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News Update

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.

More than 50% of parents of children age 3 to 18 believe that schools should make more use of mobile devices in education, and 32% say schools should require them in the classroom, according to a new nationally representative survey. The survey from the research and consulting firm Grunwald Associates and the Learning First Alliance also found that 45% of parents say they have already bought or plan to buy a mobile device to support their child’s learning, and 71% believe mobile devices open up learning opportunities.

School administrators need to adapt to rising numbers of autism cases, despite reports from the U.S. Autism and Asperger Association that show educators have been overwhelmed and unable to provide for all the affected students for years.

Architect of Change

Jesús Chávez, superintendent of Round Rock (Texas) ISD, received the Architect of Change Award at the Blueprint for Educational Change Leaders Summit. In the past few years, Chávez increased graduation rates for low-income students by more than 18 percent.

A principal’s job is only getting harder, according to the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. A whopping 75 percent of principals feel the job has become too complex, and job satisfaction rates decreased nine percentage points in less than five years, to just 59 percent. And seven in 10 principals say their job responsibilities are very different from what they were five years ago.