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District Administration, September 2015

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Cover Story

By the time a 220-pound linebacker gets in his way, a high school running back has built significant momentum. The resulting collisions have been described with metaphors involving rams, brick walls and Mack trucks.

Features

GPS and automated route systems, among other advancements, make bus service more efficient and effective. Despite heightened demands on school transportation in recent years—such as safety and expanded bell times—district administrators and transportation managers can cut costs while creating safe and convenient routes.

Hiring and retaining talented teachers can be a challenge in any district. But finding recent teaching college graduates who are ready to excel in the classroom their very first year can be even more difficult.

Given the lack of concrete data, savvy administrators are analyzing their districts’ experiences with the assessments to improve the testing process and communications next year.

By the time a 220-pound linebacker gets in his way, a high school running back has built significant momentum. The resulting collisions have been described with metaphors involving rams, brick walls and Mack trucks.

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Ahart strives to bring equity, pride and higher achievement to a once-struggling district that is far more diverse than the rest of Iowa. A garden of multicolored poles students have installed outside one low-income school taunt would-be vandals and represents Ahart's belief in the transformative power of education.

District CIO

As the lines between instructional and technology budgets blur, CIOs can improve their district’s procurement procedures to get what their classrooms need from an increasingly complex edtech market.

3D printing offers multiple ways for students to get hands-on experience and to gain marketable skills before leaving high school. Administrators must find ways to integrate the technology into existing courses or to enhance new class offerings.

Opinion

As an education researcher, I’ve spent more than 15 years conducting nearly 800 meta-analyses of 50,000 studies focused on student learning. The result, which I call Visible Learning, is about understanding the attributes of schooling that truly drive student learning and have a significant impact on achievement.

Although the country is becoming increasingly diverse, our schools remain racially and economically segregated. High poverty schools with large proportions of students of color often have less experienced teachers, more transitory populations and challenges in providing a safe environment.

Solutions

Superintendent David Tebo, and administrators in Hamilton Community Schools in western Michigan, develop partnerships with local employers and community organizations to offer students work experiences meant to foster a school-to-career mindset.

Briefings

Back-to-school has become a thing of the past in an increasing number of districts that keep class in session all year. The number of public, year-round schools—also called “balanced-calendar” schools—increased by 26 percent from 2007 to 2012 accounting for about 4 percent of all public schools.

Sandy Grove Middle School, part of Hoke County Schools in North Carolina, is the first energy-positive school in the nation to be financed by its own expected energy savings.

The 74,000-square-foot school opened to students in fall 2013, and was designed as a net-zero facility that produces more energy than it consumes. It will also meet LEED Gold standards.

Public outcry over new standards-aligned tests led some states to cut funding, changing the exam landscape for 2015-16.

In 2012, nearly every state was part of either PARCC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. As of this July, just 18 states remained in Smarter Balanced, and 10 (plus Washington, D.C.) had stuck with PARCC. Twenty-two states opted to use their own assessments.

The Common Core has been implemented in 43 states since 2010 (two of which are now reviewing whether to continue using it).

Many of these states have affirmed the standards but renamed them—for example, in Alabama, they are called the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, while in Hawaii, they are the Hawaii Common Core Standards.

In the absence of federal homeschooling guidelines, states have created provisions for such students that vary widely from one place to another, according to a July report from the Education Commission of the States.

Some states, such as Alaska, Idaho and Michigan, have little or no homeschooling regulation. Others, including Washington, New York and Pennsylvania, have robust oversight policies.

Many classrooms will remain without a permanent teacher this fall, as the teacher shortage becomes more severe in some states. Major enrollment drops in teacher prep programs signal worsening conditions in the coming years.

Despite national campaigns to combat bullying, 3 in 10 districts still do not have policies that protect students from harassment. And many of these school systems are in states that require such rules by law, according to a July report from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, also known as GLSEN.

Forrest Claypool, a top aide to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was named CEO of Chicago Public Schools in July. Previous CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennet resigned in June amid a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract awarded by the school board to her previous employer.

Departments

When Elizabeth Rose’s teaching job was cut, she was presented with two options: leave the profession or substitute in a different Manhattan public high school each week. Rather than give in, Rose—who’s also a musician, writer and actor—took on the substitute challenge. It was “a temptation no storyteller could resist,” she says.

Serving meals in schools has changed dramatically over the last few decades.

Many students suffer food allergies, and others don’t have enough money in their lunch account.