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Friday, April 18

Early Learning
Study: N.C. pre-K program shows greater gains than expected
North Carolina's state-funded pre-K program for 4-year-olds has produced better-than-expected positive outcomes for participants, new research says. Significant gains were seen across all areas of learning. (Education Week, April 16)

Common Core
Indiana works toward adoption of testing replacement
As the first state to drop the national Common Core learning standards, Indiana is rushing to approve new state-crafted benchmarks in time for teachers to use them this fall, and education leaders from across the nation are closely watching. (The Associated Press, April 17)

Common Core
Louisiana education chief challenges testing critics
Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White said critics of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, or PARCC, don't have a viable option for what standardized tests they'd use instead. (The Associated Press, April 17)

Diversity Issues
Report views Brown v. Board as a disappointment
With the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling approaching, a new paper says the decision failed its mission. School segregation is still a problem, and initial school integration gains stalled shortly after the ruling. (Economic Policy Institute, April 17)

Higher Education
White House wants to put community colleges to work
The White House rolled out two job-training grant programs that focus on the community college sector. Both push for closer ties between colleges and employers. (Inside Higher Education, April 17)


Thursday, April 17

Higher Education/Tuition
Lawmakers back Tennessee Promise plan for free tuition
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to provide free community college, called "Tennessee Promise," received the endorsement of state lawmakers. The plan would cover the full cost of two-year college for every high school graduate starting in fall 2015. (The Tennessean, April 16)

College Board unveils examples of new SAT
Prospective college students got a peek at new sample questions on the SAT, a widely used college entrance exam that will undergo a redesign over the next two years. (Reuters, April 16)

Distance Education
Maryland Higher Ed. Commission looks into providers
The Maryland Higher Education Commission is cracking down on institutions that provide distance education to students in the state. But the commission has a problem: It doesn't know who those distance education providers are. (Inside Higher Ed, April 16)

Struggling Schools
Colorado plans to create turnaround school network
The State Department of Education hopes to lend more direct help to Colorado's struggling campuses by forming a network of turnaround schools. The network will offer intensive support directly to school leaders in some of the state’s lowest-performing schools. (Chalkbeat Colorado, April 16)

Teacher Education
Illinois sees big enrollment drop in teacher programs
Fewer college students are enrolling in traditional undergraduate teaching programs in Illinois, with whites accounting for the biggest drop. After years of holding steady, enrollment fell significantly in 2011 and 2012 -- by 23 percent overall. (Catalyst Chicago, April 15)


Wednesday, April 16

Rural Students
Students from rural areas less likely to attend college
Students in rural counties are less likely to attend college, and those who do are less likely to choose a four-year, private, or highly selective institution, according to a recent report. (The Hechinger Report, April 11)

Common Core
S.C. pulls out of Smarter Balanced testing
South Carolina's top education administrator has decided to withdraw the state from the consortium that would test Common Core standards in the coming school year. (The Post and Courier, April 14)

Small U.S. colleges struggling with enrollment drops
Dozens of small colleges in the United States have seen drops of more than 10 percent in enrollment, according to a new report. As faculty and staff have been cut and programs closed, some students have faced a choice between transferring or finishing degrees that may have diminished value. (Bloomberg, April 14)

Remedial Education
Colleges seek to improve remedial programs
Only about a quarter of students nationally who take developmental -- or remedial -- classes ever graduate. Several schools around the country are looking to improve the odds for these students. (The Associated Press, April 14)

Teacher Employment
Kansas bill renews debate about how easy it should be to fire teachers
A bill awaiting the signature of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback would essentially make teachers in the state at-will employees of their school districts, and teachers would be able to challenge termination only if they allege the firing violates their constitutional rights. (The Kansas City Star, April 12)


Tuesday, April 15

Kansas math, reading tests results might not go public
Kansas education officials say they are considering not releasing the results of state math and reading tests. The annual assessment tests have been plagued this year with computer problems and cyberattacks, prompting some districts to delay or interrupt testing. (The Kansas City Star, April 14)

Common Core
Tennessee lawmakers discuss compromise plan
State lawmakers are considering compromise legislation that would delay the testing component for Tennessee's Common Core education standards for one year. (The Associated Press, April 14)

Student Data
National groups outline steps to protect privacy of student data
Several groups are working to establish more clarity and guidance with new policies for K-12 schools that are struggling to deal with the atmosphere around issues of student-data privacy. (Education Week, April 14)

Florida Senate passes textbook bill
The Florida Senate narrowly passed a bill that would instruct the state's 67 school districts, instead of state officials, to review the textbooks used in classrooms. School boards can currently select textbooks from a list drawn up by the Florida Department of Education or review the books at the district level. (The Tampa Bay Times, April 14)

New from ECS
Florida, Tennessee tackle civic education accountability
Lawmakers in Florida and in Tennessee recently approved legislation that holds students and schools accountable for their civics knowledge. Students are taking the tests for the first time this school year.


Monday, April 14

Students are test-driving new Common Core exams. You can too.
Millions of American students this spring are piloting new online standardized tests linked to the Common Core State Standards. You can try out sample tests and see for yourself if they boost your critical thinking skills. (The Hechinger Report, April 10)

Teacher Effectiveness
Report: Students in impoverished schools less likely to have effective teachers
A report released Friday by the Center for American Progress relies on data from Louisiana and Massachusetts, both early adopters of teacher rating systems, to conclude poor and minority students are two to three times more likely to have ineffective teachers. (New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 11)

Dual Enrollment
Ohio bill would expand access to dual enrollment, career-tech opportunities
The wide-ranging education bill focuses on reducing high school dropouts and giving more high school students the ability to earn college credit by requiring all high schools and nearly all universities to participate. (Columbus Dispatch, April 10)

Time short for Indiana leaders voting on new standards
Draft standards to replace the Common Core State Standards, voided last month by Gov. Mike Pence, were released in February for public comment and have been under revision for weeks. The final revision is due Wednesday. (Chalkbeat Indiana, April 11)

In about-face, South Carolina state board votes to stick with Smarter Balanced test
State education board members voted not to adopt a motion introduced by the state education department to withdraw from Smarter Balanced. (Education Week, April 11)


Friday, April 11

Many states left key NCLB flexibility on the table
Amid a nationwide backlash against testing, states were expected to jump at the chance to design accountability systems that judge schools on measures other than test scores alone. But while 42 states plus the District of Columbia have these waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act, only 18 took advantage of the opportunity. The vast majority of states' new accountability systems just slice and dice test scores to rate their schools. (Education Week, April 10)

Early Learning
South Carolina lawmakers approve kindergarten expansion, 'Read to Succeed' bill
A compromise bill approved Wednesday combined Democrats' push to make 4-year-old kindergarten available to all at-risk students and Republicans' proposal to ensure students can read by fourth grade. (Associated Press, April 10)

Common Core
New York schools chief says he's not backing down from standards implementation
Stung by months of criticism and a condemnation by the state teachers union last weekend, New York State Education Commissioner John King hit back in a lengthy speech on Thursday, declaring that the reforms he ushered in aren't going away. (Chalkbeat New York, April 10)

Higher Education
Community colleges across nation increasingly adding bachelor’s degrees
An increasing number of community colleges around the country have started offering four-year bachelor's degrees in fields for which there is high job demand. Community colleges in 21 states now have the authority to offer bachelor's degrees. (The Hechinger Report, April 10)

Minnesota governor signs anti-bullying bill after years of debate
Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday signed a bullying-prevention bill into law, creating a tough new set of rules for Minnesota schools to follow to protect students from being tormented by classmates.The Safe and Supportive Schools Act replaced a 37-word anti-bullying law that was widely considered one of the nation’s weakest. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune, April 10)


Thursday, April 10

Poll: State of America's Schools
More than half of students 'engaged' in school, poll says
School leaders should not neglect the social and emotional factors that help students thrive, and they should empower teachers so that they are more engaged and effective in the classroom, says the "State of America's Schools" report, a synthesis of polling data and research from the international Gallup organization. Download the report. (Education Week, April 9)

Early Learning
$200M prekindergarten plan unveiled in Connecticut
The state would spend $200 million over 10 years to expand statewide prekindergarten programs under an ambitious plan that leaders of the Connecticut legislature announced Wednesday. (Associated Press, April 9)

Federal judge rules Louisiana must turn over state voucher data
A federal judge has ruled Louisiana must provide the agency with timely information about the racial background of students participating in the state voucher program each year so the Justice Department can monitor the program's effect on school segregation, a federal judge ruled Tuesday night. (Politico, April 9)

State Takeover
Hartford, Conn., school board asks state education commissioner to impose turnaround
Despite objections from the teachers' union, the Hartford city board of education on Tuesday night asked Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor to use his statutory power to impose a "turnaround" plan for a struggling school that would include management by an outside group. (The Hartford Courant, April 9)

Charter Schools
Hundreds of charter school supporters rally in Illinois
More than 1,500 Illinois charter school supporters rallied in the State Capitol Tuesday against legislation they describe as anti-charter. They say nearly a dozen bills pending in the Legislature aim to curb the autonomy of charters, including requiring that funding follow students who leave charter schools for district-run schools. (Chicago Sun-Times, April 9)

News from ECS
Register now for the 2014 ECS National Forum on Education Policy!
Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, will be the kick-off speaker at our annual state-level education policy conference this summer in the nation's capital. Learn more and register online.


Wednesday, April 9

Common Core
Students writing more -- in all subject areas
Much to the delight of writing enthusiasts, the Common Core stresses the importance of student writing across all subject areas. The standards also specify that students should cite evidence from readings as they write, and not just invent stories or opine based on prior knowledge. (The Hechinger Report, April 7)

New consortium eyes apprenticeships as a degree pathway
The Obama administration unveils a new program aimed at making it easier for students to reap academic credit for completion of apprenticeships.
(Inside Higher Ed, April 8)

Career and Technical Education
U.S. senator introduces bill to enhance career, technical education
Vocational technical schools would have access to better information about the needs of the local workforce under a new bill introduced by a Massachusetts lawmaker. (Country Gazette, April 8)

Higher Education
Colorado funding bill sparks high-level debate
A proposed higher education funding bill in Colorado would shift funding to "access" institutions, such as the community colleges, and target some funding to state colleges and universities based on such performance indicators as graduation rates. (Chalkbeat Colorado, April 7)

K-12 Models
Iowa to examine mastery-based education
An Iowa Governor's Task Force for Improving Education discussed a proposed switch to mastery-based education that would let students advance based on when they fully grasp a concept, rather than the time they spend in a classroom. (The Associated Press, April 7)


Tuesday, April 8

School Funding
Kansas budget overhaul boosts aid to poor school districts
Kansas lawmakers have given final approval to a plan that would increase aid to poor school districts and eliminate tenure for public school teachers. The bill now goes to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration. (The Wichita Eagle, April 7)

Virginia to replace some tests with project-based learning
Students in elementary and middle schools in Virginia will take fewer assessments next year under a bill recently signed by the governor. The measure will eliminate five tests, including the social studies and science, and students instead will be asked to complete project-based assessments. (The Roanoke Times, April 7)

Higher Education
STEM enrollment booms, not at expense of liberal arts
New data suggest that undergraduates at four-year institutions have become more likely to study the science and technology fields, especially engineering and biology.(Inside Higher Ed, April 7)

Student Health
Maryland to study health issues, start times
Maryland lawmakers approved legislation that would require state health officials to conduct a study on the sleep needs of students and the experiences of school systems that have shifted the hours of their school days. (The Washington Post, April 4)

Early Learning
In Massachusetts, many families get no help to pay for early education cost
About 19,000 children age 3 and 4 from low-income Massachusetts families, who probably cannot afford early education programs, do not get public assistance for preschool or prekindergarten, according to a new report from a budget research group. (The Boston Globe, April 7)


Monday, April 7

School Accountability
Georgia adopts new teacher, principal evaluation system
Student test scores are part of a new teacher and principal evaluation system that has won final approval from Georgia's Board of Education. (The Associated Press, April 3)

Administrator Certification
National board may pull plug on principal certification
A years-long endeavor to create national certification for principals is in peril of being scrapped, a move that could leave in the lurch more than 100 school leaders who invested 18 months of time and effort to take part in the program's rigorous pilot. (Education Week, April 3)

Higher Education
Pennsylvania's higher ed. system could give more power to colleges
The State System of Higher Education is poised to give some additional authority to its 14 member universities as a hearing is delayed on controversial legislation that would let the financially strongest of those schools secede. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 3)

School Accountability
Federal policy group issues waiver warning for Florida
A group of federal education policy experts say Florida could lose its waiver from No Child Left Behind over proposed changes to the Sunshine State's school grading and accountability laws. (Tampa Bay Times, April 3)

Teacher Seniority
South Carolina bill says teacher layoffs can't be seniority-based
Teachers' seniority must be downplayed in layoff decisions during budget cuts under a bill advancing in the South Carolina Senate. The bill requires the guidelines to be part of districts' policies beginning in 2016-17. (The Associated Press, April 3)


Friday, April 4

Students with Disabilities
Many frustrated with ignorance, lack of services
Navigating a complicated bureaucracy for the first time with far less institutional support than they had in high school, college students with disabilities often must overcome stigma and ignorance and advocate for themselves. (Inside Higher Ed, April 2)

Common Core
Oklahoma poised to become second state to drop Common Core
The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill that would repeal the Common Core State Standards, moving a step closer to following the lead of Indiana, the first state to officially dump the standards. (Tulsa World, April 1)

Higher Education
Is college worth it? It depends
There is no simple answer to the question "Is college worth it?" Some degrees pay for themselves; others don't. American schoolkids pondering whether to take on huge student loans are constantly told that college is the gateway to the middle class. The truth is more nuanced. (The Economist)

School Safety
Florida House moves bill to allow guns in schools
A bill that would allow teachers, janitors or anybody else a principal or superintendent designates to carry concealed weapons on school campuses passed a Florida House committee. (The Palm Beach Post, April 2)

Teacher Planning
West Virginia governor vetoes teacher planning bill
Despite pushback from unions, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have given teachers autonomy over how they use their daily planning period. The bill unanimously passed the state Senate and completed legislation on March 8. (Charleston Daily Mail, April 1)


Thursday, April 3

Education Models
Some schools change the rules on traditional education models
A handful of schools are making radical changes to the traditional school model, opting to forgo incremental changes to curriculum and technology. The models are all different: In one successful school, kids help choose the lunch plan. In another, classes start at 10 a.m. with less homework and more field trips. (Scholastic, April 1)

Student Data
N.Y. Education Dept. abandons data-sharing plan
The New York Education Department is acknowledging that it will end controversial plans to store identifiable student data in a web-based cloud created by inBloom, a non-profit funded by the Gates Foundation. (The Journal News, April 2)

Student Performance
Performance gaps widen in high school
New research chronicles the performance of students who start high school as high achievers and finds that students of color and from disadvantaged backgrounds, on average, graduate with lower grades, pass fewer Advanced Placement exams and don't do as well on the ACT or SAT as their peers from wealthier, white families. (Education Week, April 2)

Student Performance
PISA: U.S. students score above average in creative problem-solving
On a new creative problem-solving test taken by students in 44 countries and regions, U.S. 15-year-olds scored above the international average and rank at number 18 in the world. That's much better than the below-average performance of U.S. students on the PISA reading and math tests. (The Hechinger Report, April 1)

Cyber attack shuts down student testing in Kansas
The Kansas State Department of Education shut down state testing after Kansas' online testing engine came under a cyber attack. The state said that Kansas' testing service went to work combating the attack and that no student information was accessed. (The Kansas City Star, April 2)


Wednesday, April 2

Charter Schools
Indiana left searching after charter school group fails
As Indiana’s charter school association completes a shutdown, which could be done within days, questions about what sort of group might replace it remain unanswered. (Chalkbeat Indiana, April 1)

Instructor Compensation
Pay increases for academic professionals outpace inflation
The median base salary of professional staff members on college campuses rose by 2.1 percent this academic year, outpacing the 1.5-percent rate of inflation, according to an annual report being released this week by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. (The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 31)

Non-traditional Classrooms
Open education providers evolve with Common Core
Unveiled by the Khan Academy, new online math resources tied to the Common Core State Standards could represent a critical step for the field of free “open education resources.” (Education Week, April 1)

Student Workload
Report: Homework not much of a burden
A report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., shows that homework load has been mostly stable over the past two or three decades, but those who complain about too much homework get most of the attention. (The Detroit News, April 1)

Teacher Employment
Teacher tenure, dismissal on trial in California
A lawsuit filed by a nonprofit advocacy group on behalf of nine public school students followed unsuccessful attempts in contract negotiations and the legislature to give school districts more freedom to hire and fire teachers. (, April 1)


Tuesday, April 1

Retention Requirements
Oklahoma bill offers flexibility on 3rd grade reading
A bill that adds several ways for students to advance to the fourth grade, even if they didn't meet all of the reading requirements currently in statute, cleared an Oklahoma Senate committee. (The Associated Press, March 31)

AP Exams
Should schools change students' grades based on AP exam scores?
A recent review found that some high schools in Florida raise the grades of Advanced Placement students based on their performance on AP exams. Officials say they are seeking to make grading more consistent. (Orlando Sentinel, March 29)

Charter Schools
Florida public, charter schools compete for building funds
In one corner: cash-strapped school systems with aging facilities and billions of dollars tied up in debt service. In the other: charter schools looking to build and refurbish facilities of their own. Both want dollars from an ever-shrinking pot of money. (Tampa Bay Times, March 29)

Student Discipline
Study: Colorado school expulsions drop following new law
Fewer Colorado students were suspended or expelled in 2012-13 after school districts across the state abandoned zero-tolerance policies. But schools are increasingly referring students of color to law enforcement officials, according to a statewide report. (Chalkbeat Colorado, March 28)

Student Health
Massachusetts bill would require abstinence, contraception lessons
A debate is brewing in the Massachusetts Legislature about a sex education bill that would require school districts that teach sex education to teach about both abstinence and contraception, as well as healthy relationships. (The Republican, March 29)


Monday, March 31

Dual Enrollment
More Colorado high school students earning free college credit
A new report from the Colorado Department of Higher Education shows that 26,900 students participated in a dual enrollment program in 2012-13, or 22 percent of all juniors and seniors attending Colorado public high schools. See ECS' recent report on dual enrollment and career and technical education. (The Gazette, March 27)

School Choice
Florida House pushes forward two choice-in-education bills
The Florida House passed two education bills out of the lower chamber. The first would allow home- and virtual-school students to participate in sports and extracurricular activities at the traditional public school of their choice, and the second would require single-gender public schools to have open enrollment. (Miami Herald, March 27)

Student Health and Safety
California advances bill aimed to help teachers recognize child abuse
A bill aimed at helping teachers see signs of child abuse and report such instances moved forward. Assembly Bill 1432 would change California state law from "strongly encouraging" training to "requiring annual training," including proof of the education on a yearly basis.

Student Loans
U.S. Education Dept. defends student loans service
Some lawmakers and consumer advocates have said that the U.S. Education Department does not do enough to make sure the companies are helping struggling borrowers. A top official within the department defended its practices. (Inside Higher Ed, March 28)

Teacher Evaluation
Tennessee teachers' union takes evaluation fight to court
Tennessee's teachers' union filed a federal lawsuit calling the portion of the state's teacher-evaluation system based on test scores arbitrary, flawed and in violation of teachers' constitutional rights. Last year, a Florida union also sued over that state's system. (Education Week, March 28)



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