Capitol Comments

Early in the 2014 legislative session Education Committee Chair Gary Stevens wanted to open the conversation related to Alaska’s state academic standards and their relation to the Common Core State Standards.   He arranged a two-day hearing to discuss implementation of the state standards.

At today's meeting of the Idaho House Education Committee I had the opportunity to dialogue with members about rigorous academic standards and competency-based education.  The representatives are investigating opportunities as a result of the Governor's task force on education.  Recommendations were released in September 2013 after eight months of thoughtful research and deliberation by the task force members.

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It is clear we need American students to be more than warehouses of knowledge and information as the expectation has been in the past.  As a nation we must bring our educational system up-to date so students also can apply knowledge and solve complex problems. This begins with high-quality early learning, continues through K-12 then continues until college completion and careers.  Students must be able to work not only independently, but also with each other; they also need to be able to communicate ideas effectively. In short, to be successful in today’s world, every student must graduate from high school college- and career-ready.  In order to ensure student success from early education through college completion and careers policymakers must address these 5 issues as legislatures begin this year.

With the push for increased academic performance of America's students most education stakeholders have focused on the aspect of being "college-ready."  However, the competencies necessary to be "career-ready" may vary and individual states are grappling with defining what attributes must be mastered for a student to succeed in the workforce. The Center on Education Policy (CEP) recently released a report which shows that only 14 of the 46 states that responded to their survey have a statewide definition of what it means for high school students to be career-ready.

According to Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s U.S. Education Chief Technology Offer, on any given day the corporation has 8,000 vacant jobs due to the lack of a skilled workforce.  These are not highly technical jobs but those that can’t be filled by recent graduates due to the skills gap especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. 

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