You are here

Feature

Maine early-college student Brianna Smith, right, studies water circulation in Portland Harbor with a community college professor.

Under a statewide program first funded in 2013, Vermont students can leave public high schools before their senior year to enroll full-time in college.

They can then graduate from high school with a full year of college credits. While students don’t pay tuition, they do have to pay for textbooks and fees.

New teachers in the first semester at the Wright City School District near St. Louis spend one day every month in PD. Teachers learn about assessment, teaching strategies and classroom management.

Teacher quality is crucial to the success of schooling, yet the teacher-hiring process is sometimes rushed and ad hoc. A late-summer flurry of activity in which subjective factors—from where a candidate went to high school to how many resumes an exhausted principal has already reviewed—can weigh as heavily as meaningful evidence of academic achievement or instructional effectiveness.

Psychologists from Boston Public Schools participate in PD events as part of the district’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model.

In many schools, psychologists have time for little more than assessing students. That prevents them from using their range of skills in counseling, data analysis and preventing bullying, suicide and violence. 

Brian Woods, superintendent of Northside ISD in San Antonio, serves on a regional truancy committee. His district hit a record 96 percent attendanc last school year.

District leaders across the country are broadening and personalizing their approaches to attendance because the old way of sending truants and their families to court often fails to bring students back to school.

Grand View Elementary School in California’s Manhattan Beach USD has cut its trash from 30 bags a day to two, reducing the number of garbage pickups and saving $4,700 a year.

One student generates about five pounds of waste in 180 days from simply drinking a carton of milk each day of the school year, according to the Carton Council, a national industry-sponsored recycling organization. Add in glue bottles, old test papers and leftover lunch, and it’s no wonder schools are looking for ways to reduce both the amount of waste filling trash bins and the money spent to have it hauled away.

A Missouri district is actively looking for warning signs of truancy.

Teachers and other educators in Liberty Public Schools are asked to take quick action if, for instance, a student has stopped participating or has become withdrawn in class, says Jim Hammen, director of student services for the 12,000-student district north of Kansas City.

Mia Dubosarsky, director of PD at The STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, helps teachers teach science.

From designing more creative and flexible science classrooms to developing community service projects that engage girls in STEM, this year’s National Science Teachers Association conference in March is all about K12 students connecting learning to the real world. Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and an accompanying push for hands-on learning is bringing new ways to think about integrating science—and scientific thinking—into everyday experiences.

Kaya Henderson, chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools, says college and career preparation will become a priority.

Kaya Henderson

Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

Topic: College & career readiness

Trend: Preparing our children for the high expectations of college and the future workforce requires us to completely re-imagine high school. The old model is not going to cut it anymore. Through a competency-based approach to learning, students will graduate high school with a mastery of core subjects, deep experience solving real-world problems, and ready to succeed throughout life.

Three-quarters of respondents to a DA survey reported some degree of construction plans for the coming year. (Click to enlarge)

The encouraging sounds of construction will be heard at many schools in 2015 as districts are finding the funding to build new facilities and to give facelifts to aging campuses, according to a DA survey of K12 leaders.

Three-quarters of respondents have construction plans for the coming year, with 40 percent expecting to launch building or renovation projects. About a third of the respondents, 34 percent, said they have plans to repair or replace infrastructure.

Three quarters of respondents to a DA survey said funding for their district would increase or stay the same in 2015. (Click to enlarge graphic)

Navigating turbulent waters of uncertain budgets, district leaders have a great challenge: Answer the growing push for accountability and heightened community expectations in 2015.

Pages