4 Education Policy Tools to Use in 2022

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Written by: Erin Whinnery
Jan. 11, 2022

A new legislative session brings policymakers another opportunity to examine their state’s education policy landscape. How can education leaders better support students, families and teachers in these unprecedented times? What needs can be met with policy changes? Education Commission of the States is here to support education leaders like you with four unmatched state policy resources.

Our State Education Policy Tracking database is a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive resource for education leaders looking for unique policy approaches to issues in their state. This interactive map includes enacted and vetoed legislation from 2019-22. We currently track 42 broad education policy issues, spanning from early learning to workforce development. In 2021, we tracked over 10,000 pieces of legislation, and over 1,700 bills were enacted or vetoed!

In addition to providing summary and analysis on thousands of pieces of legislation, our State Education Policy Tracking database is useful for spotting the latest policy trends. Using data from our 2021 policy tracking, we saw a 245% increase in the number of enacted and vetoed bills related to postsecondary workforce development, as compared to 2019. State legislation continues to keep pace with virtual and online learning demands by increasing broadband access, supporting virtual classrooms and reimagining school accountability to account for virtual instruction.

We also observed a 158% increase in the number of enacted and vetoed student health bills between 2019 and 2021. Many of these bills focused on supporting student’s physical safety in classrooms, as well as their mental health and well-being. We invite you to use our new instructional video below to learn how to navigate the tool for your needs.

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Sometimes, the best ideas aren’t acted on the first time around. At Education Commission of the States, we don’t just analyze enacted legislation —  we track a few key topics from introduction to final action to provide a nuanced view of what’s trending across the states with our State Education Policy Watchlist. Using this database, education policymakers can keep an eye on what other policymakers are focused on in their states and what legislation has been passed. Are you interested in improving the teaching profession? In 2021, we tracked over 900 bills related to teachers and the teaching profession. Are you working to lower the cost of a postsecondary degree or credential? We can show you 500 bills that address postsecondary affordability and finance.

Elevating teachers and making college affordable are not new issues. To learn how education policy solutions have evolved over time, visit our state legislation archives. We have been tracking and summarizing enacted and vetoed legislation across the education spectrum since 1996. Your state’s legislative history is recorded in our archives, categorized and summarized into over 270 issue areas. That’s 25 years of legislative trends and analysis right at your fingertips!

Our final and signature policy product is the Governors’ State of the State Addresses: Education-Related Proposals. Every year, in real time, we track and categorize the education related proposals mentioned in governors’ State of the State addresses. Our interactive map and analysis tool is accompanied by a report that identifies top education trends. Using data from our map and reports, we tracked the rise of top policy topics like dual enrollment, school choice, school safety and, most recently, student health. We will update the resource in 2022 after the first governor makes their remarks.

While 2022 is a new year with new challenges, Education Commission of the States remains your trusted source for nonpartisan education policy research. We invite you to spend five minutes exploring our four state policy resources to learn more about innovative state approaches to today’s most pressing education challenges.

Author profile

Erin Whinnery

Erin Whinnery

Senior Project Manager at Education Commission of the States | ewhinnery@ecs.org

As a senior project manager, Erin supports the foundational research services at Education Commission of the States and has a particular interest in the areas of postsecondary access and success. Before joining the organization, Erin earned her master's degree in higher education administration from the University of Denver and a bachelor's degree in English from Boston College. On weekends, Erin is an amateur crafter and quilter.

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