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District Administration, March 2013

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Cover Story

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.

Features

To add to the busy schedules of high school principals and assistant superintendents, they go door-to-door to speak with students—and their parents—in the Clark County (Nev.) School District. These students have dropped out of high school, and administrators are encouraging them to return and pursue a diploma.

Many social studies teachers are nervous about the coming of Common Core State Standards. With so much emphasis placed on literacy, social studies teachers fear they will see content slashed to leave time for meeting English’s non-fiction standards.

Already reeling from a lack of attention from the benchmarks put in place by No Child Left Behind, those devoted to social studies feel like they are once again on the outside looking in. However, could the implementation of Common Core actually bring social studies back into focus?

If your school librarians are feeling beleaguered these days, well, they have good reason. Consider:

• The ranks of certified school librarians have been decimated in recent years by districts struggling to balance budgets.

• The explosive growth of anywhere-anytime digital content in K12 districts threatens to make the concept of library-as-media-center an anachronism.

District CIO

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.

The Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SMARTER Balanced) are developing the next generation of assessment tools in line with Common Core. And both consortia are developing online assessments that will replace traditional paper tests.

As Bailey Mitchell, chief technology and information officer at the Forsyth County (Ga.) Schools, states, “the new online assessments are going to require a lot of computer hardware and connectivity to enable the provision of Common Core.”

Opinion

When California voters passed Proposition 30 last November, known as the “Temporary Taxes to Fund Education” bill, the nation waited to see what would happen in a bellwether state that often signals coming trends in other states. Proposition 30 was passed through a broad coalition of teachers, labor, business, and law enforcement, and with support from the governor and major funding from the California Teachers Association.

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.

Solutions

“Every day on my way home from work I ask myself one question: ‘Did I do anything today that affected the life of one child positively?’” says Rock Hill (S.C.) Public Schools Superintendent Lynn B. Moody.

According to Wilton (Conn.) School District Superintendent Gary G. Richards, most people who move to Wilton do so for its high-quality schools, which has struck a successful balance between educating its most advanced learners and ones who need more help.

Briefings

Many states nationwide are taking steps to strengthen their charter school systems by enacting laws that make it easier to create schools and provide funding, according to a new report.

The fourth annual analysis “Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Charter School Laws” from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), a national nonprofit committed to advancing the charter school movement, is designed to support the creation of high-quality public charter school options, especially for at-risk students.

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 Comm

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

New York schools may soon undergo a transformation, with extended learning time, higher-paid “master teachers,” and full-day pre-kindergarten programs in high-need communities, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor’s plan, based largely on a report from the New York Education Reform Commission, also calls for integrating social and health services through community schools, and recruitingGov. Andrew Cuomo addresses gun control in Albany, N.Y. in January.

In January, the controversial results of the StudentsFirst State Policy Report Card made national headlines. The report, which ranked states A through F based on how well their policies aligned with the reform group’s agenda, gave 11 states a failing grade, and awarded none an A. It also underscored the role of district leaders in enacting school reform by outlining each state’s policies and determining where administrators can implement changes.

Students in five states will soon spend at least 300 extra hours in the classroom for the next three years or more, thanks to an initiative that aims to increase student achievement across socioeconomic lines by providing more in-school educational opportunities, announced last December.

Ruth RathblottEXPANDING ENRICHMENT

Ruth Rathblott was appointed chief executive officer of the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, an academic enrichment program for underserved students. Her goal is to expand its reach and further its mission to help New York City’s low-income students enter and graduate college.

 

U.S. education is increasingly going global: The U.S. Department of Education recently announced its first-ever, fully articulated international strategy, designed to strengthen schools and advance the nation’s international priorities.

Departments

In the 21st-century classroom, K12 students are no longer practicing math equations at the chalkboard. Instead, math instruction has evolved into online and software-based programs that make learning interactive, challenging, and fun. The following math software programs do just that, as well as adapt to a student’s individual needs and skill level and provide much-needed information to teachers and parents. 


Democratic Education in Practice

Teachers College Press


Lauren Innovations
NaviGate Prepared

Throughout my career as a secondary school teacher and teacher-educator, I asked students Odvard Egil Dyrlito submit anonymous evaluations to assess the quality of my teaching.