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News Update

EMERGING LEADER

Shelley Holt, Los Angeles USD instructional director for secondary schools, was named one of ASCD’s 2013 Emerging Leaders for her work helping principals use data to develop plans for monitoring instructional outcomes.

The total unfunded liability of U.S. teacher pensions is currently anywhere from $390 billion to $1 trillion, according to recent estimates. In an effort to bolster depleting pension funds, some states are enacting laws that cut benefits and require more contributions from employees, according to a June report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “The Big Squeeze: Retirement Costs and School District Budgets.”

In the aftermath of the nation’s largest standardized test cheating scandal, 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, were criminally indicted for changing student answers on high-stakes state tests.

Investing in the Arts

Andrew Bott, principal of Orchard Gardens K8 School in Boston Public Schools, reinvested money used for the troubled school’s security infrastructure into the arts in 2010. As a result, today the school has one of the fastest student test improvement rates statewide.

Connecticut, home to some of the wealthiest and most destitute towns in the country, has the nation’s largest student achievement gap, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

This gap is most severe in Bridgeport, Conn., one of the poorest cities in the United States based on the percentage of children living at or below the federal poverty line. In Bridgeport Public Schools, fewer than half of the 21,000 students are proficient in math and reading, according to the Connecticut Department of Education, and the high school graduation rate is 55 percent.

Walking to school combats obesity and increases student concentration, according to a Danish study released last year. Children who walk or bike to school performed better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles, than those who traveled by car or bus, the researchers found.

In 11 states, scores for school climate are becoming as important as those for math and reading, thanks to a new score card that allows administrators to learn where they need to improve school safety, student engagement, and overall learning environment.

Florida’s Marion County School Board has again allowed paddling in elementary schools, three years after banning corporal punishment. Though administrators did not recommend the move, three of five school board members voted the measure in, says Kevin Christian, a spokesperson for Marion County Public Schools. One of those leading the charge was a former elementary school principal who believes paddling works to curb behavioral issues.

With the Common Core standards comes an increasing focus on literacy across subjects: today, 77 percent of educators believe developing students’ literacy is one of the most important parts of their job, a new survey found.

“It’s much more widely understood today that every educator has a responsibility to improve student literacy, which is the gateway to learning in all disciplines,” says Kent Williamson, director of the National Center for Literacy Education, which conducted the survey of 2,400 educators nationwide.

Students in the Allegheny Valley (Pa.) School District use robotics kits to build moving dioramas that integrate poetry and engineering. Robotics and poetry aren’t an ordinary combination.

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