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March 4, 2015

New from ECS

Opting out of assessments
Confusion is growing as parents increasingly want to opt their children out of state tests. Some state policies are clear on this issue, but many are still working through the process. This ECS Education Trends report highlights the myriad ways states are addressing this hot-button issue.

Organizational climate and early learning
The author of this study found a significant association between organizational climate in preschool centers and overall classroom quality. Findings suggest that policies should focus less on structural influences on quality in early childhood education (such as teacher-child ratios), and more on process quality and organizational climate. Professional development efforts might be key to overall classroom quality. (New to the ECS Research Studies Database)

What States Are Doing

Tops in dual enrollment
One in four community college students in Iowa is a high school student, according to the Joint Enrollment Report 2014. A release from the Iowa Department of Education announced Iowa leads the nation in offering college-credit opportunities to high school students. The number of jointly enrolled students rose to 42,996 in fiscal year 2014. In 2013-14, students enrolled in an average of 7.8 credit hours; 58 percent of the courses were in arts and sciences, 42 percent in career and technical education.

Addressing the workforce skills gap
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker launched the process of bridging the workforce skills gap. Signing an executive order, he established the Workforce Skills Cabinet chaired by Ron Walker, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. The cabinet will develop goals, objectives and metrics, implementing regionally to improve alignment among state policies, programs and resources.

Good Reads

Gifted students and the Common Core
How will the Common Core affect gifted students? Four points to keep in mind: Don't let the Core be an excuse to ditch gifted services. State and local leaders should get rid of policies that hurt gifted and talented students and strengthen those that help them. Schools should work harder to make differentiation "real." And schools should make use of existing materials that help teachers adapt the Core for gifted students. (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)

Completing college, a state-level view
First-time-in-college degree-seeking students who started college in fall 2008 have a completion rate of 55.1 percent, including 13 percent who completed at an institution different from their starting institution. So according to this research, one in four students who complete a degree finished at an institution other than the one where they first enrolled, problematic because traditional graduation measures only include graduates who finish where they started. (National Student Clearinghouse)

Design contest: building a better school report card
Working off an ECS brief, a school report card design contest was launched with $35,000 in prizes. Results of the challenge are featured here, with the conclusion that such an effort is no easy task.  They learned user-centered design should include information summaries, drill-down access, customization, translation and multiple modalities. Functionality should empower action, allow easy navigation and provide comprehensive and comparable information. (Foundation for Excellence in Education)

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