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What Happened in Your State this August?

capitol buildingThis past month, ten policy analysts published reports about what occurred in the following states: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Reports were evenly divided between K–12 and higher education.

Higher Education

Erin O’Neill describes New Mexico’s General Education Revision Initiative and Michael Gos the Core Curriculum (General Education) Requirements in Texas. In New Mexico, “five areas of essential skills were identified: Communication, Critical Thinking, Personal and Social Responsibility, Quantitative Skills, and Information Literacy.” In 2014 the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board “put into effect a new 42 semester credit hour core curriculum for all undergraduate students.”

Dan Melzer cites a research report from the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, recommending that UC Berkeley “eliminate the SAT as a factor in admissions decisions.” The report found that the disparate impact on students of color outweighed indications of success. In Study Finds Access to Technology May Lower Student Performance, Washington’s Amanda Espinosa-Aguilar suggests students taking notes longhand “retain their knowledge longer than those who do not.”

Stephen Ferruci highlights that while funding for corrections in Connecticut increased, the funding for higher education decreased.

K–12 Education

New Jersey and Pennsylvania have chosen opposite approaches to graduation requirements. Whereas NJ Adopts PARCC as Graduation Requirement (Kristen Turner) for Algebra I and language arts courses, Pennsylvania is exploring alternative assessments: Pennsylvania Governor Looking to Move Graduation Requirements Away from Standardized Tests (Aileen Hower).

Donna Wake reports on the New Arkansas Literacy Standards and how in 16 districts, Arkansas approved Waivers on Teacher Licensure similar to those granted in charter schools. Arkansas is one of a number of states allowing school districts to hire non-licensed teachers.

In ECOT, Charter Schools, and Voucher Programs in Ohio, Robin Holland reports on a study that found that “higher performing students opting to use vouchers to attend private schools performed significantly worse on state exams that lower performing students who, though eligible for vouchers, remained in public school.” Robin does note that the report merits further evaluation. She also describes the controversy surrounding ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) related to the discrepancies between student attendance and the funds requested by ECOT from the Ohio Department of Education.

Kris Cody-Johnson describes the committee formed in Wisconsin to Study Data Protection. That committee will study how student data are collected and safeguarded.