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19th September 2023
White House's tutoring expansion progress examined
The White House is almost 75% of the way toward meeting its goal to place an extra 250,000 tutors, coaches and mentors in public schools by summer 2025. In just over a year since the initiative was launched, data from the National Partnership for Student Success, which surveyed school principals, found "notable progress" being made to provide extra supports to schools. While 25% of schools reported they had no tutors, mentors or success coaches in 2022-23, more than a third of schools reported increasing the number of adults providing NPSS student supports in 2022-23. There are now estimated to have been 187,000 additional adults providing student supports in 2022-23. Other notable statistics include the percentage of public schools providing high-intensity tutoring in 2022-23 (53%), the number of additional high-intensity tutors in 2022-23 compared to 2021-22 (78,000), and the number of additional mentors in 2022-23 compared to 2021-22 (60,000).
Missouri champions new social-emotional learning standards
Education officials in Missouri are optimistic that new state social-emotional learning standards will help combat the challenge of teacher turnover. Over half of the state's new teachers leave the profession by their fifth year, with student misbehavior being a top factor. Robust social-emotional learning can prevent poor behavior and improve school climates, ultimately improving teacher morale. The state's board of education has developed K-12 SEL standards that parallel academic standards and address expectations for instruction. SEL has gained momentum nationwide, with every state incorporating SEL tenets into its academic standards.
Starting school early helps avoid achievement gaps
A new study claims that starting school before the age of two helps children avoid achievement gaps. Researchers focused on a program called Educare, which experts say could serve as a model for the future of Head Start. Educare provides consistency and strong relationships with families by assigning the same teacher to children for their first three years. The program also includes a lead teacher, an assistant, and an aide in most classrooms, allowing for more interaction with children. Educare's daily classroom routines, such as transitioning from the playground to the classroom, demonstrate its commitment to quality early education. “It wasn’t their elementary school experience that was different; their early-childhood experience was different,” comments Diane Horm, director of the Early Childhood Education Institute at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and part of a nationwide network of researchers evaluating Educare. “There was no evidence of fade out and no evidence of catch up.”
Washington state expands high school graduation options
Washington's Board of Education has unanimously advanced a set of rules to expand the list of high school courses that meet graduation requirements. The rules direct the Board of Education to create a list of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge International courses that fulfill the new "graduation pathway" requirements. The newly approved courses include AP European history, AP African American studies, AP precalculus, and any IB course in computer science. Cambridge International courses like drama, economics, and geography have also been added. The board is considering including AP physics, AP macroeconomics, and AP microeconomics as well. Additionally, the new graduation pathway focuses on workforce experience, allowing students to graduate through performance-based learning experiences such as professional skill-building, internships, or community service.
Portland Schools and teachers at impasse over contract negotiations
Portland Public Schools and the union representing its educators have reached an impasse in their contract negotiations, increasing the likelihood of a teacher strike starting on October 23. The two sides have been unable to agree on key issues such as cost of living raises, class sizes, teacher planning time, and disruptive student behavior. Both sides must present their final offers within a week, and if no agreement is reached, a 30-day cooling-off period will begin before teachers can strike. The district's most recent offer includes a 4% annual salary increase and a $3,000 bonus for special education educators, while the union is requesting a 21.5% raise over three years. Portland Public Schools, the largest district in Oregon, has never experienced a teacher strike before.
California lawmakers pass bill requiring lead testing in schools
California lawmakers have passed a bill that mandates all schools in the state to test for lead in drinking water outlets. The bill requires community water systems serving schools built before 2010 to test all potable water outlets and report the results to the school, educational agency, and state water regulators. Outlets exceeding lead levels of 5 parts per billion would be shut down immediately. The bill also requires schools to notify parents and guardians, shut down contaminated outlets, and provide an alternative source of lead-free drinking water. Schools that have replaced all water outlets after 2010 are exempt from testing. The law is estimated to cost the California State Water Resources Control Board tens of millions of dollars.
Suggestions that New Jersey's school funding formula requires improvement
New Jersey will need to readjust its funding formula for students, including those with more complex needs, in order to meet education standards set in its constitution, according to a report by New Jersey Policy Perspective. The report calls for legislative hearings to adjust the formula to reflect higher student performance goals. The current funding formula, based on learning goals set in the early 2000s, is considered outdated. The report recommends increasing funding for the highest-poverty districts by more than $7,000 per student to achieve Massachusetts-level test scores. The authors argue that adjusting the formula is a matter of both racial justice and educational adequacy. The report also highlights the positive impact of higher funding levels on student achievement. New Jersey should follow other states in revising their funding formulas based on data showing how funding relates to student outcomes.
Pine Bluff Schools returns to local control
The Pine Bluff School District in Arkansas has been returned to local control after five years of state intervention due to fiscal distress. The state took over the district in 2018 due to financial concerns and declining student enrollment. The district's spending and revenue decline led to a projected $2m deficit. The district will now conduct school board elections annually, starting in 2024. 
Florida schools confused amid new education laws
Florida school district leaders are facing frustration and confusion as they try to enforce new education laws regarding gender issues, sex, library books, and race. Vaguely written rules, changing directives, and confusing guidance from state officials are hindering efforts towards compliance. The dysfunction has led to mistrust and uncertainty among educators who prefer to teach students without political interference. District leaders are calling for clear guidance from the Department of Education to ensure uniformity and avoid penalties. Gov. Ron DeSantis has made public education a central focus in his campaign for president, forcing schools to address broader cultural issues.

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