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Articles: Policy & Compliance

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.

Eighth graders at Richards Middle School learn how to access sites and information on their iPads. They learned about acceptable use, computer cyber safety, Evernote, Skydrive, and Blackboard.

When residents of Macomb County, Mich., tune into Pandora internet radio, they may be surprised to hear ads selling something quite different from landscaping, new cars, or home repair services.

Students in the Highlands School District in Brackenridge, Pa., start computer classes in kindergarten to learn the typing skills needed for Common Core assessments.

Kindergarteners nationwide are stretching their small hands across keyboards to learn the basics of typing in preparation for the online Common Core assessments.

The new standards don’t introduce keyboarding until the third grade, the first year students are assessed. But elementary schools are starting earlier to make sure students are competent in basic computer use before the exams that begin next school year.

Education expert Will Richardson says schools must teach students to be successful learners in a world of information.

In his new book, Will Richardson says schools aren't keeping up the tech that drives today's students.

New York City’s expansive charter school network may be in trouble. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who takes office this month, says he plans to charge charters rent for using space in school buildings and to stop new charters from opening. De Blasio says he will focus instead on improving traditional public schools, but the details of his plan for charters remain unclear.

Diane Ravitch, once a top supporter of testing and school choice, is now leading the fight against those policies.

Diane Ravitch is outspoken in her criticisms of education in this country. Her latest book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (Knopf, 2013), pulls no punches in its arguments against testing, the charter school movement, and federally driven mandates.

Twenty-one students graduated in 2013 from the Peabody Learning Academy in Peabody, Mass., a Simon Youth Academy alternative high school located inside a shopping mall.

Students attending alternative high schools located in shopping malls nationwide are succeeding academically, with an average graduation rate of 90 percent in the nontraditional setting.

A Northern Valley Regional High School junior protested the random drug testing policy at a September school board meeting, saying that the testing would make students feel like criminals.

A New Jersey district’s proposal to randomly drug test students in extracurricular activities has parents and the school board divided over district transparency.

The board at Northern Valley Regional High School District in Bergen County, N.J., voted in July to draft a policy for the testing as a supplement to other education-based drug prevention efforts in the district of two high schools.

Until recently, only rural districts hoping to save money on busing geographically spread-out students had cut the school week down to four days. But now, while some districts are leaning toward year-round schedules, some are actually shortening the week as budgets continue to drop and state officials allow scheduling flexibility.

High school students in Fairfax County, Va., may soon get to hit the snooze button, as the district partners with sleep specialists to delay school start times in hopes of raising academic achievement and improving student health.

“Sleep is absolutely critical to learning,” says Fairfax County Public Schools board member Sandy Evans. “Our adolescent students simply aren’t getting enough sleep for their physical, mental, or academic health.”

A Connecticut school district in the suburbs of New York City violated the IDEA by denying special education students the proper services for the past year, according to a recent Connecticut State Department of Education investigation. The case shows districts may run afoul of the law if special education services are reduced due to budget cuts.

School district leaders must ignore the politics of Common Core and focus on the practical realities of implementation.

As widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards moves ever closer, the initiative is coming under attack from both the left and right. But school district leaders must ignore the politics and focus on the practical realities of implementation: costs, technology, and training, K12 leaders say.

Opponents of the Common Core State Standards say they have a variety of concerns about the effects the standards will have on school districts’ curriculum.

Math standards under Common Core will push the teaching of algebra back a year, from eighth to ninth grade, in many districts, say Lindsey Burke, educational policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute. Both also insist that the teaching of literature will take a backseat as emphasis shifts to informational texts.

Accordian-style lifts work well in multipurpose rooms or gyms, where balls or other objects cannot be trapped under the machine.

Products such as automatic doors, mechanical lifts, and low, touchless trough sinks increase accessibility in schools. Design elements can also increase accessibility beyond ADA requirements, says Karen Braitmayer, an accessibility consultant.

“A big trend right now is school buildings that have a clarity of organization,” she says. “Good wayfinding is useful to students with cognitive, hearing, and sight impairments.”

Each portable Ascension wheelchair lift has a control panel outside and inside, which allows passengers to operate the lift themselves unless they have assistance.

Districts need to train teachers and paraprofessionals on assisting students with disabilities without injuring themselves or the student. Part of that training must include being aware of every students’ specific needs, says Kathy Espinoza, assistant vice president, ergonomics and safety for Keenan, an insurance brokerage firm.

Espinoza trains teachers and school staff to properly lift students with mobility impairments. “Students may have brittle bones or attempt to go limp when being lifted,” she says. “These are things to be aware of and prepare for.”