Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Early Graduation Scholarships: Clear 2011 policy trend

In a year where budgets are tight and hopes for postsecondary enrollment are high, it is perhaps only natural that one of this year's big policy topics is college scholarships for students who finish high school in fewer than 4 years. Legislation has already been enacted in South Dakota this session to create the Jump Start Scholarship Program. And so far this session, bills to create early graduation scholarship programs have been proposed in at least four other states: Nevada, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois.

These efforts are in addition to the existing programs in Utah, Arizona and Texas (summarized starting page 5 of this 2010 report), and the pilot program established in 2010 in Idaho.

Approaches to help students earn a high school diploma faster--for example, online courses, credit for demonstration of mastery, and credit for high school courses completed before grade 9--should ensure that students meet the same high expectations as students completing traditional diploma pathways. The aforementioned 2010 ECS report identifies best practices in all these areas.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New ECS report on governor efforts to consolidate agencies

Back from a long March break--from blogging, that is, not from working during a very hectic legislative session!

Today ECS released a new report by this blogger on 2 recent state trends documented here-- governors' interest in consolidating state agencies overseeing various education "silos", and interest in serving a more hands-on role in education governance.

The report also cites a 1993 report that confirms that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The authors of the report point out that there is no "best" state education governance structure, but that different structures (chief appointed or elected, chief a politician or professional educator) may serve differing but equally valid state education goals.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kentucky: Incorporating best practice into teacher professional development

Came across an oldie-but-goodie (okay, not so oldie but still a goodie) in terms of teacher professional development, including in literacy. Kentucky 2009 S.B. 1 requires that K-12 professional development programs be made available to teachers based on teachers needs (rather than areas of interest that do not necessarily address student needs), and must include:
  • Strategies to provide continuous progress
  • Providing differentiated instruction
  • Assessment literacy
  • Integrating performance-based student assessment into daily classroom instruction.
The legislation as it previously stood permitted but did not mandate professional development in phonics. The 2009 amendments recast this passage to require that professional development programs (again, not just for primary grades teachers, but for K-12 teachers and based on need) include "instruction in reading", including not just phonics but also phonemic awareness, comprehension, fluency and vocabulary.