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Articles: Teaching & Learning

The Kent School District in Washington has more diversity in its student body, greater achievement and better technology, in major part due to Superintendent Edward Lee Vargas.

Every day, students whose families speak among 138 different languages learn together in the classrooms at Kent School District in Washington. To address the linguistic and economic challenges for the 27,000 K12 students—the majority of whom receive free or reduced price lunch—administrators have worked hard to build innovative language and technology programs.

In "I Got Schooled," author and director M. Night Shyamalan examines America’s achievement gap.

I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap

Simon & Schuster

Fourth grade teacher Joan Meehan works with student Erica Moye. Meehan had the same students in third grade and says they’re making progress.

Crowds of students who’d left their classes without permission used to prowl the halls of the K8 Clemente Leadership Academy in New Haven, Conn. Students fought, used profanities and verbally abused staff. Teachers spent more time on discipline than instruction. Clemente, long known as a place to send troubled students, sunk under the weight of low expectations to become one of New Haven’s lowest-performing schools.

Don Brann visits an elementary school in the Inglewood district—and listens to staff needs.

Donald Brann, state trustee of Inglewood USD, has only been on the job six months, but already teachers and administrators are seeing that things are different from what they used to be.

After the state takeover of the financially-struggling district, administrators say just having direct access and being able to communicate with him and receive quick answers to their questions is a change of pace. They had never seen the chief administrator visit their schools before.

The results of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were “encouraging but modest,” according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Eighth graders made small gains in reading and mathematics, while fourth graders improved slightly in math but not reading.

Students at Lewis and Clark High School in the Vancouver, Wash., work in small groups as part of their typical school day. 

School administrators overwhelmed by the idea of blended learning need not fear: many districts have successfully implemented one of four models now widely accepted in K12 education. Even more encouraging, some of these schools are seeing increased achievement, lower dropout rates, and other positive results.

Reports of districts eliminating school nurses or replacing them with unlicensed staffers are increasing nationwide, and student health care is suffering as a result, nursing advocates say. Among nurses’ responsibilities is caring for the estimated 3 million children with food allergies—a number representing an 18 percent increase from 1997 to 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control—and the 7.1 million children with asthma.

Philadelphia schools are taking a new approach to arts instruction by introducing students to art and music they can find in their own backyard. With the new Literacy Through the Arts curriculum, created with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, students in grades one through eight are not only learning about these local institutions but also about the musicians and artists whose work featured there.

SWOT students writing out code on paper. Thanks to a fundraiser this past fall, students will be using computers instead.

Students enrolled at the Scholars Working Overtime (SWOT) program in Las Vegas have been learning how to write computer programming code in an unusual way—without computers. Throughout the fall, coding was practiced on pen and paper until the funds were raised to bring a computer lab to the program.

Meghan Reilly Michaud says art is no longer used only to teach students about culture.

Today’s students encounter art in many aspects of everyday life. From the icons representing the applications on their smartphone to the paintings hung on the walls of a museum, the arts teach our students to interpret information. But art also instills skill sets for students pursuing any field of study.

These days, no discipline stands on its own. Visuals can simplify complex data in science in the same way that mathematics can structure appealing rhythmic patterns in music.

HUNCH students from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham took their project involving the effect of zero gravity on the spine on the low-gravity plane in Houston last April.

Astronaut gear made by high school students in a NASA program will be sent up to the International Space Station in June. It will be the first student projects to be sent to the station during the program’s 10 years of operation.

Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp once said, “If top recent college graduates devoted two years to teaching in public schools, they could have a real impact on the lives of disadvantaged kids.” I agree. TFA members and other short-term teachers have changed kids’ lives—for the worse.

As an idealistic Ivy League graduate, I was the student TFA likes to recruit. According to Kopp’s thesis, my education, academic achievements, and enthusiasm would transfer into great teaching.

Students in Fayette County Public Schools in Kentucky benefit from arts classes, which Superintendent Tom Shelton strengthened when he joined the district two years ago.

In a world of constant technological change, the ability to adapt is priceless. Creativity is a necessary skill in the modern workplace, and in a 2010 survey by IBM, American CEOs identified it as the best predictor of career success. But those same CEOs said they believed that Americans were becoming less innovative.

Dorris Place Elementary students get ready to practice. A neuroscience study released this year revealed that music instruction rewires children’s brains and improves their ability to process information.

Blaire Lennane was thrilled when a charity offered a year ago to provide the teachers and subsidies necessary to start a music program in her daughter’s elementary school.

More than 160 Syracuse students participated in the Say Yes to Education Young Authors Series, and wrote their own books.

A citywide school turnaround program that offers full-tuition college scholarships for urban students has seen early success in increasing high school test scores and college attendance.

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