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from the Education Commission of the States
 

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October 29, 2014

New from ECS

Blueprint for College Readiness
ECS launched the Blueprint for College Readiness initiative to provide guidance and support to the growing number of states working to improve student success and transition from high school into postsecondary. Designed by state leaders for state leaders, the Blueprint features a menu of 10 critical policies promoting college readiness and success. A 50-state analysis explores the extent to which states are pursuing these policies. Accompanying resources, technical assistance and online database are designed to respond to the unique needs of states.

Effectiveness-focused teacher preparation
This issue of the Progress of Education Reform explores why obtaining meaningful information on how well teacher-preparation programs are preparing our nation's teachers often remains such a challenge. Moving in the direction of effectiveness-focused preparation is presented as an effective strategy and one that a number of states already have initiated.

Maybe textbooks weren't getting easier after all
The authors challenge the assumption that reading textbook difficulty and sophistication has trended downward over time in this study. After surveying hundreds of textbooks from third and sixth grade, the authors find that difficulty and sophistication have either increased or remained consistent over the past three-quarters of a century. (New to the ECS Research Database)

What States Are Doing

Exploring the Iowa Core
Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck launched Iowa Core this month to increase public understanding of the Iowa Core standards and to help educators put those standards into practice. The website has three components: Explore the Iowa Core allows users to search the standards by grade and subject, Parents and Community explains what students should know and how parents can help them and Educator Resources includes a collection of more than 8,000 resources for teachers.

Making postsecondary less of a gamble
Tennessee also has launched a new website, edutrendstn.com, to provide Tennesseans with education outcome information — by institution, wages, labor supply and demand — associated with bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, certificates and diplomas. Among the trends: median wages of individuals with associate degrees and long-term certificates often exceed those with bachelor's degrees, at least for five years.

What business can do
Educate Maine is a business-led education advocacy organization championing college and career readiness and increased education attainment. The organization was formed by the merger of the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education and the Compact for Higher Education in December 2011. This is its second annual report on a set of 10 indicators for the state.

Good Reads

Transforming professional development with the Common Core
Professional development has been viewed as the "ugly stepchild" of education reform, according to this report. But the Common Core, with its focus on content and instructional shifts that support delivery of that content, could be the vehicle to transform professional development. This executive summary links to three briefs. (Education First)

Districts attitudes on new standards
Ninety percent of district leaders in states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards agree the new standards are more rigorous than their state's previous standards in math and English language arts. In addition, about three quarters of them believe the Common Core will improve students' skills. (Center on Education Policy)

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