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Link to main story: Edtech equalizers in special education

TOUCH POINTS—Apps have provided new, more nimble learning alternatives at Kent Intermediate School District in Michigan.

More elaborate technology has opened up more possibilities for students with a range of needs. In some schools, robots now help children develop social-emotional skills.

WARDROBE FUNCTIONS—Evanston Township High School District relaxed its dress code after students protested, saying the rules unfairly targeted girls. No disruptions due to students’ clothing choices have occurred since the change.

“Don’t blame boys’ bad behavior on the way we dress.” That’s the message that led Santa Fe Public Schools in New Mexico to adjust its dress code in spring 2018.

Dan Hamlin is a postdoctoral fellow in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dan Hamlin, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Paul E. Petersen have examined data to see what impact states lowering the bar on academic proficiency have had on student achievement.

Teachers in the Susquehanna Township School District are finding success with their new curriculum mapping program using Chalk. With it, they can easily locate and align state standards with lesson plans, and if they have any questions, they can get live technical assistance through “Mr. Chalk,” an online chat feature operated by company employees.

Mr. Chalk used to be available only Monday to Friday, but not on weekends when many teachers were finishing lesson plans for submission to principals Sunday evenings. So Superintendent Dr. Tamara Willis made a call.

Peter DeWitt is a professional development coach and the creator of Collaborative Leadership, a PD service that combines transformational and instructional leadership, and that includes ways to engage the school community with a focus on learning.

Collaborative Leadership is a series of one to four workshops focusing on research-based influences that can foster a supportive and inclusive school climate, increase academic and social-emotional learning, and maximize the efficacy of every school stakeholder.

This spring, schools have experienced a profound increase in student suicides and attempts, as well as school shootings. Recognize that as bad as things have been this spring, things are likely to be worse next fall. Contention over race, origin, LGBTQ, and sexual assault/harassment will increase, along with contention over gun control in the context of a focus on school shootings. Schools must be prepared to go into the 2018-19 school year.

KOHLER, Wisconsin—When Superintendent Quynh Trueblood’s mind races in the middle of the night, she quickly finds herself using a mixing bowl and her oven. 

“When I bring in baked goods, people in the district know I couldn’t sleep,” says Trueblood, who has led the single-building Kohler Public Schools in Wisconsin for the past six years. 

“I slept so well when I was a teacher—I used to be a 10-hour-a-night sleeper, now I’m a 3-in-the-morning waker-upper.” 

Derrick Brown, CIO,  Evergreen Public Schools

Since joining Evergreen Public Schools four years ago, Derrick Brown has overseen implementation of a districtwide 1-to-1 program.

Daniel Venet is executive vice president of CHB Industries, which consults with schools, offices, government buildings, houses of worships and homes on security issues.

There are steps schools and districts should take to minimize damage and injuries from domestic terrorism, and eliminate the loss of lives.

Roberto Padilla is superintendent of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District in New York. Nancy Gutiérrez is chief strategy officer for the NYC Leadership Academy.

Turnaround leaders need to respond with urgency and make key changes quickly while establishing a vision and a strong team to carry out that vision.

These district solutions serve as models for other districts, and cover the K12 spectrum, from English language learners to dropout prevention to data-driven decision-making to water conservation.

The 45 schools and systems recognized by this year’s District of Distinction program have created homegrown initiatives to support students’ social-emotional development, to provide powerful new opportunities for career-focused STEM learning and to improve the skills of educators.

A K8 school district in Southern California was focusing efforts on increasing the proficiency of its English language learners, a population that makes up 32 percent of its students. It also sought to reclassify as many ELLs as possible before middle school—a time when the defeatist mindset usually sets in.

Digital book platforms now provide more than just reading materials.

Robert Runcie is superintendent of Broward County Public Schools in Florida.

Robert Runcie, superintendent of Broward County Public Schools in Florida, has enacted new districtwide safety measures. Runcie will expand mental health services and training for students, and will provide an active-assailant training curriculum for staff.

Every school will also have a single point of entry and a resource officer or armed security guard, among other protections.

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