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Research Roundup

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 16, 2014

Outlook on instruction: Class around the clock District Administration Magazine 

The idea that all students can learn the same material through the same old teaching methods is slowly changing.  Today, students are becoming more empowered to shape how they learn.  The availability of technology resources such as individual laptops for each student make this vision easier for educators who are now able to direct individual attention to students working on different assignments.  With these technology advances making the classroom environment accessible 24/7, collaboration and discussion between students and educators is thriving.

Big Drop In Students Being Held Back, But Why? NPR Blogs 

The decline in the number of students who are held back nationwide has declined with much mystery surrounding the reasons behind the decrease. Little attention to measuring grade retention has contributed to the lack of knowledge. Researchers have identified two reasons for the phenomenon: holding students back is costly and incentives for schools and districts to improve their graduation rates are too great to prevent advancement. On the upside, some educators indicate the progress is due to more students being identified earlier and having their needs met before the gaps in learning become too wide. 

The Race Gap in High School Honors Classes National Journal 

In fall 2013, students entering the University of California averaged over a 4.0 weighted high school GPA. A GPA above 4.0 is achieved by advanced placement classes. Unfortunately, not all students have access to these courses and minority students especially are more likely to attend high schools that do not offer these advanced classes compared to their white counterparts. Read on for highlights about the differences in advanced placement and college prep courses by ethnicity. 

5 Critical Questions for the Innovative Educator Connected Principals Blog 

New technologies are constantly being introduced to classrooms to enhance learning.  It is often difficult to keep up with the latest without disrupting the student classroom.  This article gives 5 tips on how educators can stay focused on what is most important in the classroom: the student.  

Social Media Threats Case Heard By Supreme Court - Implications for Schools

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on December 04, 2014

Social Media Threats Case Heard By Supreme Court - Implications for Schools

 

The Elonis v. United States case is bringing increased attention to the already complicated question of how to deal with school threats made on social media. The case, which is before the Supreme Court, involves a 27-year-old man who made threatening comments on Facebook about shooting up an elementary school. The specific question before the Court is whether, when someone is prosecuted for making threatening statements, the government should be required to prove that that person intended his words to be taken as a threat. The crux of the issue is whether one should have to prove a subjective element (that the speaker intended his words to be taken as a threat) or merely an objective element (that a reasonable listener would have understood the words as a threat -- a much lower burden). Proponents of free speech argue that "proof of subjective intent is required to ensure that protected speech is not chilled by the fear of criminal prosecution" (ACLU).

How the Supreme Court decides this case will have broad implications for how school administrators address threats made by students on social media outlets and impact how youth are treated when accused of such conduct.

Regardless of what standard of proof the Court deems appropriate, however, any standard that allows us to criminalize youth for their behavior on social media will likely do more harm than good. For this reason, although working to protect free speech is vitally important, when it comes to this kind of behavior by youth, arguing over whether the objective or subjective standard is appropriate misses the true issue at hand: how can we best prevent this type of behavior from occurring and work to remedy its harm as effectively as possible. 

Countless studies and data show that criminalizing cyber-bullying will not decrease bullying and will instead cause a less satisfactory school climate for all students, as well as significant harm to those students labeled "bullies," including perpetuating the school-to-prison-pipeline[1] (for a more detailed discussion of the issue of criminalizing cyber-bullying, see: New York's Cyber-Bullying Law Struck Down http://conta.cc/1vxFtzM). Similarly, the answer to dealing with school threats on social media should not be to put kids in jail. Instead, we should be focusing on prevention.

NSCC has been supporting prevention efforts specific to such social media concerns through our school climate measurement work and the creation of a new dimension that provides schools with data on the perceptions about social media behavior from key stakeholder groups - parents, students, staff - directly. In this way, we are able to support a more meaningful dialogue within the school community about how social media is being used - positively or negatively - and what can be done to promote online behavior that reinforces their core values and codes of conduct in all areas of school life. Ultimately, when schools are equipped with the right information, they can be more effective in prevention efforts related to mean, cruel or potentially harmful behaviors before they manifest as negative actions that require a more serious response from the administration or other officials. 

If the Supreme Court finds that an objective standard is proper in Elonis, it would make it easier to focus on punishment rather than prevention. This is the wrong approach. Our efforts should be spent working to prevent and remedy the underlying behavior instead of making it easier to criminalize the behavior and providing more opportunity to further crowd the school-to-prison-pipeline.

[1] R. Skiba, A. Cohn, & A. Canter, Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies, in  HELPING  CHILDREN AT  HOME AND SCHOOL  II: HANDOUTS FOR  FAMILIES AND  EDUCATORS, S4:103-S4:106 (A. Canter, L. Paige, et al., eds. 2004); National Association of School Psychologists, Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: A Fact Sheet for Educators and Policymakers , NASP ONLINE, http://www.nasponline.org/resources/factsheets/zt_fs.aspx (last accessed April 24, 2014); American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force, Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools? An Evidentiary Review and Recommendations , AMERICAN  PSYCHOLOGIST, Vol. 63, No. 9, 852–862 (Dec. 2008) (hereinafter “Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools?” ).

 

Research Roundup

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on November 14, 2014

School 'climate' affects teachers' expectations about students Z News 

The school environment in which teachers work affects their expectations about students, says a new study.The research conducted a multilevel analysis using data from 2,666 teachers in 71 secondary schools in Quebec. “From these data, the researchers could distinguish between two levels of variables -- the teacher: His/her perception of school climate, gender, age, courses taught; and the school: its academic, socio-economic, ethnic composition, and the way the entire school community perceived the school climate.”

 

Classroom Tech, Professional Development Top List of Faculty Concerns Campus Technology

This article discusses the changing role of social media in education.  “While technology is very helpful for student engagement and motivation, where it really shines is in providing professional development and opportunities for teachers to collaborate with colleagues. And social media is turning out to be a powerful tool for those purposes.” Sites proving to be most valuable are twitter, facebook, and google+ for conferences. 

 

Harding Elementary School teacher prepares students for high-tech future The Republic

A tech-savvy Ben Feight integrates technology into his 4th grade lessons. He says, “While assignments might feel more like entertainment, they align with Iowa Core 21st Century Skills like employability, financial, health, civic and technology literacy. He continues, "I want to make sure they are prepared for the world and show them the possibilities.”

 

BROADER MEASURES OF SUCCESS: SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL LEARNING York University

Broader Measures highlights the importance of teaching and measuring social emotional learning. The general positive outcomes include improved academic achievement, increased social-emotional skill, self-esteem and mental health. The report states, “The evidence is clear that it is very important to measure how students are progressing in the development of their core social/emotional competencies, and how classroom and school conditions are contributing to this vital aspect of their education. This is not just a vital aspect of their wellbeing, but a critical factor in their long-term academic attainment as well.”

Research Roundup, November 14

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on November 14, 2013

School Violence Cuts Learning, But Not GPAs Futurity: Research News

Violent crime in schools adversely affects reading and math scores on standardized tests, but has no influence on GPAs, according to a new study.


Learning in the Way of the Future Virginia Connection Newspapers

Students at Forestville Elementary School were the first to experience the rewards of a new hands-on science program currently being implemented by iSchool for the Future, a nonprofit organization based in Great Falls…A growing body of research indicates that building SEL skills improves academic performance and overall well-being of children.


Will Our Use of Touch-Screen Technology Be Led by Toddlers? Education Week

A recent report entitled Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America, 2013, published by Common Sense Media, indicated that "38% of all children under 2 have used a smartphone, tablet, or similar device for playing games, watching videos, or engaging in related activities; two years ago, 10% had done so"


Schools set to receive safety grant from Dept. of Mental Health New Britain Herald

The city is receiving a financial boost to its efforts in promoting mental, emotional and behavioral health to its students in an effort to create a safe, violence-free environment within schools.


Can We See Reading Comprehension in the Brain? Education Week: Inside School Research

Brain researchers have long studied how students hear and read individual words, but it has proven difficult to parse out what happens when a reader understands a long and difficult passage of text.


District settles federal compliance review The Star

The Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) has reached an agreement with federal authorities to revamp its process for screening students for special education and to bolster teacher training after the U.S. Department of Education found racial disparities.


This Research Roundup was compiled by Chanelle Spencer, Research Fellow at NSCC

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A Somber Meditation on the “High Holy Days of Testing”

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on April 15, 2013

 

Schools throughout our country have entered a most special time of the academic year. An air of solemnity, severity, stricture, sobriety, and “something of profoundly great import going on” is palpable and permeating.   Why is this time different from all other times in the school year? For the vast majority of K-12 public schools throughout the land, we have begun the most important “high holy days of testing”. High stakes testing has begun in earnest and those stakes are much higher than ever before (as is evident from recent noteworthy events). The next few weeks will see well-heeled routines discarded, any sense of new content or learning put on hold, and rigor replace vigor in every facet of the school day. 

This week’s deluge of testing, as has been the case for most years since NCLB and Race to the Top made sure that standardized testing occupied a primary spot in school accountability, comes after a lengthy preparation period. Almost a Lenten-like vigil accompanies the weeks (and even months) that lead up to actual tests.  And the tradition of “giving up” things certainly occurs as well. Schools sacrifice many different “niceties” to ready themselves for testing.   Some of the things that need to be curtailed or denied might be recess, creative expression, “fun”, higher order thinking activities, social emotional growth, service-learning, the arts, civic educational opportunities and a promotion of student voice.

This vigil for the “high holy days of testing” will also include the requisite (and highly ritualized!) preparations. All bulletin boards must be shrouded. All books or classroom resources that might give an unfair advantage must be removed. Any computers or other electronic devices need to be disabled. Every potentially distracting form of stimulation (including children’s displayed artwork) has to be expunged. And we will begin hearing the almost mantric expressions in the days leading up to tests: “Get a good night’s sleep”. “Eat a healthy breakfast”. “Don’t stress”. “You can do it”.

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