Being assessment ready–now

How are administrators preparing for online assessment capacity?

assessment-readyAsk a school district technology leader what is his or her top priority this year, and you’re likely to hear the response: “Getting ready for the new high stakes, technology-based assessments.” That is the most common answer from CoSN’s 2014 IT Leadership Survey.

What is happening that pushed this priority atop chief technology officers’ (CTOs) “to-do” list?

The short answer: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and other online assessments are fast approaching in most states.

Figuring out which states are participating in either the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a fluid situation. Whether your state is in one of the two CCSS consortia or is going for another state-based assessment, it is likely your high-stakes assessments will be delivered via technology in the near future (if they are not already).

(Next page: Technology-based assessments)


5 qualities of a tech-savvy administrator

Tech-proficient administrators advocate for and model tech use

tech-administratorSchool and district administrators know that in order to be effective, they have to model the behavior and practices they wish to see–and technology use is no different. eSchool News is a huge supporter of tech-savvy administrators–just check out our annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards Program.

While we can’t list all of the qualities that help make an administrator tech-savvy, we’ve selected a few that go a long way.

These are just a few of the many qualities a successful and tech-savvy administrator must have. What are your thoughts? Leave them below in the comments section.

(Next page: Top qualities of tech-savvy administrators)


Help students love math with Top Chef

Math webisodes show kids how math matters

math-sotwScholastic has released “Math@Work™: Math Meets Culinary Arts,” the second episode in a web series for students, designed to connect classroom learning to exciting careers that students aspire to.

In the 30-minute Math@Work: Math Meets Culinary Arts webisode, The Chew’s Carla Hall and the newest winner of Bravo’s Top Chef, Nicholas Elmi, challenge three New York City high school students to create healthy dishes that can easily be served in school cafeterias across the country. Filmed at the Institute of Culinary Education, the students solve mathematics problems and discover how math plays a critical role in planning and cooking healthy meals.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Sam Kass, White House Chef and Executive Director of the Let’s Move! initiative, also make an appearance in the webisode with a message to students across the country about the importance of eating healthy and cooking healthy.

The Math@Work: Math Meets Culinary Arts webisode is available on the Scholastic Mathematics website at

“As co-host on ‘The Chew’ and author of Carla’s Comfort Foods, I am committed to the idea of health and balance in everyday life,” said Carla Hall. “It brings me great pleasure to be a part of the Scholastic Math@Work web series to show students how math is a key ingredient to cooking healthy and delicious meals.”

“I apply mathematical skills every single day when I am in the kitchen, whether I am converting recipes or running a business,” said Nicholas Elmi.

Math@Work aims to show students in grades 5 and up why mathematics is important beyond the classroom and essential for 21st century careers. Each Math@Work webisode is paired with lessons that will facilitate mathematical discussions and problem solving.


3 ways to boost students’ STEM interest

STEM education is critical, but schools struggle to keep students interested

STEM-edEducators hear it all the time: STEM education is one of the keys to a competitive and successful U.S. workforce. But for all the emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math, these subjects often can be dry and leave students wondering how they’ll apply these concepts in the real world.

The latest PISA results paint a grim picture of U.S. math and science performance–in math, the U.S. ranked 26th out of the 34 testing countries, and the nation ranked 21st in science.

There also exists a gap between U.S. performance and that of top-performing countries. For instance, Shanghai-China’s performance “is the equivalent of over two years of formal schooling ahead of those observed in Massachusetts, itself a strong-performing U.S. state,” according to the results.

(Next page: Important ways to keep students interested in STEM)


Three ways administrators stay connected

Ed-tech administrators offer advice to help others stay connected to best practices

admin-connectedWhile educational technology use should be modeled and celebrated throughout the year, Connected Educator Month highlights some of the nation’s best ed-tech practices.

In an effort to put into practice some of the valuable advice and tips shared during the most recent Connected Educator Month, we’re sharing some of the strategies school administrators said they use to stay connected and collaborate.

Ed-tech leaders gathered for a Connected Educator Month webinar to explore what it means to be a connected administrator; how connected administrators empower teachers, students, and parents; and how a few simple actions can lead to a more connected and positive school culture.

Moderated by Tom Daccord, director of EdTechTeacher, a professional learning organization, panelists included:

  • Eric Sheninger, principal at New Milford High School in New Jersey
  • Patrick Larkin, assistant superintendent for learning in the Burlington Public Schools (Mass.)
  • Carl Hooker, director for instructional technology in the Eanes Independent School District (Texas)

Below are the panelists’ responses to a number of tech-centric questions.

1. What does it mean to be a connected administrator?

Being a connected administrator means developing a person learning network (PLN) and using colleagues’ experiences to inform school leadership decisions, the panelists said.

(Next page: Three important ways leading administrators stay connected)


Anonymous message board app raises concern

Messages, posted anonymously via the app, are hurtful and unnecessary, administrators say

anonymous-appAn anonymous message board app that students in some districts are using to tease teachers and fellow students has parents and educators alarmed, not only because of how it is being used, but because the app, Gaggle–Local Message Board, shares a name with Gaggle.Net, a popular safe online teaching and learning solution.

District leaders are urging schools to block the app and are asking parents to be on the lookout for it, due to the negative way students are using it.

Student use of the app at one high school in the Katy Independent School District prompted the school’s principal to block it from the school’s network and send an eMail to parents to alert them to the situation, according to one local news outlet.

(Next page: Confusion over the Gaggle app)


What it takes to be a teacher

New Teacher Appreciation Week infographics visually represent the career of the 21st Century educator

teacher-appreciation-infographicMy Parisian mother was a teacher for a year, as a favor to my private school when its French teacher unexpectedly quit one summer. “Sure, I could teach,” was her casual answer.

Little did she, or I, know what was entailed in a teaching job. From late nights grading homework and designing fun, meaningful projects, to emptying the grocery store of Nutella and baguettes for ‘Fun Fridays,’ I had a hard time figuring out why all of a sudden my socks hadn’t been washed for a week and the once Julia Child-worthy dinners quickly became Lean Cuisines with a side of “there should be stuff in the fridge.” (Did I mention I’m an only child?)

Jokes aside, being a teacher is one of the most difficult, and one of the most under-appreciated, jobs in the U.S.

But outside of teachers saying it’s difficult, and kids being able to do complex math problems, it’s not always easy quantifying the work that goes into teaching…until now.

Thanks to the influx of global and national data, as well as the availability of infographic software, many organizations are creating visual representations of just how much work goes into teaching.

For example, based on data from the Wall Street Journal, the OECD, The Atlantic, and more, Knewton, an adaptive learning solutions provider, released a new infographic, “What does it take to be a teacher?” The infographic breaks down how much a teacher works in a year in different countries around the world.

Here’s a hint: It’s a lot.

The infographic also details how the hours are broken down into a teacher’s daily tasks, such as classroom prep, parent communication and administration.

Getting Smart, a blogging, consulting, and publishing community aimed at innovations—especially digital—in learning also released an infographic, “Competency-Based Teacher Prep & PD,” which delves into how new professional development learning models are creating the potential for personalized preparation pathways for teachers.

The infographic outlines how the role of teachers is changing amid broader shifts to personalized, blended and ‘Deeper Learning.’ It also previews the topics that are covered in the paper  “Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning: Competency-Based Teacher Preparation and Development”  that Digital Promise and Getting Smart released May 1, 2014.

Know of a great visual representation of how hard teachers work or the current struggles they face? How are you celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week? Leave your comments in the section provided below, email me at, or find me @eSN_Meris on Twitter.

(Next page: Infographic on what it takes to be a teacher)


How to Safeguard Sensitive Data—Wherever It’s Stored

GovConnection200Sophos SafeGuard Enterprise is a complete data encryption and security solution that protects information across all platforms and devices. Download this white paper to learn how SafeGuard Enterprise, available from GovConnection, makes it easy for you to manage your security policies and data protection across your entire school or district—protecting your data regardless of where it’s stored: on personal devices, in network file shares, or even in the cloud.



6 ways teachers want to use digital tools

Digital content doesn’t always meet teachers’ needs, report finds

teachers-digitalAs states and educators implement the Common Core State Standards or revamp their own standards to be more rigorous and to prepare students for college and the workforce, teachers are leveraging digital tools to aid in those efforts.

Support for digital resources is growing, and a new report from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reveals that while teachers and students think classroom technology use is beneficial, “standards gaps” exist when digital resources are not available or are not adequate to meet educators’ needs.

The study focused on what teachers want and need from digital instructional tools; how product developers can use this information to more effectively serve students, teachers, and schools; what is known about how teachers and districts select and purchase digital instructional tools; and what is known about the overall market for digital instructional tools.

(Next page: The six ways digital content should help, according to teachers)