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Articles: Assessment

Champaign Unit 4 School District in Illinois wanted to give its teachers a very clear pathway to evolve their math instruction to meet rigorous, Common Core state standards. 

District leaders were very happy with earlier results from McGraw-Hill’s Everyday Mathematics and saw Everyday Mathematics 4, its latest iteration, as an enticing solution, especially in teaching the Common Core state standards, according to Susan Zola, assistant superintendent for achievement, curriculum and instruction. 

Journalism classes at Junction City High School in Kansas—100 miles west of Kansas City—use the short-lived social media app Snapchat to learn long-lived lessons of storytelling.

Tina Weaver is director of teaching and learning for Madison County Public Schools in Virginia.

Seeking alternatives to expensive professional development that takes teachers out of their classrooms and requires substitutes, Madison County Public Schools in Virginia developed a solution.

Education Commission of the States: The state of cursive writing education in the U.S.

Is cursive writing doomed to become a long-lost art? Not if some educators have anything to say about it. After decades of remaining a main component of elementary education, cursive is up for debate under the Common Core standards. 

WIDER WORLDVIEWS—At Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies in Washington, students Skype with their partner class in Brazil as part of UNESCO International’s Youth Virtual Town Hall on Global Citizenship. They worked on projects focused on sustainability, human rights and other topics.

In rural eastern Kentucky, teacher Jill Armstrong connects her high school students not just with towering historical figures, but also with real-live teens from schools on the other side of the world.

Learning social skills such as sharing and teamwork in preschool has become all the more critical as kindergarten has become more rigorous and focused on academic assessments, says Jenifer Cline, student services coordinator in Great Falls Public Schools in Montana.

Dean Deaver’s fourth-grade classroom was struggling with math. His students at Monroe Elementary School in Riverside, California hadn’t benefited from the curriculum the school had used for the past few years, showing little improvement in state tests or in their day-to-day assignments. Many of his 30 students required extra support due to cognitive learning problems or issues at home, and even more were discouraged from consistently testing at a second-grade level. Deaver needed a solution.

A program for all

For administrators taking on the challenge of turning around failing schools, developing a strategic focus for improvement efforts is crucial. The Stringfellow Elementary School—a pre-K through 5 school in the Colquitt County Schools in Georgia—had been one of the lowest-performing schools in the state, was given a failing grade by the Georgia DOE and was under risk of state takeover.

Fifteen outdoor field trip days are built into the academic year at Plumas USD school district.

Plumas USD, a rural district tucked away in the rugged terrain of northeastern California, uses its own backyard for its “Outdoor Core” K12 curriculum.

ACTION—Students at New Rochelle High School in Westchester County, New York, write and shoot their interpretations of classic literature as part of English curriculum.

At New Rochelle High School, about 20 miles north of New York City, students use smartphones and tablets to create short movies based on classic works of literature.

Springfield Public Schools is the largest district in Missouri, serving some 25,000 students and employing 4,000 staff members across 36 elementary schools, an intermediate school, nine middle schools, five high schools, a center for gifted education and an early childhood center. Personalization is one of the district’s themes, reflected in its motto—“Engaging. Relevant. Personal.”—as well as in a school choice program that offers over a dozen unique learning options through academies and other alternatives.

Adrian Vega is the school superintendent of San Benito Consolidated ISD in Texas.

Adrian Vega, superintendent of San Benito Consolidated ISD in Texas, has implemented leadership prep academies that promote professional development among aspiring leaders in the district.

Kathy Gomez is superintendent of Evergreen School District in San Jose, California.

One in 10 elementary school students who were “far off track” in reading and math in a 2012 study were able to meet on-track college readiness benchmarks by eighth grade.

Erich May is the principal at McConnellsburg Middle and High School in Central Fulton School District in south-central Pennsylvania.

There is a kind of professional development that we rarely see but that many of us in school leadership could use. Some would call it coaching or mentoring, but what I’m describing is more specific—individualized instruction in an alternative setting off campus.

MUCKING STALLS IN THE BIG CITY—Agriculture students at John Browne High School care for livestock, maintain a flock of laying hens, and grow food and ornamental plants when they’re not studying the details of agriculture. (Julie Fritsch)

Schools are increasingly adding agriculture education, or “ag ed”—about 12,000 agriculture educators teach programs in the U.S., says a National Association of Agricultural Educators survey.

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