Skip to main content

K-12 education resources

Illinois Adults Want More Focus on Education, IEA Survey Says

Slowly but surely, Vienna High School is getting closer to being adequately funded. Superintendent Josh Stafford says the school was 52% funded in 2018, the first year evidence-based funding (EBF) was released. Its grown gradually each year, to 58% in 2020. Stafford says lawmakers need to create a plan so that all schools can reach 90% adequate funding. “It doesn’t just magically flip the switch to say every school in the state is adequately funded,” Stafford said. “It still is a phase.”

6 Districts Invested in Principals and Saw Dramatic Gains

Higher math scores. Higher reading scores. Over several years, six large school districts had doubled down on making their principals more effective as a major lever for improving student performance. And they’d seen gains in both subjects. There was also dramatic academic growth in their lowest performing schools where new principals were placed. The Wallace Foundation, which invested tens of millions of dollars into strengthening the ranks of school leaders in those districts, is trying to answer that question. Over the next several months, the foundation will take the knowledge and lessons learned in its “principal pipeline” districts to 90 more school systems in 31 states.

Real Relief Requires Far More State Tax Revenue for Schools

While business growth and more houses on the tax rolls are part of the solution, to an even larger degree so are increases in state funding for education. A unique part of the funding reform bill was a tax swap provision called the property tax relief grant. This grant targets high-tax/low-wealth school districts, primarily in the south suburbs, that agree to reduce their tax levy, or the amount they ask of property owners, in exchange for additional state resources.

States Move to Require the FAFSA for High School Graduation

High school students in three states — Illinois, Louisiana and Texas — already or will soon face a new graduation requirement: completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Lawmakers in at least another five states plus the District of Columbia are currently considering similar legislation — and it’s only February. The simplicity of the policy is part of its appeal: If the FAFSA were a requirement for graduation, presumably, more students would complete the form, learn of aid availability and matriculate on to postsecondary education. Here at Education Commission of the States, we are learning all the time about what states can do to help preserve and leverage this simplicity into increased rates of college-going.

Dual Enrollment Access

Dual enrollment programs allow students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Such programs support students in their transition from high school to college in two ways: First, students access advanced learning experiences that can help them prepare academically for college; second, through early credit accumulation, students have the potential to reduce the total cost of their college degree. In addition, research indicates that participating in dual enrollment increases the chance that a student will attend and graduate from college. (Education Commission of the States)

How States Allocate Funding for English Language Learners

Most states fund English language learners through the state funding formula or a categorical program. About half of states provide a flat weight — either an additional percentage or flat dollar amount — for each identified student, regardless of their level of language proficiency or the types of services offered. The second most common approach is a multiple weight system, which allocates funding based on the amount of time that students have been classified as English language learners, based on proficiency levels or based on the concentration of English language learners in a district.

Will Nudges Help More Washington High School Students Get Financial Aid?

High school seniors across Washington state can receive reminders about important college financial aid deadlines from a chatbot, called Otter. The chatbot can also answer students’ questions about the financial aid process. If it doesn’t have an automated response, it will connect the student with a staff member from the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), which worked with AdmitHub to develop the program. Implemented last November, it is the latest test of whether large-scale nudging efforts can influence college-going behavior, something experts say may require more customization than such campaigns tend to allow.

Trump Returns to Cuts in Higher Ed Budget Proposal

The Trump administration on Monday released its $66.6 billion budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Education, which would slash the agency’s funding by about 8%. Among its provisions, the budget plan would eliminate subsidized federal student loans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. It would also open Pell Grants to students in nontraditional, short-term programs and to certain students who are incarcerated. Higher ed experts say the cuts are largely familiar from previous budget cycles and have little chance of passing Congress.

How Some California School Districts Invest in Counseling – and Achieve Results

San Francisco Unified is among dozens of districts across California that has invested in counseling in recent years, hiring more staff to guide students through the college and career process and help with their mental health needs. For many districts, the investment has paid off with higher graduation rates, a drop in absenteeism and more students submitting financial aid forms and completing the A-G courses required for admission to UC and CSU. But while California schools have added more than 2,200 new counselors over the past eight years — a jump of more than 20 percent — student-to-counselor ratios remain high at most districts, and the state average of 609-to-1 is well above the national average and the 250-to-1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association.

2 Big Teachers Unions Call For Rethinking Student Involvement In Lockdown Drills

About 95 percent of American public schools conduct some form of regular active shooter safety drill — sometimes called a lockdown or active threat drill — according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But concerns are growing that these drills have not been proven effective in preventing violence and that they may even traumatize some students. Now the advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety is joining with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association — the nation’s largest education unions, with several million members — in calling for schools to reassess the use of lockdown drills.

With Plan to Pay off Lunch Debt, Whitmer Seeks an end to Lunch Shaming in Michigan Schools

The stories pop up regularly across the nation: A student is denied lunch, or forced to eat a peanut butter sandwich, because of an unpaid school lunch debt. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to end that practice. She’s proposed creating a $1 million fund in Michigan that will pay off the lunch debt of students whose parents haven’t paid their bills. The proposal would also bar schools that receive money from this fund from stigmatizing students who have lunch debt. It’s a small part of her education budget proposal, but it could go a long way toward ending what many describe as lunch shaming, as schools get tougher on students who have debt.

Long-Term Successes, Short-Term Declines

The Advanced Placement program continues to attract public high school students, whose participation and performance nationally in the college-level curriculum and exams increased again last year, according to an assessment of the 2019 graduating class by the College Board. More than 1.24 million public high school students in the Class of 2019 took an Advanced Placement exam during high school, and 764,000 of them scored a 3 or higher on one or more exams, according to the College Board’s latest report of the program’s results released today. A score of 3 translates to college credit at most top institutions.

High School GPAs and ACT Scores as Predictors of College Completion: Examining Assumptions About Consistency Across High Schools

High school GPAs (HSGPAs) are often perceived to represent inconsistent levels of readiness for college across high schools, whereas test scores (e.g., ACT scores) are seen as comparable. This study tests those assumptions, examining variation across high schools of both HSGPAs and ACT scores as measures of academic readiness for college. We found students with the same HSGPA or the same ACT score graduate at very different rates based on which high school they attended. Yet, the relationship of HSGPAs with college graduation is strong and consistent and larger than school effects. In contrast, the relationship of ACT scores with college graduation is weak and smaller than high school effects, and the slope of the relationship varies by high school. (Educational Researcher)

State Education Chiefs Warn of Reading Stagnation

The most recent release of NAEP results, announced last year, included disturbing findings. While top-performing test takers (those scoring at the 90th percentile) have made slight growth over the past few rounds of the exam, those at the bottom 10th and 25th percentiles have done markedly worse. Only two jurisdictions, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., saw meaningful progress in reading, while dozens of others saw their students’ scores drop.

Lack of Education, a Way Out of Poverty, Could ‘Kill Rural America’

In 2016, across U.S. states and territories, 5.4 million individuals lived in education deserts, lacking access to any type of higher education institution within a 45-minute drive, according to a study by the Jain Family Institute. Looking at public colleges alone, 10.1 million individuals live in education deserts and 30.7 million individuals have access to only one public school. “The skills gap is going to kill rural America,” said Randy Smith, president of the Rural Community College Alliance. “If there’s nowhere for students to get the training they need, they aren’t going to be able to get the jobs they need.” Hundreds of American counties are education deserts, places that lack easy access to higher education within a half-hour drive.

Lawmaker wants to Prohibit Student Vaccination Requirements

South Dakota lawmakers will weigh a proposal from one legislative leader to drop vaccination requirements for students. House Majority Leader Lee Qualm, a Republican from Platte, introduced a bill Wednesday to stop schools and colleges in the state from requiring vaccinations to enter school. The state currently allows vaccination exemptions only for students who have weakened immune systems or who have religious objections. The bill would also raise the punishment for schools and physicians that “compel” someone to get a vaccination from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Southern Illinois Coalition Works to Sell Youth on Careers in Teaching

In the last year, the seven high schools in the network — Anna-Jonesboro High School, Carbondale Community High School, Carterville, Cobden, Du Quoin, Johnston City and Vienna — have all introduced a new extracurricular program called Educators Rising, which gives high-schoolers hands-on experience in teaching through classroom observations, assistant teaching and tutoring at area elementary schools. Participants receive “individual plans to take them from high school through college and into their own classrooms,” Munschenk said, plus career exploration, college counseling and scholarship help.

A Strategy for Overcoming Equity Issues in Gifted Programs

New data from Memphis, Tennessee, confirms that when schools use traditional teacher-referral models to identify gifted kids, a lot of gifted children who are poor or of color slip below the radar and never reap the program’s benefits. But Shelby County Schools, the district that includes Memphis, is taking direct aim at the old model’s inequities—the “secret handshake” that allows rich, and predominantly white, parents to navigate the system and place their kids in advanced programs—by switching to a universal screening process that attempts to level the playing field.

A School Where the Legacy That’s Important is Social Justice

Transfer schools are specifically designed for students who are behind on credits. Currently, transfer schools serve about 13,000 students across New York City’s five boroughs. Roughly 200 of these students attend Baldwin. The legacy of James Baldwin, the writer and social justice leader, is very much alive at the school. Its curriculum — which includes courses on race, class and social justice — is carefully designed to be relevant to its students, who are almost all black or Hispanic and who mostly come from low-income backgrounds. The teachers are experienced and especially attuned to the diverse needs of each student, which creates a supportive environment that makes the teachers seem more like friends than authority figures. In Mata’s own words, “You can confide in the adults here, and people do.”

Trump’s 2021 Budget Would Defund Statewide Student Data Programs

Tucked in the Trump administration’s $4.8 trillion budget budget proposal released Monday is a request to eliminate funding for the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems program, which was created to help school districts make informed, data-driven decisions to improve student learning. If the program is eliminated from the final version of the budget, states will have to rely on their own funding to sustain and improve these systems.