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Columbia Schools shifted from 33 chemicals to 10 green products to clean their district schools. Here’s what they used to use, and what they’ve adopted today.

Sorting through online resources can be a challenge for districts seeking free comprehensive curriculum or teachers simply searching for supplemental lesson material.

When Tullahoma City Schools administrators started shopping for new social studies textbooks in 2013, they found only a few options aligned to new Tennessee state standards. Rather than wait for newer textbooks to be released, the district embarked on the ambitious project of creating its own.

The way schools across the country use space has changed. The growing number of administrators now building and renovating education spaces have made student experience a top priority. Educators seek new designs that accommodate collaboration along with 1-to-1 programs and other technology initiatives

At the Spokane Educators Career Fair in Washington last year, teacher candidates look for jobs.

Superintendents are turning to an array of new and creative strategies, such as starting the hiring process earlier, looking farther afield for recruits, offering perks and signing bonuses to new hires, and ramping up efforts to help candidates earn teaching credentials.

Despite anecdotal evidence that schools across the country face hiring challenges, statistical proof of a shortage is hard to come by. Federal data for 2011-12, the most recent available, shows a decline of less than 1 percent since 2007-08 in the number of public school teachers, and only a tiny increase in the student-teacher ratio.

Luvenia Jackson knows students can’t learn when they’re in jail. During 40 years in education, the Clayton County Public Schools superintendent has seen that academic performance cannot improve systemwide under zero-tolerance discipline.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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