Common core field tests get underway | Pa. after-school program is recognized as national STEM model | Middle-school students learn math through comic books
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March 24, 2014
ASCD SmartBrief
News for the Education Profession

Learning and TeachingSponsored By
Common core field tests get underway
Students in 36 states and the District of Columbia this week will begin field-testing new exams aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Student scores will not count for this round of testing. Officials instead will collect data about test-question quality and schools' technical capabilities to administer the online assessments. ABC News/The Associated Press (3/22)
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Pa. after-school program is recognized as national STEM model
The after-school program in a Pennsylvania district is being highlighted as a national model by the U.S. Department of Education. The program -- available for free to all students in the district -- will be featured in a "virtual showcase" of science, technology, engineering and math activities. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers program seeks to boost academic performance in math, reading and science. The Republican-Herald (Pottsville, Pa.) (3/23)
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Middle-school students learn math through comic books
Students at a middle school in Indiana are using comic books to learn math concepts. The "Solution Squad" superheroes, invented by math teacher Jim McClain, incorporates math problems in the stories and adheres to Common Core State Standards and Indiana standards. "Kids will read comics," McClain said. "One of the things that's hobbled teachers in recent years are the books we have to use -- it's very scripted." The Elkhart Truth (Ind.) (3/21)
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See which students are prepared for state tests
What if you could see exactly which students were on the right path to proficiency on your state's standardized tests—along with all the students who may still be struggling? Get the most valid, reliable data to predict state test performance in the least amount of testing time. Take just one minute to view this short video to learn more.
School LeadershipSponsored By
Colo. educators use inquiry-based lessons to support STEM
Teachers in Colorado who are taking part in the Colorado Champions for STEM Education Leadership Academy are learning best practices for teaching science, technology, engineering and math. Strategies focus, in part, on using inquiry-based lessons in the classroom. "It pushes me to be a better teacher and think about things in a different way, outside the box," fourth-grade teacher Katie Poulsen said. The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) (3/23)
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Common Core results are in.
In a study of more than 250 urban schools, the schools that used the Ready® program on average had 30% more students score "proficient" on the New York State Assessment in Mathematics—a measure of student mastery on the Common Core—than schools that did not use Ready. See more results and download free sample lessons.
Technology in the ClassroomSponsored By
How some educators are using smartphones in the classroom
Students in some schools in California are finding more leniency when it comes to using their smartphones in the classroom. In some cases, educators use mobile applications to remind students about assignments, and students use their phones to take photos of lecture notes and reading passages. "There are so many whiz-bang things they can do on their phone, but I want them to realize that they can use this computer in their pocket to do their schoolwork," teacher Louise Colbert said. The Oakland Tribune (Calif.) (3/24)
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Policy Watch
Minn. to proceed with basic-skills test for teaching candidates
In Minnesota, efforts to repeal a basic-skills exam for teaching candidates -- measuring the educators' proficiency in reading, writing and math -- have been unsuccessful. Officials say the exams are set to go forward despite criticism that the tests are ineffective in assessing the quality of aspiring teachers and may put minority teachers and non-native English speakers at a disadvantage. Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) (3/23)
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Faculty Lounge
Principal reflects on learning outside of standardized tests
Besides core academic subjects, principal Tom Martellone writes in this blog post about the importance of teaching citizenship, empathy and kindness, as well as other traits. He reflects on a recent lunch with two students and the ways the students modeled respect and kindness. "It is this success that will not be measured on standardized testing, but will be measured as our students leave our school and become members of the local and global communities in which they live and work," he writes. Connected Principals blog (3/23)
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The Buzz
Free, live chat with The 2 Sisters! Join Gail Boushey & Joan Moser for an online chat about the Daily 5 and CAFE literacy teaching frameworks Tuesday, March 25th at 3:30pm ET. Submit questions in advance or during the chat, and enjoy access to the recording afterward. Space is limited—click here to register now!
Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy
In this new ASCD book, author Mary Jo Fresch shows educators how to use the joyful learning framework introduced by Michael Opitz and Michael Ford in Engaging Minds in the Classroom to better engage students in reading, writing, speaking, listening and other elements of language arts learning. Educators striving to meet the multiple challenges of standards, assessments, ELL instruction and achievement gaps will find her innovative instructional approaches essential. Learn more. Pick up your copy.
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ASCD and CDC announce Whole school, Whole community, Whole Child model
ASCD announced the new Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model that is recommended as a strategy for improving students' health and learning in our schools. Developed by ASCD and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new model combines and builds on elements of the traditional coordinated school health approach and the whole child framework to strengthen a unified and collaborative approach to learning and health. Read on.
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Editor's Note
Have you visited SmartBlog on Education?
Check out this week's posts on SmartBlog on Education. Want to join our blogger community? View our submission guidelines to learn how. Engage. Innovate. Discuss.
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Who's Hiring?
Position TitleCompany NameLocation
School Reading CoachesRowland Reading FoundationMultiple Locations, United States
Teach Overseas!International Schools Services (ISS)Multiple Locations, International
Assistant District SuperintendentDepartment of Defense Education ActivityFort Buchanan, Puerto Rico
Senior Technical Assistance Consultant, Teacher PreparationAmerican Institutes for ResearchWashington, DC
Regional Sales ManagerNWEAMultiple Locations, United States
14-0051 Education Specialist IISpace Telescope Science InstituteBaltimore, MD
Principal - Riverton Street Charter SchoolNational Heritage AcademiesJamaica, NY
Principal at Atlanta Heights Charter SchoolNational Heritage AcademiesAtlanta, GA
Director of Accountability and Assessment Gwinnett County Public SchoolsSuwanee, GA
Click here to view more job listings.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth."
-- Muhammad Ali,
American boxer
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