The following resources focus on the educational climate and betterment of those serving the K–12 educational community.

New IL Guidelines Aim to Boost College and Career Readiness  Grade-by-grade learning standards used throughout Illinois already let students know if they’re ready for high school and on track to graduate. But new state guidelines adopted this month will help kids get ready for life after 12th grade – whether that’s picking a college or finding a job. (98.7 WFMT)

SREB Insights: Compare and Understand State Policy and Practice  The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) released a new report on state efforts to lead and support statewide alignment of instructional materials to state college- and career-readiness standards. Explore actions across 16 states, delve into a topic for a deeper understanding, or select a state report to learn what’s working where.

State Transparency on College and Career Readiness  As states continue to develop and tweak their ESSA plans, they are reviewing many aspects of their K–12 education systems, including how they collect, report, and display student performance data. Achieve released a new set of state college- and career-readiness transparency reports, which evaluate the transparency of every state’s public reporting on eight indicators of college and career readiness.

Leveraging ESSA to Increase College Readiness and Completion  Higher Ed for Higher Standards released a new Leveraging ESSA brief detailing how the first 17 states to submit their ESSA plans took advantage of the approaches suggested in the previous Leveraging ESSA briefs to align K–12 and higher education to support long-term student success. The brief focuses on alignment in four key areas, including: validating college-ready standards and aligned assessments; vertically aligning K-12 and higher education goals; holding schools accountable for college and career preparation, and; supporting student transitions into postsecondary education.

Community Schools is an Evidence-Based Strategy Webinar  July 6, 2017 A significant new study identifies community schools as an evidence-based school improvement strategy that meets criteria established by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The study, Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement, was conducted by the Learning Policy Institute and the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado. The authors reviewed 125 studies to reach their conclusion that community schools get results.

When is a teaching strategy successful? This study by John Hattie and Gregory Donoghue explores effective teaching practice and how to identify real learning.

How Diplomas Based on Skill Acquisition, Not Credits Earned, Could Change Education  By 2021, students graduating from high schools in one state must show they have mastered specific skills to earn a high school diploma. Maine is the first state to pass such a law, though the idea of valuing skills over credits is increasingly popular around the country. How will this law influence the standards in other states? (Hechinger Report)

Principals with the Power to Make Change  What’s a principal to do when she knows her school needs help, but she’s not sure where to begin? One option is to apply for a School Retool fellowship from Stanford University’s These fellowships assist building leaders in making the change they know is needed in their schools and they help principals think in smaller increments as “hackers” of the status quo. Director of the K12 Lab Network at the Susie Wise says “It becomes really empowering to them as principals that they have all those levers of change at their disposal”. (KQED)