are teams of high school students. The bad guys (imaginary, in this case) are hackers who would try to disrupt power grids, banking, health care, transportation systems and other vital services.

Anton Inglese, CIO at Batavia Public School District in Illinois, helps a student practice a math lesson on his tablet. He says he gained more insight into classroom practices while studying for the CETL test, and now considers the big picture when upgrading technology.

Given the need for qualified school technologists, there are a few training programs that specifically address the unique combination of technical and pedagogical skills needed for leaders and their staff. How then, do district technology leaders and their staff develop that unique set of skills?

U.S. graduation rates reached a historic high of over 80 percent in 2012—an increase of about 8 percent over the past decade, says America’s Promise Alliance.

“We’ve made these improvements, but we’re still left with about 20 percent of young people who are on a course to failure,” says Jonathan Zaff, executive director of the Center for Promise at Tufts University, the research center for America’s Promise Alliance.

Donald Aguillard is the superintendent of St. Mary Parish Public Schools in Louisiana.

With several schools in Academic Assistance and test scores lagging behind the state average, St. Mary Parish Public Schools (Louisiana) knew powerful change was needed.

S. Dallas Dance has raised test scores at Baltimore County Schools since becoming superintendent in 2012.

President Barack Obama in August appointed Baltimore County Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance to the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dance has been superintendent in Baltimore County since 2012. He helped raise the graduation rate by 2.5 percent—to over 86 percent—between 2012 and 2013.

Schools that can’t afford to compete with the private sector in hiring technology specialists are looking to other options, such as hiring part-time experts, bringing in volunteers or finding funds to retrain teachers.

Districts that treat students with emotional disabilities with a “one-size-fits-all” behavioral approach across the system must change their policies, according to federal findings in a case against the Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia.

Angela Ciolfi, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s JustChildren Program, and two other attorneys filed a complaint in November of 2012 with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education.

A California high school supported by the Internationals Network for Public Schools admits only English language learners.

Districts far from Central America are experiencing record surges in immigrant student enrollment this fall—and must find the funding to accommodate these students but also provide them with mental health and English language services. Since October, more than 57,500 unaccompanied minors from Central America have been detained at the Mexican border.

New Orleans schools are operated by one of three organizations. Source: The Cowen Institute.

New Orleans public schools have made great strides in the eight years since the state took over most of them due to consistently low academic performance and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

But several challenges still remain for the decentralized school district, according to an August report from the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University.

Alvin Crawley became Alexandria City Public Schools’ permanent superintendent last March after being interim since October 2013.

Alvin Crawley relishes the days he can get a little dirty. One recent day, he played kickball with students at Maury Elementary School, and then dusted off his new suit before returning to his office. Another day, he played drums and told African folk tales to fourth-graders during a lunch break at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, an elementary school. And on still another, he and Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille rapped in a student-created music video to stem the cases of bullying.

Technology is revolutionizing the study of science in K12. New products for chemistry, biology and physics labs allow more engaging and, in some cases, safer experiments.

Following the BYOD and 1-to-1 trend, many of these products come with mobile apps so students can take their inquiries outside the classroom and analyze data instantly in the field.

Kathleen Miller is principal of Mechanics Grove School in Mundelien, Ill.

School administrators are increasingly being made accountable for improving test scores, reducing behavior issues and creating vibrant school cultures where everyone has a sense of belonging. Adding more layers to this already complicated list begins to entangle the educational system with too many change initiatives—unless we can fundamentally alter the roots of our paradigms and relationships.

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