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District Administration, January 2015

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Cover Story

To help our readers navigate the coming year in K12 education, District Administration proudly presents its first-ever Year Ahead edition. In-depth stories on the major trends reshaping classrooms this year feature insights on technology, instruction, administration and assessments. Educators and experts also weigh in on how districts can find funding to support initiatives in all these areas.

Features

Kaya Henderson

Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

Topic: College & career readiness

Trend: Preparing our children for the high expectations of college and the future workforce requires us to completely re-imagine high school. The old model is not going to cut it anymore. Through a competency-based approach to learning, students will graduate high school with a mastery of core subjects, deep experience solving real-world problems, and ready to succeed throughout life.

Navigating turbulent waters of uncertain budgets, district leaders have a great challenge: Answer the growing push for accountability and heightened community expectations in 2015.

Computing devices embedded in jewelry and glasses. Microchips tattooed into skin and sewn into clothing. In one form or another, devices that gather data without any help from the user will slowly infiltrate districts in 2015. In fact, the number of people with a wearable computing device will more than triple this year.

Exciting advancements are on the horizon for classrooms in 2015. While they sound technical, the biggest changes aren’t going to be driven by an app, a computer program or a new kind of tablet—they will come from new theories about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom.

Praised and pilloried at both ends of the political spectrum, the Common Core State Standards—and the years-long effort to establish national benchmarks for student learning—will pass a crucial milestone in 2015, when 11.5 million American schoolchildren finally tackle Common Core-linked math and English tests.

To help our readers navigate the coming year in K12 education, District Administration proudly presents its first-ever Year Ahead edition. In-depth stories on the major trends reshaping classrooms this year feature insights on technology, instruction, administration and assessments. Educators and experts also weigh in on how districts can find funding to support initiatives in all these areas.

District CIO

In 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs available in the United States and only 400,000 computer science students in the education pipeline.

But the number of students may slowly be increasing, as 25 states now count computer science courses toward high school graduation requirements, compared to 11 states in 2013.

Opinion

At the core of powerful coaching relationships is the most important quality of effective performance and interactions: High emotional intelligence quotient, or EQ. To increase one’s EQ, coaching needs to focus on four domains: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and relationship management.

When we talk about bullying, what do we mean? Unfortunately, the answer is far from clear.

Educators are taught one definition, while most state statutes have yet another definition. Worse, surveys are based on a variety of definitions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Education, and Health Resources and Services Administration partnered with bullying experts to develop a uniform definition of bullying. In January 2014, the new definition was:

In his groundbreaking work, Magic of Dialogue, social scientist Daniel Yankelovich observed that public judgment is not information stripped of feeling, but dialogue rich in feelings and values.

Furthermore, he notes that we believe we make sound decisions in American society but we are ill-informed in large part because these decisions are based on protracted dialogue rather than factual analysis. What flows from this is that if educators want a voice in public policy they have no alternative but to enter the dialogue.

Are you ready for another year of doing more with less?

This year, let’s flip this funding challenge into an approach that enables your school district to get a share of the shrinking financial resources. A key approach to winning grants is collaboration.

Why collaborate?

Collaboration is not new. We talk about it, we provide workshops on it and we practice it in our schools and classrooms.

Solutions

Superintendent Arthur W. Tate of Iowa’s Davenport public schools took over a 27-school district with nearly 16,000 students that had recorded the state’s highest urban dropout rate. The rate has been decreasing steadily, thanks to several programs Tate launched to keep at-risk students in school.

Briefings

“Deeper learning” is an education buzzword taking hold in education circles, and could be another term for “21st century learning” and “personalized learning” in a list of trendy ideas to improve U.S. schools. But given new research claiming the method raises achievement and graduation rates, should administrators pay attention?

If today’s students are expected to direct their own learning, teachers have to be prepared to do the same. That’s the philosophy behind Edcamp, an international network of free, one-day “unconferences” where agendas and sessions aren’t determined until educators arrive in the morning and suggest topics.

The testing boycott has begun: In November, thousands of Colorado high school students refused to take the state’s new science and social studies exams in a widespread protest against the amount of classroom time devoted to standardized testing, according to published reports.

Next fall, Houston ISD students will be the first in the nation with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Arabic language.

In November, the Houston board of education unanimously voted to open the Arabic Language Immersion Magnet School in fall 2015, with two pre-K and two kindergarten classes. A new grade level will be added each year as students progress through grade 5.

In November, middle school students from around the globe had the chance to take photos of Earth from the International Space Station. Sally Ride EarthKAM is a program meant to spark student interest in STEM subjects through photographing the earth from space.

Funding cuts since the recession have drained the accounts of rural districts, which cannot rely on a resurgence in property tax revenues as heavily as urban school systems can.

Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson must review every proposed suspension of minority students to ensure equal treatment of all students. The policy, enacted in November, comes as the district approves a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education, which was investigating the district over its inconsistent suspension treatment for black students. The district is also reducing its police presence due to inconsistent policies in disciplinary matters.

A steady stream of immigrants, including the sudden arrival of 63,000 unaccompanied Central American minors, has left schools overwhelmed. Some districts have created transition schools where immigrant students can focus on English skills and receive mental health care, but problems persist with overcrowded classrooms and lack of language services.

The future of No Child Left Behind and charter schools are among the key K12 issues that the new Republican-controlled Congress expects to tackle in 2015.

Departments

Blended learning is poised to transform education as we know it. We know the what and the why, but it’s not often we learn how. In their book, Blended, Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, Michael Horn and Heather Staker lay out the components of successful blended learning programs, and challenge readers to create a culture that can make these innovations succeed.

A Non-Freaked Out Guide to Teaching the Common Core: Using the 32 Literacy Anchor Standards to Develop College- and Career-Ready Students

Jossey-Bass