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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.

In the wake of a divisive presidential election, hundreds of students from about a dozen high schools in Oakland, California, cut class last November to voice their discontent with President-elect Donald Trump. 

On the first Friday of every school year, the new kindergartners of Utah’s Canyons School District look ahead to the future—far ahead. To mark Kindergarten College-Ready Day, the children make construction-paper mortar boards and march in mock graduation ceremonies.

Andrew Smith, chief strategy officer in North Carolina’s Rowan-Salisbury School System, is leading a digital-first initiative that three years ago aimed to give an iPad or a MacBook Air to all students—and their teachers—from grades 3 through 12. Rowan-Salisbury became 1-to-1 by the 2014-15 school year.

Albemarle County, Virginia—A snake bit Pam Moran in front of her class on her first day of teaching 40 years ago. Moran, now a superintendent in Virginia, had no one to blame but herself on that fateful day in 1975.

Patricia Baltzley, board chair of the Gardiner School District in Montana, many high schools will to redesigned to meet new instructional needs.

Patricia Baltzley

Board chair, Gardiner School District (Mont.)

"The way high schools are currently designed—both with architecture and teaching and learning—needs to be revisioned in all high schools, not just those considered innovative. Instructional needs of the students are different and will continue to be different. We need to get out of the Industrial Age of schooling and move into a more progressive stage."

Jim Westrum

Executive director, finance and business, Wayzata Public Schools (Minn.)

Interest in virtual reality is becoming an increasing reality in public schools as ed-tech companies offer more cost-effective devices.

As we face a new year with a new president, Newsletter Editor Ariana Fine looked back on 2016 to consider the biggest and most influential stories in K12 education. 

Betsy DeVos, president-elect Trump's education secretary, has spent time as chairperson for both the American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice.

As Donald Trump settles into office, a pachyderm-size question now looms for educators: What will U.S. education policy look like under his Republican-led administration?

On the campaign trail, Trump discussed eliminating the Common Core, scaling back the influence of the U.S. Department of Education, and supporting school choice with vouchers and an increase in charter and magnet schools.

A total of 277 K12 leaders participated in DA’s security survey, which was part of a broader set of surveys deployed to readers in late 2016.

As in years past, this new year will bring all sorts of new technology to schools. The question for educators is: To what degree do these technologies enhance education?

Adopting tech, preventing segregation, harnessing power of social media will be education priorities in 2017.

Education faces no shortage of important challenges in the quest to improve our nation’s schools. Whether it’s the debate over testing, racial issues, learning standards or shrinking funding, 2017 promises to be a year of change—for better or worse.

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