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January 28, 2015

New from ECS

Closing the achievement gap: Four states' efforts
A new ECS report highlights the efforts of four states -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin -- to reduce their achievement gaps through state-level task forces or commissions and other legislative action. These four states historically boast average or strong academic achievement levels, but all are facing achievement gaps, some of them significant.

What States Are Doing

Support for early learning and development standards
Georgia launched a series of television spots to increase awareness about the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS). The state’s Department of Early Care and Learning collaborated with Georgia Public Broadcasting to produce the 12-spot series called Play to Learn. Each spot focuses on a different skill outlined in the GELDS. Georgia is also implementing a plan to support the state’s young dual language learners through a partnership with WIDA.

Reducing time on tests
Ohio students, who now average 19.8 hours a year taking tests plus an additional 15 hours practicing for tests, may see a reduction, according to a report by Richard Ross, Ohio superintendent of public instruction. He recommends limiting tests and test practice, eliminating student learning objectives in preK-3 teacher evaluations, eliminating the fall third-grade reading test and eliminating the requirement that students in grades 1-3 get math and writing tests.

Gains but room for improvement on ACT
Tennessee students continue to achieve gains in math and reading but still lag in meeting all four ACT college readiness benchmarks. This report highlights four priorities: select and implement high-quality assessments, ensure continued and improved implementation of Tennessee's State Standards for English language arts and math, elevate the teaching profession and transform instruction through high-quality leadership.  (State Collaborative on Reforming Education)

Good Reads

Principal Pipeline Initiative
Part of an ongoing evaluation of the Principal Pipeline Initiative, this report's objective is to analyze implementation of the required components and then to assess the results achieved. The initiative follows six districts: Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC), Denver Public Schools (CO), Gwinnett County (GA), Hillsborough County (FL), New York City and Prince George's County (MD). New measures districts are implementing include systematic support for assistant principals. (Wallace Foundation)

Arts for math and science
Betting that implementing high-quality arts education program could improve overall achievement in the lowest performing schools, researchers found seven out of the eight observed schools improved their overall reading proficiency rates and six out of eight schools improved math rates. They had higher rates of improvement than comparable school improvement grant schools and higher rates of improvement than their districts. (President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities)

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