You are here

Table of Contents

District Administration, December 2016

If you are a K12 district leader you may qualify for a free subscription to the DA print magazine

Subscribe (free)

Cover Story

This year, District Administration’s Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products features selections from more than 1,500 nominations that range from cutting-edge student information systems and cloud-based security to innovative gamification software and state-of-the-art classroom projectors.

Administrators and school leaders nationwide have shared feedback on a wealth of education resources to help their K12 peers find the best products to achieve district excellence.

Features

This year, District Administration’s Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products features selections from more than 1,500 nominations that range from cutting-edge student information systems and cloud-based security to innovative gamification software and state-of-the-art classroom projectors.

Administrators and school leaders nationwide have shared feedback on a wealth of education resources to help their K12 peers find the best products to achieve district excellence.

About 27 percent of high schools nationwide have a form of student drug testing. Some schools also perform “reasonable suspicion” testing on students who show evidence of illegal drug use, which can include abnormal behavior or physical symptoms.

In many school districts today, hiring practices for administrative leaders often consist of “replacement filling”—or, waiting for a position to open up before searching for candidates. But a successful succession often requires more proactive planning.

District CIO

Just a few years ago, CIOs—if they were involved in data analytics at all—would run a report, export it into an Excel document and share it with teachers and district leaders once a week or at the end of each semester. Now it’s all about creating systems that aggregate and sort data automatically, making it easier for educators to view crucial information every day

Opinion

The definition of an effective teacher remains in flux, and the evaluation process has morphed into numerous different assessments and observations. Fortunately, with the advent of new technologies, opportunities abound to broaden the evaluation process and to truly focus on teacher growth.

Even as school districts try to allocate more resources for the classroom, state and local financial struggles limit available funds and increase the pressure on districts to get more done with less. Still, at a time when financial responsibility should be paramount, misconduct remains far too common.

Solutions

Superintendent Yolanda Valdez takes messaging seriously. Not emoji-filled texts or IMs, but messages that convey a goal for 4,000-plus students at Cutler-Orosi Joint USD in rural California: That they will attend college.

Briefings

LAUSD’s 186th Street School jumps at a chance to expose primarily low-income students to the possibilities of a medical science career when a local health care provider offers a science enrichment curriculum for gifted-and-talented fifth-graders.

Schools that offer more comprehensive instruction, increase school safety and student health, and better integrate educational technology may be eligible for new federal funds. A new grant program from the U.S. Department of Education will reward schools that improve access to music, social studies, environmental education and computer science.

Bigger paychecks offered by wealthier suburban districts sometimes lure teachers away from St. Louis Public Schools. But a promising solution to a teacher-housing problem faced by many districts has emerged: St Louis schools' collection of more than two dozen vacant buildings.

It’s no surprise that students suffer when their teacher is absent. Substitutes often lack familiarity with the curriculum and class dynamics. What is surprising to learn is how often it happens.

Pat Skorkowsky, superintendent of Clark County School District in Nevada, has expanded a franchise principal concept in which successful principals take over management of multiple schools, replicating the same educational approach in each.

Following a successful pilot last year with two principals, the initiative involves training a core of administrative leaders who can continue to implement the policies and goals that have been working at each school.

Educators need specialized professional development to prevent the bullying of LGBTQ students, according to a recent report released by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. Some 85 percent of teachers received PD to deal with bullying, but just 33 percent received training in LGBTQ issues.

Departments

K12 educators increasingly embrace life skills curricula that promote social-emotional learning, mindfulness, problem-solving and other soft skills. Many districts no longer view such programs as “nice to have,” but as essential components of overall instruction.

In his new book, Education To Better Their World, Marc Prensky—an authority on the connection between learning and technology—says our current education system is wrong for the future, not because we haven’t added technology and 21st century skills, but because we have the wrong ends or goals in mind.