The following resources focus on the educational climate and betterment of those serving the K–12 educational community.

Preparing Students for Success  A new study of STEM learning in 11 states from The PEAR Institute at Harvard University and the Institute for Measurement, Methodology, Analysis & Policy at Texas Tech University highlights how young people in STEM-focused afterschool programs are showing greater interest in science topics and careers and a greater belief that they are capable of succeeding in STEM-related activities (HintonEducation Week).

Opinion: Is the US Education Bar Set Too Low For All Kid  A recent study confirmed that kindergarten math skills improve when all children are instructed using methods otherwise reserved for the “gifted.” And with such a solid foundation, they can continue to progress at “accelerated” speeds in subsequent grades. Alina Adams draws on this research to discuss why the U.S. needs high education standards. (Education Next)

Law Would Help Eighth-Graders Pick Career Indiana Career Explorer, “powered by” Kuder Inc., Adel, Iowa, is described as an online program to help students explore career interests and skills, identify occupations, establish educational strategies and ultimately connect to employers. (Star Press, March 5)

Vermont—What Happened When One School Banned Homework—And Asked Kids to Read and Play Instead  Mark Trifilio, principal of the public pre-K-5th grade Orchard School in Vermont, sat down with the school’s 40 educators last summer to discuss the soon-to-start new school year and homework — how much kids were getting and whether it was helping them learn. (Washington Post, February 26)

Tennessee—Reading Initiative Aims Higher in Second Year Tennessee will head into its second year of a major early-grade reading initiative having built a foundation to get 75 percent of all third-grade students statewide reading on grade level by 2025, the state’s top educator said Thursday. (Tennessean, February 23)

Study: Kindergartners Start School with More Academic Skills Than in Past  Kindergarten students in 2010 started school with noticeably stronger literacy, math, and behavior skills across the board compared to their peers that started school just 12 years earlier, says a study published this month in the journal Educational Researcher. (Education Week, February 27)

U-46 Collecting Data on Kindergarten Performance  Elgin schools officials say they will be measuring student performance for the first time in full-day kindergarten and releasing the data later this summer. The assessment will focus on 14 development benchmarks, in hopes of providing a clear picture of kindergarten readiness. (Daily Herald)

After-School Programs Foster STEM Skills  A new study by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and STEM America, “Afterschool & STEM: System Building Evaluation 2016,” surveyed and looked at the impact of more than 160 afterschool programs providing informal STEM education in 11 states. Nearly 1,600 students in grades 4 through 12 took part in the programs.(U.S. News & World Report, March 1)

State Information Request: State Plans for K-12 Education  ECS released a document highlighting some strong state strategic goals for K-12 education.

2017 ArtScan at a Glance: Connecting the States and Arts Education Policy, summarizes arts education state policies for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C). Forty-nine states plus D.C. have K-12 arts standards. Since 2014, 14 states adopted new or revised standards aligned with the National Core Arts Standards.

How verbs help focus PBL assignments  Consider using verbs to clarify the purpose of project-based lessons, suggests instructional coach Andrew Miller. In this blog post, he offers tips for choosing verbs and showcases how they can improve and focus project-based learning.  (, March 13)

Teacher launches tie initiative for students  A high-school teacher in Pennsylvania started the Knot Me program, in which male students are taught to tie a tie and are gifted a tie as part of “Male Leadership Day.” Officials say the event helps prepare students for college and career and boosts their confidence.  (The Philadelphia Tribune, March 14) 

Boxing class gives added punch to high school’s PE  Physical-education class at Lynn Classical High School in Massachusetts included a field trip to Title Boxing Club, where students of all fitness levels took part in a one-hour boxing class. Teacher Colleen Peterson said the school’s PE program uses a fitness-based curriculum, so the boxing class is a good fit that offers a lifetime exercise option for students who are not athletes.  (The Daily Item (Lynn, Mass.), March 13)

High-school students launch We Dine Together club    Most valuable lesson at one Florida high school taught at lunch.  (CBS News, March 10)

The Power of Teachers  Educator and writer Valencia Clay teaches eighth grade English in Baltimore, Maryland, with love and power. Ms. Clay has fostered strong relationships with and between her students. Her culturally conscious and responsive approach to teaching has resulted in a classroom that supports and empowers students to tackle not just academic coursework, but the challenges they face as students of color. She has also published a book titled, “Soundless Cries Don’t Lead to Healing: A Critical Thinking Guide to Cultural Consciousness.”

Teachers Get Help Busting Cages  A new free online curriculum helps teachers break out of the “cages” they experience when confronted by “an endless stream of top-down policies, frustrations with administrators, and a lack of funding.” This curriculum, developed by Frederick Hess, author of The Cage-Busting Teacher, was released Thursday with a panel discussion. Panelist Wendy Uptain said, “I would say teachers don’t ask, just do. You have a lot of power” (Will, Education Week).