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Superintendent Klint W. Willert, of Brookings School District in South Dakota, says schools will move away from high-stakes tests in 2016.

Klint W. Willert

Superintendent, Brookings School District, South Dakota

Topic: Testing & assessment

Trend: Student achievement is measured by more than a single assessment score. The trend of moving toward multiple measures, not just a test score, to determine the quality of a teacher, a school, and district will continue to resound with the voting public. People are joining a new TEA Party - Tested Enough Already.

Source: National Council on Teacher Quality (Click to enlarge)

The vast majority of states require student growth and achievement to be factored into teacher and principal evaluations.

But most states and districts are now grappling with the practical realities of implementing those policies, according to the October report “State of the States 2015: Evaluating Teaching, Leading and Learning” from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Utah has mandated a high school financial literacy course for more than a decade. (Click to enlarge)

Half of U.S. states fail to provide adequate financial literacy education in high schools, according to a report released by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, a partnership among several financial institutions, non-profits and governmental agencies in Vermont.

The new year may send familiar education challenges in new directions as administrators grapple with an uncertain testing landscape, staff shortages, the increased push for equity and constantly increasing charter competition.

Experts expect education budgets in most states to remain flat in 2016. The pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act should uphold the current Title I formula (aiding two-thirds of U.S. states) but reduce competitive grants.

In partnership with Northwestern University, Chicago Public Schools has been offering its first-ever MOOC—or massive open online course—to the district’s high school students.

The course, called “Career 911: Your Future Job in Medicine and Healthcare,” aims to introduce students to the health care job field.

Mobile devices and Wi-Fi will get the most spending attention in schools in 2016, according to a DA survey.

Students three years from now will use two or three mobile devices in the classroom compared to the current ratio of one device to every two student. A steady decline in cost and expanding capabilities make the technology even more viable for K12 education.

Cyber insurance policies protect digital and print data, such as student and staff social security numbers, addresses and payroll.

Cyberattacks on high-profile companies such as Target and The Home Depot have driven a growing number of school CIOs and administrators to purchase cyber insurance policies in attempts to avoid costly litigation from a data breach.

Such policies protect digital and print data, such as student and staff social security numbers, addresses and payroll. The insurance often covers notification and investigation costs, legal assistance, and sometimes media relations after a breach.

Adopting new standards and testing strategies will be a priority in many classrooms in 2016.

As we head into 2016, teachers need to captivate and inspire collaboration with tools that excite students and let them express themselves. Students expect innovations that ignite learning passions that will steer them toward their future career.

While administrators have access to more performance data than ever before, too often they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information and are unable to use it strategically, and student performance data is stored in ways that prevent it from being used to inform important decisions. But creating data dashboards can give district leadership the ability to analyze enormous amounts of disparate data in a simple, visual way, resulting in more effective and informed decision making throughout the school system.

Districts nationwide have more than 10 different titles for “literacy specialist."

Districts must navigate a larger number of titles and skill sets when hiring qualified literacy specialists to implement new learning standards and to improve students’ reading and writing performance.

Traditionally, a reading specialist worked in small groups or one-on-one with struggling students.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents to a DA survey expect of opt-out movement against testing to grow in 2016.

With students in grades 3 through 11 spending more than 20 hours per school year on testing, resistance and frustration over standardized assessments and learning standards may have reached critical mass.

Robert L. Urzillo is superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District in Pennsylvania.

The reform movement has been, and perhaps always will be, on-going.

We have witnessed the enactment of No Child Left Behind, which had the admirable goal of having all children read on grade level by 2014. That was followed by Race to the Top, another program that required standardized testing.

Education leaders and experts look ahead to 2016 and beyond in DA's special outlook edition.

District Administration presents its Year Ahead edition to help K12 educators navigate the new year. This special edition offers in-depth stories focused on the future of leadership, smart classrooms, assessments and standards, and technology. You’ll also results from reader surveys on curriculum, outsourcing, technology trends and facilities.

A Chicago Public Schools teacher leads a social emotional learning lesson in an elementary classroom.

Social-emotional learning programs improve the grades and behavior of all learners—but special ed students may benefit even more from lessons on mindfulness, self-regulation and cooperation, experts say.

Michael B. Horn is a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute and an advisor to Intellus Learning. Julia Freeland Fisher is director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute.

Amidst the deluge of interventions—and despite noble intentions—we still lack a coherent, causal understanding of the mechanisms that can solve the achievement gap at scale. Unsurprisingly, efforts to close chronic achievement gaps continue to fall flat.

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