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The second annual Follett Challenge encourages educators to align their curriculum to teach 21st century learning skills—and is offering double the prize money as last year to those who do. Educators from all departments in schools can enter to demonstrate how their programs develop critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration between students and among educators in a 21st century setting, no matter the resources available.

According to the “SAT Report on College & Career Readiness” released in September, only 43 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2012 were academically prepared for college by their high school graduation. This number represents the percentage of students who met the SAT benchmark score of 1550. Research shows these students are more likely to enroll in four-year colleges, and have higher first-year college GPAs and higher rates of retention. The class of 2011 also had only 43 percent of SAT takers hit the benchmark.

Gail Connelly, NAESP executive directorPrincipals represent a major force in school systems—95,000 principals are responsible for overseeing 3 million teachers and 55 million pre-K8 students.

School district leaders across the nation can benefit from two new grant-funding services. CDW-G has created a new, first-of-its-kind site called, worth $600 million in combined grants. And Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies has created a cloud-based database of federal and state grant funding information for district leaders, including superintendents, and grant writers, particularly related to safety and security.

Reed Intermediate School, Newtown (Conn.) Public SchoolsDistricts looking to balance cost, sustainability and their carbon footprint when building a new school should consider wood, urges reThink Wood, a national coalition of North America’s forestry and wood industries. Formed in 2011, the coalition promotes wood as a low-carbon alternative to steel, masonry and concrete.

Banned Books LogoTo raise awareness of how school districts block web access for its students, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has designated Wednesday, Oct. 3 as Banned Websites Awareness Day (BWAD). As a part of the second annual Banned Books Week, the AASL is asking school librarians and educators to share how overly restrictive filtering web sites negatively affects student learning.

Expanded Learning ModelsAs the debate over whether increasing the school day or year will improve student achievement trudges on, a new report reveals there is just not enough evidence to support this theory.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in August designed to help schools and other government institutions save money by taking advantage of cooperative purchasing networks. The law makes New York the final U.S. state to allow for cooperative purchasing and could provide much needed relief for schools looking to cut costs.

ACT announced recently it will expand its assessment reach to students across K12. ACT’s “next generation” of assessments, as it is called, will assess students in grades 3 to 12 beginning in 2014 and then expand to include all students, beginning in kindergarten. The plan was met with mixed reviews from those resistant to more testing. However, with the latest 2012 ACT score results, released Aug. 22, revealing that 60 percent of graduates are not prepared for college and careers, the additional assessments seem to have merit.

According to its 2011 National School Climate Survey, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reports that anti-gay language amongst students is continuing to decline and, for the first time, bullying against others based on sexual orientation has begun to drop. GLSEN surveyed more than 8,500 students between the ages of 13 and 20 from more than 3,000 school districts in all 50 states. The reason for the safer environment? An increase in support from school leaders, bullying prevention programs and LGBT organizations.