CSG Midwest
K-12 education consistently makes up the largest share of state general fund spending each year, hovering between 34 percent and 36 percent since 1996, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. In fiscal year 2015, more than $260 billion went to elementary and secondary education. Although no two states distribute education dollars exactly the same way, the vast majority of funding formulas are built around a “foundation” or “base” amount of funding that is the minimum each student receives. 
State formulas then further adjust per-pupil funding depending on the type of student (for example, special needs, English-language learner, low-income) and the wealth of the school district. The systems that work best are based on research — specifically, tying the amount that flows to each school to the cost of providing an education that meets the state’s academic standards, says Michael Griffith, a school finance strategist with the Education Commission of the States. 
North Dakota, for example, used an evidence-based approach developed by an outside consulting firm as it made multiple improvements to K-12 funding over the past decade. The firm was hired in 2008 to make recommendations on an “adequate funding level,” or how much the state should spend per student based on the state’s curriculum standards.
CSG Midwest
Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation System is having a positive impact on classroom instruction and educators’ professional climate, but it’s still too soon to discern the program’s effects on student achievement, a new interim report says.

It has been 25 years since the passage of the first state law authorizing charter schools in Minnesota. On Saturday, Dec. 10 at the 2016 CSG National Conference, three panelists—state government leaders from Kentucky, Massachusetts and North Carolina—reflected on the history of charter schools and discussed visions for the future.

CSG Midwest
Struggling young readers in Michigan will get more instructional help to reach levels of proficiency under a new law that also could keep some of them from entering fourth grade. Signed this fall by Gov. Rick Snyder, HB 4822requires students to perform well enough on a standardized reading test in order to be promoted to fourth grade. However, the law does provide for some “good cause exemptions,” including if parents and school officials agree it is in the child’s best interests not to be held back.

Today the U.S. Department of Education (Department) issued final regulations to implement provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regarding school accountability, data reporting, and state plans. The regulations incorporate the feedback from state leaders from The Council of State Governments (CSG) that the Department received through the public comment process.  The Department stated that the public feeedback is incorporated, while maintaining the focus on providing states with new flexibility to ensure that every child...

CSG Midwest

This school year, officials of K-12 public schools in Illinois are revisiting their student-discipline policies in accordance with a new law that aims to reduce the number of students who receive out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.

“The goal is to ensure that this only happens when absolutely necessary,” says Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford, the sponsor of SB 100.

Students who receive exclusionary punishments are at a significantly higher risk of falling behind academically, dropping out of school, and coming into contact with the juvenile justice system, according to a 2014 report from The Council of State Governments Justice Center.

For instances in which a student commits minor misconduct, the new Illinois law requires school leaders to use non-exclusionary methods of discipline — such as in-school suspension, detention or loss of privileges — and to exhaust all other methods of intervention before removing the student.

Per the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a student with a disability receives an individualized education program (IEP), which is intended to provide that student with a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE). Parents and educators determine the content of each IEP. According to the Supreme Court in Board of Education v. Rowley (1982) to provide a FAPE, an IEP must be “reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits.”

The question the Supreme Court will decide in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, is what level of educational benefit must school districts confer on children with disabilities to provide them with a FAPE.

How can state leaders build the public’s confidence in government if the citizenry doesn’t understand how state government works? Although there has traditionally been a reasonable amount taught in schools about the federal level—checks and balances; how a bill becomes a law; and so on—students learn little about the policies, politics and management of states and localities. Fortunately, there’s a growing civics education movement, at both K-12 and university levels, to expand students' understanding about the entities that most closely touch their lives. This FREE CSG eCademy webcast explores the challenges and benefits of civics education both inside and outside the classroom.

CSG Midwest
Some school districts in South Dakota are using new state incentives that allow them to share teachers and, in the process, expand learning opportunities for their students. As part of a package of bills passed by the Legislature to address a shortage of teachers (HB 1182 and SBs 131 and 133), the state created the Employee Shared Service Grant program. The grants last for three years, with aid to the participating districts gradually dropping over that time period. With these grants, districts are hiring and sharing Spanish, arts, and English-language-learner teachers. 

Every Student Succeeds Act

Signed in to law in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. ESSA emphasizes college and career readiness, accountability, scaling back assessments, increasing access to preschool and the important role state and local communities play in making their schools successful. ESSA federal funding acts as an incentives package for innovation in America’s school systems.

Implementation Timeline

While the final...

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