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Articles: Assessment

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.

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.

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.

Serving Students Who Are Homeless is one of the four books on education DA promotes in this month's Noteworthy Books feature.

DA promotes four books about serving homeless students, inspiring disengaged kids, improving communication skills and studying personalized learning in K12.

Jon Saphier says policy-makers could create regulations that positively affect the levers of influence on what teachers do, such as teacher education and teacher certification.

As founder of Research for Better Teaching— an organization dedicated to improving instruction and leadership— Jon Saphier says underperforming students need to believe that “smart is something you can get.”

High school students in the tiny Magazine School District in Arkansas receive three hours of sex education a year in grades 9 through 12—an approach that Superintendent Brett Bunch acknowledges is inadequate. 

In the last two years, Multiple states, including California and Arizona, have dropped or suspended exit exams in high schools.

Efforts to implement new high school graduation exams in Ohio and New Jersey are faltering, as some educators grow more concerned about the number of students struggling to meet the strict requirements. 

NO MORE GPA IN EDUCATION—Graduates at Millard South High School in Omaha, Nebraska will no longer be ranked based on GPA in coming years. Administrators hope this will result in students focusing more on content and skills, rather than grades.

Millard Public Schools near Omaha, Nebraska, will switch to a college-like ranking system that designates graduates as magna cum laude, summa cum laude and cum laude.

In the latest round of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam, given to more than 500,000 15-year-olds in 72 nations, students in the U.S. once again scored in the middle of the pack—and below average in math—raising concerns and sending educators looking for answers.

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