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Friday, May 29

CT mulls testing shakeup
The junior year of high school is known for test overload, with many students taking Advanced Placement tests, PSATs and SATs, as well as the state's new Common Core assessment. A group appointed by the governor wants to reduce that burden on students. (CTPost, May 27)

Campus Safety
OR advances sexual assault bill
The Oregon senate approved a bill that would establish a privilege for certain communications between people seeking services for domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The bill also prevents the use of victim information without the consent of the person seeking services. (Statesman Journal, May 26)

College Tuition
IL law making college less affordable
Illinois’ guaranteed-tuition law is causing tuition rates at public colleges and universities to escalate faster than they would if schools were allowed to adjust tuition rates annually, say experts from the University of Illinois. (Rock River Times, May 27)

Community Colleges
Addressing the inequity gap
Community colleges tend to receive the least amount of public financial support compared to other institutions, yet they are asked to push high numbers of low-income students into the middle class with few resources. A new report urges additional funding. (Inside Higher Ed, May 28)

High School Graduation
NJ students earn diploma via appeal
Last year, 48 percent of seniors in Camden didn’t pass either of the two high school exit exams. But they earned their diploma anyway by submitting an appeal to the state. Throughout New Jersey, 1,400 seniors graduated through the appeals process. (WNYC/NJPR, May 28)


Thursday, May 28

Dual Enrollment
GA prepares for law that gives free college to thousands
As the current school year ends, officials at the state’s colleges are gearing up for the impact of a law that streamlines access to free college for high school students. (Athens Banner-Herald, May 25)

Early  Learning
IN pre-K pilot improving program quality
When Gov. Mike Pence signed the state’s first preschool pilot program into law, the goal was to get more low-income children enrolled in high quality preschool programs to help their overall education over time. More high-quality programming has also emerged. (State Impact, May 26)

Low-Income Students
MI bill would cut welfare cash if kids miss school
Families could lose welfare cash benefits if a child regularly misses school under a bill approved by the Michigan Senate. The proposal, whose sponsor has dubbed it the "parental responsibility act," would allow the state to cut off Family Independence Program assistance if a child was chronically truant. (MLive, May 26)

School Accountability
NJ Gov. Christie seeks to reshape mandates
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has asked the federal government to allow some changes in the state’s accountability system for its most troubled schools, including the administration’s own state-controlled schools. (NJ Spotlight, May 26)

Teacher Issues
High-poverty schools still wear on teachers
School districts offer cash bonuses. They hire teacher coaches. They appeal to the idealism of educators who want to make a difference. But the proof is in their own data: It's hard to teach at a high-poverty school. (Tampa Bay Times, May 24)


Wednesday, May 27

ME warns about opting out of tests
As debate over standardized testing ramped up in the Legislature, the Maine Department of Education again cautioned parents and school administrators this week about the possible fallout from opting out of statewide assessments. Among the potential repercussions — a school could withhold a student’s diploma. (Bangor Daily News, May 22)

College Tuition
Pay-as-you-go option expanding in GA
Students at more of Georgia’s public colleges and universities will be able to spread out their tuition and fee payments under expanded installment plans available in the fall. Under the installment plans, students pay a set amount of expenses before a semester begins, another portion a few weeks later and a final payment usually midway through the semester. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 22)

Degree Completion 
A new college for old credits in RI
A program aimed at helping adults finish incomplete degrees will be Rhode Island’s newest college. College Unbound, a degree-completion program and now a private nonprofit college, will be allowed to award undergraduate degrees. (Inside Higher Ed, May 26)

Minority Issues
OR wants Native American mascots out
Fourteen Oregon public schools that have fought to maintain their Native American-themed mascots in the face of state changes must pick new names by 2017, the Oregon Board of Education ruled. (Portland Oregonian, May 22)

MN project offers free ride to technical college
Starting next year, Minnesota will offer a free ride to an estimated 1,600 students in high-demand technical college programs. The two-year pilot program, with a price tag of $8.5 million, will assign mentors to work with participating students, to encourage them to stay in school and earn their degrees. (Star Tribune, May 22)


Tuesday, May 26

Common Core
States move to reduce time spent on exam
Students in 11 states and the District of Columbia will spend less time in 2016 taking tests based on the Common Core standards, a decision made in response to widespread opposition to testing requirements. The decision to reduce testing time by about 90 minutes was made by the states and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Career (PARCC). (Associated Press, May 22)

Early Learning
TX Gov. Abbott to sign pre-K bill
Gov. Greg Abbott will finally get to sign his pre-kindergarten improvement bill into law. The Texas House voted unanimously to accept all the changes the Senate made to the bill, including capping funding for the legislation at $130 million. (American-Statesman, May 21)

Higher Ed Accountability
The challenge of student outcomes, college accountability
Congressional lawmakers across the political spectrum want to hold colleges more accountable for student outcomes. Nearly all the Senate education committee members are backing the concept of risk sharing, the idea that individual colleges need to have a greater financial stake in what happens to the federal loans that students use to attend their institutions. (Inside Higher Ed, May 21)

Performance Funding
RI Senate approves bill for public colleges
The Senate unanimously approved a bill that would tie any new state aid for Rhode Island's three public colleges to performance measures aimed at improving graduation rates and preparing students for jobs in the state's growth industries. (Providence Journal, May 21)

Student Safety
U.S. schools ramp up safety drills, security 
Safety drills, parent notification systems and other safety measures in U.S. public schools grew in popularity in the years surrounding the massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Associated Press, May 21)


Friday, May 22

NV Gov. Sandoval signs off on K-12 initiative
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed one of his key education initiatives into law that aims to stem the tide of school bullying. Sandoval, who proposed numerous K-12 education initiatives as part of his $7.3 billion two-year budget, said that the bill's passage was one of his proudest moments as governor. (Associated Press, May 20)

Campus Safety
GA board adopts plan to prevent sexual violence
The Georgia university system’s governing board adopted a statewide plan to prevent sexual violence, requiring student and staff training and setting minimum standards for reporting and responding to such crimes at every campus. (Florida Times-Union, May 19)

Common Core
Half of MD's kindergartners are ready for new standards
Forty-seven percent of Maryland's kindergartners are ready to tackle the Common Core curriculum that's being rolled out in schools, state officials reported. The state last year revised its tool for assessing the ability of 4- and 5-year-olds to perform up to the standards. (Baltimore Sun, May 19)

High School Math
SD struggles with teacher certification
South Dakota officials want to make it easier for some teachers to get the credentials they need to teach high school math. Getting certified has proven to be a struggle for some fledgling educators in the state hoping to earn the qualifications they need to teach in high school math classrooms. (Argus Leader, May 19)

Workforce Development
CO Gov. Hickenlooper approves P-TECH bill
Colorado students could soon be able to graduate in six years with a high school diploma and an associate's degree, all on the state's dime. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that allows a workforce development program to come to Colorado known as P-TECH, for Pathways in Technology Early College High School. (Gazette, May 19)


Thursday, May 21

Civics Education
MI wants reading the U.S. Constitution to be mandatory
If you want to graduate from high school in Arizona or North Dakota, you must pass a US citizenship test. And if Michigan lawmakers have their way, students will be required to read important documents like the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Michigan Constitution. (Christian Science Monitor, May 20)

College tuition
CT approves bills for undocumented students
The Senate approved a bill that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to apply for college tuition assistance, even though they lack a Social Security card and other documents required to fill out financial aid forms.
(Hartford Courant, May 19)

Expert says cultural change needed
John Bridgeland, one of the nation’s leading researchers on high school dropouts and graduation, said that “the secret sauce” to improving the nationwide graduation rate lies in districts that change their culture dramatically to focus on early detection and intervention. (Chalkbeat Indiana, May 19)

Education Funding
MN Gov. Dayton rejects education bill
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton didn’t get the money for pre-kindergarten programs he wanted, so he made good on his threat to take down the $17 billion education bill. It forces a special session, but Dayton said he won’t call one until Republicans give him the pre-kindergarten programs he wants. (CBS Minnesota, May 19) 

In-state tuition for military vets delayed
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced a delay in a federal requirement that public colleges and universities receiving GI Bill funding provide recent veterans with in-state tuition benefits, regardless of their residency. The requirement will now take effect January 1 of next year instead of July 1, 2015. See the list of states in compliance as well as the policy brief on the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act from Education Commission of the States’ Mary Fulton. (Inside Higher Ed, May 19)


Wednesday, May 20

Common Core
Impact of LA standards accord anything but certain
While state lawmakers have struck an agreement on Common Core, the compromise has sparked a major dispute on whether the accord would pave the way for sweeping changes in the standards. (The Advocate, May 17)

KY working to push dropouts back into class
School districts across Kentucky are tracking down 16- and 17-year-old high school dropouts to tell them they are required to return to school this fall if they don't get a GED by June 30. A new law that increases the dropout age from 16 to 18 puts the onus on Kentucky pupil personnel directors to notify dropouts younger than 18 that they must re-enroll, said the president of the Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel board. (Lexington Herald-Leader, May 18)

Many schools remain separate and unequal
Decades after the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling declared segregated schooling of black students unconstitutional, many American schools with high minority populations continue to receive fewer resources and provide an education that's inferior to schools with large white populations. (Huffington Post, May 18)

Special Education
TN Gov. Haslam signs overhaul bill
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that overhauls how severely disabled children are educated in Tennessee. The Individualized Education Act will turn over roughly $6,600 in education funds to parents to help their children. (Associated Press, May 18)

Teacher Evaluations
NY proposal prompts frustration, dissent
State education officials in New York unveiled recommendations for a new teacher evaluation system, providing some clarity but easing few concerns about the bitterly contested policy. (Chalkbeat New York, May 19)


Tuesday, May 19

Instances drop to 10-year low
The portion of students who experience behaviors used to measure bullying – such as being threatened, pushed, made fun of or excluded – dropped to 22 percent in 2012-13, the first significant decline since 2005, the US Department of Education reported. (Christian Science Monitor, May 15)

College Tuition
10,000-plus apply for tuition-free tech college in TN
More than 10,700 adults have applied to take advantage of a state grant that would send them to technical college tuition-free, exceeding initial estimates by more than 2,000. (Tennessean, May 17)

Early Learning
As deadline looms, MN Gov. Dayton pushes universal preschool
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is fighting to ensure that his signature priority – universal preschool – becomes part of a final budget agreement, issuing a veto threat and rallying Democratic allies in the House and the state party. (Star Tribune, May 17)

The growing practice of recruiting out-of-state students
Public universities are using non-need-based aid to recruit out-of-state students at the expense of low-income and in-state students, according to a new report. The report also describes the factors that have led to what has become a widespread practice. (Inside Higher Ed, May 18)

School Grades
TX House approves A-F ratings
After a heated late-night debate, a controversial plan to start assigning public schools A-through-F grades cleared the Texas House. The measure passed as part of a bill making larger changes to the state's accountability system that reduce the role student assessments play in measuring public school performance. (Texas Tribune, May 15)


Thursday, May 14

Civics Education
Technology may help young students learn civics
The rap on kids these days is that they don’t know much about civic life, and they care even less. But a growing group of scholars says the problem isn’t with the kids, but rather with an outdated approach to teaching civics. (Hechinger Report, May 12)

Common Core 
TN Gov. Haslam signs standards bill into law
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed Common Core legislation billed as moving Tennessee away from its current academic standards for math and English. The new law codifies the governor’s current review of the standards while also adding a layer of legislative review to the process. (Chalkbeat Tennessee, May 12)

Education Investment
NY Gov. Cuomo proposes $150M for private schools
Gov. Andrew Cuomo today on Long Island proposed legislation that would provide $150 million in education tax credits targeting private schools, while critics called for more funds for public education. (Long Island Business News, May 12)

High School Graduation
Success varies in improving grad rates
The record high American graduation rate masks large gaps among low-income students and those with disabilities compared to their peers. There are also wide disparities among states in how well they are tackling the issue. (Associated Press, May 12)

Teacher Issues
Teachers feel stressed, underappreciated
America's teachers feel over-stressed and underappreciated, and only about half of them identify as enthusiastic about their jobs, according to a new poll conducted by the American Federation of Teachers. (, May 12)


Wednesday, May 13

WI bill would clearly state opting out is OK 
Wisconsin school districts would have to more explicitly inform parents of the rights they've always had to opt their children out of state-mandated tests, under a new Assembly bill. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 7) 

Campus Safety
NY Gov. Cuomo calls for strict sexual assault law
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called for the passage of “the toughest law in the nation” on campus sexual assault. Cuomo’s proposed policies, which are already in place at New York’s public colleges, would require private colleges to adopt “affirmative consent” as the standard of behavior. (New York Times, May 12)

Common Core
ND to explore state testing options
North Dakota officials are exploring legal options to address recent glitches in an online test designed to gauge student progress in meeting the Common Core education standards, the state’s education chief said. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler also announced she is assembling a task force to study other standardized testing options for K-12 students. (Grand Forks Herald, May 8)

Dual Enrollment
WA Gov. Inslee signs off on expanded dual-credit opportunities
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation to strengthen the state's College in High School program, where students take college-level classes in their high school, and the Running Start Program, which allows students to enroll in courses at nearby college campuses. The law sets up a consistent framework for how districts and colleges cover the costs of the programs. (Education Week, May 8)

Teacher Evaluations
UT approves new set of guidelines
The Utah State Board of Education adopted a new teacher evaluation framework that relies mostly on administrative observation, but also on evidence of student growth and input from parents. (, May 8)


Tuesday, May 12

DE approves test opt-out bill
Lawmakers in the Delaware House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation that allows parents to prevent their children from taking standardized testing in Delaware's public schools. The bill, opposed by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, passed 36-3, with two lawmakers absent. (News Journal, May 7)

Common Core
NH Gov. Hassan vetoes bill prohibiting new standards
Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill that would prohibit the Department of Education or the state Board of Education from implementing Common Core standards in any school. She said the bill would undermine New Hampshire’s commitment to preparing students for a 21st century work force, noting that no district is required to implement the standards under state law. (Union Leader, May 8)

Financial Aid
TX likely to end Top 10 Percent Scholarships
A state-funded college scholarship program designed to keep top students in Texas may soon be axed due to lawmaker concerns that it doesn't have enough money to accomplish its goal. (Texas Tribune, May 8)

Prior Learning
CO colleges to develop method to accept prior credit
The Colorado Commission on Higher Education approved a new policy that will standardize how colleges accept credit for prior learning, making Colorado one of 12 states to standardize the process. (Denver Post, May 11)

Teacher Evaluations
Method for grading teachers gets murky in FL
Florida lawmakers’ decision to end mandatory final exams for every class will mean that more teachers’ performance will be judged on subjects they don’t teach. (State Impact, May 11)


Monday, May 11

Class Size
Can smaller classes boost achievement in MA?
A new report says that Massachusetts could boost statewide school achievement by reducing class sizes to 15 students in kindergarten through third grade, particularly in low-income schools, at an estimated cost of $161 million statewide. (Learning Lab, May 6)

College Remediation
MN makes legislative fixes for remediation
Minnesota recently became the latest state in which legislators are making an effort to retain and boost completion rates among less academically prepared college students. They're considering a proposal to give students who test into remediation the option to avoid taking a remedial class or to take a regular, credit-bearing course with tutoring or extra support. (Inside Higher Ed, May 8)

Early Learning
Low reading scores could hold back thousands in MS
Results of the new third-grade reading test that aimed to make it tougher for students to advance if they don’t read at grade level could mean 15 percent of the test-takers will repeat 3rd grade. (Hechinger Report, May 7)

New board to govern AL 2-year colleges
A bill to create a new appointed board to govern Alabama's two-year colleges won final passage in the Legislature. It takes control of two-year and technical colleges from the elected state Board of Education, which also oversees K through 12. (, May 5)
School Accountability
IN tweaks the way schools are graded
If schools don’t make sure all students are getting higher scores on state tests starting in 2016, they might find they can’t earn an “A” accountability grade — ever. The Indiana State Board of Education voted on a change that will equally balance each school’s passing rate with student gains over the prior year to determine the grade. (Chalkbeat Indiana, May 7)


Friday, May 8

More VA students can retake SOL tests
More students will get a second chance at passing Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests this spring, a rare in-year policy change that state and local educators said will improve how academic success is measured. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 4) 

Distance Learning
ME eyes options for virtual education
State legislators are considering various ways to offer online school resources to Maine teachers and students, from fee-based individual courses to creating an entirely state-run virtual academy that would be open to all Maine students for free. (Portland Press Herald, May 4) 

Early Learning
Some FL schools to tweak 3rd grade promotion
Third graders at Florida’s Bay District Schools will still have to meet certain standards to move up, but this year they'll be based on factors like course grades instead of standardized test scores. (WJHG, May 6)

For-Profit Colleges
Vanishing profit, and campuses
The dramatic collapse of Corinthian Colleges isn't the only shake-up happening in for-profit higher education, as a broad swath of the sector is shutting down or selling off campuses after years of declining revenue and enrollment. Two of the largest publicly traded for-profits, Education Management Corporation and Career Education Corp.,  also announced substantial cuts. (Inside Higher Ed, May 7)

Undocumented Students 
How many are actually getting in-state tuition?
Despite all the hand-wringing over the Dream Acts, which offer in-state tuition to young undocumented immigrants, the programs have a relatively minor impact on college enrollment. In Washington state, 1,100 students enrolled in the program last year, less than 1 percent of all undergraduate students in the state. (Governing, May 7)


Thursday, May 7

OR waives test for high achievers  
Oregon’s high school juniors taking the Smarter Balanced assessment this spring or next may be spared from taking a two- to three- hour college placement test if they score high enough on the assessment and take college-level classes their senior year. (Mail Tribune, May 4)

Career/Technical Education
Study provides wage data for CA community college grads
Many career and technical education programs show “substantial, positive earnings effects,” but a more granular look at the programs — and the characteristics and motives of students who enroll in them — is needed in order to determine which programs yield the best results, according to a new paper that examines the wage earnings of graduates of the California Community College system. (Diverse Education, May 4)

Class Sizes
WI bill changes program in low-income schools
A longtime state program to reduce class sizes in elementary schools with significant numbers of poor students would no longer require fewer students in classrooms under changes senators will vote on. (Wisconsin State Journal, May 6)

High School Graduation
CA rule puts a slew of future diplomas at risk
As many as three-quarters of Los Angeles 10th-graders are at risk of being denied diplomas by graduation because they are not on track to meet rigorous new college prep class requirements. (Los Angeles Times, May 6)

Undocumented Students 
Judge: Dreamers can get in-state tuition in AZ
An Arizona district judge ruled that undocumented students who have work visas under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are allowed to pay the lower, in-state tuition rate. (AZ Central, May 5)


Wednesday, May 6

College Completion
Schools offer bonuses to help students graduate on time
A small number of universities around the country are dangling tuition rebates, guaranteed tuition rates for four years, textbook credits and other monetary carrots to nudge more students into graduating early or on time. (Statesmen, May 2)

Education Data
Measuring attainment, completion is a challenge
How have the educational-attainment rates of various groups of Americans changed over the years? The answer could help determine how well the country’s colleges and universities are meeting its labor needs, and how equitable education is across various demographic groups. The authors of a new report found the answers to be far more elusive than one might suspect. (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4)

Minority Issues
MT offers Native American language programs
Thanks to a new Montana state bill, more Native American kids will have the opportunity to learn more about their culture. The bill subsidizes Native American language immersion programs in public schools. (NPR, May 2)

School Accountability
NV testing problems impede ratings
Nevada education officials will hit pause on the state’s school accountability ratings following weeks of computer glitches that have marred an online student testing system. (Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 30) 

Student Incentive
IN program boosts AP enrollment with cash
Enrollment in Advanced Placement math, science and English courses at three Elkhart County high schools has more than doubled in the past four years, and the number of students earning qualifying scores on the exams has also spiked. How? The answer is easy: Cold, hard cash (among other things). (Elkhart Truth, May 3)


Tuesday, May 5

CO teachers disciplined after PARCC leaks
In at least three Colorado school districts, teachers proctoring new online state standardized tests this spring have faced discipline or other consequences after students they were supposed to be watching snapped pictures of test items and posted them to social media. (Denver Post, May 3)

College Tuition
TX may peg increases to performance, inflation
The state Senate voted to peg tuition increases to school performance as well as inflation, in an effort to combat the skyrocketing cost of higher education in Texas. Under the bill, only campuses that meet at least six of 11 performance measures would be able to increase their tuition rates. (Houston Chronicle, April 30)

College boards of trustees push into the spotlight
Populated largely by wealthy alumni and political appointees, university and college boards of regents and trustees have historically operated largely out of sight. But as tuition escalates, along with questions about what students and their families get for their money, boards are finding themselves in an unaccustomed spotlight. (Hechinger Report, April 30)

School Funding
IN overhauls funding related to poverty measures
Measures of poverty that trigger extra funds for low-income schools in Indiana are changing dramatically with the state's new $31.5 billion budget. Lawmakers scurried to put final details on the state’s two-year budget. (Tribune Star, April 29)

Teacher Issues
IA looks to outsource substitutes
The Des Moines school board could decide soon whether to outsource the district's substitute teachers and teacher associates to a temp agency, a plan that some fear would deteriorate the quality of subs in schools. (Des Moines Register, May 3)


Monday, May 4

OH panel recommends fewer tests
Ohio students would take fewer tests, and the tests would be administered closer to the end of the school year under a legislative panel's recommendations. (Columbus Dispatch, April 30)

Charter Schools
CO district shifts more special ed duties
Denver Public Schools is intensifying efforts to ensure that charter schools are serving their fair share of special education students by transferring some centers for students with severe needs from district to charter schools. (Chalkbeat Colorado, April 30)

Early Learning
Boost in summer reading if choice allowed
Allowing young children to choose books they'd like to read over the summer break from school may hone their reading skills and prevent “summer slide” in reading scores, suggests new research. Kids who were allowed to select books to take home at the end of the spring term had better reading scores when they returned to school in the fall, compared to kids who received books they had not chosen, researchers found. (Reuters, April 29)

ID seeks waiver renewal
Idaho wants another year of relief from the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act. The state wants federal permission to renew its waiver opting out of major parts of the federal education program as it implements a new system for rating schools and students. (Times News, April 30)

School Finance
Bill would give TX AG added power
The attorney general of Texas would be given new leverage to influence the outcome of school finance or legislative redistricting cases under a bill tentatively approved along partisan lines by the Senate. (Dallas Morning News, April 30)


Thursday, April 30

Distance Learning
Studies show online courses not working well 
Research shows that online instruction at community colleges isn’t working. Yet policymakers are continuing to fund programs to expand online courses at these schools and community college administrators are planning to offer more and more of them. (Hechinger Report, April 27)

Early Learning
Does Common Core ask too much?
For states adopting Common Core, the new standards apply to kindergarten, laying out what students should be able to do by the end of the grade. Kindergartners are expected to know basic phonics and word recognition as well as read beginner texts, skills some childhood development experts argue are developmentally inappropriate. (KQED News, April 27)

Financial Aid
State aid should meet needs of students
The who and how of going to college are changing rapidly, but state financial aid programs are stuck in the past, according to a report. The report calls on state officials to change their aid programs to focus more on the needs of students rather than institutions and to allow state aid to be used for a greater variety of postsecondary programs. (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 29)

Teacher Issues
CA goes on hiring binge
After years of pink slips and layoffs, California school districts have emerged from the recession with plans to hire 21,500 teachers for the 2015-16 academic year at a pace not seen in a decade, according to new state data. (Sacramento Bee, April 28)

Education tech funding soars, but is it working?
From iPads in kindergarten to virtual classrooms in high schools to online graduate degrees, technology has captured the American education system. As it does, the money keeps flowing in — and so do questions about its impact. (Fortune, April 28)


Wednesday, April 29

Feds reject CO opt-out waiver request
Colorado schools could face financial or other consequences after the U.S. Department of Education rejected the state's request for a waiver to No Child Left Behind so it could give a break to districts with large numbers of students opting out of state tests. (Denver Post, April 26)

Common Core
Some colleges warming to new standards
Four Delaware colleges announced they would use the Common Core-based Smarter Balanced assessment to measure college readiness and will accept scores in lieu of a separate placement exam. More than 100 colleges in California, 10 in Hawaii, 24 in Oregon, 49 in Washington and 6 in South Dakota use the assessment as a placement exam. (Inside Higher Ed, April 28)

Distance Learning
AL to offer virtual schools to all students
Every Alabama school system would be required to establish a policy to offer some level of virtual school for high school students by the 2016-2017 academic year under a bill lawmakers passed. (, April 26)

DE making college more accessible
Delaware launched a campaign called Getting to Zero, with the goal of getting every student who is ready for college to apply. Delaware gives every student the chance, at state expense, to take the SAT exam. (Delaware Online, April 23)

School Accountability
In OH, closing bad schools is good for students
Closing poorly performing Ohio schools does not appear to harm displaced students, at least not academically, a new report concludes. The report says that students displaced by school closings actually tend to make gains faster on math and reading tests than their peers in schools that stay open. (Columbus Dispatch, April 28)


Tuesday, April 28

IL bill would allow opt outs
As new standardized tests tied to the Common Core standards spark debate around the country, the Illinois Legislature is considering a bill that lays out exactly how students can opt out of the state assessment tests. (Associated Press, April 24)

Charter Schools
IN bill could stop 'charter shopping'
A bill that could soon be making its way to the governor’s desk would strengthen Indiana’s charter school law, proponents of the idea say. The bill would try to stop "charter shopping," a process whereby some charter schools with failing grades find new sponsors just before their sponsors, also called “authorizers,” force them to close. (Chalkbeat Indiana, April 23)

Higher Ed Funding
LA faces colossal cuts
Students, faculty and administrators in Louisiana are under a cloud of uncertainty as state officials look for revenue streams to avoid making one of the largest cuts to higher education in history. Louisiana’s general fund contribution to higher education  could plummet from $924 million this year to $391 million for the next fiscal year. (Inside Higher Ed, April 27)

Struggling Schools
NY explores public boarding schools   
Buffalo's chronically struggling school system is considering an idea gaining momentum in other cities: public boarding schools that put round-the-clock attention on students and away from such daunting problems as poverty, troubled homes and truancy. (Associated Press, April 25)

Undocumented Students 
TN in-state tuition backers will try again
In the end, a Tennessee bill to allow some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities failed by one vote, 49-47. Fifty votes were needed to approve the bill, which had passed in the Senate. The measure is dead until next year. (Times Free Press, April 23)


Monday, April 27

CO governors join forces to support testing
As Colorado’s legislature prepares for floor debate on key testing bills, two former governors urged lawmakers not to tinker too much with standards and assessments. Former Govs. Roy Romer and Bill Owens joined current chief executive John Hickenlooper to defend 30 years of Colorado education reform, including standards and testing begun on Romer’s watch and expanded under Owens. (Colorado Chalkbeat, April 22)

FL district slashes end-of-course exams
The Miami school district, the nation's fourth largest, said it was eliminating most end-of-course exams, including all those for elementary school students, the latest blow to standardized testing in the state. The district is taking advantage of a new state law and eliminating more than 300 final tests. (Miami Herald, April 23)

High School Graduation
TX moves to ease test requirements
House members tentatively voted Tuesday to ease the state’s high school graduation requirements, making it possible for thousands of seniors to be exempted from state end-of-course exams this year. Current law requires that students pass five tests to get a diploma. (Dallas Morning News, April 21)

Opt Outs
Changes needed for some NJ schools
Any New Jersey school that fails to have 95 percent of its students take the PARCC exams will be placed on a corrective action plan, and schools with especially high opt-out rates could have state funding withheld, state Education Commissioner David Hespe said. (, April 23)

MI advances endorsement for diplomas
Two new bills unanimously approved by the state Senate could offer Michigan students the chance to have a special endorsement placed on their diploma if they earn enough credits in science, technology, engineering and math. (Education News, April 23)


Friday, April 24

Feds may wade into opt-out hubbub
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the federal government is obligated to intervene if states fail to address the rising number of students who are boycotting mandated annual exams. (Chalkbeat New York, April 21)

MT Gov. Bullock signs anti-bullying bill
It took more than 10 years, several proposals and countless stories from young people who have suffered, but Montana joined every other state in the nation with an anti-bullying law. (Associated Press, April 21)

Education Funding
Court dismisses PA school funding case
Commonwealth Court has dismissed a school funding complaint brought by several school districts, parents and groups alleging that Pennsylvania's method of paying for education is unconstitutional and inequitable. (The Notebook, April 21)

Financial Aid
College 'bait and switch?'
Higher education institutions typically offer more financial aid to first-year students and their parents as a kind of leveraging, and once the student has been recruited the financial aid declines. However, coupled with rising tuition rates, front-loading leaves many upperclassmen facing the difficult choice of going deep into debt to stay in school, transferring or dropping out. (Hechinger Report, April 20)

School Calendar
More KS schools to close early this year
At least six school districts in Kansas plan to close a few days early this May because of budget concerns. After about $50 million in operating and maintenance aid was cut from the budgets of most school districts, more districts have announced changes to their calendars, citing cuts to state aid. (Topeka Capital-Journal, April 20)


Thursday, April 23

Common Core
TN on verge of repealing standards
The days of the name Common Core State Standards in Tennessee are limited after the Senate voted 27-1 to send a bill to review and rescind the controversial standards to Gov. Bill Haslam's desk. With the proposal soon to become law, opponents and supporters of Tennessee's version of Common Core are calling it a win. Opponents say the bill is a repeal to free the state of standards that embody federal overreach, and supporters call it a review that will fine-tune state expectations of educational goals. (Tennessean, April 22)

Early Learning
Preschool and crime prevention
While preschool is a place for toddlers to learn their ABCs, some of the state's top law enforcement officials see a different benefit – crime prevention. Noting that preschool helps keep kids from crime, the group is lobbying for more state funding for early childhood education. (Chicago Tribune, April 20)

Financial Aid
RI college-aid program faces overhaul
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed changing the eligibility criteria for a program that awarded $8 million in scholarships and grants this fiscal year to more than 18,300 students to attend college. (Providence Journal, April 19)

Degrees seen as important, expensive
According to a new survey, 84 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the idea that some form of postsecondary education was needed to get a good job. Only 60 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the idea that a college education was worth the cost. (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 21)

Student Health
Districts, parents at odds over serving food in class
Instead of providing low-income students free or reduced-price meals in the cafeteria, they’re increasingly serving all children in the classroom. Food policy advocates say the change increases equity, however, it’s fueled a backlash from parents and teachers. (Associated Press, April 21)


Wednesday, April 22

College Attainment
Feds offer new resource on postsecondary attainment
A new federal report presents a wealth of data about how 2002's 10th graders fared in higher education (and not) a decade later – potentially offering researchers and policy makers enormous insight into who attains postsecondary success and why. (Inside Higher Ed, April 17)

Online Learning
CA online students appear to be struggling
A large study of online education used by students at California's massive community college system cautions that student success may not go hand-in-hand with online education. On many measures of student success, the study found, online students are not doing as well as those who enroll in face-to-face courses. (Inside Higher Ed, April 20)

Teacher Pay
Location doesn’t matter for WA teacher pay
While many rural school districts in the United States struggle to recruit and retain quality teachers, Washington is one of just a few states where a teacher’s base salary is the same in most places, no matter the location, district size or cost of living. Proposed legislation may change that. (Spokesman-Review, April 20)

Undocumented Students
TN Senate approves in-state tuition bill
The Tennessee Senate approved a bill that allows certain undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. The students must have received "deferred action" on their immigrant status. The House version of the bill is still in the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. (Tennessean, April 16)

Workforce Development
OH schools phasing in job-skills readiness test
As Ohio schools enter the second round of new state exams this spring, another test is coming that is unfamiliar to most districts. The Ohio Department of Education selected the ACT WorkKeys test to assess job-readiness skills as part of new graduation requirements that start with this year’s freshmen. (Columbus Dispatch, April 20)


Tuesday, April 21

NY opt outs set up teacher-evaluation battle
An unprecedented boycott of standardized testing in New York’s public schools could further muddle the already convoluted teacher-evaluation process for school districts, setting up another battle between state education officials and unions. (Capital New York, April 16)

Common Core
OH budget could scrap tests
Ohio House Republicans want to scrap the recently implemented tests that have frustrated parents and educators, but finding an alternative will take time and the consequences of not administering tests would be costly – $750 million in federal funding. (, April 19)

Early Learning
Pushback in LA on suspensions for young students
Last year, more than 7,400 Louisiana public school students in kindergarten and 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades were handed out-of-school suspensions. Some want to all but ban the practice, which is sparking controversy. (The Advocate, April 20)

Education Funding
TN bill includes provision aimed at curbing lawsuits
As the state prepares to defend itself in court over its level of public education funding in Tennessee, the legislature passed a budget appropriations bill that could discourage local school districts from pursuing similar legal action in the future. (Chalkbeat Tennessee, April 16)

What people think about college
Given that the value of college is frequently challenged on multiple fronts these days, interest in how the public regards higher education runs pretty high among its champions. The latest public-opinion poll from Gallup and the Lumina Foundation provides some new data points. (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 17)


Monday, April 20

Common Core
Server issues halt testing in 3 states
A problem with a computer server is stopping Common Core testing in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota after a previous technical issue delayed it last month, officials said. The company charged with the technical side of the testing said that its platform isn't able to support the number of students taking the tests. (Associated Press, April 16)

Keyboarding classes gain favor
New exams linked to the Common Core state standards are replacing the multiple-choice tests taken with paper and pencils in 29 states this spring. Among the functions even the youngest test-takers must be able to execute are switching between screens, opening drop-down menus, and rearranging words and numbers. (Associated Press, April 16)

School Districts
VT explores merging districts
A bill that would require Vermont’s school districts to examine merging with other districts, set statewide school property tax rates for next year and potentially cap school budgets has passed the House and is currently under intense review in the Senate Education Committee. (Montpelier Bridge, April 16)

Student Health
CO votes on immunization requirements
Colorado’s State Board of Health voted unanimously to approve rules that would require parents to submit non-medical exemption forms opting children out of immunizations more frequently to schools and child care facilities. (Chalkbeat Colorado, April 15)

Teacher Hiring
KS to discuss unlicensed teachers
The Coalition of Innovative School Districts – a group created by Kansas lawmakers in 2013 to allow a small group of districts to work outside some of the state’s educational red tape – has proposed a “specialized teaching certificate” that would allow some school districts to hire people without teaching licenses to lead classrooms. (Wichita Eagle, April 15)


Friday, April 17

No clarity on competing visions for IN testing
In a high stakes game of chicken, the Indiana House and Senate passed two bills with competing visions for Indiana’s future state tests with just a week left to find common ground before the session ends. (Chalkbeat Indiana, April 15)

Charter Schools
OH lawmakers join forces in crackdown
State lawmakers frustrated by attendance, accountability and performance troubles plaguing Ohio's charter school system introduced bipartisan legislation to tackle the problem. (Associated Press, April 15)

Common Core
NY responds to high opt-out numbers
With New York parents keeping thousands of children from taking part in the Common Core English and language arts tests, many are wondering how the high opt-out numbers will affect school district funding. It has prompted concerns among superintendents as they don’t know what the consequences will be. (ABC, April 15)

CA, NY are thinking big on higher ed. Will the feds?
In its first few years, the Obama administration played a role in the expansion of Pell grants for students in financial need, the provision of billions of dollars in stimulus funding for university research and other purposes, an overhaul of federal student loans to put the government at the center of lending. Now, it seems, that some states are thinking big. (Washington Post, April 15)

School Safety
Guns in schools proposal stalls in FL
A proposal that would allow certain teachers to carry guns in public schools is on life support after the Senate Education Committee declined to vote on it for the second meeting in a row. (Tampa Bay Times, April 15)


Thursday, April 16

Campus Safety
Some states consider sexual assault sanctions
Officials in California, Maryland and Virginia are calling for laws that would require college transcripts to indicate if a student has been suspended or expelled for committing sexual assault. Currently, there is no federal law requiring schools to note such sanctions on a student's transcript, and colleges do not have to ask applicants if they have ever been punished for sexual assault. (Huffington Post, April 13)

8 sentenced to jail in GA cheating scandal
Three former top administrators were given maximum 20-year sentences in the Atlanta school cheating case, with seven years to be served in prison, 13 on probation and fines of $25,000 to be paid by each. Five lower-ranking educators — those who worked as principals, teachers and testing coordinators — received sentences of up to five years with at least one-year in prison and hefty fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 14)

College Remediation
Fewer IN students require remediation in college
A new report says 77 percent of 2013 Indiana high school graduates who went to college didn't require remedial classes. That's compared to 72 percent for the class of 2012. A new law passed in 2013 requires high schools to identify students at risk of needing remediation in college and to provide it before they arrive on campus. (South Bend Tribune, April 12)

High School Remediation
Test scores could help DE kids avoid remediation
High school juniors who do well on the state's tough new standardized test will not have to take remedial classes if they attend a Delaware college or four-year university, state leaders announced. Gov. Jack Markell said the arrangement will hopefully allow more students to avoid paying for classes that don't count toward their degree. (News Journal, April 15)

No Child Left Behind
Senate committee examines NCLB
A Senate committee began debating legislation that attempts to fix the much-maligned No Child Left Behind education law by giving states more control in determining how to hold public schools accountable for student performance. The early focus among lawmakers was aimed at giving states opportunities to reduce the amount of time students are focused on testing and preparing for tests. (Associated Press, April 14)


Wednesday, April 15

OH drops protections for art, music
Ohio school board officials formally killed the "five of eight rule," eliminating the need for school districts to hire art, music and physical education teachers in certain ratios. The rule required at least five teachers for every 1,000 students from one of the following areas: counselor, library media specialist, school nurse, visiting teacher, social worker, elementary art, elementary music and elementary physical education. (Telegraph-Forum, April 14)

Early Learning
NY proposal would allow pre-K parents to engage
Some New York politicians are calling for an amendment to state law that would let engaged parents run for spots on local education councils, which officials see as a key way to get parents to play an active part in the school system as soon as they enter it. (Chalkbeat New York, April 13)

Education Reform
Teachers and reformers can find a middle ground
Casual observers can be forgiven for wondering why the push to improve America’s schools looks like a World War I battlefield. Reform advocates blast schools as failing and call for a raft of remedies, from teacher evaluation to charter schooling. Teachers react defensively, condemning these proposals as an attack on schooling and their profession. Who’s right? (U.S. News & World Report, April 14)

Higher Ed Funding
Public colleges' revenue shift
Tuition dollars made up roughly 47 percent of revenues for public higher education for the third straight year in 2014, cementing a trend in which tuition revenue now rivals state appropriations as the main funder of public institutions, according to a report. Meanwhile, 37 states increased their financial support of higher education in fiscal 2014. (Inside Higher Ed, April 13)

Student Loans
Q&A: Should the Ed Department discharge loans?
Students from the troubled Corinthian Colleges are getting support from state attorneys general and U.S. senators in their quest to have their federal student loans forgiven. The question is what comes next. (Associated Press, April 14)


Tuesday, April 14

Most CA Latino voters value testing
Latino voters consider California's standardized tests an important measure of student growth and school performance, according to a new poll that shows the state's largest minority group also feels strongly about teacher accountability and investing additional dollars in public education. (Los Angeles Times, April 12)

College Tuition
Board approves PA Gov. Wolf’s ‘ultimatum’
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf demanded and received in writing a tuition freeze pledge from the board that oversees the 14 state-owned universities. But it also earned him ill will. (Morning Call, April 9)

OH looks at making cursive mandatory
Several state legislators want cursive to be required in all elementary schools in Ohio. If the just-proposed bill passes, cursive would again be a mandatory part of elementary education. (Plain Dealer, April 10)

Private Schools
TX Senate shapes plan for scholarships
If so-called school choice legislation comes out of the Texas Senate, it is unlikely to call for using taxpayer dollars to fund private school vouchers. Instead, the bill would use tax incentives to coax private donors into funding scholarships for students trying to get out of failing public schools. (Texas Tribune, April 10)

School Choice
NJ budget crunch could stunt program
Participation in New Jersey's public school choice program has grown by a factor of nine since Gov. Chris Christie made it permanent in 2010, but as lawmakers begin dissecting the 2016 budget, its success is becoming overshadowed by a funding problem. (Associated Press, April 11)

Monday, April 13

College Attainment
Attainment progress won't meet 2025 goal
Although incremental progress has been made, if current trends continue the U.S. will still fall short by 19.8 million college credentials in 2025, according to a report by Lumina Foundation. The percentage of American adults between the ages of 25 and 64 with at least an associate degree increased from 37.9 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2013. (U.S. News & World Report, April 9)

College Tuition
The many meanings of free
As community colleges and some states consider ways to offer free community college tuition, some programs focus on the best students, some on the lowest income and some cast a wide net. And the different funding approaches vary from sales taxes and state lottery revenue to endowments. (Inside Higher Ed, April 8)

Early Learning
Consumer bureau pushes for early financial start
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is launching an effort to advance financial education in schools. The agency published a policymakers’ resource guide to help lawmakers make a case for K-12 financial education, set standards and find resources, and implement and expand initiatives. (The Hill, April 7)

Performance-based Funding
OR may fund universities based on degrees awarded
The Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission passed sweeping reforms designed to fund public universities based partly on how many Oregonians they graduate, instead of the number they enroll. (Oregonian, April 10)

Teacher Issues
VT kills bill banning strikes
The Vermont House killed legislation that initially intended to ban teachers' strikes and the imposition of contract terms by school boards. The measure, amended to merely mandate a study of collective bargaining between teachers and school boards, was defeated on the floor. (WAMC, April 10)

Friday, April 10

TX math STAAR tests won’t count toward accountability
The math scores on standardized tests for the third through eighth grades will not be counted in this year’s state accountability ratings, the Texas Education Agency announced, acknowledging that teachers and students have struggled to adjust to a new curriculum. The math curriculum implemented this year is more rigorous, with younger students expected to master concepts earlier than in the past. (Statesmen, April 8)

Classroom Size
FL's class-size foes may finally prevail
For the eighth time in 12 years, Florida lawmakers are looking to roll back voters’ wishes for smaller class sizes. Backed by school districts that struggle annually to meet the strict caps, the Legislature is poised to end penalties for school districts when classes get too big. Instead, fines would apply when schools don’t reach the counts as a campus-wide average. (Miami Herald, April 6)

Loan default relief for community colleges
The Obama administration is proposing a draft plan to make it easier for colleges with high loan default rates but few students taking out loans to avoid losing their eligibility for federal student aid. The changes to the existing federal appeal option would largely help community colleges. (Inside Higher Ed, April 7)

Private Schools
Access proposal heads to NV Gov. Sandoval's desk
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's proposal to help lower-income students afford private schools passed the Nevada Senate and is now headed to his desk for final approval. Proponents say the bill will help students leave lower-achieving schools and attend one of the estimated 200 private schools in the state that might be financially out of reach. (Associated Press, April 7)

Remedial Education
Should MN colleges ditch remedial classes?
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system would have to establish a tiered system for students to minimize the use of remedial education should a new bill be approved. Campuses would have improve how they measure students' abilities, and students would have the final say on whether to take remedial classes. (MPR News, April 7)


Thursday, April 9

Charter Schools
CT to use more rigorous system for renewal
Beginning in May, Connecticut's State Board of Education is expected to use a new more rigorous process to decide whether to renew the charters of six existing charter schools. The development was prompted by a scandal involving the Hartford-based Jumoke Academy charter schools and the Family Urban Schools of Excellence management group. (Hartford Courant, April 6)

College Tuition 
TN program offers tuition-free training for new jobs
A new initiative, the Tennessee Reconnect grant, offers eligible adults the chance to study at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus tuition-free. The Reconnect grant is a key prong of Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to ensure 55 percent of Tennesseans have a college education by 2025. (Tennessean, April 4)

Planning for College
Children's savings account for college gaining traction
For decades, private foundations have promoted the idea of children’s savings accounts to help families imagine and save for their children’s college education. Only recently has it taken root in states, which are targeting the youngest citizens. (Stateline, April 6)

WA community colleges making math more relevant
A Washington community college program allows students to catch up on basic math, earn credit and work toward a credential that can lead to jobs that pay between $15 and $35 an hour. Students in the program are nine times as likely to earn a workforce credential as students who follow the traditional path of taking remedial classes first. (Seattle Times, April 6)

Struggling Schools
Some NY schools could face takeover
More than 170 schools across the state could face a takeover if they don’t boost their lagging academic performance. The state’s new $142 billion budget paves the way for an outside “receiver” to step in and oversee a school that has long been struggling to improve its graduation rates and student test scores. (Star Gazette, April 6)


Wednesday, April 8

OH may allow some districts to create their own tests
The Ohio Department of Education announced a plan that could allow alternative assessments in some high-performing schools. The Innovative Learning Pilot is the latest effort by state officials to alter, scale back or dump tests that cost about $50 million to develop and administer, and first given to students last month. (Columbus Dispatch, April 7)

College Tuition
Starbucks, ASU to expand discount partnership
Starbucks and Arizona State University announced that they will expand the full benefits of their tuition-discounting partnership to include Starbucks employees who have not yet accrued 60 college credits. Under the arrangement, the university provides a guaranteed scholarship to all Starbucks students who attend ASU Online. (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6)

Early Learning
Report: Not enough youngsters get enrolled in preschool
All parents hope their child will start school ready for success. Unfortunately, not every parent can find the high-quality early learning opportunity that sets their child up for success. The U.S. Department of Education released a new report outlining the unmet need for high-quality early learning programs in America. Roughly 60 percent of 4-year-olds are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, and even fewer are enrolled in the highest quality programs. (Home Room, April 7)

Education Standards
NE biz leaders offer insight into proposed math standards
A group of Nebraska teachers met with business and industry leaders to find out how they use math in their jobs and what skills their employees need, then used what they’d learned to help revise state math standards. (Lincoln Journal Star, April 4)

Are popular Promise scholarships effective
Promise program scholarships, which help residents pay for college, are appealing to cities and counties looking to boost their local educational achievement. But despite the enthusiasm and positive anecdotes surrounding the model, there's little research showing how effective and sustainable the fairly new movement is over the long term. (Inside Higher Ed, April 7)


Tuesday, April 7

Adult Education
Options go digital in MN; work remains
Options for adult education have adjusted to modern needs throughout history, but technological advancements of the last few decades have accelerated the pace in Minnesota and elsewhere. New methods of teaching are drawing learners away from traditional models, affecting how employers and students view degrees, other certifications and education in general. (St. Cloud Times, April 6)

Campus Safety
Colleges distribute survey on sexual assault
Several universities began distributing a survey to measure rates of sexual violence on college campuses, developed by the Association of American Universities. But a group of professors have raised concerns that the trade group's survey is being rushed through and may not adhere to proper ethical standards. (Huffington Post, April 2)

Performance-based Funding
New IA finance model reallocates funds
Iowa legislators will have to decide whether to approve a new funding model that would send more state funding to Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa at the expense of the University of Iowa. (Iowa State Daily, April 3)

Social Studies
‘Civic crisis’ in MA? Yes, says one leader
With the proliferation of high-stakes testing for English-language arts, math and science, educators in a non-tested area are concerned that their subject has been pushed aside. Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies President Gorman Lee says that social studies education in the state is in the midst of a “civic crisis.” (Learning Lab, April 6)

Undocumented Students
‘Tuition equity’ is back in OR spotlight
Oregon lawmakers are considering expanding a 2013 law dubbed “tuition equity,” which allowed certain illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at the seven public universities. This year, S.B. 932 would let those students receive state-funded, need-based college scholarships through the Oregon Opportunity Grant program. (Register-Guard, April 4)


Monday, April 6

KY says no to students opting out
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says school districts cannot honor requests from parents who want to opt their children out of participating in standardized tests. He encouraged district officials to review policies and to communicate them to parents. Holliday sent a similar message to superintendents last year. (Associated Press, April 5)

Education Funding
NY Gov. Cuomo’s budget targets education
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York's $142 billion budget had been passed, claiming that it exemplifies fiscal discipline. But educators are wary, saying it imposes new standards, training and accountability on educators while still not restoring the Gap Elimination Adjustment. (Lansing Star, April 3)

WA GOP plans 25% cut to tuition  
With Republicans in the state Senate proposing to cut tuition by about 25 percent at state universities and permanently tie tuition to the state’s average wage, the reaction ranged from enthusiastic to cautious. (Seattle Times, April 1)

School Calendar
Budget forces 2 KS districts to close early
Two school districts plan to end the academic year early to save money, citing financial pressures caused by reduced state aid for this academic year. Kansas school districts are facing financial pressures after losing $51 million they expected to receive for the current school year after Gov. Sam Brownback signed a school funding overhaul bill in March. (Associated Press, April 2)

Is obsession with STEM dangerous?
America's last bipartisan cause is this: A liberal arts education is irrelevant; technical training is the new path forward. It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. This dismissal of broad-based learning, however, comes from a fundamental misreading of the facts and puts America on a dangerously narrow path for the future. (Trib Total Media, April 4)


Friday, April 3

Dual enrollment
CA lawmakers keep trying to expand programs
Programs that allow students to earn high school and college credit at the same time are seen as an effective way to boost college success rates. However, numerous legislative efforts in California over the past decade to expand opportunities for students to take the courses have withered. (EdSource, March 31)

Economic Inequality
More education not a sure fix
Conservatives, centrists and liberals alike say that a plausible solution to rising economic inequality centers on strengthening education so that more Americans can benefit from the advances of the 21st-century economy. But a new paper shows why the math just doesn’t add up, at least if the goal is addressing the gap between the very rich and everyone else. (New York Times, March 31)

Education Reform
VT House approves reform bill
House lawmakers gave preliminary approval to a bill that would require Vermont’s nearly 300 school districts to study mergers with neighboring districts. The legislation seeks to improve educational opportunities while forcing cost efficiencies in response to growing taxpayer unrest about rising education spending and property taxes. (VT Digger, April 1)

School Choice
FL bill would let students pick any school
School choice bills moving through committees in the Florida House and Senate would allow families to send their children to any public school in the state that has room. Other provisions of the measures would allow students to move to another classroom within the school they already attend. (Tampa Tribune, March 29)

Student Athletes
NCAA: Education is not our job
After years of making the case that the education of athletes is paramount, the NCAA now says it has no legal responsibility to make sure education is actually delivered. The NCAA’s position is in response to a lawsuit filed by former University of North Carolina athletes. (CNN, April 2)


Thursday, April 2

CO introduces more testing bills – 11 in all
Two new testing bills introduced in the Colorado legislature remix elements of other measures and toss in some new ideas. Nine testing-related bills were introduced earlier in the session, including one that covers only parent opt-out rights. Most of the rest are considered not viable for a variety of reasons. (Chalkbeat Colorado, March 30)

Education Funding
OR House passes $7.255B K-12 budget
The Oregon House of Representatives passed a $7.255 billion K-12 education budget on a party-line vote, with Republicans strongly opposed to the budget, which they said should be larger. Democrats have said the dollar amount is a "floor," and the bill contains a provision to add more money after the May revenue forecast, if it shows more money than previously predicted. (Statesmen Journal, April 1)

Education Reform
NY Gov. Cuomo says new budget includes big shift
Gov. Cuomo hailed New York’s newly adopted budget as a “dramatic shift” toward a better education system by improving teacher performance. He said the reform measures will move education from a seniority-based system that protects teachers to one that focuses on their performance and rejected criticism that the budget increases the number of state tests students will be required to take. (New York Daily News, April 1)

High-achieving, low-income students are shortchanged
A new report says high-achieving students from low-income households can’t rely on resilience alone to see them through. The report finds that high-achieving students lag behind their wealthier peers, creating a potential gap. It robs the country of an abundance of talent and knowledge and impacts the nation’s future economic prosperity. (Washington Post, March 31)

Sex Education
TX lawmakers push abstinence education
Texas would cut $3 million from programs to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and spend that money instead on abstinence education under a contentious Republican-sponsored measure tucked into the state budget. (CBS News, April 1)


Wednesday, April 1

Music training may narrow achievement gap
Recent research showed that schools with graduation rates hovering around 50 percent raised those rates to 93 percent with something as simple as music lessons. This success has convinced school administrators and parents alike that music training may hold a key to closing the achievement gap that persists between underserved and prosperous students in the United States. (Bay Area News Group, March 25)

Common Core
Impact of new standards remains mostly unknown
Years after most states adopted the Common Core State Standards, it's unclear if the academic benchmarks are having a positive impact on student learning. And it might be a while before we know for sure. (U.S. News & World Report, March 25)

Many Teach Grants turn into loans
A third of the more than 112,000 students who have received federal Teach Grants have had their grants changed to loans, according to a report. College officials suggested that recipients may have difficulty finding and keeping eligible teaching positions and may find annual certification requirements confusing. (Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27)

Student Debt
Borrowers suffering even more than thought
About one-third of borrowers with federal student loans owned by the Department of Education are late on their payments, according to new federal data. The figures are the first comprehensive look at the delinquency plaguing those who hold federal student loans. Previous measures had put the delinquency rate much lower. (Huffington Post, March 27)

Student Safety
Momentum builds for campus carry
At least 11 states are considering whether to allow concealed weapons on college campuses this year, the latest chapter in a now seemingly annual legislative debate between gun control advocates and gun rights supporters. (Inside Higher Ed, March 30)


Tuesday, March 31

NH advocates oppose student privacy bill
A 14-year-old bullying victim joined parents and school officials in opposing a bill aimed at protecting student privacy. The bill would prohibit any public or private school in the state from requiring or requesting access to students' personal social media accounts. (Associated Press, March 24)

Education Funding
Which states are hitting, missing the mark?
While the debate rages over the federal budget and how much will go to K-12 schools, states and localities supply the biggest share of education dollars, about 87 percent on average. But is that money distributed fairly to the students who need it most? (Christian Science Monitor, March 25)

Special Needs
Voucher bill likely headed to MS Gov. Bryant
A bill that will pay for student with special needs to receive education outside the public school system likely will go to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant, who has indicted he will sign it. (Clarion-Ledger, March 26)

Struggling Schools
GA Gov. Deal's takeover plan heads to ballots
A plan to give the governor’s office sweeping new powers to take over failing Georgia schools will land on ballots next year after surviving a second razor-thin legislative vote Wednesday despite criticism that it gives the state too much control over local classrooms. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 25)

Workforce Development
What if a HS diploma guaranteed a good job?
As a movement to reform high school gains momentum around the country, vocational education is being revived. New models are seeking to change the reputation of career and technical classes as dumping grounds for the students who can’t make it in the academic track. (Hechinger Report, March 25)


Monday, March 30

FL may promote 3rd graders who fail tests
Amid continued backlash over Florida's testing regimen, the state may stop holding back third grade students who fail the state's standardized tests. If Florida lawmakers agree to the change, it would mark a major departure from previous policy. (Associated Press, March 25)

Common Core
WY is the rare red state in favor of new standards
Republicans, it seems, do not like the Common Core. Several red states -- Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina -- have withdrawn from the effort, at least officially. But not every Republican-dominated state wants to repeal the standards. Consider Wyoming, a surprising example of a deliberate, bipartisan effort to refine and ultimately enshrine the new education standards. (Governing, March 25)

Community college to a bachelor's degree
A new report found that 46 percent of all students who completed a four-year degree had been enrolled at a two-year institution at some point in the past 10 years. Of those students, 65 percent enrolled for at least three semesters at a community college. (Inside Higher Ed, March 26)

School Grades
PA Gov. Wolf says tests should have less emphasis
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf intends to steer the state away from school accountability measures that he says place too great an emphasis on standardized test scores. Wolf says the state's existing accountability tool doesn't provide parents with a comprehensive view of school performance. (News Works, March 24) 

Undocumented Students
MO lawmakers seek to ban college aid
Legislative leaders propose making it more expensive for undocumented students to go to college even as school leaders say they want to offer access to promising students regardless of their immigration status. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 25)


Friday, March 27

KY examines school bullying suicides
Can schools and teachers be held responsible if a bullied student commits suicide? The Kentucky Supreme Court took up the question after the family of a 13-year-old sued teachers and school administrators after he took his own life. (Associated Press, March 25)

Education Funding
KS Gov. Brownback signs block grant funding bill
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation scrapping the state’s decades-old school funding formula and replacing it with a block grant system. The measure is intended only as a temporary system while a new, permanent formula is crafted. (Topeka Capital-Journal, March 25)

School Calendars
Harvard professor: Snow days do no harm
It has become a maxim in education: More learning time leads to greater student achievement. So when schools close for snow, the assumption is that student achievement will suffer. Not so, says an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, showing data that the number of canceled school days because of snow in a given year had no impact on children’s math and reading test scores. (Washington Post, March 26)

Struggling schools
GA school takeover plan headed to voters
The Georgia House passed a resolution that will ask voters in 2016 whether they are willing to vest new and unprecedented powers in the governor to take over failing schools.  The resolution passed on its first try with a vote of 121-47. It was a narrow win (constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority) but it was still a win. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 25)

NJ schools held hostage for bitcoins
A New Jersey school district is hoping to resume standardized testing after delays because its computer network was shut down in an online attack. Officials say the computers were held hostage for days by someone who was seeking 500 bitcoins, or about $125,000 in digital currency. (Associated Press, March 25)


Thursday, March 26

Civic Education
U.S. citizenship test gains traction
Amid long-standing national angst over the amount of knowledge that American public school students have of civics, one organization's push to make the test administered to prospective U.S. citizens a high school graduation requirement is finding early momentum in many states. (Education Week, March 25)

Common Core
AZ Gov. Ducey requests standards review
Gov. Doug Ducey told the Arizona State Board of Education that Arizona students are not achieving and ordered a review of Common Core. Ducey directed the 11-member board to create committees of educators, parents and students to review the state's language and math standards and make sure they reflect what Arizonans want taught in K-12 schools. (Arizona Republic, March 23)

Education Funding
Underfunding spurs TN schools to sue
Charging that the state has breached its constitutional duty to provide “a system of free public education” for children in Tennessee, several school districts sued state officials, asking that the court order the General Assembly to address a broken system that has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of underfunding. (Chalkbeat Tennessee, March 25)

Boosting number of SC college grads
A new report suggests increasing the number of college graduates in South Carolina by boosting financial aid for lower- and middle-class students, offering rebates for graduates in high-demand fields and raising state funding to schools that hold down tuition. (The State, March 25)

Student Transportation
IN Supreme Court gives OK to cut busing
The Indiana Supreme Court said that the state constitution does not require school districts to offer busing. That could clear the way for other cash-strapped schools to tell kids to find their own rides to school. (Chalkbeat Indiana, March 24)


Wednesday, March 25

Common Core
Tests will widen achievement gap — at first
The Common Core was rolled out with the promise of raising expectations for American students and closing both the persistent learning gap and the achievement gap, as measured by test scores. But in the short term, at least, the achievement gap will almost certainly grow wider. (Hechinger Report, March 24)

Education Funding
CT looks at change in funding formula
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey wants to fix a state law that restricts local school districts from lowering their spending, regardless of drops in enrollment, in order to receive the same amount of state funding. (New Haven Register, March 21)

Military Veterans
Funding education for TX veterans is too high
For decades, veterans went to Texas public universities and colleges under the Hazlewood Exemption, which kicks in after federal benefits under the G.I. Bill are exhausted. But the price tag has increased sevenfold since 2009. Take a look at the recent ECS report on in-state tuition policies for military veterans. (Associated Press, March 22)

Sen. Alexander outlines Higher Ed Act agenda
Sen. Lamar Alexander released three policy papers outlining ideas on making colleges share in the financial risk of the federal loans they provide students, overhauling accreditation and changing how the federal government collects data from colleges. The documents offer the most expansive look yet at Alexander’s priorities for rewriting the Higher Education Act, which he has said he wants the Senate to vote on by the end of 2015. (Inside Higher Ed, March 24)

Does high smartphone use lower college GPAs?
A survey of approximately 500 students revealed that coeds using their phones more than 10 hours per day had a significantly lower grade-point average (2.84) in comparison to the GPA of those students who only used their phones up to two hours daily (3.15). (Center for Digital Education, March 17) 


Tuesday, March 24

Education Funding
Duncan: PA funding gap is nation’s worst
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Pennsylvania does the worst job in the nation of funding low-income school districts. Recent Education Department figures show that the amount spent on each student in Pennsylvania's poorest school districts is 33 percent less than the amount spent on each student in the wealthier districts. (Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20)

Education Funding
Schools on tax-exempt lands suffering
Money to schools on or near Indian reservations and military bases has stagnated in the last decade. Most school districts get about half of their funding from local property taxes. But schools on Indian reservations and military bases -- which are tax-exempt -- don’t have that traditional funding resource. Instead, they rely on federal Impact Aid to make up the difference. (U.S. News & World Report, March 20)

TN Promise mentors leading the way
Thousands of Tennesseans are guiding the first generation of Tennessee Promise students hoping to go to community college tuition-free this year. It's a role that experts and officials believe could be as important as the money. (Tennessean, March 22)

Substitute Teachers
Schools nationwide struggle with sub shortage
Districts throughout the country have reported struggles finding substitute teachers. School officials say the shortage worsened as the unemployment rate improved, and job seekers who might have settled for a part-time job such as substitute teaching are now insisting on full-time positions with better pay and benefits. (Atlanta Daily World, March 21)

Teacher Recruiting
TX goes after NC teachers with promise of better pay
Texas offers opportunity, some North Carolina teachers said as they left a job fair where recruiters from that state were trying to hire teachers for Houston schools. For instance, with no experience, beginning teachers in Houston will receive starting salaries of $49,100 a year. In North Carolina, the starting salary for a teacher is $33,000. (News & Record, March 21)


Thursday, March 19

Achievement Gap
Racial gaps in HS grad rates seem to be closing
Even though significantly more white and Asian/Pacific Islander students are graduating from high school than their Hispanic, black and American Indian peers, achievement gaps in this area still appear to be closing. (Huffington Post, March 16)

CO Gov. Hickenlooper endorses testing bill
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said there’s no reason to go back on state education reforms and endorsed a new bipartisan bill that would reduce high school testing and streamline assessments in early grades. While agreeing the testing system needs some change, he said, “We thought it important to re-emphasize that we are not slowing down.” (Chalkbeat Colorado, March 17)

College Tuition
Deregulating tuition slowed increase, universities say
Riled up about tuition costs at state colleges and universities, some Texas lawmakers are eager to dump a 2003 law that allows institutions and university systems to set their own tuition. Before 2003, the legislature controlled tuition rates. But some university officials are pushing back, saying that tuition and fees have increased at a slower rate since the state deregulated it. (Texas Tribune, March 17)

Several states consider free-tuition bills
Lawmakers in 10 states have introduced legislation calling for free community college tuition. Five of those measures – in Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Maryland and Missouri – have died, but the rest are still pending. Most of those proposals are modeled on the Tennessee Promise. (Community College Daily, March 17)

Teacher Performance
PA lawmakers want to end seniority-based layoffs
Two Central Pennsylvania legislators have introduced measures that would require school districts to use teacher performance as a guide for furlough and reinstatement decisions, rather than basing it solely on seniority. (Central Penn Business Journal, March 16)


Wednesday, March 18

Charter Schools
Do IN charters deserve more state funding?
Educating Indiana's poorest students at a lower cost than traditional public schools was a selling point of charter schools when they first opened 13 years ago. This spring, charter schools are clamoring for more funding from the General Assembly while facing criticism they have not succeeded at the job they set out to do. (Indianapolis Star, March 15)

College Transfers
CA community colleges make transfers easier
California’s 112-campus community college system is making it easier for graduates to attend historically black colleges and universities across the country. The system is launching a new program that guarantees students admission to nine HBCUs if they graduate with an associate degree. (Inside Higher Ed, March 17)

Higher Ed Accountability
Education Dept. considers creating two ratings systems
The Education Department, under continued fire over its planned college-rating system, is considering creating two systems. The first ratings system would be geared toward consumers and be based on raw outcomes metrics. The second would be geared toward policymakers and researchers, and would rely on metrics adjusted for student and institutional characteristics. (Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16)

Postsecondary and the Workforce
CO may incentivize employers to repay workers’ student loans
Certain Colorado employers could receive tax credits of as much as $200,000 per year for helping to repay their workers' student loans, whether those employees are helping to build rockets or are fracking in the state's natural gas fields. (Denver Business Journal, March 12)

School Finance
KS passes Gov. Brownback’s funding overhaul, but …
The Kansas Senate gave final passage to a bill overhauling the way Kansas funds its public schools, sending it to Gov. Sam Brownback for his signature even though a three-judge district court panel has suggested it may try to block the bill from taking effect. (Lawrence Journal-World, March 16)


Tuesday, March 17

Education Policy
AR advances wave of education bills
The Arkansas House approved a bill that would let some public school districts obtain the same types of waivers from state regulations that are available to charter schools. House members also approved bills to give the Legislature authority to approve or disapprove rules proposed by state agencies, allow early enrollment in kindergarten and ban e-cigarettes on college campuses. (Times Record, March 14)

Military Veterans
NV Gov. Sandoval pushes education, work bills
A pro-veteran spirit is seen in Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s aggressive legislative plan for veterans, with two of four bills focused on helping vets get good jobs and access to in-state tuition. (Reno Gazette Journal, March 15)

Rural Issues
IA schools burdened by transportation costs
As rural Iowa school districts consolidate to trim expenses, and a decades-old school funding formula remains unchanged, many rural districts are bearing an oversized burden of high transportation costs. (Quad-City Times, March 15)

Student Discipline
How prison stints replaced study hall
For many children, adolescent misbehavior that once warranted a trip to the principal’s office — and perhaps a stint in study hall — now results in jail time and a greater possibility of lifelong involvement with the criminal justice system. It should surprise no one that the students pushed into this pipeline are disproportionately children of color, mostly impoverished, and those with learning disabilities. (Politico, March 15)

Teacher Evaluations
VA wades into teacher privacy debate
A parent has sued state officials to force the release of evaluation data for thousands of teachers across Virginia, making it the latest in a series of states to grapple with whether such information should be made public. (Washington Post, March 16)


Monday, March 16

TN panel says students can’t forego ACT
In a close vote, Tennessee’s House Education Instruction and Programs subcommittee voted against a bill that would have allowed students to forego the ACT if their parents let them to opt out. Under current law, every public school student must take the ACT in the 11th grade as a strategy for schools to assess the college readiness of their students. (Chalkbeat Tennessee, March 11)

Common Core
Despite opt-outs, testing numbers soar
Despite a growing number of students refusing to take Common Core-aligned exams this spring, a record number of tests are being completed. So far, more than 2 million tests had been completed with expectations that 5 million students will take the exam this year. (U.S. News & World Report, March 11)

Education Funding
PA school funding system called ‘broken’
Pennsylvania's system of education funding is broken, and the courts must force lawmakers to make it right, attorneys for school districts, parents and organizations that have sued the commonwealth told a panel of judges. The lawsuit argues that Pennsylvania's education funding system is "irrational and inequitable." (Philadelphia Inquirer, March 12)

In 23 states, richer schools get more funding
Children who live in poverty come to school at a disadvantage, arriving at their classrooms with far more intensive needs than their middle-class and affluent counterparts. But in 23 states, state and local governments are together spending less per pupil in the poorest school districts than they are in the most affluent school districts. (Washington Post, March 12)

AL bills would create appointed board for community colleges
Bills in the Alabama Senate and House would create a new board of trustees for the state’s 25-school community college system. Currently, community colleges and the Department of Postsecondary Education report to the Alabama Board of Education, which also oversees K-12 education. Board members are elected. (Decatur Daily, March 11)


Friday, March 13

College Completion
Gates Foundation pushes next phase of its agenda
After spending roughly half a billion dollars on the college completion agenda, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is ready to be more assertive about what it thinks should happen in four key areas of higher education policy. A new document lays out the focus areas: data and information, finance and financial aid, college readiness, and innovation and scale. (Inside Higher Ed, March 11)

Common Core
CA suspends school accountability
The California Board of Education suspended the state's school accountability system for one year to give teachers and students time to adjust to new standardized tests aligned with Common Core standards. (Associated Press, March 11)

Common Core
SC boots new math, English standards
The South Carolina Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to replace the Common Core Standards now being used in math and English, killing Common Core in the state. The board adopted new standards, written by teams of South Carolinians, which teachers will start using this fall. (WLTX, March 11)

GA Senate takes issue with AP history
The Georgia Senate voted to suggest the state should all but ban Advanced Placement U.S. history courses statewide, saying state officials needed to protect students from a “radically revisionist view” of American history conservatives have deemed left-leaning and biased. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 11)

Student Proficiency
CO board blows up science, social studies test scores
Colorado’s State Board of Education voted to reject the proposed cut scores needed to set proficiency levels on the 12th grade science and social studies tests given last fall. The action means the Department of Education won’t be able to release district, school and student scores to school districts. (Chalkbeat Colorado, March 11)


Thursday, March 12

Common Core
Advocates: Opt-out movement about more than tests
While the movement to opt out of certain assessments has gained steam from some looking to protest the controversial Common Core and what they say is an overemphasis on testing in schools, some of its leaders say it's about more than just those two things. (U.S. News & World Report, March 10)

Education Reform
NY teachers feeling under attack
A series of education reform proposals under consideration in Albany, N.Y., along with an increased focus on testing and teacher evaluation, have left teachers feeling like they are being blamed for a widespread failure of the education system in New York State. (Journal News, March 11)

School Finance
KS lawmaker try to fast-track funding bill
Kansas lawmakers set school block grant legislation on a high-speed course, raising the possibility a decades-old educational finance formula could be history by the end of the week. After deliberating over the bill, the House Appropriations Committee used a procedural tactic designed to speed the bill’s passage known as "gut and go." (Topeka Capital-Journal, March 10)

Teacher Development
Most Teach for America instructors flee the field
A new study says that more than 87 percent of Teach for America teachers say they don’t plan on remaining teachers throughout their careers, compared with 26.3 percent of non-TFA teachers working in the same subjects, grades and schools. (Bloomberg, March 9)

FL probes cyber-attacks that delayed testing
Florida authorities are investigating cyber-attacks that delayed newly computerized standardized school testing. The investigation stemmed from reports that a number of school districts encountered "white screens" after logging into the controversial tests. (Reuters, March 9)


Wednesday, March 11

NJ passes two bills related to standardized testing
The state Assembly passed two bills related to standardized testing, including one bill that would require New Jersey schools to provide parents information about what tests their students take and how they will be used. The other bill would officially recognize a parent's right to opt their child out of standardized testing. (, March 9)

Common Core
Colleges are not ready to adapt to new standards
The Common Core standards are supposed to get students ready for college. But colleges don’t seem ready for them. Five years after states across the nation began to adopt the Common Core, colleges have done little to align their admissions criteria, curricula or educational policies with the new standards. (Politico, March 9)

Distance Learning
PA leaders clash over cap on cyber tuition
A Pennsylvania formula for reimbursing online charter schools that accept students who prefer the Internet to a high school classroom is widely considered flawed. Gov. Tom Wolf wants to cap cyber school tuition at $5,950, with add-ons for special education students. But cyber school operators disagree. (New Castle News, March 7)

Education Policy
KY student voice bill faces roadblocks
A bill that would give Kentucky students a voice in selecting school system superintendents has hit a snag after state senators tacked on two controversial amendments that the students say are likely to doom their effort. (Washington Post, March 10) 

Obama announces changes to student loan repayment
President Barack Obama spoke to students at Georgia Tech about how he wants to make the process of repaying student loans easier to understand and manage. Obama signed a “student aid bill of rights” and spoke about an assortment of policy tweaks and projects to try to make it easier to help people with student loans pay back their debt. (Reuters, March 10)


Tuesday, March 10

Two CO colleges work to make PARCC count
A pair of Colorado colleges have announced they will evaluate the use of scores on PARCC language arts and math exams as a way to determine whether students are ready to take college courses. (Chalkbeat Colorado, March 8)

No Child Left Behind
HI receives rave reviews from feds
The U.S. Department of Education is giving Hawaii a flawless progress report on reforms that replaced provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The report shows that Hawaii received the highest mark of "meeting expectations" for all categories of monitoring. (Associated Press, March 6)

AZ deal would kill state support of higher education
A budget deal reached between Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and legislative leaders would completely eliminate state support for the three largest community college districts in the state – while also imposing deep cuts on the public universities. (Inside Higher Ed, March 6)

States are slashing college budgets, raising tuition
In 48 states, government spending on higher education is still below where it was before the recession that ended almost six years ago. Now, governors in several states are proposing cutting deeper, including in Arizona, Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, West Virginia and Wisconsin. (Bloomberg, March 5)

School Accountability
NE rating system would reward improvement
Public schools that improved test scores for struggling students will boost their state performance ratings under a new Nebraska accountability system. Schools will jump to a higher performance class if scores on state tests improve from the previous year or kids demonstrate sufficient academic growth and vice versa. (World-Herald, March 6)


Monday, March 9

Distance Learning
Online courses may be more popular than thought
In fall 2013, one in every eight students enrolled at colleges and universities in the U.S. studied exclusively online. One in every four students took at least one online course. Those and other findings suggests distance education is more pervasive in higher education than previously imagined. (Inside Higher Ed, March 5)

Early Learning
TX push earning lukewarm reviews
When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that early education would be his first emergency item, it signaled a dramatic move in the state's approach to pre-kindergarten programs. But so far, the change in approach has been mostly in tone. See ECS' review of State of the State addresses from around the country. (Texas Tribune, March 4)

Minority Issues
Study: Classroom racial gap at all-time high
The Colorado Legislature last year passed Aliyah's Law, which called for a study of diversity in the state's education workforce. What the newly released report found was that while 43 percent of Colorado schoolkids are minorities, only 10 percent of the state's teachers are. That's a problem, according to the report. (Governing, March 5)

School Calendars
Tourism and the school year: What's the connection?
Business owners in many states are expressing growing concern over early school start dates and their effect on tourism revenue during critical summer months, adding to tensions over whether state or local leaders should decide when classes start. See the ECS report on the varying lengths of the school year. (Washington Post, March 5)

Standardized Testing
Just-approved N.H. program aims to reduce testing
The U.S. Department of Education approved a New Hampshire pilot program aimed at reducing standardized testing while providing meaningful feedback for students, parents and teachers. Under the two-year pilot program, students in four districts will take the statewide tests in three grades instead of seven -- once in elementary school, once in middle school and once in high school. (Associated Press, March 5)


Friday, March 6

Assessment Opt-Outs
OH won’t penalize school districts
Ohio won't penalize school districts if large numbers of students skip this year's state test, state Superintendent Richard Ross announced. A growing number of parents are pulling their kids out of new state tests this year as the state increases testing time and changes test providers. See the new ECS report on how states address the issue of opt-outs. (Plain Dealer, March 3)

Minority Issues
Many teens desire technology careers
The lack of diversity in tech, both gender-based and racial, is a hot button issue. So, it should come as welcome news that a recent research survey found that three of the top 10 desired careers among Black and Hispanic students from low to middle-income families were in the tech field. (Forbes, March 2)

Free community college: Does it work?
President Obama's free community college proposal and Tennessee’s Promise have a direct ancestor in a program Tulsa Community College began in 2007. And the Tulsa Achieves free-tuition experiment is working, with the college's leaders calling it a “battle-tested” recipe for increasing degree production. (Inside Higher Ed, March 5)

School Choice
AL Supreme Court upholds accountability act
The Alabama Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling that the Alabama Accountability Act was unconstitutional. A Montgomery County circuit judge ruled in May that the school choice law violated several constitutional requirements on legislative procedure. But the state Supreme Court disagreed. (, March 2)

Student Safety
VA legislature passes bills to address campus sexual assault
The Virginia House and Senate passed identical bills, H.B 1930 and S.B 712, addressing the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. The legislation ensures survivors have access to information about their options and support services, and establishes a procedure for handling charges of sexual assault. (Cavalier Daily, March 3)


Thursday, March 5

College and Career Readiness
UT floats bill to better train school counselors
A Utah bill would appropriate a $440,000 grant from the education fund to create an online training program to certify school counselors as "highly skilled" at providing college and career counseling, helping students enroll in necessary courses and find scholarships where available. (Deseret News, March 2)   

Common Core
LA school board to reopen exam debate
After months of arguments, about 300,000 students in grades 3 through 8 will take Common Core tests in earnest for the first time. But some parents want their children to skip the exams, and several state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members contend the state Department of Education should waive penalties for schools and districts when students “opt out” of the assessments. (The Advocate, March 4)    
Education Standards
WY bill allows debate on science standards
The Wyoming bill removes a budget footnote the Legislature passed last year that blocked the State Board of Education from spending any funds to consider the Next Generation standards. Those are an educational framework created by national science groups and officials from 26 states. (Wyoming Tribune Eagle, March 3)

School Choice
OH study challenges thoughts on open enrollment
A study found that students who open enrolled out of Ohio’s urban school districts — including Akron, Youngstown and Cleveland — performed better academically than their new classmates in the suburbs. (Beacon Journal, March 4)

Teacher Compensation
NC proposal would boost beginning salaries
Beginning teacher pay in North Carolina would rise to $35,000 under a budget proposal to be unveiled by Gov. Pat McCrory. The state would also set aside money that principals could use to pay teachers as they see fit, to reward teachers for taking on more responsibilities or to recruit a teacher in a hard-to-fill position. (Charlotte Observer, March 4)


Wednesday, March 4

IN works to avoid repeat of testing uproar
Indiana needs to improve communication between its education leaders, hire more staff and establish committees to guide its student assessment process to prevent a repeat of the “thorny issues” surrounding the length of this year’s ISTEP+ exam, two consultants hired by the state say. (Associated Press, March 2)

Common Core
NM students walkout to protest new tests
New assessment tests that have angered parents and teachers across the nation prompted walkouts by hundreds of high school students in New Mexico. The backlash comes as millions of U.S. students started taking the rigorous tests aligned with the Common Core. (CBS, March 2)

Thousands in NJ opt out
In one New Jersey school district, approximately 30 percent of the students opted out of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam, and hundreds more have opted out in individual schools. (ABC, March 2)

Role as minority-serving institutions expands for community colleges
Although they often operate at the margins, nearly 22 percent of the nation’s community colleges are minority-serving institutions and are responsible for enrolling about 55 percent of college-going minorities, according to a new report. (Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 1)

Teaching Careers
States see sharp decline in new teachers
Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well. (NPR, March 3)


Tuesday, March 3

Charter Schools
AL bill would allow charters in 2016-17
Alabama could establish as many as 50 charter schools in the next five years under a draft bill now making the rounds among Montgomery policymakers. The state is one of eight that does not have charter schools, independent schools funded by public school systems under contracts known as charters. (Anniston Star, Feb. 25)
College Completion
Colleges are trying to get students to make a course correction
Barely half of college students in the United States earn degrees within six years, and that is pushing up the amount of outstanding student debt in this country, estimated to be $1 trillion. Students who spend an extra year or two often finish up with crushing debt. And the dropouts are left with debt and dismal prospects of earning enough money to repay the loans. (Washington Post, Feb. 28)

Common Core
As testing is ushered in, more choose to opt out
A new wave of standardized exams is sweeping the country, arriving this week in classrooms in several states and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety. Did you see the ECS report on assessment opt-outs? (New York Times, March 1)

Teacher Tenure
Policies moving from legislatures to courts
Opponents of the nation’s teacher unions won a landmark victory last year in a California lawsuit that challenged tenure protections. Now the largest unions in the country are using a similar tactic, as teachers turn to the courts to fight for one of their most pressing interests: An end to test-based evaluations they say are arbitrary and unfair. (Washington Post, February 28)

Teacher Training
MN bill would force disclosure of teacher prep effectiveness
Under pressure on multiple fronts, Minnesota’s teacher training programs are facing a new push to begin publicly reporting how well they prepare future educators. The bill would require the programs to release such information, including how many of their students graduate, and how many are granted licenses and go on to actually teach. (Minn Post, Feb. 27)


Monday, March 2

Common Core
WI bill would exclude test scores from school grades
Test scores from this year’s new Common Core-aligned exam that students are set to take would not be used in Wisconsin report cards under a bill circulating among lawmakers this week. (State Journal, Feb. 25)

Education Funding
UT bill would give $ to STEM, special ed teachers
A new education funding bill on its way to the Utah State Senate would give teachers in special education and STEM subjects more money.  Those teachers would make $4,100 more than teachers in other subjects. (ABC Utah, Feb. 25)

Education Research
What was learned in 2015?
Studies, research papers, doctoral dissertations, conference presentations — each year academia churns out thousands of pieces of research on education. NPR looked over that list and compiled a summary of some of what we learned from the ivory tower in 2014. (NPR, Feb. 26)

TX bill aims to curb rising cost of tuition
A proposed Texas bill would tie any increases in tuition rates to quantifiable, performance-based metrics. Some of the performance metrics would include: four- and six-year graduation rates and first-to-second-year persistence rates. (Avalanche-Journal, Feb. 26)

Teacher Evaluations
Principals may have more say in teacher grades
Under a proposed revamp of Louisiana's educator evaluation system, public school principals would have a greater hand in evaluating teachers. The plan also calls for judging principals in part on their schools' performance score. (Times-Picayune, Feb. 25)


Friday, Feb. 27

MO lawmakers threaten loss of funding
A recent incident has bolstered a push for legislation to require schools to strengthen policies against bullying. And if that doesn’t get school administrators’ attention, lawmakers said they will consider hitting them in the pocketbook. (Kansas City Star, Feb. 25)

Common Core
As repeals falter, critics try new tactic
Conservative lawmakers in state after state are running into difficulty rounding up votes to revoke the academic standards outright. Instead, some are trying a new tactic: sabotaging, in incremental steps, the academic guidelines and the new Common Core exams rolling out this spring. (Politico, Feb. 26)

English Language Learners
OR success trims years off instruction
Over the past six years, Oregon schools have become dramatically more successful at helping students from other language backgrounds master English within five or six years. As a result, English as a second language courses have become sparse in middle and high schools. (Oregonian, Feb. 21)

KS bill mandates financial prospectus on degree programs
Under a proposed bill state universities, community colleges and technical schools in Kansas would be compelled to summarize statistics on higher education expenses, average time between graduation and full-time employment, job salaries and the average length of time necessary to repay student loans. (Topeka Capital-Journal, Feb. 24)

Workforce Development
CO bill encourages tech careers
Colorado’s House Education Committee approved a bill that would tweak the state’s school and district rating system to give credit for high school graduates who move into career training programs, as well as those who attend college. (Chalkbeat Colorado, Feb. 25)


Thursday, Feb. 26

At-risk Students
How family influences education
Spending your teenage years in a single-parent family puts you at a larger educational disadvantage today than it did 40 years ago, claims a new study. The college completion rate also was 26 percentage points lower for 24-year-olds who lived in single-parent homes as teens. (Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 25)

College Completion
Is the dropout problem really that bad?
Almost 41 percent of students who start college won’t finish, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The data is grim, but it could also be unnecessarily pessimistic, according to this report. (Bloomberg Business, Feb. 24)

Senator promises rewrite of Higher Education Act
During a Congressional hearing, Sen. Lamar Alexander said that he is committed to finishing a rewrite of the Higher Education Act by the end of this year as he backed a plan written by colleges and universities to roll back federal requirements on higher education. (Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 25)

Some professors question traditional 4-year model
In U.S. higher education, it is often state that a traditional undergraduate degree, earned in four years while living on or near campus, is a good way to prepare young people to get a job and become well-rounded thinkers. Some notable critics are pushing back. (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 25)

Teacher Evaluations
TN bill would tweak the evaluation process
A bill from Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration that temporarily would alter the weight of student test scores in Tennessee’s teacher evaluation process passed with no opposition in the House Administration and Planning education subcommittee. (Chalkbeat Tennessee, Feb. 24)


Wednesday, Feb. 25

Common Core
Social media reshapes the debate

The online fight over Common Core -- fired off in 140-character bursts -- is allowing a new kind of activist to gain political influence. Parents and teachers, policy wonks and politicians, teachers unions and libertarian groups are among the 53,000 tweeters who sent 190,000 tweets using the #CommonCore hash tag during the six-month period following September 1, 2013. Learn more about the #commoncore Project. (Hechinger Report, Feb. 24)

LA eyes higher cost for popular majors

As state leaders look for ways to address what threaten to be cataclysmic cuts to higher education funding in Louisiana, one idea that has been discussed is whether colleges could charge higher fees for more in-demand majors. (The Advocate, Feb. 23)

School Grades
No A-F grades in ME this year

The Maine Department of Education will suspend the A-F school grading system this year because students are taking a new assessment test and the state will not have enough data to measure their progress, education officials said. (Portland Press News, Feb. 23)

Student Discipline
Students lose millions of days of instruction

Suspension rates dropped for many of the nation’s school districts, but U.S. students still lost about 18 million days of instruction to out-of-school punishments in the 2011-2012 school year. (Washington Post, Feb. 23)

ID backs broadband stopgap funding

The Senate has voted unanimously in favor of a stopgap funding bill for school broadband services in the wake of the Idaho Education Network debacle. The bill now goes to Gov. Butch Otter. (Spokesmen-Review, Feb. 23)


Tuesday, Feb. 24

Opting out can cost students, schools in OH

Parent groups have sprouted throughout the state to protest the new state exams aligned with Common Core standards. Students and their parents can opt out of state testing, but there are consequences for their teachers and for some students if they do. Look for a new ECS report on opt-outs this Thursday. (Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 23)

New tests are challenging, students rebel

Backlash is kicking into high gear this spring as millions of students start taking new, more rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards. Officials say the high-stakes assessments are crucial to evaluating student progress and competitiveness. (CBS, Feb. 20)

Common Core
Poll: Misperceptions abound

Many Americans are confused about the Common Core, according to a new poll that finds widespread misperceptions that the academic standards — which cover only math and reading — extend to topics such as sex education, evolution, global warming and the American Revolution. (Washington Post, Feb. 20)

Teacher Performance
MN looks to revamp rules on layoffs

Minnesota is one of fewer than a dozen states where a teacher’s job security is determined largely by the date he or she was hired. Amid growing pressure to improve educational outcomes, some lawmakers want to require school districts to consider performance when deciding which teachers keep or lose their jobs. (Star Tribune, Feb. 21)

Teacher Recruitment
Some ND schools are housing teachers

In an effort to compete for employees as housing is scarce and salaries topping those of the oilfield are scarcer, school principals are becoming landlords in western North Dakota. Many employers offer housing allowances, or help new hires find housing in this side of the state. (Dickinson Press, Feb. 22)


Monday, Feb. 23

TX bill would exempt many from H.S. grad exam

Senate Education Committee members considered legislation that would ease Texas' high school graduation test requirement for the first time in 28 years. (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 19)

Common Core
Mixed reviews as OH begins new tests

This week, students across Ohio started taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. The computer-based tests are centered around Common Core and, at least so far, feedback is varied. (Newark Advocate, Feb. 19)

AP history survives in OK

Responding to uproar, a conservative Oklahoma lawmaker backs off bill to curb funding for AP history that he says downplays American exceptionalism, saying the bill was poorly worded. (Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 19)

AR wants cursive writing back in class

All that's needed to return cursive writing classes to Arkansas classrooms is a signature by Gov. Asa Hutchinson -- and if he signs it, it will probably be in cursive. (Associated Press, Feb. 19)

Early Learning
CO works to prevent preschool expulsions

The odds of getting expelled from preschool are higher than the odds of getting expelled from the K-12 system. And a 2014 report also revealed that minorities and boys are disproportionately expelled from preschool. It’s statistics like these that prompted a recent federal push for states to address the issue, a process now unfolding in Colorado. (Chalkbeat Colorado, Feb. 19)


Friday, Feb. 20

CO looks at impact of testing mandates
The Colorado Board of Education voted to give a pass to school districts that fail to meet requirements for student participation on state-mandated tests. But it is unclear whether the board's move will have a significant impact, or how the federal government will respond. (Denver Post, Feb. 18)

FL Gov. Scott calls for fewer tests
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, acknowledging the ongoing backlash over the amount of testing in the state’s public schools, said he will suspend a test scheduled to be given to 11th graders this spring. (Associated Press, Feb. 19)

Common Core
Repeal bill advances in AZ
The House Education Committee passed a bill to repeal the Common Core academic standards being taught in Arizona. The bill, which still must make its way through the Legislature, would revert to the standards that were in place before Common Core was adopted in 2010. (Arizona Republic, Feb. 19)

Study: Higher education is a $63B boon to NC
A new report says higher education as a whole in North Carolina had a $63.5 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2012-13. Researchers said the conservative estimate is equivalent to the creation of 1 million new jobs and 14.6 percent of the total gross state product of North Carolina. (News and Observer, Feb. 18)

School Funding
KS appeals ruling that schools are underfunded
A court ruling that Kansas schools are unconstitutionally underfunded fails to take into account some sources of funding, according to the state’s formal appeal of the ruling. A three-judge panel ruled that the state’s school funding is “inadequate from any rational perspective.” (Wichita Eagle, Feb. 18)


Thursday, Feb. 19

Achievement tests stretch for hours in Midwest
Indiana students in grades 3 through 8 take a practice test that increased to 6 hours from 1 hour this year, and the total test time rose to 12 hours from 6. The new 12-hour time frame has caused an uproar among parents, teachers and some administrators. (The Times, Feb. 14)

NC committee wants to cut testing
A North Carolina group wants to eliminate many of the hours-long, high-stakes tests that stress many students and whose results have come to define public schools and replace the end-of-year tests with three or four shorter tests given during the year. (Charlotte Observer, Feb. 13)

OK bill has issues with AP history
The legality of teaching Advanced Placement courses in Oklahoma public schools was raised during a House Common Education Committee hearing on a bill aimed at the AP U.S. history guidelines. The legislation gives sole control of curriculum and assessment to the state. (Tulsa World, Feb. 17)

A closer look at free community college
When President Barack Obama proposed making two years of community college free it seemed like a way to give more Americans a start at college or a technical degree that could lead to a good job. Two-thirds of community college students seem poor enough to qualify for free tuition, but fewer than half get enough grants. (The Hechinger Report, Feb. 16)

Teacher Evaluations
NM educators file new suit over system
A coalition of educators, Democratic lawmakers and two teachers unions have filed yet another lawsuit against the Public Education Department and its secretary-designate, Hanna Skandera, claiming that the state’s teacher evaluation system is unconstitutional and full of errors. (The New Mexican, Feb. 15)


Wednesday, Feb. 18

More parents, teachers choosing to opt out
Education officials hold that standardized tests are important tools for measuring student progress, assess student performance, prevent social promotion and hold districts accountable. But not everyone is buying into those arguments. (Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 15)

Common Core
New tests debut this week, starting in OH
Ohio will be the first state to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the school year, about 12 million children in 29 states and the District of Columbia will take them, using computers or electronic tablets. (Associated Press, Feb. 17)

Competency-based Education
WA moves forward with competency-based degree
Eight Washington State community colleges will offer an online, competency-based business degree, as emerging form of higher education wins fans -- and some critics -- in the state. Washington’s two-year colleges have joined more than 200 other institutions around the country that are giving competency-based education a whirl. (Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 17)
Educational Levels
U.S. millennials fare poorly compared to other countries
Comparisons of the educational levels of Americans with those of other industrialized nations rarely reassure those in the United States. And a new analysis released today by the Educational Testing Service is likely to be unsettling to many. (Inside Higher Ed, Feb. 17)

Health in the Classroom
Amid measles outbreak, new rules on teacher vaccinations
While much of the attention in the ongoing measles outbreak has focused on student vaccination requirements and exemptions, less attention has been paid to another group in the nation's classrooms: Teachers and staff members, who, by and large, are not required to be vaccinated. (Associated Press, Feb. 16)


Friday, Feb. 13

Feds approve OK waiver to eliminate double testing
The U.S. Department of Education approved a request by Oklahoma education officials to waive the requirement for grade-level math assessments for middle school students who take end-of-instruction exams in algebra I, algebra II or geometry. (Tulsa World, Feb. 11)

Career/Technical Education
LA exploring different diploma options
Students in Louisiana used to have three options for a high school diploma -- TOPS university, basic or career diploma. The state Department of Education's Jump Start initiative has done away with basic and offered an educational overhaul to the career diploma that affects current high school freshmen. (Town Talk, Feb. 8)

School Performance
Struggling MI schools may get a break
Officials with the Michigan Department of Education say they want to take a break from identifying schools for improvement until the state has enough consistent testing data to make fair decisions. (Detroit Free Press, Feb. 10)

Teacher Tenure/Licensing
MN looking at changes to tenure, licensing
Legislation that changes teacher tenure protections and teacher licensing received its first committee hearing in the Minnesota House. The would require public school districts to negotiate local policies for layoffs and other staffing decisions that emphasize a teacher’s performance over seniority. (Minnesota Public Radio, Feb. 10)

WA aims to regain NCLB waiver
Last year, Washington became the first state in the nation to lose its exemption from parts of the No Child Left Behind Act. State lawmakers are renewing their attempts to change the state’s teacher evaluation system, a move they say would help Washington regain its waiver. (News Tribune, Feb. 10)


Thursday, Feb. 12

CO attorney general says no to testing waivers
The State Board of Education does not have the legal authority to grant waivers from parts of the state’s language arts and math assessments, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has ruled. (Chalkbeat Colorado, Feb. 10)

College Completion
PA promotes getting credit from the school of life
To encourage more people to complete their degrees, Pennsylvania's 14 community colleges announced the launch of the College Credit FastTrack site, designed to help students complete portfolios online and learn how else to receive credit for previous learning. (Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb. 9)
AZ takes new approach to help high school students
Since 2013, Arizona has required all high school students, even those not headed to college, to take four years of math to graduate. Fortunately for some, 18 districts in the state offer new special math classes for technical education students. (Arizona Republic, Feb. 11)

MI Gov. Snyder proposes budget boost
Gov. Rick Snyder plans to ask the Michigan Legislature to approve a $28 million increase in state spending for university operations when he unveils his 2016 executive budget. That two percent bump is the largest ongoing funding increase the governor will propose, according to his office. (MLive, Feb. 10)

World Languages
In DE, looking for teachers who 'don't really exist'
By 2020, nearly 1/10 of Delaware's public school students are expected to be in language immersion programs. That means about 10,000 students will spend half their day, every day learning in a foreign language. But to pull it off, the state needs dozens of specially qualified teachers. (Newsworks, Feb. 10) 


Wednesday, Feb. 11

Charter Schools
MI House to look at authorizer accreditation
Charter schools advocates in the Michigan House of Representatives revealed plans to put an accreditation process in place for charter school authorizers. It's hoped that having the 40 charter school authorizers in the state go through an accreditation process would ensure quality in the state's public school academies. (MLive, Feb. 6)

PA proposes host of education bills
More than a dozen bills aimed at making college more affordable and lessening students' debt loads were proposed by Pennsylvania lawmakers. (Express Times, Feb. 8)

School Reform
More state takeovers of public schools is possible
The recent takeover of the Little Rock School District by the Arkansas State Board of Education has surprised even seasoned school reform observers. But as schools nationwide could find themselves the targets of similar moves. (USA Today, Feb. 9)
Tech savvy? WA lawmakers want proof
Under a proposal from state superintendent Randy Dorn, Washington school districts would have to report to his office how their students are meeting technology literacy requirements -- whether it’s through a test, a culminating project or computer-oriented coursework. (Tri-City Herald, Feb. 9)

Workforce Development
IN focuses training efforts on in-demand careers
Closing the skills gap between workers and employers with jobs to fill has been on Indiana's "to do" list for about a decade. It now has become a priority. (Indianapolis Star, Feb. 8)


Tuesday, Feb. 10

Civic Education
New citizenship test: A point and counterpoint
Some states are beginning to require students to pass the same test given to immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship to graduate from high school. USA Today takes a look at both sides of the issue. (USA Today, Feb. 8)

Common Core
WI students to see new version of standardized tests
Wisconsin students will take a scaled-back but more rigorous version of a new kind of standardized test beginning in March. There is, however, a report that a technical glitch means school districts will get a less advanced version instead of a more complex system that isn't working properly. (Associated Press, Feb. 7)

Early Learning
Preschool is a hot topic in MN, with a question mark
Early childhood education is finally a marquee item on Minnesota’s political agenda. There is a surplus of at least $1 billion on the table and Gov. Mark Dayton and his Capitol partisans have declared education their top priority when it comes to spending it and preschoolers the first kids in line. But which preschoolers? (MinnPost, Feb. 5)

Graduation Requirement
CO considers lowering the bar for high school
Colorado officials are contemplating significant changes to expectations students must meet to earn a high school diploma, including lowering the bar in some cases and eliminating science and social studies requirements, leaving only English and math. (Denver Post, Feb. 8)

High School Diplomas
Big drop in equivalency diplomas in NY
Just over 13,000 students across New York state earned a high-school equivalency diploma in 2014 after the debut of a new, tougher set of tests -- 20,000 fewer than the number who earned a GED at a 2008 peak. (Chalkbeat New York, Feb. 9)


Monday, Feb. 9

Degree Completion
GA bill would award 8,000 belated H.S. diplomas
The Georgia General Assembly is about to change the lives of 8,000 people never able to graduate high school because they failed part of the Georgia High School Graduation Test. The bill frees former Georgia high school students from having to pass the GHSGT to earn their diplomas. (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Feb. 5)

Early Learning
TX proposes pre-K incentive plan
Two lawmakers in the Texas House have presented a plan for a major overhaul of early education in the state. House Bill 1100 would create an incentive payment system for school districts offering full-day pre-kindergarten programs. (Texas Tribune, Feb. 3)

Feds deny TX waiver request
Texas is trying to continue its exemption from the federal No Child Left Behind Act put into effect in 2001. The U.S. Department of Education turned down the Lone Star State’s most recent waiver request for numerous reasons. (The Courier, Feb. 5)

Online Education
Study: Sluggish growth for online learning
The number of students taking online courses continues to climb, albeit at the slowest rate in more than a decade. About 5.3 million students took at least one online course in fall 2013 -– up 3.7 percent from the previous fall. (U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 5)

VA advances sexual assault bill
Though Virginia lawmakers remain divided about how to protect victims of campus sexual assault and college communities a panel of delegates advanced a bill that would force police to notify the commonwealth’s attorney within 48 hours of the start of an investigation. (Washington Post, Feb. 3)


Friday, Feb. 6

MT may join rest of country with anti-bully law
Montana legislators are considering whether to join every other state in the nation in putting anti-bullying policy into law. A bill introduced in the Montana House Education Committee would define bullying, prohibit it in public schools and require public school districts to adopt their own policies addressing the issue. (Associated Press, Feb. 4)

Common Core
ND committee rejects bill to eliminate standards
A majority of lawmakers on the House Education Committee indicated they want to see the current standards that guide learning in math and English language arts stick around. The bill in question aims to rid North Dakota of the Common Core. (Bismarck Tribune, Feb. 4)

Early Learning
Pre-K pays off by lowering special ed placements
Attending state-funded prekindergarten substantially reduces the likelihood that students will end up in special education programs later on, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University. For an overview of effective early education strategies, check out ECS’ Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade. (NPR, Feb. 3)

Grading Schools
Some in NC worry about release of performance grades
Parents, teachers and school districts are steeling themselves for the first-time release of A-F performance grades for state public schools. The grades are required under a new law that backers say will make it easy for parents to judge schools. (News Observer, Feb. 3)

Grading Teachers
TN teachers union files lawsuit regarding teachers' rights
The Tennessee Education Association, Tennessee’s largest teachers union, filed a lawsuit against state and district officials stating that the use of test scores to judge teachers of non-tested subjects is a violation of those teachers’ rights. (Chalkbeat Tennessee, Feb. 5)


Thursday, Feb. 5

Confusion in CO over the time spent testing
Widely varying numbers of the hours Colorado students spend taking tests were cited to score points and bolster arguments when state legislators began reevaluating the state’s system of mandatory assessments for students starting in kindergarten and ending in high school. What’s the actual number? (Denver Post, Feb. 3)

Education Funding
Critics protest MD Gov. Hogan's proposed cuts
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's proposed funding for education threatens to create larger classrooms and cut teaching jobs, opponents of the plan said. But Hogan's budget secretary said the governor is open to dialogue about how to address tough financial choices his administration inherited. (Associated Press, Feb. 3)

Education Funding
WI Gov. Walker's proposal includes more reforms
Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposes no significant increase for public school funding in Wisconsin, but it would allow more opportunities for students to use public money to attend private, religious schools or charter schools outside traditional districts. (Journal Sentinel, Feb. 3)

What will bachelor's degrees from CA community colleges be worth?
When 15 California community colleges received preliminary approval to offer four-year degrees recently, officials touted the move as a way to provide highly trained workers at a lower cost. But will employers know what to make of the new bachelor's degrees when they start appearing on resumes? (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 4)

School Transportation
IA lawmakers scrounge up bus money for rural areas
A bill in the Iowa House would allow school districts to levy taxes to supplement transportation costs, but some say the legislation doesn't do enough to help rural districts. (Iowa Public Radio, Feb. 3)


Wednesday, Feb. 4

Common Core
CO board wants state to opt out of standards
The State Board of Education voted in support of a measure that would pull Colorado out of the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC testing group, reduce state assessments and give districts more testing flexibility. (Chalkbeat Colorado, Jan. 30)

Common Core
ND education officials push back on repeal measure
Education officials told North Dakota lawmakers that it would be a mistake to repeal new state English and math standards that outline what students should know and when. (Associated Press, Feb. 2)

Education Funding
How states are spending their dollars
The amount of money states spend on each student for instruction and instruction-related services decreased nearly 3 percent nationwide between the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years, new data from the Department of Education show. (U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 29)

Struggling Schools
LA board votes to take over Little Rock district
The Arkansas Board of Education voted Wednesday to take control of Little Rock schools less than six months after a federal judge granted more independence to the historically embattled district and ended a quarter-century of payments to boost integration. (Associated Press, Jan. 28)

KY lawmaker: Label coding as a foreign language
With nearly a quarter of the state lacking access to broadband Internet, computer code may already seem like Greek to many students in Kentucky. Now one lawmaker wants to put it on that level officially.  (Courier-Journal, Jan. 29)


Tuesday, Feb. 3

Common Core
CO board wants state to opt out of standards
The State Board of Education voted in support of a measure that would pull Colorado out of the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC testing group, reduce state assessments and give districts more testing flexibility. (Chalkbeat Colorado, Jan. 30)

Common Core
ND education officials push back on repeal measure
Education officials told North Dakota lawmakers that it would be a mistake to repeal new state English and math standards that outline what students should know and when. (Associated Press, Feb. 2)

Education Funding
How states are spending their dollars
The amount of money states spend on each student for instruction and instruction-related services decreased nearly 3 percent nationwide between the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years, new data from the Department of Education show. (U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 29)

Struggling Schools
LA board votes to take over Little Rock district
The Arkansas Board of Education voted Wednesday to take control of Little Rock schools less than six months after a federal judge granted more independence to the historically embattled district and ended a quarter-century of payments to boost integration. (Associated Press, Jan. 28)

KY lawmaker: Label coding as a foreign language
With nearly a quarter of the state lacking access to broadband Internet, computer code may already seem like Greek to many students in Kentucky. Now one lawmaker wants to put it on that level officially. (Courier-Journal, Jan. 29)


Monday, Feb. 2

Common Core
Concern in LA as parents look to opt out of tests

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members are calling for a special meeting as parents across Louisiana threaten to hold their students out of the state's standardized testing in March. (The News-Star, Jan. 29)

Early Learning
GA says 4-years-old is too young for kindergarten

Georgia lawmakers are considering a proposal that would prevent 4-year-olds from enrolling in kindergarten. Proponents say many 4-year-olds aren't ready for a kindergarten environment. Check out ECS' early learning guide for policymakers. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 29)

Federal Oversight
TN lawmakers to Feds: Keep out

Tennessee lawmakers are turning to the federal government for help with a task that might seem self-contradictory -- keeping the federal government at bay. (Associated Press, Jan. 29)

Hispanic Students
25 states see big gap in Hispanic education

U.S. population growth is being driven by Hispanics, but in 25 states whites are at least twice as likely to have college degrees. States are beginning to highlight that gap as a serious problem in an economy that is generating more jobs for educated workers and fewer jobs for high school graduates, let alone high school dropouts. (Stateline, Jan. 29)

College presidents, White House at odds

A core premise of the Obama administration's college ratings plan is that colleges and universities need to be held more accountable for student outcomes. College presidents, meanwhile, warn a ratings system could discourage colleges from recruiting students they're not confident will graduate. (Inside Higher Ed, Jan. 30)




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