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from the Education Commission of the States
 

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October 1, 2014

New from ECS

Federal education policy evolves
Political insider Christopher Cross updates his critically acclaimed bestseller, Political Education: Setting the Course for State and Federal Policy, with new chapters and important new insights into future education policy. Cross draws on his own experience in Washington, along with research and interviews, to present a highly readable history of federal education policy, from WWII to the Obama administration. ECS President Jeremy Anderson and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, 2013-15 ECS Chair, wrote the foreword for this edition.

What States Are Doing

Downturn in coal market led to SOAR creation, interest in education
SOAR, intended to help Eastern Kentucky respond to the coal market downturn, was created last year by Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. Last month, the two announced approval of a $160,000 grant to be used to develop county-based Work Ready plans in conjunction with SOAR. Two hundred participants from 13 counties will develop the plans which, by raising education levels, are intended to attract business and industry.

Future teachers need more classroom time
A survey of more than 6,000 educators indicates that teacher preparation should include more classroom time under the guidance of outstanding teachers, according to an announcement by the Louisiana Department of Education. The survey also found that more school systems and teacher prep programs should collaborate to design teacher prep curricula to address essential knowledge and skills, and address teacher shortages in specific subject areas.

Public-private partnership
States are increasingly supporting public/private partnerships and seeking avenues to prepare students for advanced careers in manufacturing. In Illinois, this recently enacted legislation brings both those worlds together.

Good Reads

Middle school climatology
Researchers found the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey of students and staff reliably and validly reports different school climate measures such as safety and connectedness, meaningful participation, bullying and discrimination, and caring staff-student relationships. All school level measures were associated with school-level student academic performance and suspensions.  (REL-West)

Boosting community college completion
It may be time to abandon single interventions for small numbers of students and redesign the whole system to scale up better outcomes, according to this report, which focuses on identifying and implementing high-impact practices in community colleges. For example, developmental students whose instructors clearly explained class attendance policies were nearly three times more likely to complete a remedial math course. Student success courses offered a big edge in completing developmental English course and if students registered for all courses before the first day of class, they were more likely to persist. (CCCSE)

Investing wisely in Latino children
One in four American children is Latino and that percentage is growing. While there are troubling trends in Latino child demographics, there are also strengths upon which to build. This report from Child Trends’ new Hispanic Institute points out that while many Latino children live in poverty, they enter school on a par with or even exceeding their non-Latino peers in social-emotional skills and, from early childhood to college, they are making gains in education.  (Child Trends)

Moving turnaround to the lower grades
Changing the Metrics of Turnaround to Encourage Early Learning Strategies and the previously released Framework for Rethinking Education Accountability and Support Birth Through High School address how current K-12 turnaround and accountability policies create a disincentive to local investment in early learning and K-2. To date, accountability and turnaround policies have focused on student test scores third grade (and up) as the primary measure of progress, ignoring what goes on in the early learning and K-2. But it's the first years of life that are the most important to a child's development. (Ounce of Prevention)

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