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April 23, 2014

New from ECS

Help for College Freshmen Who Need Remediation
Efforts underway in at least 25 states to reduce the need for college remediation and improve college readiness and success are showcased in a resource guide for policymakers published by the Education Commission of the States and the Southern Regional Education Board, with assistance from Education First. The 50-page Developmental Strategies for College Readiness and Success is intended to provide an overview of the many initiatives underway in states to help students who enroll in college but are deemed not yet ready for college-level work.

First States to Test Civics Knowledge
Students in Florida and Tennessee this year began taking civics assessments that carry consequences for themselves and their schools. ECS has released the first in a series of reports that will examine state initiatives related to civic education. Florida and Tennessee are the first states to approve legislation that factors student performance on civics exams in the calculations for state school ratings.

Measuring the Impacts of Teachers
One method of measuring the quality of teaching is to evaluate teachers based on their impacts on students' test scores -- the value-added (VA) approach. Advocates argue that selecting teachers on the basis of their VA can generate substantial gains in achievement, while critics contend that VA measures are poor proxies for teacher quality. Do teachers who raise test scores improve their students' outcomes in adulthood or are they simply better at teaching to the test? This study finds that high-VA teachers have substantial long-term impacts on students. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)

What States Are Doing

Children in Child Welfare to Get Referrals for Child Care, Early Learning
Washington passed a law that requires a family assessment worker from child welfare to provide referrals for high-quality child care and early learning programs when appropriate. It directs the Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Early Learning to jointly develop recommendations on ways the two departments can better partner to ensure children in the child welfare system have access to early learning services and developmentally appropriate child care.

Head Start for High Schoolers
Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law this week that reframes Georgia's Youth Apprenticeship Program as a work-based program. It allows public high school students to enroll in pre-approved, for-credit job; the idea being that students, employers and Georgia's economic health all will benefit.

Comprehensive School Counseling
The West Virginia Board of Education put into place requirements for a PreK-12 comprehensive developmental guidance and counseling program for West Virginia schools that reflects the American School Counselor Association National Standards. Schools must implement a three-level system, including universal prevention for all students, targeted intervention for at-risk students and intensive interventions for the most at-risk students.

Good Reads

Dismal State of Education for Kids in Custody
Students in the nation's juvenile justice systems are getting a bad education at a time in their lives when they need good education the most. Juvenile justice's failure comes at great cost to youth and to society. Reorganization of its mission is required so it can become a vehicle for education, argues this report. Standards should be no lower than they are for regular K-12 schools. Testing should be effective and timely, and each student should have an individualized plan. (Southern Education Foundation)

Redesigning Financial Aid
By redesigning financial aid programs, states can attain greater access, affordability and success for their students in higher education. The authors of this paper looked at the shared-responsibility concepts of Minnesota, Oregon and Idaho to come up with proposals that include determining eligibility and award amounts by expecting key players to contribute what they can: the student, his or her family, the federal government, state government and the institution. Incentives should be embedded for the student and the institution in the redesign. (WICHE)

Higher Achievement's Lasting Impact
A report on the Higher Achievement program was reviewed and found to be well-executed. Higher Achievement is a multi-year summer and after-school program for incoming 5th and 6th graders in at-risk communities. Higher Achievement academies feature academic classes, electives, field trips, volunteer mentors, homework help and dinner. The report found that four years later, participants had higher standardized test scores in mathematical problem solving and were more likely to be admitted to and matriculate at private high schools. (What Works Clearinghouse)

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