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Administrators who don’t feel their staffs have the time to manage community programs have contracted with outside groups to organize and oversee services.

Communities in Schools, which partners with about 400 districts in 25 states, has been helping administrators provide non-academic supports to students in high-need schools for about 40 years, says Gary Chapman, the nonprofit’s executive vice president for business development.

At four elementary schools in Idaho’s Boise School District, families in need can go to specially designated community rooms to pick up food, clothing and other necessities.

Districts are increasingly tasked with providing options for at-risk and underserved student populations to address persistent achievement gaps. While nationwide gains in closing achievement gaps have been made, research shows that underserved student populations still achieve at lower rates than their peers in many areas.

The damage to teaching and learning caused by over-reliance on standardized tests is widely acknowledged. It includes narrowed curricula, teaching to the test, and one-size-fits-all instruction. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers a significant opportunity for states and districts to revamp their assessment systems.

Due to property tax reform in Indiana, the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township experienced a $14 million to $17 million shortfall and was facing tough financial decisions surrounding its capital projects, debt service and transportation expenditures.

To search for efficiencies in transportation, Superintendent Jeff Butts engaged with Transfinder, specifically looking to leverage their software solutions and expertise in transportation routing, scheduling and communications.

When it was time for North Kansas City School District in Missouri to adopt a mathematics resource for its elementary school students, a select pool of teachers was asked to evaluate several resources. Eventually, Everyday Mathematics from McGraw-Hill Education was selected as the resource. 

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ducators in Bradley County Schools in Cleveland, Tennessee, were faced with some staggering numbers: 48 percent of third-grade students were reading on grade level. That meant five out of every 10 were not.

“We were above the state average of 43 percent,” says Terri Murray, supervisor of Federal Programs/Media Services for the district where 10 of 11 K-5 schools are Title I. “But still, 48 was not good enough for us.”

K12 STEM programs are evolving, incorporating new tools and technologies to better prepare students for rapidly changing college and career environments. Makerspaces, drones, coding and robotics are all part of this next generation of STEM learning that is just beginning to have an impact in districts.

Little Falls City School District’s standards-based Engineering by Design program strives to build students’ resilience while developing their real-life problem-solving skills.

The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative hopes to build a drone-port and collaborative community workspace atop a coal-mined mountain.

IBM’s Watson computing system identifies the academic prerequisites and standards mapped out for each lesson. (Gettyimages.com: just_super).

IBM’s Watson computing system—perhaps the world’s most well-known artificial intelligence technology—now provides K5 educators with a database of open educational math resources.

Many states and districts are facing unprecedented teacher shortages. As a result, many have implemented or are expanding existing programs that offer alternative routes to licensure or certification for those seeking to become teachers from another career. 

In the Ventura USD in California, one low-achieving middle school at risk of closure was instead transformed into the De Anza Academy of Technology and the Arts (DATA), a high-achieving magnet school. A significant component in DATA’s dramatic turnaround has been its innovative project-based and collaborative learning environments and makerspaces, which employ technology as a central component. 

The completion of the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, a grade 6 through 12 magnet school, marks the end of Los Angeles USD’s 14-year effort to add 131 new schools.

Aresta Johnson, superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut, has restructured her administrative team.

Aresta Johnson, superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut, has restructured her administrative team to provide continuity for students progressing from elementary to high school.

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