This morning the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to chief state school officers on matters concerning the implementation of The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The letter specifically addresses the implementation timeline, school improvement requirements for the 2017-2018 school year, and stakeholder consultation requirements that apply to consolidated state plans.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a letter to chief state school officers on Monday announcing the Department of Education’s new state plan template for ESSA implementation. The consolidated state plan designed to replace the original template requests materials deemed “absolutely necessary” by the new administration.

As states implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services have released guidance on mitigating disruption in education for students in foster care; states should implement programs to meet the mandate’s requirements by December 10, 2016.

Civics education is the first step towards creating engaged citizens and effective public leaders for the future. Experts and policymakers gathered at the Civics Education in the States session sponsored by the CSG Federalism Task Force Dec. 12 during the 2015 CSG National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., to discuss how states are, and are not, teaching future generations about how the government works and the roles and powers of state and federal governments.

CSG South

Just three years ago, almost every state in the nation belonged to a national testing consortium, such as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) whereas, today, barely half continue to participate in these multi-state comparative student assessments. The Southern region, in particular, has seen a shift away from the national testing consortia to state-specified student testing. As state education systems adapt to their new educational standards of college- and career-readiness, state governments continue to modify their approach to assessing student learning toward these standards.

After dismissing PARCC and Smarter Balanced, several states' education systems began, and currently continue, a transition to various alternatives. This SLC Regional Resource provides an overview of the strategies that SLC member states have undertaken for student testing, as of October 1, 2015. Specifically, the analysis examines the current status of K-12 testing requirements implemented by the 15 SLC member states for their general public school populations and the experiences of these states as they seek to improve their student performance measurement systems. Further, the report focuses on the many adjustments and changes to K-12 English language arts and mathematics student assessment systems implemented by Southern states in the post-Common Core educational era, geared toward preparing college- and career-ready students.

The Act directs the State Board of Education to include the requirement for students to pass a civics test in the high school competency requirements for graduation, beginning in the 2016-17 school year.

CSG South

In June 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced an initiative led by 46 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories aimed at developing and adopting a Common Core set of learning standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and math for grades K-12. By March 2012, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories had adopted both the Common Core State Standards for ELA and mathematics. Although the majority of states continue to stay their course with Common Core, Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have reversed their implementation of Common Core, and government officials in several others states have called for a reversal or delay in implementation. This SLC Regional Resource provides SLC member stat es information regarding the status and recent legislative developments related to the Common Core standards, as of December 26, 2014.

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Earlier this year, Indiana became the first U.S. state to opt out of Common Core education standards, and the repeal movement continues to attract interest in other Midwestern states as well.
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The Act allows secondary school students to earn credit for core courses by passing a mastery exam. School districts are required to develop assessment tools and standards for demonstrating mastery in specific secondary school courses, including mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, and world languages. Students who pass such assessment tests will be provided full credit for the course.

High-profile programs like Race to the Top and Common Core have brought education reform again to the front of the national agenda. Discussion, however, settles over class size, teacher certification and teacher compensation because they seem like the most important issues related to student achievement. Significantly less time is spent on discussing the role of the principal. With increasingly complex duties, higher accountability and only modest pay increases, the principal’s job has become frustrating and unappreciated. Nevertheless, new studies are shedding light on the substantial impact that principals, as a part of institutional leadership, have on student performance.

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