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K-12 education resources

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

Federal Tax Reform  The Senate is currently debating and modifying the bill that was passed out of the Senate Finance Committee and then the Senate Budget Committee. The most recent bill includes many of the tax changes of the House bill plus a repeal of the individual mandate. Given this, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a cost estimate that the plan at the time would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion and cause 13 million people to lose health insurance coverage. This movement comes after the House passed its tax reform legislation H.R.1, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Strong Standards: A Review of Changes to State Standards since the Common Core  This report offers an analysis of the English language arts (ELA)/literacy and mathematics standards of the 24 states that have reviewed and revised these standards after initially adopting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The report found most states kept their standards rigorous and maintained college- and career-ready expectations for students.

Testing tweaks that every state should consider during their 2018 legislative sessions  Education reform advocates nationwide are putting together their wish lists for the state legislative sessions that generally start in January. Tackling how state assessments are administered and how kids’ results on those assessments are reported is at the top of many of those lists. Suggested tweaks include moving state tests to the last four weeks of the school year to give teachers more time to teach, requiring that teachers receive the scores of their incoming students before the next year starts, and including in score reports specific suggestions for actions families can take on their child’s behalf.

How States and Educators Can Use ESSA funds to Support SEL  Mounting evidence suggests that social and emotional (SEL) skills are critical to students’ success in and out of the classroom. For schools, districts and states looking to help children build these competencies, a new RAND report offers guidance on how educators can use funding streams in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to implement SEL programs.  The report, Social and Emotional Learning Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence Review, identifies 60 SEL programs in U.S.-based, K-12 public schools that meet the evidence requirements for ESSA. It also includes a breakdown of these programs—technically known as interventions—by outcomes, school level, settings, features, etc. that practitioners can use to adapt programs to their local needs.

U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New All-Time High, With Gains in All Student Groups The graduation rate for the high school class of 2015-16 is nearly a whole point higher than the one for the previous year’s class, which was 83.2 percent, according to the new data from the National Center for Education Statistics. The rate measures the proportion of each freshman class that earns a diploma four years later. (Education Week)

Illinois – Teaching Time in Math on the Rise, While English Declines  Administrators say the uptick in math minutes has been motivated in part by state exam scores that are lower in math than English and also an emphasis on the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. (Chicago Tribune)

Survey: Public School Parents Less Satisfied With Engagement Opportunities  Parents in traditional public schools are less likely than those in charter and private schools to report feeling “very satisfied” with their schools’ efforts to engage with families and the surrounding community, according to a new survey conducted by researchers at Rice University. (Education Dive)

State Information Request: Grade Acceleration and Competency-Based Education  A staff member at a state legislative office asked about grade acceleration and competency-based education.

State Information Request: Local State Spending  A staff member at a state legislative office asked about the breakdown of state versus local revenue for public education. The response includes information about the distribution and variations of funding from federal, state and local sources.

50-State Comparison: Prior Learning Assessment Policies This comprehensive resource focuses on PLA policies, which refer to a process to award academic credit for prior learning.

Developing a Theory of Action for K-12 Arts Education and SEL Outcomes  This Ed Note blog post, from guest authors Steve Shewfelt, of Ingenuity, and Jenny Nagaoka, of the UChicago Consortium on School Research, shares more about the role that arts education plays in children’s social and emotional learning and development, and discusses a new project examining how arts education programs affect SEL among K-12 students.

Reading Achievement of U.S. Fourth-Grade Students in an International Context  The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 is the fourth administration of this international comparison since the initial administration in 2001. PIRLS is used to compare over time the reading skills of fourth-grade students and is designed to align broadly with reading curricula in the participating countries. The results, therefore, suggest the degree to which students have learned the reading concepts and skills likely to have been taught in school. In 2016, there were 58 education systems (including countries and other education systems) that participated at grade 4. The U.S. overall average reading score was 549. This score was higher than the PIRLS scale centerpoint, which is set at 500 points. The U.S. overall average reading score was lower than the averages for 12 education systems, higher than the averages for 30 education systems, and not significantly different from the averages for 15 education systems. There was no measurable change in the U.S. overall average reading scale score between 2001 and 2016.  (National Center for Education Statistics)

Elementary Students Report Higher Engagement, More Pride in Schoolwork Than Older Peers  Most students report feeling engaged in school and taking pride in their work — but engagement drops as students get older, and less than half of middle and high school students feel like what they are learning in school is relevant to their lives outside of school, according to YouthTruth Student Survey results. (Education Dive)

How Repealing Net Neutrality Could Affect Schools’ Internet Access  Kristin Ziemke, teaches third-graders in Chicago and says internet access allows her students to collaborate and interact with experts on topics they are passionate about. “When we look at technology in our lives,” Ziemke says, “this is going to cause a huge shift in schools.”

Applications Open for Second Cohort of Competency-Based Education Pilot  “This competency-based learning pilot might be the most exciting opportunity available to school districts right now,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “This pilot allows districts to redesign the high school experience totally around what students know and where they want to go.”

Improving STEM Diversity Starts With Early Learning Opportunities  Improving a field’s diversity requires a focus on early learning opportunities, according to some experts. One organization in STEM has implemented that approach with a fair, where elementary school students learn about science by eating bugs and building robots. (HR Dive)

Looking for SEL Programs? New RAND Report Has Answers ESSA provides multiple opportunities for implementing social-emotional learning. (Education Dive)

3 Ways Schools Can Use Federal Funding Through ESSA to Support Social-Emotional Learning  Schools looking to implement social-emotional learning programs have several funding options available to support them through the Every Student Succeeds Act, according to a new report. (The 74)

Real Learning for Real Life newsletter  The Real Learning for Real Life (RLRL) coalition has relaunched with the goal of closing achievement gaps and preparing the whole student for college, career and life after high school. RLRL is focused on sharing materials on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Peace Rooms and Mindfulness: New School Discipline Philosophy One Year Later  School districts had a year to implement a state law that banned zero-tolerance policies and emphasized restorative justice practices. We check back in with five districts we visited in the summer of 2016 to see how school discipline has changed. (NPR Illinois’ Education Desk)