Top Five Issues in 2011: Education

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States aren’t waiting for reauthorization of the federal education law to find ways to boost academic achievement and student success. That education reform effort has already started and will continue in 2011. Despite delays at the national level, states are implementing a variety of strategies and initiatives to ensure students are prepared for the future. State legislatures will play an important role in preparing students for college and a career. States will tackle policy positions to implement common academic standards, close continuing achievement gaps, adequately prepare future teachers and find dollars to fund public education.
  1. Common Academic Standards
    Teachers, school administrators and experts developed the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math to provide a clear, consistent framework for classroom instruction to prepare all students for postsecondary education or the work force. By the end of 2010, more than 40 states plus Washington, D.C., formally adopted the standards. Many states will begin transitioning to common core standards in 2011, which will impact teacher professional development, teacher education pre-service programs, curriculum alignment, textbook adoption and purchasing, and overall communication with education stakeholders.
  2. College and Career Readiness
    Comprehensive high school reform models focused on turning around low-performing schools and increasing academic programs for students are increasingly being examined by states. Options some jurisdictions are trying include school size, alternative school calendars, student engagement, communities of learning, early college high schools and career academies, which are showing promise in raising student achievement and preparation for college or a career.
  3. Closing the Achievement Gap
    States are looking at school choice, including charter schools, as a way to address the growing achievement gaps between white students and African-American and Hispanic students. Other states are examining the use of vouchers to enable students in failing schools to enroll in private schools. Both charter schools and vouchers remain contentious political issues.
  4. Teacher Preparation and Quality
    In order to achieve the goal of graduating students who are college- and career-ready, teachers must be properly trained, understand academic standards and have the skills necessary to create effective lesson plans and ensure that their students are prepared for the next grade level. Effective pre-service teacher education programs are an important component. As states implement the Common Core State Standards, they must provide teachers with quality professional development opportunities and the resources to implement these standards and assessments successfully.
  5. Financing for Public Education
    Funding for education—K–12 and postsecondary—has been on shaky ground since the start of the Great Recession, but 2011 may prove to be even more challenging. Schools have been using money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to offset some of the effects of the economic downturn, but those funds will soon end.

For more information contact Pam Goins | 859.244.8142 | or visit