BASF Corporation, the North American affiliate of global chemicals producer BASF SE, and a CSG Associate Program member, offers an education program to encourage STEAM learning called Kids’ Lab.
STEAM, which is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and math, are fields of study that have seen 70 percent job growth since 1990, according to the Pew Research Center, which is outpacing the overall US job growth.

Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Vermont each appear in the top five in two recent publications by Wallethub and KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Much can be learned from the select group of states highly ranked in both reports about providing children with the highest quality of life possible.

Organizations have routinely tried to...

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The Department of Defense estimates that approximately 71 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds would fail to qualify for military service based on the current enlistment criteria because of physical or mental health issues, low educational attainment or felony convictions.

Out of those who do qualify, many are not interested in serving. A Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 18 to 29 year-olds found, 60 percent support using ground troops against the Islamic State but 85 percent said they would “probably” or “definitely” not join the military.

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During CSG’s 2017 National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, state leaders asked Deputy Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel what skills has the Department of Defense identified new recruits lack that states could consider addressing in their K-12 school systems.

DOD and the Department of Education’s Military Affairs team provide a comprehensive answer to what our federal partners have identified K-12 students need to be military ready when they graduate.

CSG Midwest
Illinois will soon be accepting applications from individuals and businesses that want to participate in the state’s newly created Invest in Kids program. Established this year as part of a larger school finance bill (SB 1947), the program will provide a tax credit for contributions made to Scholarship Granting Organizations. These organizations, in turn, will provide financial assistance for lower- and middle-income students to attend a non-public school in the state.
CSG Midwest
At the peak of North Dakota’s oil boom, some schools in the western part of the state not only were employing teachers, but began housing them as well — in duplexes, triplexes or mobile housing units, Sen. David Rust recalls. This school-as-landlord idea has been one of the more dramatic actions taken in recent years to address the shortage of teachers.
More recently, housing costs have subsided in North Dakota’s oil country (“They’re still higher than we would like to see,” Rust says), but the lack of qualified teacher candidates persists there, as well as in many communities across the state.
CSG Midwest
A work group established earlier this year by the Iowa Legislature has issued a series of recommendations for strengthening computer science education in the state’s K-12 schools. Ideas include:
  • allowing students to use computer science to meet certain math credit requirements (after they’ve taken courses that cover the state’s required math standards);
  • better integrating computer science courses into schools’ career and technical education pathway; and
  • eventually making computer science a part of the state’s high school graduation requirement.

While technology has opened new doors for teachers, the use of innovative technology in the classroom has resulted in the collection of sensitive student data. Many state lawmakers are now acting to secure vulnerable student information, while also allowing for the educational edge technology provides.

CSG Midwest
Three big developments in education finance occurred in the Midwest over the past few months — a major state Supreme Court ruling in Kansas, a new school-funding formula in Illinois, and a change in the retirement plans for Michigan teachers. Here is a brief look at what happened in each state.
CSG Midwest
Before state education officials sent off Minnesota’s plan for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act to the federal government, Rep. Sondra Erickson wanted to make sure one important constituency got the chance to hear about it and weigh in. That group was the state’s legislators, who four years earlier had revamped how Minnesota evaluates school performance.
The Legislature dubbed this new system the “World’s Best Workforce,” which focuses on getting students ready for success in the K-12 system (all third-graders reading at grade level, for example) and for life after high school. It measures the progress of each of the state’s schools in four main areas — standardized test scores, the closing of achievement gaps, college and career readiness, and graduation rates.
“What was important to me was that our system for federal accountability [under the ESSA] align with our existing state accountability system,” says Erickson, chair of the Minnesota House Education Innovation Policy Committee. “We don’t want to have teachers, parents and students conflicted.”
To that end, Erickson not only requested a legislative hearing on the ESSA in the 2017 omnibus education bill (HF 2), she included statutory language that the implementation plan be “consistent and aligned, to the extent practicable,” with World’s Best Workforce.
Erickson likes what she learned about the plan, saying it will provide for “continuity and consistency.”
A central tenet of the 2015 federal law was to give states more flexibility on education policy, and the ESSA has not supplanted changes made by states to their accountability systems. Instead, state ESSA plans mostly incorporate some of the new federal requirements (such as accounting for progress made by English language learners and including a measure of “school quality”) into their accountability systems.

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