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Federal, state visions for improving schools collide in California

Ed Source – John Fensterwald

“During a presentation earlier this month on how to choose the roughly 300 lowest-performing schools that must get intensive help under federal law, a number struck some members of the State Board of Education like a brick from the sky: 3,003. That’s the total number of schools in the state — not 300 but nine or 10 times that many — that staff estimate would require at least some form of help based on the school selection criteria that the board was considering.” (more)

Are We Committed to Raising School Standards?

Education Next – Chester E. Finn, Jr.

“In an important and mostly depressing New Year’s Day column in The Washington Post, veteran education journalist Jay Mathews describes the on-again, off-again “carnival ride” to “raise school standards” that he’s observed over the past half century. “We love making schools more accountable,” Mathews writes. “Then, we hate the idea.” He cites a pair of recent setbacks. First, the striking decline in states that require high school students to pass a statewide exit test before receiving their high school diplomas.”(more)

Trump Executive Order Seeks to Scale Back Federal Role in K-12 Education

The 74 Million – Carolyn Phenicie

“President Donald Trump’s plan to sign an executive order requiring the U.S. Education Department to study and scale back the federal footprint in K-12 education came as no surprise to accountability hawks critical of the administration’s retreat and encouraging news to conservatives, who say it can’t happen fast enough.”(more)

New Report Shows Increased Need for Federal Investments in Early Learning

Home Room: Blog for U.S. Dept of Education – Staff Writer

“Are there too many federal early learning programs? This question has been contentiously debated and discussed in Washington, DC for years. Are programs that simply permit funding for early learning as a part of a larger initiative, such as Title I or English Language Acquisition grants, considered early learning programs? Should programs that merely mention the importance of early learning – the Appalachian Area Development grants or Donations of Federal Surplus Personal Property program – be considered early learning programs? These issues have emerged from a 2012 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report.”(more)

Proposed Changes to Higher Education Act Clear House

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A number of bipartisan higher education bills have been passed by the House of Representatives in an effort to provide solutions to elements of the Higher Education Act currently in need of an update. In all, five bills were passed by the House which address some of the issues within the Higher Education Act, including a simplification for the application for federal student aid, making information about colleges and universities readily accessible, and offering benefits for historically black colleges those who serve Hispanic students…One of the bills, sponsored by US Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, seeks to help students and their families obtain the necessary information they need to choose a college. The bill will create a US Department of Education tool called the College Dashboard, which will be available online and will include key data pertaining to financial and economic statistics on universities across the country.”(more)

No Excuses for Stagnant Student Achievement in U.S. High Schools

Education Next – Matthew M. Chingos and Kristin Blagg

“With graduation rates at an all-time high, three million students will graduate from U.S. public high schools this spring. But federal achievement data indicate that these students likely have no better math or reading skills than their parents did. Commentators often try to explain away this troubling trend as an artifact of changing student populations, flaws in test design, or declining student effort on low-stakes tests. But a new analysis suggests that stagnant high school achievement is a real phenomenon that warrants increased attention…In a new Urban Institute report, we examine four hypotheses for why achievement gains fade out by the end of high school. In short, we find little evidence to support any of them…For too long, the academic performance of the nation’s high school students has been overlooked or explained away…That needs to change. All of the available data provide a wake-up call for researchers and policymakers to renew their commitment to high school students and ensure that the academic gains that elementary and middle schools have produced are not squandered.”(more)