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The first day of practice testing at Greer Elementary School in the San Juan USD in California in March.

Field testing for the Common Core assessments wrapped up in June, with districts in 36 states reporting mostly successful first runs despite some challenges around technology, test questions and scheduling.

Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard visits with students at lunchtime.

A new agreement to fund programs that keep high-needs students on track from preschool through graduation marks the first formal partnership between two New Orleans’ school systems that work side by side.

Students in a Responsive Classroom school greet one another during the daily morning meeting (left). In another class, after the greeting, students have the opportunity to share their feelings and experiences with their peers (right).

A widely used K6 teaching technique that integrates social and emotional learning into the school day improves academic performance, according to a study published in the American Educational Research Journal in March. Though the approach, known as Responsive Classroom, has been used for some 25 years, this is the first comprehensive study of its impact on student achievement.

Students at Central Union Elementary School District, located on a military base in Lemoore, Calif., are using 21st-century technology in an unexpected place: gym class. Last fall, the district was awarded a three-year Department of Defense Education Activity grant for more than $680,000 to improve physical education and enhance parent, family and community engagement at two schools located on Naval Air Station Lemoore in California’s Central Valley.

Gifted students in the Navigator Program at Minnetonka Public Schools take fast-paced courses with gifted-certified teachers.

The number of full-time academic programs for gifted students has grown substantially in Minnesota over the past 10 years—a rare case amid a lack of federal funding and recent cuts to similar programs nationwide.

More states are allowing schools to have armed staff to defend students against active shooters, nearly a year and a half after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut.

In 2013, 21 states strengthened gun laws to require trigger-locking devices and background checks for private sales, says Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. At the same time, the National Rifle Association (NRA) made a public push to allow more security guards or staff members to carry guns in schools, after 40 to 60 hours of firearms training.

Sixth grade students at Quest to Learn in New York City play a game called Galactic Mappers in class.

Sixth grade students at Quest to Learn, a New York City public school, recently got a two-week break from regular class work to build a giant Rube Goldberg machine. The project, for example, required students to use physics and geometry skills to build a complex scheme of pulleys and tubes to accomplish the simple act of popping a balloon.

Students at Frazier International Magnet School of Chicago Public Schools were treated to a fresh-painted gymnasium, classrooms and hallways thanks to an event from School Makeover, a national charity team-building program for corporations and large organizations to make a difference in the communities where they do business. The program is organized by a corporate team-building company called Team Worx.

A carnival with a twist is coming to the West coast this spring. Instead of eating cotton candy and riding Ferris wheels, students will navigate a laser maze and measure their strength in volts—all while learning engineering skills.

The STEAM Carnival was created by Two Bit Circus, a Los Angeles-based engineering and entertainment company that creates high-tech games for clients like Intel and the arcade restaurant Dave & Buster’s.

Students from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin walk at graduation.

Two of Austin ISD’s middle schools will begin operating as single-gender schools next fall. The Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Garcia Middle School and the Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Pearce Middle School will enroll 600 sixth, seventh and eighth graders, and will focus on college readiness.

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