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Table of Contents

District Administration, March 2016

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Cover Story

Educators constantly face new challenges that often require resources that may be in short supply. But this round’s Districts of Distinction honorees show a surplus of exemplary creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills that are increasing student achievement and graduation rates and, most importantly, facilitating education.

Features

Educators constantly face new challenges that often require resources that may be in short supply. But this round’s Districts of Distinction honorees show a surplus of exemplary creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills that are increasing student achievement and graduation rates and, most importantly, facilitating education.

At three annual conferences this spring—the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)—experts and educators will offer guidance in developing STEAM instruction across a range a subjects and projects.

Amid a nationwide shortage, some districts have strengthened certification requirements, increased communication with substitutes and hired staffing agencies to keep their classrooms full.

District CIO

The internet delivers assessments, videos and instructional content to schools, so why not phone service, too? Adding voice to the bandwidth communications stream makes sense to an increasing number of district leaders who are abandoning traditional landlines.

High-speed internet access increased substantially in classrooms over the past two years. But 21 million students, many in rural areas, remain without reliable broadband connections in the classroom, according to the “2015 State of the States” report from the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway.

Opinion

More than 50 percent of curriculum directors anticipate a significant conversion from print to digital materials within the next three years. And it appears this shift is about to get a big boost from the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Teachers and administrators face tough challenges in education. Politicians are constantly trying to micromanage our practices, while accountability measures are abundant and budgets are tight. Coming to work isn’t always pleasant when it feels like the odds are stacked against us.

Briefings

Kicking a soccer ball might feel a bit like poetry—the power of your foot sending the ball curling through the air to a teammate or into the back of a net. Washington, D.C., teacher Julie Kennedy has for the past 20 years paired verse with the world’s most popular sport to provide a safe haven for thousands of urban students.

Multiple studies affirm the importance of play in children’s physical and mental health. At four Texas elementary schools, students have more time for swings, monkey bars and outdoor games after administrators adopted a Finnish model structured around four short recess periods each day.

The November terrorist attack on Paris and ensuing threats to major U.S. cities led many administrators nationwide to cancel class spring break trips in efforts to keep students safe. The decisions, in many cases, disappointed students, parents and city officials in popular tourist destinations.

In June, Maine became the first state to require all school districts to create a policy on use of the substance. Colorado and New Jersey also passed laws in the last year permitting certain students to receive the treatment in K12 schools.

A recent federal court decision on the statute of limitations for families to take legal action against schools sheds new light on compensatory services provided to special education students when IEP goals are missed. Parents may now seek several years’ worth of special education services.

The October video of a South Carolina school resource officer forcefully arresting a 16-year-old student for refusing to put her cell phone away became a viral example of school policing gone wrong. The incident provides yet more guidance for administrators on managing relationships with SROs and establishing effective school discipline policies.

Students living in states with an antibullying law that includes at least one U.S. Department of Education-recommended legislative component had lower reported bullying and cyberbullying rates compared to students living in states without such legal provisions, according to recent research.

Libby Schaaf, mayor of Oakland, established in January the Oakland Promise, a project with more than 100 community partners working to triple the number of the city’s low-income, public school students who go on to graduate college.

Departments

Other recommended books focus on rewiring the brain for critical thinking, how principals can hone leadership skills and how to teach energy concepts across all science disciplines.

With the ever-increasing reach of technology and the corresponding growth of STEAM-related curricula, it is challenging to find the right tools to help bring such concepts into the classroom in engaging, student-friendly ways. STEAM-focused classroom products also must easily integrate into existing lesson plans.

A Tale of Two School Principals: And the Superintendent Who Wanted to Lead Them is not your conventional leadership book. Told in a narrative form, the book is a journey of discovery as the characters learn to get to the deeper meaning and intent of a new district policy.