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from the Education Commission of the States
 

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November 19, 2014

New from ECS

Trends in state financial aid
States take a wide variety of approaches in making investments in postsecondary financial aid. This report reviews several trends in state financial aid programs enacted through state legislatures in the 2013 and 2014 sessions.

What every governor or other elected official needs to know
This report serves as a quick reference guide for elected officials to compare key education policies and data in their states to the rest of the nation.

What States Are Doing

Online university
An online campus, eVersity, will begin offering degree programs by distance technology in fall 2015 through the University of Arkansas System, according to a release from the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. When eVersity is fully accredited, all services — from admissions through graduation — will be online.

Two-tiered teacher certification
Idaho state board rules will require new teachers to demonstrate their effectiveness in the classroom to achieve full certification. The first residency tier is good for three years, followed by a professional tier based in part on local evaluations and measures of student growth.

Good Reads

Arizona's pilot teacher evaluation model
Arizona piloted a teacher evaluation model in five school districts in 2012-13 that used results from observations, measures of student academic progress and a survey of students, parents and peers. Most teachers were found to be proficient on 62 percent of observation items, and only a few significant correlations were found between observation items and student achievement. (REL West)

Which school size is best?
A worldwide look at how size affects schools reveals earlier research that advised consolidation for smaller schools due to limited curriculum and that teacher specialization may not have been 100 percent on target. Bottom line, there is no answer for "What size is best?" Effects of size on student achievement are conditioned on multiple factors and each school or district is unique. (OECD)

International benchmarking for individual schools
PISA, a signature OECD education initiative, is a test measuring reading, math and science administered in more than 70 countries. PISA allows countries to compare their education systems to others, and many wanted a similar test for individual schools so they could benchmark to the world. While this brief shows how public charters did on the OECD individual school test, any school could administer it.  (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)

Is teacher prep too easy?
In a majority of institutions, grading standards for teacher candidates are much lower than for students in other majors, and there is a strong link between high grades and a lack of rigorous coursework, according to this brief. Recommendations are that teacher educators and their program administrators should identify common standards to define excellence, and they should ensure a greater proportion of assignments are "criterion referenced." (National Council on Teacher Quality)

Training teachers to teach competency education
As K-12 shifts to competency education, the question becomes how to train the educator workforce from pre-service through credentialing, professional development and evaluation. This brief works through that process, explains what new skills educators will need and finishes up with policy barriers and their solutions. (iNACOL and Knowledge Works)

A competency education vision
An infographic presents a vision of personalized learning in which learners would be able to move seamlessly across many kinds of learning experiences and providers. Called an "innovation pathways framework," it's divided into the core of learning and supporting systemic structures, each of which is explained in detail. (Knowledge Works)

Chronic absenteeism and poverty
To address chronic absenteeism, researchers looked beyond free- or reduced-lunch rates and devised an 18-unit risk-load estimate for deep poverty (associated with absenteeism) that includes such considerations as percentage of the student body living in temporary or public housing. (Center for New York City Affairs)

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