Katelyn Tye-Skowronski

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CSG Midwest
Career and technical education programs in Iowa schools will be held to a higher set of standards under legislation passed this spring. CTE programs use work-based learning to prepare students for life after high school, whether that is entering the workforce or attending college. Iowa’s standards hadn’t undergone a major revision since 1989, allowing each school district to evolve CTE programs at its own pace.
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The switch from military to civilian life holds many challenges, but a partnership of Midwestern states is hoping to ease this transition by using a service member’s military experience to increase postsecondary degree completion and streamline pathways for earning professional certification.
The Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit is coordinated by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, a nonprofit organization serving 13 states in the region.

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A new initiative in Indiana is looking beyond the state’s K-12 population as a means to increase the percentage of Hoosiers with education beyond high school. The goal of the “You Can. Go Back.” program is to encourage the 750,000 Indiana adults who completed some college, but left before earning a degree, to come back and finish what they started. Through a mix of strategic marketing and financial aid, the campaign hopes to attract 200,000 adults back to college by 2020, and help them complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or a workforce credential.
“You Can. Go Back.” is administered by the Indiana Commission of Higher Education in partnership with the state’s public university system, but has also gained the support of nearly two dozen private institutions and a variety of businesses.
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In 2012, concerned about the high rate of students who had to take remedial-level math and English classes during their first year of college, Ohio legislators decided to intervene. And the early results under HB 153 are promising. With this law in place, Ohio now sets college readiness indicators across all of its public colleges and universities. These statewide standards are then used to determine which students are placed into remedial-level versus college-level classes during their freshman year.
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Community paramedicine programs — sometimes known as field emergency medical services (EMS) or mobile integrated health care — expand the role of certified paramedics and allow them to provide non-emergency, preventative health care services to patients in their communities.
The expanded functions of a community paramedic can include providing primary care, chronic disease management, mental health and dental care, according to the American Nurses Association. Customarily, the role of a paramedic is to respond in emergency situations only, but the push for an expanded role is gaining momentum — particularly in rural areas that have fewer traditional health care providers.
Some community paramedic programs operate on a small scale without specific statutory authority. However, a handful of state legislatures (Missouri, Nevada and Washington, for example) have passed laws in recent years to authorize these programs on a statewide level.
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Each year, tens of thousands of incarcerated youths rely on state residential facilities to provide them with essential services during their time of commitment, including education. But according to a 2015 study by The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, most of these youths lack access to many of the same educational opportunities as their peers in the community — such as credit recovery programs, GED preparation, and career and technical education courses.
The 50-state analysis (“Locked Out: Improving Educational and Vocational Outcomes for Incarcerated Youth”) has a number of recommendations to address this imbalance, including holding juvenile facility schools and educators accountable for providing services that adhere to state curricular standards.
In 2012, the Indiana Department of Correction’s Division of Youth Services had that goal in mind when it implemented a new model for evaluating its teachers. The model, known as RISE, is the same one used in Indiana’s public schools.
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As the new year began in Illinois, there was still seemingly no resolution in sight to a months-old problem: The state had no budget. But even without one in place, many parts of Illinois government continued to operate, as the result of a mix of judicial, legislative and executive actions.
“Government ‘shutdown’ is always in quotes because no government really shuts down,” notes Chris Mooney, director of the University of Illinois Institute on Government and Public Affairs. “It’s always a matter of to what degree — how much government activity is not being done.”
Illinois has been without a budget since July 1 because of a stalemate between the Democrat-led legislature and Republican governor.
Still, according to the Illinois comptroller’s office, 90 percent of state operations are being funded. For example, state employees get paid because of a court order; services for the disabled continue as the result of a consent decree; and other obligations, such as pension payments, are covered under “continuing appropriations” language in state statute. Illinois legislators also have passed emergency spending bills to fund K-12 schools and local governments.
“All states feel disruption without a budget,” says Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at the National Association of State Budget Officers, “but the level of disruption varies from state to state.”
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According to the U.S. Department of Education, a teacher shortage of some kind is happening in each of the 11 Midwestern states. These shortages can take different forms — an inadequate supply of teachers by subject area or grade level, or in a certain geographic area — but they all can adversely impact student learning.
“It’s when a local school does not have highly effective individuals prepared to meet the needs of children,” Nadene Davidson, chair elect of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said during a December webinar hosted by the Midwestern Legislative Conference Education Committee.
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The problem of too little academic rigor and diminished student focus in the final year of high school is so common that it has a familiar name — the “senior slide.” But North Dakota Sen. Tim Flakoll has a much different vision for the 12th grade. He believes students, teachers, school administrators and state lawmakers should all look for ways to “leverage” the senior year and make it a springboard for success in college or the workforce.
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For the past 60 years, high school students across the country have been able to complete college-level coursework through the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. In addition to the academic benefits, students may earn college credit for scoring well on their AP exams, which are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. But the policies on awarding credits can vary from state to state, or even within the same postsecondary system.
This summer, Illinois lawmakers approved a measure that ensures the state’s high-performing AP students will get a head start on their college careers. HB 3428, signed into law in August, requires all public colleges and universities in the state to award course credit for AP exam scores of 3 or higher. (The College Board and the American Council on Education recommend that a score of 3 or higher be the standard for awarding college credit.)


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