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Public Schools are asked to take quick action if, for instance, a student has stopped participating or has become withdrawn in class, says Jim Hammen, director of student services for the 12,000-student district north of Kansas City.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

School districts will make their biggest tech investments in tablets and WiFi in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Computing devices embedded in jewelry and glasses. Microchips tattooed into skin and sewn into clothing. In one form or another, devices that gather data without any help from the user will slowly infiltrate districts in 2015. In fact, the number of people with a wearable computing device will more than triple this year.

When it comes to instruction, new learning standards like the Common Core and technology will get the most attention in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Exciting advancements are on the horizon for classrooms in 2015. While they sound technical, the biggest changes aren’t going to be driven by an app, a computer program or a new kind of tablet—they will come from new theories about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom.

Common Core supporter Sonja Santelises, a vice president at the Education Trust, says political uncertainty over the standards could destabilize classrooms.

Praised and pilloried at both ends of the political spectrum, the Common Core State Standards—and the years-long effort to establish national benchmarks for student learning—will pass a crucial milestone in 2015, when 11.5 million American schoolchildren finally tackle Common Core-linked math and English tests.

Educators and thought leaders offer forecasts for technology, instruction, administration and assessments.

To help our readers navigate the coming year in K12 education, District Administration proudly presents its first-ever Year Ahead edition. In-depth stories on the major trends reshaping classrooms this year feature insights on technology, instruction, administration and assessments. Educators and experts also weigh in on how districts can find funding to support initiatives in all these areas.

Some board members of Pasco County Schools discuss their policy revisions From left to right: Kevin Shibley, executive director for administration; Cynthia Armstrong, member; Alison Crumbley, chairwoman; and Joanne Hurley, member.

Some school employees face getting the short end of the stick as district leaders work to comply with new Affordable Care Act requirements while juggling tight budgets.

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