2014 has been an exciting year for EdSource, with a more engaged audience on a wide range of education topics, from the Common Core to the Vergara lawsuit. Here are the 10 most popular posts from the year based on how often they were shared via Twitter, Facebook and email.

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1. Study: “Self-regulation” helps kindergartners

The most shared story of 2014 was a short report on a study by New York University researchers on the benefits of teaching kindergartners self-regulation skills, such as self-control, paying attention and planning, especially in high-poverty schools, through a program called Tools of the Mind.

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2. Report urges revamping student testing

Testing-stock A report written jointly by Stanford University and University of Kentucky researchers urged schools to focus less on annual standardized tests as the main gauge of student achievement. They say there should be far more emphasis on assessments of students throughout the school year as part of their regular classroom instruction.

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3. Common Core standards bring dramatic changes to elementary school math

In a kindergarten classroom at Robinson Elementary in Fresno, Juh'Ziyah Atchinson helps Aubrey Blancas, both 5, create a row of dominoes so they can practice counting. In 2014, elementary school teachers implemented new ways of teaching math based on Common Core standards. Teachers are placing less of an emphasis on memorization of formulas, and instead are expecting students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of math concepts and explain their reasoning as they come up with solutions to problems.

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4. At an East San Jose high school, students react to new Common Core test

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Students at James Lick High School in East San Jose for the most part responded positively to the field tests of the new Smarter Balanced assessments that they took in the spring of 2014, along with millions of other California students. One big change from standardized tests they had taken in the past is that the new test included several articles about a contemporary subject. Students were asked take a position based on evidence they had read about in the articles.

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5. State Board makes it official: No API scores for next two years

The State Board of Education suspended the use of the Academic Performance Index, which has been used for over a decade to measure how students in a school or district are doing. The decision, however, was met with varied opinions from civil rights groups and some education leaders. The API will resume in the 2015-16 school year and will incorporate results from the Smarter Balanced assessments.

 

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6. You’ve got to have faith to be a great teacher (Commentary)

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One of the most inspiring posts this year was from a former teacher, Ellie Herman. She shared her insights on five practices of great teachers after observing them in schools teaching students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. What they all had in common was faith  – “in their students, in the process of learning and in themselves.”

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7. What’s Wrong with the Vergara ruling (Commentary)

Carl Cohn

Former school superintendent and State Board of Education member Carl Cohn discussed the Vergara v. California ruling, which in June declared certain statutes governing teacher tenure, seniority and other employment protections unconstitutional. Cohn said the ruling “reinforces a completely false narrative in which incompetent teachers are portrayed as the central problem facing urban schools.” 

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8. School librarians a rare find in California public schools

School librarian Shannon Engelbrecht reminds Tori Reese, 8, that she has several books overdue. Engelbrecht allows students at Charles Drew Preparatory Academy, a public school in San Francisco, to check out as many books as they want. California has fewer school librarians per student than any state in the country, and there are fewer school librarians in California today than there were in 1988. Librarians say the declining numbers have led to a decrease in student access to books, a decline in student research skills and the loss of an important resource for teachers.

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9. Nine-hour school day is the norm – and a national model – at Oakland middle school

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A longer school day isn’t a problem for students at Elmhurst Community Prep, a middle school in East Oakland. The school features an expanded learning program with classes beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. As a result of the longer day, students are able to participate in after-school activities such as building robots or playing musical instruments. AmeriCorps teaching fellows contribute to the program by helping out during the regular school day and with after-school activities.

 

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10. Districts find new way to fund technology

Most laptops and tablet computers need to be replaced every two to five years.

A new form of school bonds, known as “Ed-Tech bonds,” provides a way for some school districts and community colleges to meet the challenge of paying for new technology in the classroom. In November, voters in three school districts and a community college district approved these low-interest bonds, with a three- to five-year payback period. The short-term bonds allow districts to replace educational technology as it wears out or becomes outdated.

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