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21st-century learning


As districts transition into the digital age, technology certification programs are growing in number to meet the needs of tech-savvy students.

As tablet integration becomes increasingly prominent in U.S. classrooms, administrators face challenges preparing district infrastructures, teachers, students and parents for a shift to digital learning.

Here are some tips from two district leaders who have successfully undergone the change to those considering a move to tablets.

At the moment, I’m wondering about the futures of my teen-aged children. It’s not that they’re not smart enough or hard-working enough, or don’t have the personalities to be successful in a career. It’s more about if those careers will still be around in the long-term, and whether or not my children can deal with the consequences if they’re not.

Homework Photo

Woe unto the administrator who ventures forth into the homework wars.

Scale it back, and parents will be at your door complaining about a lack of academic rigor. Dial it up, and you’ll get an earful from other parents about interference with after-school activities and family time.

If you’re looking to bolster your particular position with research results, you’re in luck, because there are studies that back the more-is-better approach and others that support the less-is-better tack.

The changing nature of homework and increased use of technology in assignments have affected tutoring companies and the services they provide. Personalized learning is an increasingly important concept for homework help, says Lynn Fontana, chief academic officer of Sylvan Learning, a national tutoring center chain that provides homework help for pre-K12 students. “The degree to which the adaptive technology and computer technology enable us to meet the needs of students as they are clearly defined is really where everybody is going, including in homework help,” she adds.

A recent Pew Research Center study found that when performing online research, students rely heavily on sources with questionable academic quality, such as Wikipedia, and value immediacy over quality. This phenomenon is part of the new literacies, or digital media literacy, that has reverberated across K12 classes.

Students’ state test scores can accurately identify good teachers, but aren’t the only piece of the puzzle.A teacher’s rating is most reliable when test scores are combined with classroom observations and student surveys, according to a study of 3,000 teachers from seven U.S. public school districts.

Successful implementation of Common Core State Standards will depend on principals’ leadership and their ability to work with teachers, parents, and staff to promote the progression of mathematical and literacy skills across grades. To help reach this goal, national nonprofit education reform organization Achieve partnered with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals NASSP), and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to create a series of action briefs on the role of school leaders and counselors in Common Core implementation.

Many of the nation’s largest urban school districts have experienced enrolment declines over the past decade, and struggle to keep costs down while losing revenue, a new report found. Half of the 100 largest school districts have seen enrollment decreases from 2005 to 2010, with some declining nearly 33 percent, according to “Adapting to Enrollment Declines in Urban School Systems: Managing Costs While Improving Educational Quality,” from the Boston Consulting Group