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Articles: Policy & Compliance

District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, D.C. are retaining far more higher-performing teachers than lower-performing ones due to recent reforms, making it the first urban district in the nation to demonstrate this effect, according to research by The New Teacher Project (TNTP).

Neuroscientist William Jenkins suggests that educators shift the school environment to improve memory and ability to learn.

1. Create a non-stressful environment. And this includes eliminating or reducing bullying. If pupils are angry or frustrated, their “frontal lobe is turned off and executive function skills are not operating,” Jenkins says. When students are comfortable and relaxed, they are more open to learn and retain memory.

What will another Obama term mean to K12 superintendents and school districts? While indications are found in the Democratic national platform, the speeches, interviews, and K12 documents from the president, and education plans on the White House website, we asked longtime school superintendent Randall Collins, executive director of the District Administration Leadership Institute (daleadershipinstitute.com) to share professional insights. Here is his conversation with Odvard Egil Dyrli, District Administration’s executive editor.

Nathan Levenson, author of “Boosting the Quality and Efficiency of Special Education.”More special education funding in a district does not necessarily result in greater student achievement—in fact, it can lead to less, says a first-of-its-kind report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Parents from Desert Trails School

Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto, Calif. has been on the federal watch list for failing schools for six years, with only one-third of sixth-graders at grade level in reading and math. But come next August, it will be transformed into a charter school, thanks to a small group of parents who for the first time enacted major reform under the state’s controversial parent trigger law.

Michelle RenéeSchool turnaround policies that include firing and replacing teachers and administrators in hopes of raising test scores are actually detrimental to schools, according to a report from the National Education Policy Center.

On Election Day, California voters passed Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase that will prevent a nearly $6 billion cut to the state’s public schools. Backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the proposition is the first general tax increase passed in the state in two decades. It will increase sales taxes by a quarter of a cent for four years on the state’s base rate of 7.25 percent, and income taxes for those earning more than $250,000 for seven years.

Gail Connelly, NAESP executive directorPrincipals represent a major force in school systems—95,000 principals are responsible for overseeing 3 million teachers and 55 million pre-K8 students.

Odvard Egil DyrliAfter serving as editor-in-chief of District Administration magazine a few years ago, and then leaving temporarily to work on other projects, it is an enormous personal privilege to return as executive editor and greet our many readers again. Or, as they say in the movies, “He’s back...!”

Hite with Philly kids walk to school

When William Hite Jr. introduced himself as a candidate for superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia in a community meeting earlier this year, he read from a list of student concerns he had jotted down on a slip of paper. For example, one student observed that there were more police officers than counselors in some schools, and another wished that teachers would find new ways to teach and find ways to engage more students.

Five years ago, a pair of science teachers at Woodland Park (Colo.) High School turned their pedagogical approach upside down. Rather than stand up in front of the classroom, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams sent their respective students home with videos of themselves lecturing. And rather than assigning traditional homework, work that most students could get tripped up on if they are not sure about a certain topic, the teachers gave students time in class—with their close supervision and help—to put their learning into practice.

Evaluating teachers—whether casually or more rigorously, annually or less frequently—has long been part of the job description of many a principal and assistant principal, who often have relied on occasional observations to make their judgments. What’s usually resulted are an overwhelming number of “satisfactory” ratings and the infrequent “unsatisfactory” designations.

When it comes to transitioning to the Common Core, this is not the time for hesitation. There is too much at stake and too much to accomplish in the very short time before the 2014-2015 assessments are administered by SMARTER Balanced and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Of course, no one wants to hurry into a mistake that would be costly. So what do you do if you haven’t yet put all of the pieces together to transition to the Common Core State Standards?

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