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January 21, 2015

New from ECS

Pre-K funding for 2014-15
Most states now view access to high-quality preschool programs as a critical long-term economic investment in the future workforce. For the third year in a row both Republican and Democratic policymakers are making significant investments in state-funded pre-K programs. State Pre-K Funding: 2014-15 fiscal year, a new ECS analysis of 2014-15 appropriations by the 50 states, found that 28 states plus the District of Columbia increased their investments in pre-K; state investment rose by 12 percent.

State policies
As demographics of the nation’s schools continue to shift, state-level policy surrounding English language learners (ELLs) becomes increasingly important. Information regarding the various methods of funding of ELL students can be confusing and difficult to locate. This ECS report provides a clear and detailed description of the ways states finance ELLs and allows policymakers to evaluate their own funding models against those from other states.

What States Are Doing

A funding formula for Philadelphia
A funding formula is in the works for Pennsylvania, one of three states without one, so the Education Commission of the States was commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts to review funding formulas in other states, analyze their impact on big-city districts and determine how a formula might impact the School District of Philadelphia. ECS researchers determined a formula probably would reduce variations in education revenue in the state and would likely mean more revenue for perpetually broke Philadelphia.

STEM recommendations
To bolster the economy and engage more students in math and the sciences, New Hampshire’s STEM task force issued its final report, making eight recommendations to Gov. Maggie Hassan. Among them: creating multiple math pathways to fulfill the four-year math requirement, coding classes and early college residential academies, open to rural students, girls and CTE students.

Good Reads

Longitudinal data systems across state lines
Public policy is better informed when the movement of students and graduates across state lines is factored into the setting and achievement of state workforce and educational attainment goals. This brief discusses a five-year-old pilot in which four states – Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington — tested how cross-state collaboration and data sharing might inform important questions about the development and mobility of human capital. (WICHE, December 2014)

States launch new standards assessments this year
Almost every state in the country will test students against new standards this year. Are they ready? In this brief, the author found states do appear ready though having enough broadband to test large numbers of students at once is a challenge. She recommends preparing the public for lower scores and believes states that have committed to them should stand their ground on keeping PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments.  (Center for American Progress, January 2015)

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