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Articles: Reform

A variety of research indicates that an engaged and motivated student is more likely to be a high-achieving student. But what does student engagement look like in a digital environment? To keep all students motivated—especially those who struggle or are disengaged—educators need to ensure that engagement is built into the DNA of the curriculum. In a digital environment, engaged students experience more personalized learning and are more likely to actively participate in their learning.

Many district leaders are challenged with developing whole-school, data-driven, prevention-based frameworks for improving learning outcomes for every student. Under the new provisions of ESSA, district leaders are also mandated to build curriculum capacity using a layered continuum of evidence-based practices and systems, to improve outcomes for students in Tiers 2-3 and special education.

José Vilson’s book, "This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and the Future of Education," examines education reform through personal stories and hard research.

Math teacher José Vilson wants to reclaim the teaching profession from the education theorists and reformers who dictate standards and curriculum, and put it back in the hands of the people who actually work with kids and get results.

District Administration surveyed readers on the race for president. (Click to enlarge)

When the next president takes office in January, he or she will preside over major shifts in the K12 education landscape—from implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and Common Core, to the rollout of nationwide STEM initiatives, to the simmering battles over charters, school choice and teachers unions.

Caroline Lewis spent 22 years as a science teacher and school principal.

Teaching is losing its magic. Every year, the profession loses some of our most effective colleagues prematurely. Moreover, we fail to attract enough college graduates who have the talent and passion for teaching.

"Meaningful Making" offers project ideas and assessment strategies for educators interested in the maker movement.

Recommended books offer ideas for makerspace activities, insight into online teaching, a behind-the-scenes look at reform and philanthropy, and methods for teaching steam in elementary school.

Reunited soon: Students from public Mary Bethune Elementary School of Literature & Technology will soon reunify into one district with New Orleans’ charter schools.

With the reversal the 2005 state takeover of most of New Orleans’ public schools, a charter-based district will for the first time in the United States be accountable to its local school board.

In seeking to save money while also boosting teacher recruitment and retention, the Pierce City R-VI School District in Missouri switched to a four-day school week this school year.

The time is made up by extending the school day 30 minutes. It increased learning time by 20 hours. “We want to create a culture where our good teachers want to stay,” Superintendent Russ Moreland says.

Teachers say they feel refreshed after their routine three-day weekends—a key reason for doing it, he adds.

This third-grade class at Vanderburg Elementary School in Clark County Schools operates on a year-round calendar that’s divided into five tracks. .

Educators have sometimes likened a school year to running a marathon. A balanced calendar may offer more chances to rest and refuel—enabling a strong effort in the next leg of the race.

Structured detention: A Flathead High School student, who is on the student newspaper, works during Structured Study. It’s part of a program whereby teachers oversee and communicate individually and in small groups with students to help them succeed in core academic classes.

While detention remains a staple of student discipline across the country, many school leaders are looking at ways to modify the practice, or even replace it, with approaches that may be more effective in actually reducing bad behavior.

From left to right: Brett Ridgway, Peter Hilts, Jack Bay.

Instead of one superintendent making all decisions, three leaders in Colorado Springs leverage areas of expertise—and save the district money. Peter Hilts, Jack Bay and Brett Ridgway divide roles of chief academic officer, chief of operations and chief financial officer.

Until his retirement, Mel Hawkins was a consultant specializing in leadership development, human resources, and strategic planning. He is the author of Re-Inventing Education, Hope, and the American Dream: The Challenge for Twenty-first Century America.

The federal government, corporate reformers and state governments are engaged in a relentless attack against public schools. And our professional educators have not stepped up to acknowledge the deficiencies in our education process, deficiencies that only they are qualified to address.

Students at Horizon Elementary School, part of Holt Public Schools in Michigan, attend school on a year-round calendar. The first day of school was Aug. 4.

Back-to-school has become a thing of the past in an increasing number of districts that keep class in session all year. The number of public, year-round schools—also called “balanced-calendar” schools—increased by 26 percent from 2007 to 2012 accounting for about 4 percent of all public schools.

In the absence of federal homeschooling guidelines, states have created provisions for such students that vary widely from one place to another, according to a July report from the Education Commission of the States.

Some states, such as Alaska, Idaho and Michigan, have little or no homeschooling regulation. Others, including Washington, New York and Pennsylvania, have robust oversight policies.

Dan Domenech

Collaboration is a 21st-century skill school leaders are trying to instill in students. What kind of collaboration can superintendents engage in to help run their districts at optimal effectiveness?
Collaborating with peers is one of the best ways a superintendent can gain insight into their own position. At AASA, the School Superintendents Association, one of our core goals is to connect school leaders who are dealing with similar issues so they can discuss shared problems and potential solutions.

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