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Table of Contents

District Administration, August 2016

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Features

Schools nationwide are under pressure from new state standards to increase students’ writing proficiency. Here's a look at some of the strategies and tools innovative districts have deployed.

Districts across the country are finding ways to turn after-school programs into learning experiences that motivate students and close equity gaps. YMCAs, churches and other community groups, and private companies have emerged as go-to providers of after-school programs.

Designing new buildings or retrofitting existing ones to meet standards for natural disasters is an especially complex challenge for school leaders. But building to a more modern code makes a district eligible for more federal assistance

Growing evidence shows that well-maintained and updated school facilities promote learning, as well as student and staff health, and help curb long-term school expenses.

District CIO

Advances in interactive display technology expand the ability for teachers and students to collaborate in the classroom as evermore powerful mobile devices are used to share content.

Future Ready Librarians expands concepts of literacy—from books to tech to STEM. The initiative also drives the nationwide transformation of libraries, as librarians take the lead in creating makerspaces in their districts.

Opinion

Many teachers find themselves isolated in classrooms without the right training or support. Others receive only one or two afternoons of PD per year. The need for more effective professional development for teachers is especially important right now, with new academic standards being introduced across the country.

Local companies told the Tri-Rivers Career Center, a voc-tech high school in Ohio, there weren’t enough skilled workers entering the trades, especially manufacturing. So the career center launched the Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative to help meet skilled labor needs.

Solutions

Within a few months of becoming superintendent of New Haven Public Schools a couple of years ago, Garth Harries had already attended too many teenagers’ funerals. After Harries left these grim ceremonies—and in other occasions when students were shot but survived—his office went back over the victims’ academic records for signs of trouble.

Briefings

Community helped design Hampton Bays Middle School, which opened in 2008, on Long Island in New York. The LEED-certified building can be used for town hall meetings and adult learning classes, and offers a community garden.

Transitioning to eco-friendly propane school buses may help districts save money and safeguard student health. A propane bus costs about $15,000 more than a diesel vehicle, but is less expensive to operate and maintain.

More than 51 percent of young adults say a high school money management class would have benefited their lives, according to a study. While 45 states include personal finance in state standards, only 17 states require high school students to take a personal finance course.

More than 6 million students—representing 13 percent of the K12 population—missed at least 15 days of school in 2013-14. These chronically absent students were more likely to struggle academically and less likely to graduate.

Teachers who have taken on school leadership roles across New York state gathered this past June for the first time to refine initiatives designed to improve their schools.

Kaya Henderson will step down in September as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools after serving in the position for more than five years.

She says she will spend time with family before considering other offers in education, published reports state.

Another group of states in 2015-16 deployed their own Common Core-aligned assessments, adding greater momentum to a national shift away from the PARCC and Smarter Balanced testing consortia.

More than five years after many states implemented Common Core, the impact on student achievement remains unclear—though some states show small academic gains, with persistent achievement gaps.

Departments

Apart from the sciences, there are few areas as heavily steeped in research as education. But, as Stanford University education professor says Linda Darling-Hammond says, “too often, important education research is left on the shelf and not used to inform policy decisions.”

Many districts teach formal keyboarding instruction as early as second grade—a shift that requires new approaches to a skill that was once taught only in high school. Today's software feature gamification, captivating graphics and extensive reporting components.

Recommended books offer ideas for makerspace activities, insight into online teaching, a behind-the-scenes look at reform and philanthropy, and methods for teaching steam in elementary school.