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Articles: Assessment

Murky state policies leave administrators in the lurch as more parents opt their children out of Common Core testing, according to a March report from the Education Commission of the States.

In many states, education departments remain silent on how districts should handle parent requests for opting students out of PARCC or Smarter Balanced testing, according to the report “Assessment Opt-Out Policies: State responses to parent pushback.”

When 11 former Atlanta Public Schools educators were convicted in March of racketeering for altering student standardized test scores in a systemic cheating scandal uncovered six years ago, it left many shocked and others concerned about the tests themselves.

State investigators concluded that cheating had occurred in at least 44 schools, with nearly 180 employees accused of fixing students’ incorrect answers and inflating test scores.

When four South Carolina districts joined forces in 2013 to compete for a federal Race to the Top grant, their shared educational vision was clear: Teach students to be creative innovators and independent learners. The challenge was finding a model to encompass all the sweeping changes they wanted to implement.

Mark D. Benigni is the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools. Miguel A. Cardona is the district’s performance and evaluation specialist.

Meriden, Connecticut, is a struggling, former industrial city, once known for its silver manufacturing, lamp producers, military product development, and automotive component assembly plants.

We were both born there, to parents who had little more than each other and a dream for their children. We were poor. We were the statistic.

Yet, just as we were unleashed from the grip of poverty, so too can millions of other children break free. We chose education as a profession because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

Students at George Armstrong Elementary School in the Chicago Public Schools get lessons about money and finance. They learn about earning income and how to play a stock market game.

As today’s students find themselves deciding money matters long before adulthood, progressive districts are introducing financial literacy lessons in elementary and middle grades—with some requiring high school students to complete a personal finance program to graduate.

Predictive analytics is becoming more common in both public- and private-sector hiring.

Big data and analytics now offer districts some clues about which teacher candidates will be the most effective in the classroom.

These programs are designed to accurately gauge the impact teacher candidates will have on student test scores. Analytics companies such as TeacherMatch and Hanover Research are working with hundreds of districts nationwide to aid in the hiring process.

Arizona and North Dakota in January became the first two states requiring high school graduates to take a U.S. citizenship exam.

Legislators in 14 others states recently introduced similar initiatives in a what’s been labeled as an effort to better prepare students to participate in a democratic society.

Sharon Jacobs and Paulita Musgrave from Washington Montessori School in Greensboro, N.C. share the ASCD’s 2015 Legislative Agenda with Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) during ASCD’s Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy in Washington, D.C.

Education advocacy group ASCD is calling for a two-year moratorium on using standardized test results for teacher or school evaluations. The move represents a growing push nationally to cut back on testing and limit its use as an accountability measure because it may not accurately reflect a teacher’s classroom performance.

Audio plays a crucial role in making collaborative student learning environments effective. Students need to be able to communicate with their teacher when necessary, and teachers should be able to hear what all students are saying during small group instruction. This web seminar, originally presented on April 2, 2014, featured educators from Andover USD 385 in Kansas, who discussed how classroom audio solutions have enhanced small group instruction, improved student communication skills and led to improved student learning.

Three years ago, more than 60 percent of incoming middle school students in the Roseville Community Schools (Mich.) lagged in fluency, meaning they were not reading as quickly and as accurately as their national peers. District students were leaving kindergarten without reading independently. This year, middle school students are getting back on track, and kindergarteners were reading independently by December, due in large part to Direct Instruction solutions from McGraw-Hill, says Mark Blaszkowski, curriculum director for the district.

As debate over the Common Core continues to spread in major media outlets, local administrators must address parent and community concerns to keep the focus on student learning.

“The need for parent communication with the Common Core caught many administrators by surprise, because this idea of having standards and revising curriculum isn’t new for district administrators,” says Sandra Alberti, director of field impact at Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit started by Common Core creators to help educators implement the standards.

New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey students can benefit from switching up where they do homework, or even changing the music they listen to while studying.

In his book How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey examines well-worn advice about learning, only to find much of it misguided or outdated. Instead, recent research shows that sometimes contradictory study techniques may actually lead to greater success in the classroom.

McPherson Magnet School is part of Orange USD, located in southern California. A K8 magnet school focused on science, math and technology, McPherson has been open since 1997 and serves 900 students. The school’s mission includes valuing a range of learning styles, utilizing a variety of learning tools and strategies while extending the learning environment beyond the classroom.

The 37,000 students in Escambia County Schools in northwest Florida—like all students today—are constantly bombarded with multiple types of digital media in their lives. Getting them to focus on the important messages in the classroom when they are used to so many distractions can be a challenge. “My experience has been that many children cannot filter the different types of noises and focus their attention on a singular voice,” says Marcia Nowlin, the district’s Title I director.

Kimberly Moritz is in her seventh year as the superintendent of Randolph Central School District. Prior to leading the district of 977 K12 students in this rural community in western New York, Moritz worked as a teacher for ten years in a neighboring rural school district and as a principal in two other school districts. Moritz joined Randolph with the goal of raising the district’s historically average student achievement; for over a decade, Randolph was seeing mediocre results on state assessments.

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