A recent report from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth compares the economic growth by increasing the academic achievement of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged families.  If the educational outcomes of these students more closely match the success of children living in the top quartile of families, long-term economic growth would dramatically increase.

CSG Director of Education Policy Pam Goins outlines the top five issues in education policy for 2015, including school readiness, experiential and work-based learning, academic success for at-risk populations, innovative state accountability systems, and advance attainment of degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials. 

State officials and policymakers have been focused on college- and career-readiness for several years yet challenges still exist to graduate students with the skills and competencies necessary to obtain sustainable employment. 2015 promises to be another busy year concentrated on implementing best practices and enacting innovative policies that prepare America's youngest students for entry into school, create environments for all students including those at-risk, and offer a variety of experiences so students participate in work-based opportunities. In order to ensure a world-class education for all students, leaders will likely address these top 5 issues facing states this year.

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Should high school students be required to pass a U.S. citizenship civics test as a prerequisite for graduating from high school? Some key state leaders in North Dakota believe so and will be introducing legislation in 2015, The Bismarck Tribune reports. Under the proposal, students would take a 100-point exam focusing on American government, history and geography; they would have to answer at least 60 of the questions correctly.
 
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Teachers across Indiana were in line for some bonuses this holiday season as the result of a performance-based grant program included in the state’s budget. According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, more than $30 million went to 1,300 schools across Indiana.
 

Social/Emotional Development Training in Teacher Preparation

This act requires any candidate entering a program of teacher preparation to complete training in social and emotional development and learning of children. The training must include instruction concerning a comprehensive, coordinated social and emotional assessment and early intervention for children displaying...

On Thursday, Nov. 20 a group of state legislators and education officials met with staff from the White House Intergovernmental Affairs and representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.  An update on the Administration's priorities, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and critical early education initiatives were discussed.

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Compare the overall test scores or graduation rates of students in the Midwest to the rest of the nation’s, and most states in this region fare quite well — sometimes even at or near the top of U.S. rankings. That certainly is the case for Minnesota, a high-performing state on traditional measures of student achievement. But as Greg Keith, director of school support for the Minnesota Department of Education, notes, that level of achievement is far from uniform among different groups of students.

“We could look at our overall scores and say, ‘We’re in the top five [in the nation], so we’re doing it right,’” he says. “It takes a whole change in our mindset to understand we have to do better for our underserved kids.”

Closing the achievement gap — between white and minority students or low-income and higher-income students, for example — is a top priority right now of Minnesota legislators and school administrators alike.

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Teachers in Iowa are getting a chance at more leadership positions and higher pay under a new system that began to be implemented this year. State legislators established the Teacher Leadership and Compensation system in 2013. When fully in place (in 2016), the system will cost the state $150 million a year. Close to 40 Iowa school districts were selected to participate in 2014

When North Dakota parents hit the polls on Election Day they will cast their vote on Measure 8, the North Dakota School Year Begins After Labor Day Initiative.  Voters will determine whether or not public school classes will begin after Labor Day.  

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