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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Chronically absent students are more likely to struggle academically and less likely to graduate. (Click to enlarge graphic)

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.

Learning to lead: Teachers met in New York City in June to build initiatives they designed to improve their schools.

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.

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.

At Napa Valley USD in northern California, classroom technology integration has been a priority since 1997, when the district opened the country’s first New Technology High School. So bringing in digital books in order to provide easily accessible content to the 18,000 students and faculty in 34 schools was a natural—and important—step.

More relevant library: Students from Vista USD in southern California work on a project in their school makerspace.

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.

Kaya Henderson lead District of Columbia Public Schools for more than five years.

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.

Professional development is a key component of any district, but what takes professional learning to the next level of engagement and effectiveness is being able to differentiate and personalize professional growth for each teacher or administrator. In the recent Personalized Professional Learning Survey sponsored by Performance Matters (formerly Truenorthlogic), over 500 educators from around the country shared their insights on best practices and challenges for creating a personalized professional learning climate in their school districts.

One of the newest technologies being applied in K12 STEM coursework today is 3D printing, which helps to fuel creativity, problem solving and project-based learning while exposing students to tools they may use later in their careers. 3D printing can also be used at the middle school level to prepare students for more advanced work in high school.

Meeting students’ psychological needs, improving STEM programs and fueling college and career access exemplify innovative solutions increasing student achievement nationwide. The 24 school systems honored in this round of District Administration’s Districts of Distinction national recognition program found creative ways to raise graduation rates and to build up administrative effectiveness.

Macroinvertebrates in cities: Howard County high school students, above, study area streams to check for potential pollution that might harm nearby Chesapeake Bay.

Using a survey tool, biology students in 13 Maryland high schools  help environmental scientists keep an eye on pollution and other factors that might harm Chesapeake Bay or its creatures, including Maryland’s renowned blue crabs.

Teachers from Kettle Morain School District in Milwaukee complete a microcredential to receive a salary increase.

Few teachers receive individualized professional development, though many are expected to personalize learning for students. Microcredentials—digital badges that teachers earn by learning a skill and demonstrating mastery through student results—offer a PD pathway designed to be highly differentiated and engaging.

Paradise Valley USD in Arizona screens all ELL and former ELL students for gifted programs.

English language learners remain the least represented group in gifted programs—meaning districts do not sufficiently tap the talents of the growing number of immigrant students entering U.S. schools.

Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez's initial spending plan was cut by $3.2 million by the school board.

Beth Schiavino-Narvaez has led Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut for two years. But it’s been two decades since a landmark state court case ruled the district had violated the U.S. Constitution by isolating children based on race and socioeconomics. And despite new budget woes, Schiavino-Narvaez continues to fight for better schools.

Miami-Dade County’s BioTECH @ Richmond Heights—a conservation-biology-focused STEM high school that opened in 2014-15 with help from an $11 million federal grant—focuses on zoology, botany, genetics, ecology, chemistry and environmental sciences.

Students in a Spanish 3 class at Bethlehem Central High School may live in upstate New York, but they look for new homes in Spanish-speaking countries around the globe.

After discovering her students were fans of HGTV’s ‘House Hunters International,’ Bethlehem Central School District Spanish teacher Jessica Westervelt developed a lesson in which her class searches Spanish-speaking countries online for vacation homes.

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