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Apr 2010

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Cover Story

When Saul Lerner became director of physical education, athletics and health for the Bellmore-Merrick (N.Y.) School District 14 years ago, football, soccer, basketball and floor hockey were the staples of most physical education classes on Long Island and around the rest of the country. "The emphasis was on sports you would watch on TV. That was the mindset of physical educators," Lerner explains.


From replacing print textbooks with digital content created by teachers or gathered from outside sources to encouraging students to explore the world around them digitally, many districts are creating a new type of student-friendly teaching and learning environment that goes beyond just adding computers to classrooms.

In more districts than ever, Response-to-Intervention programs are gaining ground, nipping learning problems in the bud and keeping more students out of special education classes when they truly need intervention, which, of course, is the goal.

When the bell rings at the end of the school day, many elementary students in Rosa Parks School in Portland, Ore., go to the local Boys and Girls Club to receive homework help and take part in fun activities. They don't have to travel far to get there. That's because the Boys and Girls Club of Portland Metropolitan Area, which also serves neighborhood kids who don't go to Rosa Parks, is located in the same building as the school, the result of a partnership between Portland Public Schools and the local Boys and Girls Club.


Here's the quote that I think should compel every school administrator to read Allan Collins' and Richard Halverson's new book, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology:

"If educators cannot successfully integrate new technologies into what it means to be a school, then the long identification of schooling with education, developed over the past 150 years, will dissolve into a world where the students with the means and ability will pursue their learning outside of the public school." In other words, it's time to figure this technology thing out—now.

Our country's Advanced placement programs are booming and have been for some time. In May 2000, approximately 769,000 students took 1.3 million AP exams in this country. By May 2009, approximately 1.7 million students took nearly 3 million exams—a growth rate of 130 percent in nine years. The 1990s saw an even greater rate: 145 percent. What's behind this impressive growth?


“Give the people what they want!” That could be the slogan for the Digital Door Project at Denver Public Schools (DPS).

When the district decided to gather the data from shelves, binders, books, and warehouses and turn them into something useful, the first step was financing. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and a general bond provided the necessary funding.

“Once funding was in place, we started working with focus groups to outline their data needs and connect it to the curriculum,” says Connie Casson, deputy strategy officer.

Walt Rulffes had an unlikely ascent in Nevada’s Clark County School District (CCSD). Having served neither as teacher nor principal before his hiring as deputy superintendent of finance and business, his seven years of dogged lobbying for dollars from the legislature nevertheless paid off when he was hired as superintendent of the fifth-largest school system in the country.


On March 15 President Obama presented to Congress his "Blueprint for Reform," which seeks to reform No Child Left Behind through four main areas of improvement.

Education professionals' response to the Blueprint ranges extensively—many disagree with the plan and largely top-down approach to reformation, while recognizing the need for change.

Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, says the Blueprint is "a vast improvement over the flawed No Child Left Behind program, which it would now replace."

For those districts seeking to construct, renovate, rehabilitate or acquire land, the National Education Technology Funding Corporation, or "Eddie Tech," has made an innovative program to simplify the process of accessing low-cost financing. Eddie Tech's School Investment Pooled-Securities (SIPS) Program is bringing together tax-credit Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs) and creating larger and more marketable collections that are more desirable for investors.


On March 2, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) awarded Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) its 2010 Award for Excellence in Public Service for her great efforts to champion education technology legislation.

When registration opened at 7 a.m. on Feb. 23 for kindergarten at the Evanston/Skokie School District 65, about 120 parents in the suburban Chicago K8 district were already lined up, as if waiting for tickets to a hot rock concert.

Female elementary school teachers may project a fear of math onto their female students, causing them to do poorly in the subject, according to a new study, "Female Teachers' Math Anxiety Impacts Girls' Math Achievement," published by the University of Chicago in January.

A greater awareness of the impact of sports-related concussions has swept the country, as over 40 states are currently developing legislation that will set standards for when a student athlete can return to the playing field. Although these laws vary by state, the core principles include educating students, coaches, and parents about the dangers of concussions, removing athletes from the field if a concussion is suspected, and requiring medical clearance before they may return.

A new study conducted by Oregon State University and funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse supports the philosophy that social and emotional learning improves student achievement and social behavior. "The Impact of Positive Action on Academic Outcomes," published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, focuses on a program called Positive Action, a course founded on the belief that positive thoughts induce positive behavior. The results showed an improvement in standardized test scores and a decrease in suspensions and absent students.

Shortly after the nation's governors, state commissioners of education, school administrators and education experts proposed a draft of common core standards for K12 in English and math last month, major education groups were quick to respond.

The National Education Association, the National School Boards Association and the Alliance for Excellent Education tout the new standards as promoting 21st-century skills of collaborating, problem solving and critical thinking."


Manny Rivera and Rudy Crew, two nationally acclaimed educators, have transitioned from the role of superintendent into that of consultant with their new company, Global Partnership Schools (GPS).

There is no question that the country is focusing on the childhood obesity epidemic. First Lady Michelle Obama's ambitious "Let's Move" campaign to curb childhood obesity in one generation intends to address the problem from both a physical activity standpoint and a nutritional standpoint inside as well as outside schools. As schools across the nation continue to face pressure over standardized testing in math and reading, many have understandably found it a struggle to include physical activity among their priorities.


Smith System

Flavors Seating

Classroom furniture

Facilities, $82-$372

The digital modern update of the overhead projector, visual presenters continue to be one of the most popular segments of K12 education technology, as educators find more ways to use them in classrooms across content areas and grade levels. When used with a projector or monitor, these devices enable educators to display everything from documents to dissection specimens, even microscopic objects through the lens of a microscope.