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Professional Opinion

Author Nancy Willard is director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age. (Image by Bruce Searl)

In a 2011 National Crime Victimization Survey, close to 1.2 million students reported that someone was hurtful to them at school once a week or more. This rate has not significantly declined since 2005. Of this number, close to 540,000 students say this happens “almost daily.”

Furthermore, over 700,000 students reported they were “fearful of attack or harm” at school “sometimes” or “most of the time.”

Cross-cutting career and college readiness skills and thinking behaviors. (Click to enlarge)

Education and business stakeholders continue to call for more rigorous curricula, instruction and assessments in order to adequately prepare students for the demands of the 21st century.

But even if implemented well, does the Common Core fully capture the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed in college, the workplace and life? And what do tougher academics and more challenging courses really require of schools in terms of how best to support the diversity of student populations?

Mary Reiman is director of library media services for Lincoln Public Schools

Public education is embarking on a digital transformation. We are shifting from consumption-based learning to creation-based learning. These are moves in the right direction, but they require us to provide our students with access to the tools and devices needed to connect them to all the available resources.

As all educators know, reading is the key to lifelong learning, but it can be a challenge outside the classroom, with competition from TV, video games, and other distractions. That’s one reason United Way-Sun Coast has partnered with myON for the “Read on myON” project since 2012.

Lance Menster is Houston ISD’s assistant superintendent of professional support and development.

Differentiating instruction to meet individual students’ needs is one of the biggest challenges for any teacher. In the same way, differentiating professional development to meet the needs of individual teachers is one of the biggest challenges for any school district.

Michael G. Shoaf is superintendent of Rocky River City School District.

With violent events seemingly on the rise in schools across the country, district leaders must develop fluid and thorough safety plans.

To address the variety of individual circumstances that may accompany these events, fluidity must be coupled with authentic practice and the engagement of stakeholders and experts. Practicing the plan, constantly considering best practices, and giving staff and students flexibility to adjust actions during an emergency are essential for a quality school safety plan.

Ken Royal is a former teacher and DA editor. He blogs at

If you’re an educator, at any level or grade, sitting back and expecting education change to happen, without you getting involved, you need to stand up now. If you think that you can’t do something, or start change, you’re mistaken.

Kenneth Goldberg is author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers.

Few topics generate as much debate in education as homework. Experts disagree on its educational value, and research offers little clarification. Teachers and parents vary in how much homework they think children should do. So where do principals fit into the homework system?

Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services for the Newton County School System in Covington, Ga.

When planning the implementation of a huge technology initiative, where audio enhancement and camera technologies would be placed in 552 classrooms over the summer of 2013, I knew that the key to success was rethinking how we deliver professional learning.

My experience with the traditional professional learning model of training-the-trainer has not been pleasant or successful. The problems I experienced were three-fold.

The Littlestown Area School District is a rural School District located in south central Pennsylvania close to the Gettysburg National Park. The District has a student population of 2,100 students with four buildings located on one campus. Over the past four years as the economy experienced difficulty and State and Federal resources have declined, the District put in place a focused strategy that has resulted in continued financial resources to support improved academic results. How has the District done it, and what are the results?