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Table of Contents

District Administration, October 2014

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Cover Story

Districts large and small, urban and rural, are revamping discipline as increasing numbers of experts and educators find that zero-tolerance—and widespread suspension and expulsion—has been ineffective and even discriminatory.

Features

Districts large and small, urban and rural, are revamping discipline as increasing numbers of experts and educators find that zero-tolerance—and widespread suspension and expulsion—has been ineffective and even discriminatory.

Instead of quizzes and tests that interrupt classroom activity, many districts and testing companies are working on ways to integrate formative assessments into daily instruction and use technology to gather real-time feedback on student progress.

A new bounty of academic data is guiding teachers as they adjust instruction in the hopes of boosting student achievement. Some districts are connecting “data coaches” with the teachers’ own professional learning communities to ensure this bounty of information fulfills its pedagogical promise.

Paraeducators are no longer on the periphery of the classroom. Now a significant part of the learning process, they are facilitating one-on-one and small-group instruction among special needs students.

Taking away clerical work such as manual card cataloging and checking out books means librarians can spend more time working with students on research skills and digital literacy. With today’s automation software, librarians can give book recommendations and users need only a single portal to search for digital and print resources.

District CIO

Given the need for qualified school technologists, there are a few training programs that specifically address the unique combination of technical and pedagogical skills needed for leaders and their staff. How then, do district technology leaders and their staff develop that unique set of skills?

Mobile device management is now a central part of classroom supervision as teachers compete with laptops, tablets and phones for students’ attention.

The ability to freeze a device’s screen, block inappropriate apps or lock students into particular educational content can help teachers transition smoothly to online testing, 1-to-1 and BYOD, experts say.

Opinion

After two decades implementing technology in schools, one thing that’s become crystal clear is that there’s no single correct model for one-to-one initiatives. And the reality is, the initiatives that fail to meet their desired outcomes weren’t clearly defined from the start. Unless, of course, the objective is merely to put technology in the hands of students and hope that they will figure it out from there – which is a typical case of a solution looking for a problem.

Student achievement, teacher quality, school safety, 21st century teaching and learning—these are but a glimpse into the areas of need each administrator must consider when making school spending decisions. Add to each of these spending decisions the impact of student productivity, and your efficiency and financial anxiety might increase.

With several schools in Academic Assistance and test scores lagging behind the state average, St. Mary Parish Public Schools (Louisiana) knew powerful change was needed.

Solutions

City of Fairfax Schools' leader has been a champion of professional learning communities for teachrs and administrators in large and small distrcits, and has seen results in increased AP participation, higher test scores and improved discipline.

Briefings

Administrators at Brevard County Public Schools in Florida have enhanced security this school year with a new system that automatically runs sexual predator checks on all visitors and streamlines the process for volunteers.

San Diego USD’s Language Academy dedicated its newly revitalized campus in July, complete with new environmentally-friendly classrooms and schoolwide air conditioning.

The Language Academy is a multicultural K8 school that offers bilingual immersion courses in English, Spanish and French. Students also gain knowledge of the history and culture of the language they study. At the ceremony, students led the Pledge of Allegiance in each language.

CyberPatriot is all about protecting U.S. interests, and the heroes are teams of high school students. The bad guys (imaginary, in this case) are hackers who would try to disrupt power grids, banking, health care, transportation systems and other vital services.

U.S. graduation rates reached a historic high of over 80 percent in 2012—an increase of about 8 percent over the past decade, says America’s Promise Alliance.

“We’ve made these improvements, but we’re still left with about 20 percent of young people who are on a course to failure,” says Jonathan Zaff, executive director of the Center for Promise at Tufts University, the research center for America’s Promise Alliance.

Administrators at Los Angeles USD say that a federal waiver bans parents from enacting the state’s controversial “trigger” law in the district this year.

Administrators at the Ferguson-Florissant School District in suburban St. Louis doubled the number of counselors during the first week of school in late August to help students cope with their emotions during the time of instability following Michael Brown’s death.

President Barack Obama in August appointed Baltimore County Schools Superintendent S. Dallas Dance to the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dance has been superintendent in Baltimore County since 2012. He helped raise the graduation rate by 2.5 percent—to over 86 percent—between 2012 and 2013.

Departments

The standard whiteboard is evolving to keep up with advancements in learning technology. With today’s newer models, several students and teachers can work together on the same surface at the same time. Corresponding mobile apps also allow students to collaborate on their BOYD or 1-to-1 devices.

If there’s one thing that can be said with certainty about the education, it is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Teachers have been alternately seen as saviors of society and “bad guys” who drain precious tax resources while our children fall further behind.