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April 22, 2015

New from ECS

Community colleges expand role
A growing number of states allow community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees as one strategy to meet workforce demands, address affordability and increase access to educational opportunities. A new ECS Education Policy Analysis examines state policies that allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees, summarizes arguments for and against and offers key policy considerations related to community college bachelor’s degree programs.

It’s about time
Expanded-time district schools, those that provide learning time for seven-plus hours per day, outnumber expanded-time charter schools for the first time. Largely in urban communities, these schools serve more than a million students in at least 10 states. A joint report from the National Center on Time & Learning and Education Commission of the States identifies more than 50 laws related to school time.

High school computer science tends to be white, male
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 37.5 percent growth from 2012-22 in computer systems design and related services, in 2013, 81 percent of exam takers in AP Computer Science A were male and 82.5 percent were white. A new ECS Education Trends report identifies states that are allowing or requiring districts to apply computer science coursework toward graduation requirements in math, science or foreign language.

What States Are Doing

MT STEM mentors
Montana’s STEM Mentors Initiative surpassed its goal of 100 STEM mentors who agree to provide guidance for women and girls interested in pursuing a career in the STEM fields. The announcement was made by Lt. Gov. Angela McLean and First Lady Lisa Bullock, a software engineer. Studies have shown that a contributing factor to the gender pay gap is underrepresentation of women in STEM fields.

AR workforce development
Arkansas’ Workforce Initiative directs the Department of Higher Education to seek requests for proposals from alliances of K-12, postsecondary and workforce partners. Planning and implementation grant proposals will include dual enrollment courses that can be applied to a certificate or degree aligned with local industry sectors and skills.

IA Reading Corps for preschoolers
Iowa legislation authorized creation of the Iowa Reading Corps program to provide AmeriCorps members with a data-based, problem-solving model of literacy instruction to use in tutoring preK-3 students who are not proficient in reading.

Good Reads

Guided pathways to reform
College students are more likely to complete a degree in a timely manner if they choose a program and develop an academic plan early, have a clear road map of the courses they need to take for completing a credential, and receive guidance and support to help them stay the path. This brief describes the guided pathways reform model and summarizes evidence supporting its design principles. There are two companion pieces: one on implementing guided pathways, and a case study on implementation at Miami Dade College. (CCRC)

Trends in state funding for higher education
The Great Recession cut state revenue and ended the growth in state and local support for higher education achieved between 2004-08, according to this annual report on higher education finance. In 2014, for the second year in a row, state and local support for higher education increased, but still was below 2008-11 levels. Enrollment at public institutions increased over the past 25 years, but has declined in each of the last three years. (SHEEO)

District facilities and charter schools
Access to facilities is often a challenge for charter schools. So far, 27 states have enacted policies that make it easier for charters to access district buildings. This brief summarizes state activity and advocates for creating an entity that collects and shares information on available buildings, giving charters first refusal rights, determining what price – if any – charters will pay to lease or acquire buildings and determining who will pay for upkeep. (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)

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