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May 27, 2015

New from ECS

Federal education policy as shaped over time
Christopher Cross presents an overview of major events in federal education policy history, events that shaped today’s individual opinions and current federal jurisdiction. With the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act being one of the most significant K-12 policy events in history, this report includes a synopsis of the current state of waivers, extensions and possible next steps for ESEA reauthorization.

What States Are Doing

Parents get closer to the process
South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Molly M. Spearman formed a Parent Advisory Council to provide feedback from a parent’s perspective on education in South Carolina’s classrooms. These parents represent public, private and homeschooled students. Spearman wanted parents to see firsthand the success and challenges students face in and out of the classroom.

Postsecondary in the heartland
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed an omnibus higher education bill that addresses a broad array of issues, including strategies to support timely completion of degrees and certificates, establishing postsecondary attainment goals for the state and counseling for college student loan debtors.

Good Reads

Kindergarten age and 2nd grade achievement
A snapshot of children who were first-time kindergartners in the 2010-11 school year and in second grade in 2012-13: there were no significant differences in reading knowledge and skills, by age of entry. However, children who were 66-71 months when they entered kindergarten had higher average math scores than those who were younger than 60 months at kindergarten entry. (NCES)

High school graduation rate goes up again
For the third year, the nation remained on pace to meet the goal of 90 percent on-time graduation by 2020; the national high school graduation rate hit a record high of 81.4 percent. This sixth annual update on America’s high school dropout challenge shows these gains were made by raising graduation rates for students who have traditionally struggled to earn a high school diploma. (Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins School of Education)

Innovation in rural education
State education agencies have an instrumental role to play in supporting the work of rural education, according to this report. While rural schools are asked to stretch their dollars further, they are more likely to face limited economies of scale, difficult teacher labor markets and inadequate access to time and money-saving technologies. Yet rural schools and districts are innovative in how they manage these problems and much can be learned from them. (Edvance Research)

Accountability in authorizing charters
State policy provisions on authorizer accountability recommended by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools are examined in this brief along with the extent to which states have adopted them. Then the author presents experiences and lessons from four states – Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota and Ohio – that have taken action on authorizer accountability in diverse policy and authorizing environments. (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)

Teachers need better feedback
For more effective teachers and better-prepared students, high-quality feedback following teacher observation is essential. This report suggests that observers go beyond accurate assessment and identify specific and actionable next steps for teachers to improve their practice. States and districts must give principals training, support and resources to help teachers improve through feedback, and then hold principals accountable for doing so. (Reform Support Network)

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