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Table of Contents

District Administration, May 2014

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Features

It was compromise that prevented a major teacher’s strike in February, as Portland Public Schools and the local union struck a bargain during an intense 24 hours of negotiating that ended months of deliberations.

Careful use of data can guide school administrators as they deploy limited resources to promote college readiness for all students.

Fueled by a growing consensus that students need post-secondary degrees to compete in the world economy, participation in the 58-year-old Advanced Placement program, once reserved for a small band of elite achievers, has doubled in size over the past decade. The much smaller International Baccalaureate program has also grown steadily.

Students in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County Public School System learn to make drones in a career technology class developed with a local engineering company. At Mississippi’s Ocean Springs High School, students in the robotics and engineering program design about 40 robots. Tempe Union High School District in Arizona has created living labs in solar thermal, fuel cell and other types of power.

Students can be picky customers. And when they expect their cafeterias to serve a wide variety of attractive, fresh food, there is great pressure on food services staff to deliver. For some districts, the best way to please students and thereby increase participation is to maintain total control and keep all food service operations in-house.

District CIO

School administrators are using mobile software applications to remain highly productive no matter where they are. These same apps also are making it easier to create learning communities where leaders can share a wide range of information with other districts.

States are passing legislation to improve technology use in K12 classrooms, having debated more than 450 digital learning bills and having signed 132 into law last year, according to the Digital Learning Report Card 2013.

Decades into the computer revolution, many teachers still lack the training needed to use technology effectively in the classroom, according to a new survey. It’s a major problem as schools are investing more in devices and blended learning to improve student achievement, experts say.

Opinion

Differentiating instruction to meet individual students’ needs is one of the biggest challenges for any teacher. In the same way, differentiating professional development to meet the needs of individual teachers is one of the biggest challenges for any school district.

With violent events seemingly on the rise in schools across the country, district leaders must develop fluid and thorough safety plans.

To address the variety of individual circumstances that may accompany these events, fluidity must be coupled with authentic practice and the engagement of stakeholders and experts. Practicing the plan, constantly considering best practices, and giving staff and students flexibility to adjust actions during an emergency are essential for a quality school safety plan.

If you’re an educator, at any level or grade, sitting back and expecting education change to happen, without you getting involved, you need to stand up now. If you think that you can’t do something, or start change, you’re mistaken.

Solutions

Pia Durkin took the reins as superintendent of New Bedford Public Schools, one of the lowest-performing districts in Massachusetts, this past July facing a Herculean task.

Briefings

In suburban Minneapolis, seventh graders will soon start building skills for local technical jobs that may be open to them when they finish school.

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.

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.

High schools will soon have access to a free curriculum based on the Academy Award-winning film and memoir 12 Years a Slave.

The National School Boards Associaton is partnering with New Regency entertainment, Penguin Books and the filmmakers to give public high schools copies of the 2014 Best Picture winner, the book it’s based on and a study guide. Talk-show host Montel Williams is coordinating the distribution of the movie.

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.

Atlanta superintendent chosen

Meria Carstarphen was named superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. She has served as superintendent of the Austin ISD in Texas since 2009, and helped raise graduation rates to an all-time high of nearly 83 percent in 2012. She will start the Atlanta job in July.

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.

Departments

High-stakes testing in K12 schools has had a chilling effect on how students are taught and what they learn. The number of school closings due to poor test results has nearly doubled annually, from about 1,100 to 1,900, notes journalist Anya Kamenetz.

Defensible Teacher Evaluation: Student Growth Through Classroom Assessment

Corwin

Author Rick Stiggins believes that classroom assessment is more effective than standardized tests in providing the student growth data needed to evaluate teachers. This book shows district leaders how to create an assessment program that evaluates teachers fairly and will help schools improve.