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How to assess your district’s digital readiness

E-School News – Keith R. Krueger

“How do you know if your school system is high performing in its use of technology? What are your strengths and weaknesses? While there are many free, self-assessments, how do you get a rigorous, outside expert assessment? A first step is for districts to learn about CoSN’s new Digital Leap Success Matrix (Matrix) which outlines the practices needed to be a successful digital school system. And, CoSN has created a new fee-for-service CoSN Peer Review process using this Matrix to determine how a district aligns to best practices by expert external peers.”(more)

To turn around schools, first turn around the principals

E-School News – Mark Comanducci

“I oversee a portfolio of nine turnaround schools, all of which had an overall rating of F when ACCEL Schools first took them over two years ago. This means that, on average, fewer than 30 percent of students were proficient. As a charter organization in Ohio, our schools receive 40 percent to 60 percent less funding than traditional schools, because charters in Ohio rarely, if ever, get local funding. This means we don’t have the budget to radically restaff our schools. When we started with these schools, I faced a high level of skepticism among the principals. They had been bombarded with change for change’s sake, so their trust in leadership had eroded.”(more)

‘It’s Not My Problem!’ Why Charter Schools and Districts Need to Work Together on the Politics of School Closure

Education Next – Robin J. Lake and Alice Opalka

“District budgets are badly strained when many of their schools are under-enrolled. This is one of the biggest reasons that districts with growing charter enrollment hit financial hurdles. Meanwhile, charter schools can’t expand without access to facilities, and in a growing number of cities, suitable facilities are in very short supply. Understandably, charter leaders bristle when they are blamed for budget woes that may be easily solved by consolidating under-enrolled schools. And understandably, district leaders think they wouldn’t have the under-enrollment problem if charter schools weren’t pulling away students.”(more)

Growth plus proficiency? Why states are turning to a hybrid strategy for judging schools (and why some experts say they shouldn’t)

Chalk Beat – Matt Barnum

“A compromise in a long-running debate over how to evaluate schools is gaining traction as states rewrite their accountability systems. But experts say it could come with familiar drawbacks — especially in fairly accounting for the challenges poor students face. Under No Child Left Behind, schools were judged by the share of students deemed proficient in math and reading. The new federal education law, ESSA, gives states new flexibility to consider students’ academic growth, too.”(more)

Examining the Role of Schools in Helping Students Become Good Digital Citizens

Education World – Joel Stice

“Harvard University recently made headlines when it withdrew admission for ten would-be freshmen because of racist comments in a private Facebook group. The news raises the question of how much monitoring schools should be doing of their student’s social media activity, and what kind of responsibility do they have to teach internet etiquette? With everything from bullying to sexual harassment, spilling over from social media sites to campuses, schools around the country are beginning to take a more watchful approach to what students post online.”(more)

Free The Principal!

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“But too often principals and their deputies have to deal with hundreds of things that have little to do directly with teaching and learning: student discipline, school maintenance, the cafeteria, safety, transportation, paperwork — and lots more. The District of Columbia Public Schools is taking a national lead in trying to change that by adding directors of operations and logistics. The idea is to liberate principals to focus more on teaching evaluation, planning and assessment and far less on milk, leaky faucets or security. Rayamajhi oversees a daunting list of daily needs, from maintenance and security to procurement and HR. Part logistician, part disciplinarian as well as coach and security guard, he roams the hallways and lunch rooms, multi-tasking and talking to everyone, including the nearly 50 employees he manages.”(more)