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 "Effective leaders for education must be able to navigate increasingly complex, political and changing environments at the local, state and levels.” - IEL

2016 Presidential Election

College & Career Readiness and Student Achievement

Education Reform

Hot Topics in Education Policy

Looking Forward

Measuring Policy Outcomes

Policy and Policymaking

Teachers, Schools, and Districts


2016 Presidential Election

A 2016 Preschool Primer

Although it’s still early in the election cycle, early childhood education has already made its way into the campaigns of 2016 presidential candidates. An opinion piece in U.S. News & World Report highlights the positions of many candidates. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has already stated her support for universal preschool. The Republican candidates have more varied levels of support for preschool programs and funding. Jeb Bush has shown his support for expanding preschool options as governor of Florida, when he signed a law to offer voluntary universal preschool throughout the state. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee also expanded preschool programs in his state with the highly regarded Arkansas Better Chance for School Success program. Other candidates who have served or currently serve as governor, including John Kasich, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal, have worked to increase funding and support for preschool programs in their states. Interestingly, candidates serving in Congress, including Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Lindsey Graham, haven’t engaged on the issue of early childhood education.

Election Guide: 5 Education Takeaways From the Presidential Candidates

With so many presidential candidates in the running, it can be difficult to remember their platforms. Education Week put together a handy guide to what each of the Democratic and Republican candidates think about K-12 education, including who wants to abolish the U.S. Department of Education, their thoughts on Common Core, and the federal role in public education. You can also download the guide as a PDF.

Higher Education Preferences for President Begin to Take Shape

While K-12 education hasn’t been a headlining topic in most presidential debates, higher education—particularly student loans and diversity—has received attention, particularly among the Democratic candidates. In a recent article from the Hechinger Report, Meredith Kolodner looked at how much of the candidates’ donations come from the higher education sector and found that, through the end of October 2015, individuals employed by colleges and universities donated $2.8 million to presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton received the most donations from this sector—nearly $1.7 million—followed by Bernie Sanders and Jeb Bush. The article also notes that University of California employees donated more than $200,000, the most out of any higher education institution, but reminds us that employees of colleges and universities aren’t necessarily donating to candidates based solely on their views on education.

How Elections Will Impact Congressional Education Committees

With some congressional seats also up for election this year, the future of K-12 committees in Congress could be in flux. According to an article by Education Week, there are eight senators whose seats are up in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. For the Committee on Education and the Workforce in the House of Representatives, Chairmen John Kline (Minn.) is retiring. The 2016 election is crucial in determining the status of education committees in Congress.

K-12 a Minor Topic in First Democratic Debate

Many topics were discussed at length during the first Democratic presidential debate in October 2015, but K-12 education received almost no airtime from the five participating candidates. An Education Week article highlights the few mentions of education—aside from the candidates’ affordable college plans—and why it might not yet be a part of the conversation. The article notes that major K-12 topics like Common Core, charter schools, and testing tend to be divisive issues and are risky to bring up early in the campaign. However, as we get closer to Election Day, we will likely hear more from candidates on their K-12 thoughts.

Presidential Contenders: Steal This Education Speech!

In response to the growing attention around domestic issues in the 2016 presidential election, Fordham Institute president Michael J. Petrilli wrote a sample education-focused speech that he encourages candidates to use as a resource. The speech discusses many big and relevant education issues, including school choice and high-quality charter schools, college and career readiness, college degree attainment, and school discipline. The piece also includes infographics illustrating data related to the topics covered.

Public Concern About Education in 2016: What the Numbers Say

Education is not a widely discussed issue in the current election process. According to a piece by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), surveys conducted by Gallup and the New York Times/CBS show that in 2000, Americans named education as the 1st and 4th most important national issue, respectively. In 2016 however, education has dropped to the 13th ranking in the Gallup poll and 16th ranking in the New York Times/CBS poll during this election. The shift away from education as a public outcry is partially due to increased concerns with issues like the economy and national security. Also, education’s distinction relies heavily on the candidates’ platforms.

What the 2016 Contenders Have to Say on Education

Several candidates on both sides of the aisle have made their views on education known. Rick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a blog post for The Hill highlighting what candidates have been saying about education, from pre-K through higher education. He notes that key themes among Republican candidates have included opposition to the Common Core (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio), abolishing the U.S. Department of Education (Trump, Cruz), and supporting school choice (Cruz, Rubio, and Jeb Bush). Among the leading Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, free college, student debt, and expanding pre-K have been hot topics—and Rubio and Bush have also stated their support of financial aid reform.

Which GOP Presidential Candidates Want to Abolish the Education Department?

Many Republican presidential candidates have been quite vocal about their thoughts on federal education policy and what they would change if they were elected. One common topic among conservatives, both in this election and over the last few decades, has been abolishing the U.S. Department of Education. Education Week has compiled a list of which Republican candidates have stated their support for getting rid of or shrinking the Department, and who has not taken a position on the issue. Among candidates who have publicly stated that they would seriously consider abolishing the Department are Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.

Why the Presidential Candidates Should Talk About Education

While the 2016 presidential election is a hot topic for everyone right now, education has received very little airtime during debates and has not risen as a critical part of any campaign platform. A recent article in the Harvard Political Review explains why education policy—despite the fact that it impacts every child in the country—is not considered newsworthy in the campaign. Writer Joshua Florence offers three reasons why candidates have stayed quiet on the topic of education: it’s not prioritized by the American public, its main constituency—children—cannot vote, and both parties are internally divided and members have a wide range of views on education.

23 Critical Education Questions For the Presidential Candidates

What would you ask the seven presidential candidates about education? The Seventy-Four, an education news organization, asked experts from multiple sectors—including Arne Duncan, journalists, teachers, policy wonks, and researchers—what question they would ask the candidates. Their responses covered a wide spectrum and went beyond the brief sound bites that have made up much of the education discussion in the campaign so far. Their question topics included education technology, recruiting and retaining teachers, accountability systems, and preschool funding.

College & Career Readiness and Student Achievement

Academic Expectations around the Country, Updated for Common Core  

The goal of the Common Core was to implement a pathway to postsecondary success. However, a recent analysis of standardized testing practices in 2015 by the Hechinger Report demonstrates that students in most states are not on a “college-ready trajectory.” The report indicates that academic expectations greatly differ across the 45 states that adopted the new Common Core standards. Gary Phillips, a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics and the author of “National Benchmarks for State Achievement Standards,” discusses the variation in levels of reading and math proficiency.

Adult Training and Education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016

This First Look report focuses on nondegree credentials and work experience programs. These include certifications and licenses, and internships, co-ops, practicums, clerkships, externships, residencies, clinical experiences, and apprenticeships. 

African Americans: College Majors and Earnings

What are African-American college students majoring in, and how much are they earning once they enter the workforce? The team, led by EPFP alum Anthony P. Carnevale at the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, noted that while college access has increased among African-Americans, they are overrepresented in majors that lead to low-paying jobs. Key findings of the report show that architecture and engineering are the majors with the highest earnings for African-Americans with a bachelor’s degree; 20% of African-American students major in human services and community organization, which has the second-lowest earnings potential, and African-Americans represent only 7% of STEM. The report website also includes an infographic, video, and PowerPoint presentation on the topic.

Apprenticeships for the Modern World

The National Network’s new report highlights successful programs that showcase industry-led solutions to tackle skills gaps and define quality in apprenticeships. According to the report, these elements include blending learning, mentorship, competency-based training, a direct tie to industry-recognized credentials, and either paid work experience or an employment relationship.

AYPF Alignment Afterschool and Workforce

The American Youth Policy Forum published a white paper making the case for systems alignment between afterschool and workforce. They included case studies and areas for further exploration while demonstrating shared goals between youth development outcomes and employability skills.

Bringing It Back Home

International academic achievement assessments, like PISA, have spurred the trend of policymakers, educators, and advocates basing education reform and improvement on how the United States compares to other nations around the world. However, a report from the Economic Policy Institute focuses on why comparing academic achievement within the United States—that is, among states—rather than other countries can be more useful for improving education quality. The report is centered on three main arguments: policymakers are not correct in concluding, based on international tests, that U.S. students are failing to make progress in math and reading; it is extremely difficult to learn how to improve U.S. education from international test comparisons; and focusing on U.S. states’ experiences is more likely to provide usable education policy lessons for American schools than are comparisons with higher-scoring countries.

Career Pathways: Approaches for the Delivery of Education, Training, Employment, and Human Services

The Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor have been working together to build and improve career pathways for young people across the United States. Last spring, they called upon stakeholders to share information about their career pathways work to help guide federal efforts on the subject. In March 2015, they released a report based on an analysis of this feedback that highlights overarching themes and promising practices and recommendations for continuing to improve career pathways. The report highlights key opportunities for career pathways, including service to diverse populations, increased funding, technical assistance, greater flexibility, and support for research.

Child Poverty and Adult Success

One in every five children currently lives in poverty, and this can have a major impact on their adolescent and adult lives. A report from the Urban Institute analyzes 40 years of longitudinal data that follows children from birth through their 20s to determine how childhood poverty, their families, and their neighborhoods affect their academic achievement and employment. In addition, the study notes that parents’ education achievement, residential stability, and neighborhood quality all have an impact on adult success.

College Students Aren’t Prepared for Higher Education

The Hechinger Report reveals the disparity between the education received when obtaining a high-school diploma and the education needed to enter college without having to take remedial courses. The report finds that the level is far below readiness and, for that reason, many students pursuing higher education are spending more time and money taking remedial courses.  

Common Core State Standards: Arguments Against and For

Many scholars agree that significant changes must occur for the U.S. education system to produce globally competitive students. In two recent blog posts on the Answer Sheet, Yong Zhao and Marc Tucker each discuss whether or not the implementation of the Common Core State Standards will lead students in the United States to be better prepared to compete in the global economy.

Zhao believes that the Common Core Standards are not developing students’ creative and entrepreneurial skills which will be increasingly important as future business leaders have to find unique ways to access markets around the world. Tucker, on the other hand, believes we have already failed to prepare our students if we don’t determine the core skills needed to engage the world ahead of them. Read Zhao’s blog here and then see Tucker’s reaction here.

Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates

College access and readiness is a hot topic in education, and equally important is understanding how many students complete college. In its annual report on college completion rates, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center looks at the higher education outcomes of students who started college in fall 2009, near the end of the Great Recession. The report highlights the various pathways students took toward degree completion and their six-year completion rates through May 2015. Some major findings of the report include the acceleration and decline in overall completion rates, and declines in completion rates across ages, for students at four-year universities, and for students who started at two-year public institutions.

Connecting Credentials: Building Learning-based Credentialing Systems

The Improving Learning Mobility work group published a report recommending actionable steps to make credentials easier to understand, use, and interconnect. It contains broad recommendations for integrating short-term credentials into credentialing pathways that support learner mobility, such as educating stakeholders on the importance of short-term credentials, increasing the value of learning represented by these credentials, expanding the use of competency-based approaches in credentialing, and using federal policy to support learner mobility and pathways that extend from the attainment of short-term credentials.

Destination Known: Valuing College AND Career Readiness in State Accountability Systems

Council for Chief State School Officers and Education Strategy Group track school accountability systems and their ability to help schools prepare students for college and career. According to the report, only six states have current attainment rates above 50 percent, and every state will need to increase its success by more than one percentage point each year to meet the national mark by 2025.

Developing a College- and Career-Ready Workforce: An Analysis of ESSA, Perkins, and WIOA

The College & Career Readiness & Success Center at AIR published a research brief, workbook, and online interactive tool to support state development of a coherent approach to postsecondary training and education through ESSA, WIOA, and Perkins. These resources facilitate alignment of the education-to-workforce pipeline. 

Engagement Rising

For the last decade, the Center for Community College Student Engagement has been collecting data from community colleges on how institutions measure and track students’ engagement with their coursework, peers, and faculty and staff. The Center recently released Engagement Rising, a report outlining the rising student engagement shown in their eleven years of data. The findings show that, for both part-time and full-time students, opportunities for active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, and support for learners have all steadily increased since 2004.

How High the Bar? Report

This joint project of the National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League explores common US school accountability benchmarks by asking how students in other nations would perform against National Assessment of Educational Progress “proficiency” and measures of “career and college readiness” found in the Common Core. The report concludes that the vast majority of students internationally cannot demonstrate proficiency as defined by current standards and suggests that the benchmarks are neither useful nor credible. 

How School Suspensions Could Engender Racial Disparities in Academic Achievement

An article from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute discusses a 3-year joint study conducted by the University of Kentucky and Indiana University on the potential effects of exclusionary school discipline polices in relation to racial differences in reading and math achievement. The sample included 16,248 students in grades 6-10 from 17 different public schools representative of the southeastern United States. The study finds that students who have been suspended scored 15% lower in literacy and 16% lower in math. Additionally, students are at an even greater risk of academic decline after suspension. The report does not include classroom discipline as a possible factor of lowered academic achievement.

How Well Are American Students Learning?

The Brookings Institute’s annual Brown Center Report on American Education explores three topics that are based on the best available evidence. The 2015 edition of the report, titled How Well Are American Students Learning?, features studies on the gender gap in reading, the impact of the English language arts Common Core State Standards on reading achievement, and student engagement. Each part provides data findings, such as: girls perform better than boys on international reading assessments in more than 60 countries; there is a low level of likelihood that Common Core implementation is related to 2009-2013 gains on the fourth-grade NAEP reading test; and PISA results show that countries with highly motivated students tend to score lower on the math portion of the exam.

The Promise of Performance Assessments: Innovations in High School Learning and Higher Education Admissions

The Learning Policy Institute published a research brief and report outlining current trends, progress, and possibilities for fostering more authentic ways to assess students’ competencies and mastery of skills needed for college, work, and civic life. 

Ready by Design: The Science (and Art) of Youth Readiness

The Forum for Youth Investment summarizes multidisciplinary, cross-systems research on youth readiness abilities, skillsets, and mindsets; readiness practices; readiness traps; and readiness gaps, in order to support those working with young people align efforts and implement holistic approaches to youth development.

The Subtle Ways Colleges Discriminate Against Poor Students, Explained with a Cartoon

Alvin Chang provides an interactive article examining a phenomenon he refers to as making college “a finishing school for the affluent.” He discusses dependent versus interdependent reasons for attending higher education, and how those effects differ by socio-economic class.

Teacher Race and School Discipline

EducationNext raises the important question- are students suspended less often when they have a teacher of the same race? The research finds consistent evidence that North Carolina students, most markedly black boys, are less likely to face exclusionary school discipline when they and their teachers are the same race. Though state-specific, the article calls for increased teacher diversity across the workforce nationwide.

Time to Act: Making Data Work for Students

The Data Quality Campaign’s report, Time to Act: Making Data Work for Students, discusses the use of data. The report lists recommendations that will assist states to enact policies that are critical to ensuring that data is used to support student learning. The four policy priorities that are crucial to using data are: measuring what matters, making data use possible, being transparent and trustworthy, and guaranteeing access & protecting privacy. When used properly, data can improve the quality of learning for students.

Tracking Community College Transfer Students in Four-Year Institutions

In the fall of 2007, more than 700,000 degree-seeking students entered higher education for the first time through a community college. These students’ data is the basis of a recent study released by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, which looks at the effectiveness of two- and four-year institutions in helping students earn bachelor’s degrees. The study finds seven key takeaways, including: a) the importance of institutional practices; b) state-level outcome variability across institutions; c) the importance of high transfer-out rates and high-bachelor’s completion rates; and d) demographic differences in student transfer rates.

Varsity Blues: Are High School Students Being Left Behind?

Federal policy focusing on K-12 education typically gives more attention to grades three through eight. Unlike the annual testing in math and reading for grades three through eight, high school testing occurs once during secondary school. The lack of attention to high school coincides with low national student achievement results and leaves schools accountable for graduation rates.

5 Myths About the Common Core

Valerie Strauss, education blogger for the Washington Post, helps dispel 5 myths about the Common Core State Standards in this blog post.

12th-Grade Transitions Database

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) opened a 12th-grade transitions database that contains information about how all 50 states use college-readiness assessments for students in the 12th grade. While the database holds individual reports for each state, key takeaways from the overall database are that few states have identified college readiness cut scores on the assessments that add value to the 12th grade year; 11 states have set college readiness cut scores on statewide, mandatory college, and career readiness assessments to identify students in need of remediation or acceleration opportunities; and several states are currently in the process of developing cut scores or are piloting intervention programs.

Education Reform

Addressing Early Warning Indicators

This MDRC report discusses the early impacts of the Diplomas Now model on student and school outcomes at the end of the first and second years of model implementation. They find a statistically significant impact on the percentage of students with no early warning indicators after two years of implementing the Diplomas Now secondary school reform model. Furthermore, schools in the model showed sustained levels of reform implementation while the levels declined in the non-Diplomas Now schools.

A New Wave of School Integration

Although six decades have passed since the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education called for desegregation, public schools today are more racially segregated than they were in the 1970s, and economic segregation continues to rise. While research shows that school integration provides academic, cognitive, and social benefits to students, districts across the country have slowly created more barriers to integration. A recent Century Foundation report looks at the work that some districts and charter schools are doing to promote socioeconomic and racial integration in schools, including using socioeconomic status as a factor in student assignment, creating and employing socioeconomic integration policies, maintaining racially and socioeconomically diverse enrollments, and using integration strategies such as attendance zone boundaries, districtwide choice policies, magnet and charter school admissions, and transfer policies.

Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which promotes economic and social policies that improve lives around the world, released their longitudinal report, Education Policy Outlook 2015: Making Reforms Happen. The report highlights more than 450 education policies and initiatives made between 2008 and 2014 in the 34 OECD countries. The report offers some international policy trends, including a growing focus on quality and equity, preparing students for college and careers, evaluation and assessment, governance, funding, and school improvement (nearly one-quarter of policies analyzed for the report focused on school improvement).

Every Student Succeeds Act Primer: High School Dropout Prevention and Reengagement of Out-of-School Youth

Since its’ passage in December of 2015, ESSA has offered new opportunities to reexamine dropout prevention and to promote engagement of youth not enrolled in school. The report pays attention to intervention and support for low graduation-rate high schools, charter school support systems, and students with disabilities.

"Moneyball" for Education: Using Data, Evidence, and Evaluation to Improve Federal Education Policy

Using data can help inform any decision, whether it’s determining the best class for a student to take the following semester or recruiting a top-notch baseball team. In “Moneyball” for Education: Using Data, Evidence, and Evaluation to Improve Federal Education Policy, Frederick Hess and Bethany Little look at how policymakers can use good data to improve federal education policy and programs. The report offers seven recommendations to federal policymakers on how to use existing data, evaluations, and evidence to inform their decisions, including developing solid, trusted metrics to improve federal programs; devoting a portion of funds to evaluating programs and to building state and local decision makers’ capacity to learn what works; ensuring the use of a trusted entity and process in program evaluation; producing meaningful spending data that supports cost-benefit analysis; exploring innovative approaches to boosting program outcomes and performance; and establishing pilot projects that emphasize data-driven, evidence-based continuous improvement.

New Accountability: A Social Compact for American Education

The Coalition for Community Schools has committed its support for New Accountability: A Social Compact for American Education, which is built on improved shared accountability principles for American education. The compact outlines six major principles designed to improve our nation’s accountability system in order to better serve all students, especially students of color, immigrant students, and those living in poverty. The principles focus on meaningful teaching and learning, robust curriculum, and well-prepared students ready for college, career, and civic life.

Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment

A recently released essay written by Pearson’s chief education advisor, Sir Michael Barber, and assessment expert, Peter Hill, discusses the impact new technologies will have on student assessments. Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment suggests how adaptive testing and assessments with ongoing feedback will change the way students are tested, leaving more time for teachers to focus on educating their students and providing more accurate assessments of student achievement. The essay also outlines a “Framework of Action” with detailed steps for schools, districts, and policymakers to take to prepare for the upcoming renaissance in assessment.

Race to the Top -- District Competition Finalists Announced

The United States Department of Education has been busy: This week, ED released the list of finalists for the Race to the Top-District (RTT-D) competition. The 61 finalists, selected from over 370 applicants, include a mix of big city districts, rural districts, charters, and digital/blended learning programs. Check out the list to see what educational entities in EPFP states made the grade. Read the press release for the full list of finalists.

Race to the Top -- Early Learning Challenge

Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin will all receive a share of $133 million in funding under the second round of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. The grant competition focused on improving early learning and development programs for young children in order to give them a strong start to learning the skills needed to succeed in kindergarten through college and career. The competition guidelines called for an increase in the number of low-income children enrolled in high-quality early learning programs, the design and implementation of an integrated system of programs and services, and the use of assessments conforming to the recommendations of the National Research Council’s reports on early childhood. Click here to learn more about the Early-Learning Challenge.

Senators Boxer, Murkowski, and Murray Introduce Bill to Strengthen Afterschool Programs

"Studies have shown that afterschool programs are an enormous net-positive for our children," says Senator Lisa Murkowski, a member of a bipartisan coalition attempting to preserve programs that serve our neediest students. Over the last decade, millions of children have had access to after school programs because of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have introduced legislation that could reauthorize the CCLC program under the name, the Afterschool for America's Children Act. Click here to read more about this important legislation that could potentially fund safe, and enriching afterschool programs for children across the U.S.

Stepping Up: How Are American Cities Delivering on the Promise of Public School Choice?

This article explores the extent to which cities are succeeding at delivering access to high-quality educational options to all children, in the context of public school choice. Researchers from the Center for Reinventing Public Education looked across performance outcomes and system reforms in 18 “high-choice” cities.

The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape 

For the past century, the Carnegie Unit has been used as a time-based standard of student progress and has been influential on education reform in K-12 and higher education. A new study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape, looks at the history and impact of the Carnegie Unit, and finds that it is still considered to be a central organizing feature of the American education system. However, it does not provide the most informative measure of student performance, and the report calls for the development of rigorous standards, assessments, and accountability systems to achieve this.

The Challenge of Reforming American Public Education: What We've Learned in the Last 50 Years

Jeffrey A. Raffel, Professor of Public Administration at the University of Delaware, shares what he has learned analyzing American educational reform. Read his remarks here.

The Meaning of PISA

View an OECD webinar that offers an overview of the key USA results and considerations from the new PISA data. Marc Tucker explains how the results of the latest PISA assessment ought to inform America's education policy reform agenda: we should be basing it on the strategies employed by the top performing education systems in the world. 

The State of the Charter School Movement

Six percent of students in the United States are in a charter school, and charter schools are playing a prominent role in the education of students in many of our largest cities and urban areas. In a recent report, Bellwether Education Partners looks at recent data on charter schools, including the growth of charter schools over the past 15 years, demographics of charter school students, and academic performance of charter schools. It also includes case studies on the impact of charter schools in New Orleans; Washington, DC; Detroit; New York; Los Angeles; Boston; and Denver.

14 Economic Facts on Education and Economic Opportunity

A report by the Hamilton Project looks at how improvements within the public education system would strengthen economic growth and prosperity in society. Educational attainment represents a key indicator of well-being, including events like marriage, home ownership, or elongated life expectancy. A strong public education system is fundamental to creating opportunity for all Americans to acquire the skill set to thrive economically. The facts range from economic growth for women to the disparities within K-12 education.

2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform

The results of Education Next’s ninth annual poll shows a diverse set of opinions among the American public on education reform. Findings show that 67 percent of Americans support a federal requirement for annual testing, while only 47 percent of teachers agree with testing, and opinions on who should set educational standards are split, with 43 percent of the public saying that states should while 41 percent believe the federal government should do so. Common Core opposition has also grown since 2013, particularly among teachers; only 40 percent of teachers surveyed said they support Common Core, compared to 76 percent of teachers in 2013. Other topics covered in the poll include education funding, teacher salaries, racial disparities in suspension rates, and academic emphases in K-12 education.


Hot Topics in Education Policy

America’s Best (And Worst) Cities for School Choice

More than 12 million students exercise school choice by not attending a traditional public school. These students might attend charter, magnet, or private schools; participate in homeschooling; or use transfers or waivers to attend public schools outside of their neighborhoods. Even though this represents a significant number of students, some cities are friendlier toward school choice than others. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a study that rates major American cities based on their openness toward school choice. The rankings—based on political support, policy environment, and the quantity and quality of choices—lists New Orleans, LA; Washington, DC; and Denver, CO as the best cities for school choice. Other EPFP cities on the list include Atlanta, GA (9); Boston, MA (12-tie); New York, NY (12-tie); Minneapolis, MN (16); and Kansas City, MO (18).

Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 

The Schott Foundation has been collecting and publishing data on graduation rates of Black males for more than a decade to highlight racial disparities in education and educational opportunities. In their latest report on the subject, Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males, provides a national context for data showing that low graduation rates for Black males denies them many of the opportunities for long-term success and advancement--such as higher education, careers, and positive societal impact—that are often made more readily available to their White and Latino counterparts.

The Civil Rights Project

This research project housed at UCLA generates and compiles studies on key civil rights and equal opportunity policies. Their written products are designed to synthesize research on policies that have been neglected or overlooked, and include resources such as the impacts of the elimination of affirmative action, benefits of racial diversity in education, high stakes testing, dropout trends and remedies, and effective educational policies for language minority students, and more. 

Educating Students in Rural America

NASBE’s report on Rural American Education strikes a balance between addressing deficits and better deploying existing assets. It is designed to enhance the capacity of rural areas to prepare all students for college, careers, and civic life. 

Fault Lines: America’ Most Segregated School District Borders

An interactive website and report by EdBuild highlights country’s most segregated borders and discusses possible solutions to school integration.

How does your state measure up? An Independent Review of ESSA State Plans

The Check State Plans project is based on the belief that states need to embrace the flexibility ESSA offers them, and that their plans should implement strong state-level accountability systems. Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success teamed up to present this resource, which allows the public to explore submitted ESSA Plans by state and category for summaries, reviews, and strong examples. 

How Higher Education Funding Shortchanges Community Colleges

Community colleges provide higher education and career training to millions of adults and are often seen as a gateway for low-income and nontraditional students to earn a college degree. However, community college funding is lacking and only 12 percent of community college students earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. A new issue brief from the Century Foundation looks at three key issues surrounding the funding of higher education and how targeted investments can lead to better educational outcomes: variations in spending between community colleges and four-year institutions, efficiency of current levels of community college funding, and the potential for a community college system where more funding goes toward schools with large populations of low-income students. The brief also offers three policy recommendations for next steps, including calling upon the U.S. Department of Education or foundations to support research to better identify the full level of funding each higher education institution receives, a better understanding of what it takes to educate disadvantaged students, and to reconsider how public funds are allocated in order to better match student needs.

Integrating Issues of Race and Immigration

FrameWorks Institute, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Kids Count Network teamed up to provide strategies for treating all kids and families with dignity and inviting the public into a more nuanced discussion of immigration policy through the lens of its effect on young children. The data in the Race for Results 2017 report assists communicators in detailing how context-specific policy environments perpetuate inequalities and structure children’s life chances.

Is the 'New' Education Philanthropy Good for Schools?

In February, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted an event about education philanthropy the impact it has on education reform. The event highlighted eight new papers that address the changes in philanthropic giving over the past several years in the education sector and how it has in turn affected state and federal policy and local reform efforts. The papers discuss such topics as foundations advocating for policy without constituents, the differences between new and traditional education donors, advocacy funding strategies that align with federal policy, an in-depth look on the Gates Foundation’s MET Project, lessons from funders and grantees on education philanthropy, analysis of press overage over time of four education foundations, criticisms of the latest generation of major educational donors, and the shift in higher education philanthropy.

Leveling the Playing Field for Rural Students

This report highlights many opportunities for Congress to ensure rural students receive the education they need for an equitable chance at success. Read on for urgent policy recommendations and instructive examples for rural school success.

Low-Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation's Public Schools

A new report from the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) shows that low-income students are now the majority of students attending the nation’s public schools. Based on state data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the report notes that 51 percent of students in U.S. public schools in 2013 were from low-income families, and in 40 of the 50 states, low-income students comprised at least 40 percent of all children attending public school. In addition, most of the states with a majority of low-income students are in the South and West; Mississippi had the highest rate with 71 percent, followed by New Mexico with 68 percent.

Millions Learning: Scaling Up Quality Education in Developing Countries

Globally, 193 countries have committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which focus on providing quality education to children and youth. The report by the Brookings Institution uses 14 different case studies to demonstrate how quality education has scaled in the developing world, including Brazil, Jordan, India, and Uganda. According to the report, an estimated “100-year gap” persists between education levels in developed and developing countries.” (pg. 8) This report aims to provide a method to enhance education in developing countries by creating proper design and delivery through adequate financial means and an adaptable environment. 

National PDK Poll: Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

The PDK International annual poll results of Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools are in! “Americans overwhelmingly support investments in career preparation but give a thumbs-down to vouchers and standardized testing.” 

In his latest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, Robert Putnam examines the growing inequality that deeply affects our nation’s young people. Drawing upon his own childhood experiences and those of his generation, Putnam shows how today’s kids face more difficult challenges to improve their lives, receive a high-quality education, and have the opportunity to achieve success. Tied with a growing achievement gap between wealthy and poor young people, the book shows just how difficult it is for kids to achieve the American dream today.

Personalized Learning Resources

This compilation of personalized learning resources was developed by the National Council on Learning Disabilities. The documents consist of recommendations for implementing personalized learning systems at both the state and national levels, including roadmaps for individuals, schools, and systems. This collection represents one of the first deep analyses of personalized learning for the 6.4 million students with disabilities across the nation. 

PISA 2015 Results in Focus

OECD’s PISA 2015 survey represents 29 million 15-year-olds in the schools of 72 participating countries and economies. This report features data focused on science, with reading, mathematics and collaborative problem solving and an assessment of young people’s financial literacy as minor areas of assessment. 

Pre-K Remains Hot State Policy Topic

Early education appears to be maintaining legislative momentum at the state level this year, when lawmakers will deal with healthier budgets. Policymakers in California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri are proposing to expand pre-kindergarten funding. ECS' Bruce Atchison said states also may move to improve their governance structures and create a seamless P-20 education continuum, or they may bolster their early-learning quality standards. See ECS' pre-K funding report.

Rural-Urban College Completion Gap Growing 

In a recent issue of Rural Policy Matters, the Rural School and Community Trust analyzes the growing rural-urban college completion gap. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as examined by the USDA, shows that adults in rural areas are 14 percent less likely to have a college degree than adults in urban areas, and the gap between rural and urban four-year degree holders is continuing to grow. Interestingly, the data did show that the percentage of adults in rural counties with some college or associate’s degrees was higher than for adults in metropolitan counties. This suggests that rural adults are likely interested in attending college but live farther away from four-year institutions, making it more difficult to earn bachelor’s degrees and more likely for them to earn two-year degrees at nearby community and technical colleges. The article suggests increasing access to higher education and particularly four-year degrees, increasing financial aid to help with high transportation costs to schools, and strengthening internet access in rural areas to increase access to online learning opportunities as potential methods of increasing rural college completion rates.

The Changing Shape of American Cities

Demographics can change drastically over time, especially in and around cities, and a recent report from the University of Virginia highlights this change. The Changing Shape of American Cities describes the demographic changes that have taken place since the 1990s by looking at the shift of urban and suburban residents around cities. The report finds that, unlike in decades past, urban areas have become increasingly desirable to younger, more educated, and wealthier residents, causing urban living costs to rise. This has caused more low-income individuals and families to move from urban areas into more affordable suburban and outer areas, which has impacted not only the cost of living in urban and suburban areas, but also the demographic makeup of neighborhoods and communities in and around major U.S. cities.

7 Reframes for 2017

FrameWorks Institute provides seven field-tested, up-to-speed reframes for the challenging policy landscape on the following social issues: criminal justice, human services, affordable housing, education, budgets and taxes, parenting, and aging.

15 Must-Read Books About K-12 Education in the U.S.

This article provides a must-read book list to help one understand public education. Amid the influence of popular education documentaries and controversial political debates, these books can allow a more in-depth perspective on American schools today. The books cover topics including the role of teachers, immigrant students, the achievement gap, charter schools, the history of education in the US, and current trends. 

2014 National Population Projections 

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released their 2014 National Population Projections, highlighting the estimated demographic makeup of the U.S. population from 2014 to 2060. Most notably, the projections show that the majority-minority population shift is occurring sooner than previously predicted. For example, in the 2000 National Population Projections, White non-Hispanics were predicted to comprise 54.5 percent of the total U.S. population in 2045 (the latest year available in that year’s projections). However, in the 2014 projections, newer data shows that, in 2045, White non-Hispanics are expected to make up 49.3 percent of the population, marking the first time that non-White minorities would make up the majority of the U.S. population. As the demographics of the nation’s population shift, policies will also need to change to reflect the impact of the changing population. For more in-depth information and data on the impact of changing demographics in the U.S., including the majority-minority shift, check out William H. Frey’s book, Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America.

2014 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

The results of the 46th PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools are out. Highlights note that Americans are more familiar with the Common Core than previously, but that most oppose local use of CCSS. Americans support some testing, but find standardized testing unhelpful. Local School Boards get good grades and are viewed as the most influential in education. American believe that charter schools provide better education but oppose vouchers. Learn more about the poll and what it notes about public opinion about public education.

2015 AASA Superintendents Salary & Benefits Study

AASA, the School Superintendents Association, released their fourth annual Superintendents Salary & Benefits Study, which tracks the demographics, salary, benefits, and other elements of school superintendents’ employment contracts. The study offers valuable data not only about the earnings of superintendents, but also the demographics of district leaders across the country and tenure (the most common contract length reported was three years). Nearly 70% of survey respondents (the total number of responses was 728) work in rural districts, and Black and Hispanic/Latino respondents are more likely to serve in suburban and urban districts than their peers. Males outnumbered females by a four to one ratio, a large majority of respondents were White, and the average age of respondents was 53. Interestingly, the median salary reported--$131,000—increased about 15% from 2014, and respondents noted an increase in many benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and professional memberships.

2015 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools

Each year, the PDK/Gallup poll identifies timely topics in education and its results show a telling picture of what the American public’s opinions are on public education that year. Among the topics covered in the 2015 poll were standardized testing, use of test results, and opt-out options; Common Core; school choice, charter schools, and vouchers; and vaccination requirements. Some highlights of the poll’s findings include: a majority of public school parents would not excuse their child from a standardized test but feel there is too much emphasis on testing in schools; only 24 percent of the public is in favor of teachers in their community using the Common Core standards; 64 percent of Americans favor the idea of charter schools, but only 31 percent support vouchers; and, for the 10th year, lack of financial support tops the list of biggest problems facing schools. PDK International CEO Joshua Starr also spoke about the poll’s findings around charter schools on a recent episode of The Kojo Nnamdi Show.



Looking Forward

After the Great Recession: Higher Education’s New Normal

A report released by the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama (AL EPFP’s host organization) analyzes higher education funding following the federal stimulus and the Great Recession. Using data from the National Surveys of Access and Finance Issues, the report notes nine topline findings: 1) economic recovery is continuing across federal programs, 2) competition for funding priorities continues to be fierce, 3) the recovery of operating budgets is low, 4) most states have not appropriated at inflation levels over the past several years, 5) tuition hikes continue due to lack of state funding, 6) state-based student aid is not keeping up with high costs, 7) policy alignment exists in just two states, 8) access threats exist in 16 states, and 9) rural community colleges face the greatest fiscal strain.

America's Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future 

While American millennials—those born after 1980 and between the ages of 16 and 34—are becoming one our most educated generations, research shows that these young Americans consistently score lower than their peers around the world and may actually have lower levels of literacy and numeracy skills than previous generations of U.S. adults. America’s Skills Challenge: Millennials and the Future, a new report from ETS shows that simply focusing on educational attainment is not enough, but that the United States needs a greater focus on skills acquisition in order to remain globally competitive.

A Quality Alternative: A New Vision for Higher Education Accreditation

The Center for American Progress states that the creation of a streamlined, outcomes-focused alternative system for granting access to federal aid dollars can play a key role in solving pressing challenges in postsecondary education. If implemented, it would provide a pathway to address America’s completion and quality challenges.

Arne Duncan Sketches Out "Long Haul" Agenda

Secretary of Education Duncan’s priorities for President Obama’s second term do not include devoting much energy to a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, unless congress is able to get serious about rewriting the current version, No Child Left Behind. Instead he will deal with the management of grants which will be federal incentives prodding education policy change. Improving the quality of principal and teacher preparation through new competitions will be a focus. Many state officials argue, however, that NCLB waivers are not sufficient, and rewriting education laws must be made a top priority. Click here to read the article from Education Week.

The Coming Crisis in Teaching

The Learning Policy Institute report analyzes evidence of teachers shortages, regional and national trends over time, and presents policy strategies to alleviate the issues. Four main factors: attribute to the teacher shortage: a declined in teacher preparation enrollments, district efforts to return to pre-recession pupil-teacher ratios, increased student enrollment, and high teacher attrition.

Creating Measurement and Accountability Systems for 21st Century Schools

David Osborne of the Progressive Policy Institute argues that states need to rethink their outdated assumptions before revising their measurement and accountability systems under ESSA. He provides guidelines for states, including his version of ‘an ideal statewide accountability system’. 

The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code

As the world around us changes, education must also change to fit the needs of a shifting economy and society. KnowledgeWorks recently released their fourth comprehensive forecast on the future of learning, which looks at how the intersection of people, institutions, and society impact the way we educate and what we learn. This forecast looks at how education may continue to change, including personalized learning, machine-human partnerships, and the growing role of mentors.

How We Can Support States in 2017

Education Commission of the States shares resource and their strategies for supporting states through research and reports, available counsel, state policy database, and convenings such as the National Forum on Education Policy. 

Innovation in Accountability

Center for American Progress considers various indicators districts can use to measure accountability and addresses concerns pertaining to reliable and valid indicators under ESSA’s broader vision.  

Obama Education Agenda in 2nd Term Driven by Loose Ends

According to this article from the Huffington Post, experts believe that President Obama’s agenda for education in his second term will revolve around funding-related issues, rather than reform. Addressing issues such as teacher assessments, early childhood education, and college costs may all depend on preventing budget reductions.

OECD Skills Outlook 2015: Youth, Skills, and Employability

A new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states that 35 million young people around the world are not employed or in school because of a lack of basic literacy and math skills. The report draws upon data from the international 2012 Survey of Adult Skills, which shows that 10 percent of new graduates have poor literacy skills and 14 percent have poor math skills, making it difficult for young adults to find promising jobs with opportunities for advancement or training. In the U.S., one in every six young adults between 16 and 29 years of age is disengaged from work and education—which is higher than the OECD average—and we have the highest share of young people with low math skills among other OECD countries.

Planning for Progress: States Reflect on Year One Implementation of ESSA

The Center on Education Policy at George Washington University administered a survey about the experiences of state education agencies in the early phases of ESSA implementation. The results reflect progress states are making and the challenges they are facing as they implement the new law. 

The Racial Generation Gap and the Future for Our Children

First Focus, a bipartisan organization that supports prioritizing children and families in federal policy, has released a report on how changing demographics in America have implications not only on public policy but on our nation’s children. The report notes five demographic trends that offer challenges and opportunities for young people: children are leading a demographic transformation, the growing racial generation gap, geographic shifts facing our nation’s children, growth in minority voters who are highly supportive of children’s programs, and changing gender roles and growing support among younger men for children’s issues.

Reading the Future of Education Policy

Fundamental shifts have been occurring in the landscape of education politics that will dramatically influence how such policies will be pursued. In this commentary, Jeffery Henig attempts to expand on an important shift: "the end of exceptionalism.” As elected officials from various political arenas see the need to improve education, there is an attempt to treat education like other domestic policy issues and provide generalized solutions. Henig explores how exceptionalism is disappearing and expands on the implications of treating education policy in such a way.

States' Capacity a Nagging Issue as ESSA Gears Up

Education Week addresses a major issue in the implementation process of ESSA in school districts with insufficient amounts of funding. Many districts have minimal access to resources to measure the required new indicator in a reliable and valid way.

Will Education Policy in a Second Term Look Like Governing Obama or Campaigning Obama?

In this article, Michael McShane claims that President Obama was an education reformer in his first term, but questions what he will do in his second term. Questions have risen about the feasibility of talking points brought up in the campaign, such as reducing class size and hiring more math and science teachers. Furthermore, it is uncertain whether financial constraints will prevent any action at all.

Measuring Policy Outcomes

Back to School Statistics 2015

The National Center for Education Statistics has published Back to School statistics for the 2015-16 year, which offer a snapshot of what public education looks like around the nation. It notes that this year, 50.1 million students will attend public elementary and secondary schools, and another 4.9 million students are expected to attend private schools. White students account for the largest racial demographic group, comprising 49.3% of students, followed by Hispanic students at 26.1% and Black students at 15.4%. It also identifies 3.1 million full-time teachers in public schools and 20.2 million students attending American colleges and universities.

Career and Technical Education in High School: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?

Career Technical Education combines academics with technical and occupational information to create a pathway for postsecondary education and careers. Shawn M. Dougherty, an assistant professor from the University of Connecticut uses data to examine the occupational-driven sequences of CTE coursework and potential benefit it has for students. This study data from the Arkansas Research Center (ARC) uses more than 100,000 students from eighth grade through higher education and/or the workforce. One of the key findings from the study is that students enrolled in CTE programs are more likely to be employed and earn higher wages over other students who do not partake in the program. 

Choosing Our Future: A Story of Opportunity in America

The ETS Opportunity Project examines the dimensions of human and social capital and their relationship to adult outcomes. It goes on to consider the transmission of opportunity across generations with special focus on the early years, and calls for a broad perspective for the future. The report authors conclude that we must weave together already-successful approaches with new interventions that, taken together, address the needs of individuals over the course of their lives.

Closing the Achievement Gap: Four States' Efforts 

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) recently released a report highlighting the efforts of four states—Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin—to reduce the achievement gap at the state level. The report, written by CO EPFP Fellow Micah Ann Wixom, looks at how these states, which have track records of average or strong academic achievement, are addressing racial and income achievement gaps that have remained stable over the last few decades. Some common themes from the states’ efforts include offering professional development to teachers in low-performing schools and districts, recruiting and retaining teachers and administrators of color, providing extra resources and training to English language learners (ELLs) and ELL teachers, and expanding early childhood education programs.

Creating Pathways to Success for Opportunity Youth: Lessons from Three Massachusetts Communities

The Rennie Center, which houses Massachusetts EPFP, has released a new policy brief, Creating Pathways to Success for Opportunity Youth: Lessons from Three Massachusetts Communities. The Rennie Center conducted a national review of research literature and examined high school equivalency (HSE) programs in three Massachusetts communities. Using these models, the policy brief highlights how programs can offer effective supports to students and address the unique needs of their local communities. It also considers the challenges of advancing HSE programs in Massachusetts and offers considerations for practitioners and policymakers.


Desegregation Since the Coleman Report

As part of an Education Next series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the James S. Coleman’s report Equality of Educational Opportunity, professor Steven Rivkin looked at how desegregation efforts in schools and housing have changed since the 1960s with a particular focus on Black and White students. He found that while desegregation efforts increased between 1968 and 1980, the exposure rate—that is, the likelihood that a Black student will interact with White students at school—fell. The general decrease of White students enrolling in schools due to an increasing minority population of Hispanic and Asian students. He also cites “White flight,” or White families moving away from desegregation and to suburban areas, as a factor in decreased desegregation in schools.

Despite Some Gains, Most States Don't Pass Education Policy Evaluation

StudentsFirst released its second annual State Policy Report Card evaluation, with no states receiving an A grade and the vast majority receiving D's and F's. The evaluation is based on how well states elevate the teaching profession, empower parents, and spend wisely and govern well. Louisiana and Florida topped the list with a B-minus, followed by Indiana with a C-plus. Seven states received a grade of F.


Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators

This annual book by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provides data on the structure, finances, and performance of education systems in the OECD’s 34 member countries. The report illuminates labor, social, and equity outcomes of prek-16 education systems, adult education. The report offers an in-depth look at the American education system, our overall learning environments, characteristics, and comparative results that can inform both policy and practice.

Education Week's 2015 Quality Counts 

Education Week’s 2015 edition of Quality Counts focuses on early childhood education and the effects of new academic standards, demands, and accountability pressures on young children and their educators. In addition to investigative journalism pieces by the Education Week writers, Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown also includes an analysis of participation in early education programs, the Early Education Index featuring state grades based on federal data, and other trends. Key findings in Quality Counts 2015 include: nearly two-thirds of children ages 3-6 are attending school, children from disadvantaged families are less likely to be enrolled in preschool, and rates of preschool participation vary across states.

Equity and ESSA: Leveraging Educational Opportunity Through the Every Student Succeeds Act

The new report from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) examines the opportunity for federal government, states, districts, and schools to equitably design education systems through new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act. This report reviews the provisions in four major areas and describes how they can be leveraged by policymakers, educators, researchers, and advocates to advance equity in education for all students.  IEL’s community schools strategy is highlighted. 

Evaluating the Content and Quality of Next Generation Assessments

Testing and assessments is one of the most hotly debated topics in education. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently released a report based on two years of research on PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests, as well as the ACT Aspire assessment and the Massachusetts state exam, MCAS. The study used the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Criteria for Procuring and Evaluating High-Quality Assessments as its benchmark. Some of the report’s findings include: PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments were most strongly aligned to the CCSSO Criteria; ACT Aspire and MCAS offered high item quality and depth of knowledge assessed; and ACT Aspire and MCAS did not adequately assess certain priority content in Common Core English language arts and mathematics.

Exploring the consequences of charter school expansion in U.S. cities

This report focuses on the loss of enrollments and revenues to charter schools in host districts and the response of districts as seen through patterns of overhead expenditures. Author Bruce D. Baker describes the effects of charter expansion finding that district schools are surviving but under increased stress, expansion is not driven by well-known, high-profile operators, and charter schools are expanding in low-income, predominantly minority urban settings. 

For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence

The Equity and Excellence Commission's charge was to provide advice to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education on the disparities in meaningful educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap, with a focus on systems of finance, and to recommend ways in which federal and state policies could address such disparities. Read the report here.

High School Benchmarks: National College Progression Rates

The National Student Clearinghouse released their third annual report on high school graduates’ college access, persistence, and completion outcomes. Using data provided by high schools using the Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker service, the report organizes data by different types of high schools, such as low versus higher income and low versus high minority. Interesting findings include: higher income schools, regardless of location (urban, suburban, or rural) or diversity (high minority or low minority student populations) had higher college enrollment rates than low income schools; college enrollment rates increased markedly when all enrollments in the first year following high school, regardless of term, were considered; and students from higher income schools were up to twice as likely to complete college within six years than students from low income schools.

Looking Back to Move Forward: A History of Federal Student Aid

The first two installments of a mini-documentary film series by the Lumina Foundation and the Institute for Higher Education Policy on the history and politics of federal financial aid feature the likes of Margaret Spellings, Melody Barnes, and Bob Shireman. Looking Back to Move Forward: A History of Federal Student Aid looks at the origins of financial aid and milestones through its history to identify how current issues and past experiences with the program can help to determine its future. The series also discusses the large-scale growth of student loans, different types of federal student aid available, and how funding has affected the availability of student aid, creating a comprehensive story of federal financial aid in the United States and how it impacts our students, higher education system, and citizens.

Making the Grade: A Progress Report and Next Steps for Integrated Student Supports

ChildTrends publishes an updated review of Integrated Student Supports that is optimistic about their effectiveness as supported by new and continuing research evidence. The report points out that nonacademic outcomes are rarely measured despite being central to the conceptual model, which limits our understanding of the mechanisms driving success. 

Race and Ethnicity in a New Era of Public Funding for Private Schools

The 2016 report from the Southern Education Foundation uncovers the relationship between private school funding and race and ethnicity. Unlike public schools, the private school system has the ability to admit or deny any student. High levels of segregation have been present in the private school sector across the country. The report indicates that, last year, $1 billion was allocated to private schools from various state treasuries. The report also highlights how voucher/tax credit programs are creating reemergence of a "separate but unequal" education system.

Review of Research in Education

AERA’s compilation of 23 articles offer a retrospective on decades of education research on salient topics including, “Implementation Research: Finding Common Ground on What, How, Why, Where, and Who” and “Dehumanizing the ‘Other’: Race, Culture, and Identity in Education Research”.

Student Transportation and Educational Access

Urban Institute takes a look at transportation to and from school, examining how certain types of transportation (yellow bus, public) have an effect on students’ ability to perform in school. They examine five example cities to see how their transportation works.

The Condition of Education 2015

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) released their annual data report, The Condition of Education 2015The Condition of Education 2015, which presents 42 key indicators on important topics and trends in U.S. education. These data points come from across the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and highlight aspects of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. This year, the report shows that 91 percent of adults ages 25 to 29 had a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2014, and that 34 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher; one in five school-age children lived in poverty in 2013, an increase from one in seven in 2007; 81 percent of high school students graduated on time with a regular diploma in the 2011-12 school year; and students under the age of 25 made up 88 percent of the full-time undergraduate population at public universities and 86 percent at private nonprofit schools.

The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment

In a recently released analysis of the Moving to Opportunity program, researchers from Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research discuss the improved long-term outcomes of children who move out of high-poverty neighborhoods and into better areas and schools. The Moving to Opportunity program, which ran from 1994 to 1998, provided housing vouchers to 4,600 low-income families in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York to move to lower-poverty neighborhoods to better understand the effects of the move on children. The new report notes that the move to better neighborhoods significantly improved college attendance rates and earnings for children whose families moved and increased the likelihood that, as adults, they would live in low-poverty neighborhoods and decreased the chance of them becoming single parents.

The Graduation Rates from Every School District in One Map

To visualize what high school graduation rates look like across the country, the Hechinger Report compiled graduation data from every school district and created a map showing each district’s graduation rates. While the overall high school graduation rate in the U.S. was at 81 percent in 2013, it varies across and within states. Regionally, the map shows low graduation rates in much of the South and higher rates across much of the Midwest and Texas. Some states, like Colorado and Oregon, show pockets of areas with higher rates surrounded by districts with lower rates.

The "Oscars" of Education Policy Research

Learn more about the Bunkums Awards, a prize from the National Education Policy Center that recognizes the tirelessly toiling think tankers who breathe life into the endless possibilities of shameless research design, analysis and reporting. The Bunkums are reserved for those who have elevated the art of façade-building, using the pretense of research to delightfully disguise advocacy. "This year’s deserving awardees join a pantheon of purveyors of weak data, shoddy analyses, and overblown recommendations from years past,” said the judges in handing out this year’s awards.

The Power and Peril of Predictive Analytics in Higher Education

This study exemplifies how predictive analytics can be used to help low-income and minority students overcome the odds and succeed in college, or it can be used to shut them out altogether. New America provides a landscape analysis of the extent, implementation, and challenges of predictive analytics for enrollment, graduation rate, and student success.

Tracking Education Policy in the 2nd Obama Administration

Education policy is an intergovernmental issue. Washington pundits are predicting three major trends that will have an impact on education reform in Obama’s 2nd term: reduced federal funding for K-12, a growing divide over education reform inside the GOP, and the staying power of teacher unions. Click here for a chart which will allow you to keep track of the "experts’” predictions, as well as note the deviations that characterize education policy activities at home.

U.S. Earns Average Grades in Education Policy

The U.S earned a grade of C for its education-policy efforts and results, in Education Week's Quality Counts survey, which annually measures education policies, student achievement and other factors -- giving each state a letter grade. The country overall performed best this year in a measure of standards, assessments and school accountability, earning a B.

Uncovering the Productivity Promise of Rural Education

In the latest volume of The SEA of the Future, a series of publications providing new strategies for advancing productivity in state education agencies, the Building State Capacity and Productivity Center focuses on how rural districts have unique challenges and innovations that can offer insight to how SEAs move forward. In the volume, Uncovering the Productivity Promise of Rural Education, researchers provide data and information about rural education and how they can provide models of better serving students. The topics covered in the volume include why SEAs should focus on rural schools and districts, how rural districts are more likely to deliver better than expected results with lower per-pupil funding, how technology might address common challenges in rural schools and districts, and the challenges rural districts face in meeting the needs of special student populations.

White House Fact Sheet on Graduation Rates

President Obama announced that America’s high school graduation rate has reached a record new high of 83.2 percent. The rate has risen steadily and the increase reflects progress for all reported groups. This fact sheet outlines key signs of increased educational opportunity and student success since President Obama took office.

White House Report Puts Spotlight on Expanding College Opportunities

As part of a White House College Opportunity Summit, the Obama administration issued a report outlining promising models to improve college enrollment and completion by low-income students. Participants attending the summit made commitments in four areas: connecting low-income students to the right college; increasing the pool of college-ready students; expanding college advising and test preparation; and reforming remedial education.

Will a Decline on the Nation’s Report Card Hurt Common Core?

As states have been implementing the Common Core State Standards over the last few years, educators have tried to prepare students, parents, and the public for the new standards’ effect on standardized test scores. When the 2015 scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were released in late October 2015, the data showed that both math and reading scores declined for the first time since 1998. A Hechinger Report article discusses the possible reasons why NAEP scores, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, have decreased, and whether the drop is related to Common Core. The article notes that scores dropped in both in Common Core states and those that did not adopt the standards, and there is no evidence that the new standards are the reason for the lower scores. However, the drop may add fuel to the fire of the anti-Common Core movement and create a perception that the standards and scores are, in fact, related.

Why Rural Matters

The annual report on the condition of rural education (2013-14) by The Rural Schools and Community Trust explores (1) the Importance of rural education, (2) the Diversity of rural students and their families, (3) Socioeconomic Challenges facing rural communities across the nation, (4) the Educational Policy Context impacting rural schools, and (5) the Educational Outcomes of students in rural schools in each state. Given the rising prominence of rural issues, this report offers a salient overview of the state of rural education in America.

Policy and Policymaking

Achieving Simple Justice

The Office of Civil Rights reports on their policy guidance, investigation/enforcement summary, and illustrative cases for the years 2009-2016. These are explored under a number of topical categories including ensuring equal educational opportunity and fostering racial diversity, expanding equity for students of all abilities, preventing and responding to sexual violence, and removing barriers to opportunity due to language or national origin.

Executive Order on Federalism Education

On April 26, President Trump signed an executive order delivering on his commitment to ensure education decisions are made by those closest to students. It directs Secretary DeVos to review and, if necessary, modify and repeal regulations and guidance previously issued by the Department that overstep the legal authority of the federal government.  “My Administration has been working to reverse this federal power grab and give power back to families, cities, [and] states. Give power back to localities…We know that local communities do it best and know it best” the President said at the signing. Read the remarks and watch the video.

How Congress Finally Killed No Child Left Behind

The recently signed Every Student Succeeds Act is the result of years of discussions, deals, and drafts to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, which first passed in 2002. It wasn’t until the 2014 midterm elections, however, that the new bill got new life from the top education leaders in Congress: Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Patty Murray, and Rep. John Kline. A  POLITICO article by Maggie Severns looks back on the history of the No Child Left Behind rewrite and how the Every Student Succeeds Act was developed, voted through Congress, and signed into law by President Obama, despite many challenges and roadblocks.

Department of Education Nudges College Accreditors to Get Tougher

The U.S. Department of Education is warning accreditation agencies to enhance their review process of colleges and universities in the United States. Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell sent a letter to all recognized accrediting agencies and encourage them to examine colleges using quantitative measures such as retention, graduation levels, and student loan default. College accreditation agencies rating system helps the federal government determine the amount of federal financial aid that will be allocated for a given college or university.

ESEA Reauthorization: The Every Student Succeeds Act Explained

Fourteen years have passed since the last reauthorization of ESEA, and the newest version—called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—was recently released as Congress prepares to vote for the bill and send it to President Obama’s desk. To break down the legislation and highlight key elements, Education Week published a cheat sheet and explanation of top-line parts of the bill. The article notes ESSA’s new testing requirements, accountability and intervention guidelines, and the creation of “supersubgroups” of programs as part of a large block grant.

The Federal Role in Education Today: Why It Makes No Sense at All

 "The nation has come to place where the federal and state roles in education are indistinguishable,” says Marc Tucker. Siting a recent example of California being denied a waiver for omitting certain provisions from their application, Tucker questions if it is right for the federal government to refuse funding to states that are legally allowed to choose their own education agenda. Furthermore, considering the provisions California omitted have no substantial evidence supporting their effectiveness, is it right for federal organizations to insist such practices be implemented? Click here to see what Marc Tucker thinks. 

Friendship Won't Fix Washington

Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, and a regular at the EPFP Washington Policy Seminar (WPS) argues that the biggest problems in politics are systemic. As Ornstein argues, “The bigger problems with gridlock and dysfunction are not because individuals do not trust each other; they are because of larger factors in the political process and the culture.” The article offers an important consideration on the current policymaking process.

How Congress Finally Killed No Child Left Behind

The recently signed Every Student Succeeds Act is the result of years of discussions, deals, and drafts to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, which first passed in 2002. It wasn’t until the 2014 midterm elections, however, that the new bill got new life from the top education leaders in Congress: Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Patty Murray, and Rep. John Kline. A  POLITICO article by Maggie Severns looks back on the history of the No Child Left Behind rewrite and how the Every Student Succeeds Act was developed, voted through Congress, and signed into law by President Obama, despite many challenges and roadblocks.

Leveraging ESSA: Shining a Spotlight on K-12 and Higher Ed Alignment

The Education Strategy Group has published two new briefs detailing strategies for aligning K-12 and Higher Education proposed in ESSA state plans. These papers highlight promising practices and recommendations for implementation to achieve seamless secondary to postsecondary transitions that close equity gaps and allow states to cultivate a robust workforce for a sustainable 21st century economy. 

Obama Administration and Hispanic Education

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in September, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics released three documents that support the Initiative’s work to ensure Hispanic Americans have the opportunity to achieve in school, work, and beyond. The Federal Agency Investing in Hispanic Education report features a sampling of programs and grants that support and invest in the educational attainment of Hispanics. Federal Agency Data Plans outlines the funding offered by federal agencies that makes information and resources available to all students, including Hispanics, in the priority education areas of early learning, family engagement, college access, STEM education, Latino teacher recruitment, and postsecondary education. Finally, the Federal Agency Commitments to Action show investments made by federal agencies that aim to increase educational outcomes and opportunities for the Hispanic community.

One Year Later: How States Are Leading for Equity

The Council of Chief State School Officers set out actions that state education leaders can take to move the needle on equity. These commitments have underscored the work at CCSSO for the past year and this blog recounts the notable progress that has been made.

Public Policy Primer:  How to Get Off the Sidelines and Into the Game

This Public Policy Primer is intended to demystify policymaking and provide the average person with the guidelines, insights, and a "know-how recipe” to be able to have an impact on the policy process and to help shape local and national policy decisions. Written in a conversational tone by noted expert David C. Hollister, a life-long public servant and former mayor of Lansing, MI, the Policy Primer uses his personal experience to illustrate key elements of effective (or ineffective) policymaking; that is, the distinctions between good policy/good politics and good policy/bad politics. Even people who work inside the policymaking world will find Hollister’s interpretation a useful resource, as he lifts the lid on the state house and Congress and pulls back the curtain on what occurs behind the scene. The Policy Primer was co-published by the Michigan EPFP, where Hollister has served as a resource person for 25 years.

 State Education Governance Structures 2017 Update

The Education Commission of the States reviews the structure of state education, explaining that an education governance structure captures the relationships of governors, state boards, and state chiefs. This report provides four core governance structure models along with insight into how this shapes policy interactions, priorities for development, and implications for practice.

2015 EdNext Poll on School Reform

The results of Education Next’s ninth annual poll shows a diverse set of opinions among the American public on education reform. Findings show that 67 percent of Americans support a federal requirement for annual testing, while only 47 percent of teachers agree with testing, and opinions on who should set educational standards are split, with 43 percent of the public saying that states should while 41 percent believe the federal government should do so. Common Core opposition has also grown since 2013, particularly among teachers; only 40 percent of teachers surveyed said they support Common Core, compared to 76 percent of teachers in 2013. Other topics covered in the poll include education funding, teacher salaries, racial disparities in suspension rates, and academic emphases in K-12 education.

The 2nd Annual New Education Majority Poll: Black and Latino Parents and Families on Education and Their Children’s Future

The New Education Majority Poll captures the beliefs of Black and Latino parents and families and reveals the actual perspectives, aspirations, and concerns that they have about their children’s education and the education system itself. The annual survey seeks to enrich discussions on education policy and practice by amplifying the voices of Black and Latino Parents and families. The findings this year are similar to last, where perceptions of racial disparities remain strong, and Black and Latino parents and family members continue to place a high premium on high expectations and academic rigor for their children. 

Truth About Policymakers?

In this article, Larry Cuban discusses Rick Hess's ideas about the goals of policymakers in dealing with education issues. Cuban agrees with Hess's argument that policymakers have certain limitations that make implementing education reform difficult. However, he also suggests that Hess ignores the biases of current policymakers which can lead to mistakes in adopting and implementing policies. Cuban addresses fundamental errors in the thinking of policymakers and makes the argument that reform driven policy will not cause significant changes in schooling without teacher support.

The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code

As the world around us changes, education must also change to fit the needs of a shifting economy and society. KnowledgeWorks recently released their fourth comprehensive forecast on the future of learning, which looks at how the intersection of people, institutions, and society impact the way we educate and what we learn. This forecast looks at how education may continue to change, including personalized learning, machine-human partnerships, and the growing role of mentors.

Want Better Education Policy? There’s a Checklist for That.

When education policies don’t go as planned or aren’t as successful as expected, policymakers and experts often note that while the policy was good, implementation was not very smooth. To help ensure policies are strong from the get-go and policymakers are aware of how their initiative fits into the bigger education picture, four education organizations—the Education Commission of the States, the Aspen Institute, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation—jointly created a State Education Policy Checklist to walk policymakers through key considerations when proposing new education legislation. A recent article in Governing discusses the checklist, which covers topics such as completing an impact analysis, drafting an implementation plan, or examining existing policies that address the same problem.

Worst. Congress. Ever. The case in 7 charts.

The new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll paints a dire picture of Americans' opinions about Congress. So, is this the worst Congress ever? That depends on how you define "worst," but there's little doubt the 113th Congress is in the running for that ignominious title. Check out the various ways worst can be measured -- and how the 113th measures up.

Teachers, Schools, and Districts

Alternatives to School Closures

A new infographic created by the Schott Foundation's Opportunity to Learn Campaign shows alternatives to closing down struggling schools arguing "you can't improve schools by shutting them down." 

Beyond PD: Teacher Professional Learning in High-Performing Systems

Effective teachers are the cornerstone of any high achieving school system, and schools and districts that provide high quality professional learning opportunities to their teachers tend to see higher student outcomes. In a recent report, the National Center on Education and the Economy looks at how education systems in British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore view and improve teacher professional learning and the impact this has on student achievement. The study offers three areas of focus that these high-performing systems prioritize when it comes to supporting educators’ development: developing new professional learning leaders, evaluation and accountability that improves professional learning, and creating time for professional learning.

College Counseling in High Schools: Advising State Policy

While the U.S. strives to increase the number of students entering postsecondary education and earning degrees, an Education Commission of the States (ECS) brief discusses how policies regarding approaches to college counseling in high schools in many states do not appear to be providing the guidance and support needed to encourage more students to enter—and complete—college. Key takeaways of the brief include distinctly different counseling practices and attitudes in high schools sending more students to four-year institutions and those sending fewer students to four-year institutions; research supporting high-impact, low-cost approaches that especially help low-income and first-generation college-goers; and emerging state politics and initiatives aligned with these approaches.

Common Core of Data (CCD) Data Tables

The Common Core of Data, the primary K-12 database for the U.S. Department of Education, has released data tables of high school dropout and completion statistics. The tables offer a variety of data points on high school dropout and completion rates, including listing rates for the 100 largest public school districts in the nation; public high school graduation rates for all students and by race; average freshman graduation rates by race, gender, state, and year; and a multitude of other useful data points. Many of the tables also provide data over several years, allowing for the observation of trends.

Early Career Outcomes for the “Best and the Brightest”

There are many efforts and initiatives aimed at attracting our brightest college and university students to the teaching profession, but how effective are they in keeping these promising educators in the classroom? Sean Kelly and Laura Northrop from the University of Pittsburg published a study in the American Educational Research Journal that uses data from the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Survey (BTLS) to examine attrition among selective college graduates and what might explain those rates of attrition.

'Education Innovation Clusters' Aim to Improve Schools

Partnerships are an important way for schools and educators to pool resources to improve student learning, and “education innovation clusters” are proof that regional partnerships across diverse stakeholders can help develop useful strategies for student success. An Education Week article delves into how education innovation clusters have formed in 14 regions across the country—and around the world—to coordinate and collaborate activities of school districts, universities, nonprofit organizations, and private companies to improve education. Highlighting examples of work by the Pittsburgh cluster, which includes 200 organizations, and the impact of the ed-tech industry, the article shows that these clusters and partnerships are continuing to grow.

Getting to Teacher Ownership: How Schools Are Creating Meaningful Change

Annenberg Institute for School Reform’s series of publications and supplementary materials, examines how teachers can gain a sense of ownership of school and system-level improvement efforts. The study examines how some high schools in California, implementing various improvement approaches, have engaged teachers in transforming and learning. 

How Can We Ensure That All Children Have Excellent Teachers? 

Inspired by the U.S. Department of Education’s focus on ensuring all students have access to excellent educators, a new discussion guide released by Public Agenda provides resources for educators, administrators, and other school and district employees to discuss how they can best tackle equal access and improve educator quality in their classrooms and schools. The guide outlines approaches for educators and administrators to consider when developing strategies for their schools and districts and create action-oriented dialogues with parents, employees, and the community.

Is America's Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?

“Is America’s Education Problem Really Just a Teacher Problem?” The host of the Freakonomics radio podcast and the co-author of the bestselling book by the same title looks at the question through the lens of how we prepare our teachers and the impact that has on students’ performance in the classroom. Through research and interviews with former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, KIPP co-founder David Levin, author Dana Goldstein, and others, the podcast addresses fundamental problems with the way American educators are recruited, trained, and prepared for teaching students and suggests ways that the public image and professionalization of teachers could be improved to encourage our brightest young people to become top-notch educators.

Learning to Improve: How America's Schools Can Get Better and Getting Better 

Interested in how schools can use research theories to improve? A new book written by Anthony Bryk, Louis Gomez, Alicia Grunow, and Paul LeMahieu, experts at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, called Learning to Improve: How America’s Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better, offers six core principles for bringing together researchers and practitioners to improve teaching and learning at all levels, from elementary school through higher education, including addressing high failure rates in community college remedial math courses and improving feedback to new teachers.

Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership

Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership is a report recently released by the George W. Bush Institute. The report claims that states are not effectively fulfilling their role to assure adequate principals are being prepared and maintained, appropriate standards for principal licensure are set, and data that identifies effective principals are being monitored.

School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect

The Horace Mann League and National Superintendents Roundtable recently released a study that examines how six dimensions related to student performance impact student achievement, test scores, and school systems in nine nations. School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect focuses on how equity, social stress, support for families, support for schools, student outcomes, and system outcomes affect how students from each of the nine nations rate among each other in educational outcomes and attainment. The study found that, despite the United States being the wealthiest and most highly educated of the observed countries, high levels of economic inequity and social stress may be negatively affecting student achievement.

Social and Emotional Learning: Opportunities for Massachusetts, Lessons from the Nation

Studies show that the development of social and emotional skills like empathy, cooperation, flexibility, and decision-making are crucial for the long-term career and social success of young people. A report recently released by ASCD and the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy (and the MA EPFP host organization) looks at ways that states and school districts can help students develop these social and emotional skills. The report finds that Massachusetts has several social and emotional learning programs and policies in place, but more work is needed to align efforts and support all districts in this work. It also looks at social and emotional learning practices in several states and districts across the country. In addition, the report offers a blueprint for all school districts on how to foster and integrate social and emotional development in their existing programs.

Teachers Unions and Management Partnerships: How Working Together Improves Student Achievement 

In an effort to explore how public school reform and improvement can be effectively implemented, a Center for American Progress report looks at how strong relationships between teachers unions, administrators, and educators can improve student achievement. The study, Teachers Unions and Management Partnerships: How Working Together Improves Student Achievement, highlights research showing that union-management partnership can help to create a positive climate for teacher collaboration, leading to innovation and problem solving. Some key findings of the study include the impact of formal partnerships on student performance, increased communication between teachers due to partnerships, and more frequent communication between union representatives and principals.






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