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from the Education Commission of the States
 

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October 22, 2014

New from ECS

Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade: A Policymaker's Guide
A new reference primer addresses effective strategies to support children on their path to third-grade academic success and details the foundations of effective P-3 approaches. "There are many candidates across the country running for gubernatorial and legislative seats, and many are running with early childhood as a key component of their education platform," said Bruce Atchison, director of ECS' Early Learning Institute. "This document will be an excellent resource for the newly elected officials and for professionals currently working the field of early childhood."

How long is a year?
This 50-state report provides the minimum number of instructional days or hours in a school year and the start dates prescribed by law, where specified. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia allow local districts or regions to determine when the school year begins.

Does it matter where you go to college?
How much of a difference does it make whether a student of a given academic ability enters a more or a less selective four-year college? A recent study examines the effect of college selectivity on graduation to understand if selectivity is more influential than the student's personal attributes. (New to the ECS Research Database)

What States Are Doing

ScholarCorps expands
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has expanded its statewide ScholarCorps program to 20 colleges to increase on-campus support and success rates for students enrolled in the state's 21st Century Scholars program. The 21st Century Scholars program is a need-based, early-promise scholarship program that provides students the opportunity to earn up to four years of paid tuition at an Indiana college.

Good Reads

States' differing expectations
A look at considerable variance in state performance standards exposes a large gap in expectations between states with the highest standards and those with the lowest, as much as three or four grade levels. Using international benchmarking to compare what students are expected to learn, this report also found success under No Child Left Behind is largely related to setting low performance standards (states with the highest numbers of proficient students had the lowest standards). (AIR)

A chance to grow the middle class
The growing availability of middle-skill STEM jobs has the potential to provide good wages to American workers, including those who come from previously underserved communities. According to this brief, states are in a unique position to implement significant reforms and link students and programs to local labor markets. Authors provide five recommendations for a middle-skill STEM state policy framework. (Jobs for the Future and Achieving the Dream)

Regional STEM collaboratives
Recognizing the large number of jobs in STEM fields that don't require a college degree, an initiative has turned to three community colleges to build STEM Regional Collaboratives. These are charged with bringing together colleges, state partners, employers and K-12 partners that will use highly structured STEM pathways to build efficient pipelines. (Jobs for the Future and Achieving the Dream)

Most states haven't gone back to pre-recession school funding
At least 30 states are providing less funding per student for the 2014-15 school year than they did before the recession hit. Adjusted for inflation, 14 of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent, according to this report. Most states provide more funding per student than they did a year ago, but the increase isn't enough to make up for previous years' cuts. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Opt-out policies may not be such a great idea
As concerns grew about longitudinal data systems and student privacy, some policymakers advocated for opt-out policies in which parents could pick and choose what information about their children would go into statewide systems. This brief explains why those policies are problematic and offers alternative recommendations. (Data Quality Campaign)

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