21 Dec 2016 Education Year in Review

December 21, 2016

It’s been a busy year in education. As 2017 draws near, we take a look back at some of the biggest stories and how they will impact the future of public education.

 

The Transition to Every Student Succeeds Act

With the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed on December 10, 2015, this year states began planning for the transition to the new federal K-12 law, which takes full effect in the 2017-18 school year. Replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB), ESSA gives states and local governments greater authority, a change the incoming Trump administration is likely to uphold, but to what extent?

 

The Fight Against Chronic Absenteeism

A growing body of research has brought to light the devastating effects of chronic absenteeism on students’ social skills, academic achievement, and graduation rates.  With 6.5 million students chronically absent each year (meaning they miss at least 10 percent of school days in a school year), many states and individual school districts have pushed to combat chronic absenteeism through a variety of measures, including better attendance tracking and early intervention.

 

The Lasting Benefit of High Quality Early Childhood Education

There have been many studies published on the positive impact of high quality early childhood education programs, especially for disadvantaged children. From improving social skills and future test scores to reducing special education placements, the value of high quality early childhood education programs is not to be overlooked. This month a new report revealed the long term benefits of these programs and how the return not only makes economic sense but results in richer, fuller, healthier lives for the entire family.  The study, which followed participants for 35 years, found positive effects on everything from future earnings and health, to IQ and crime reduction.

Like other studies, it concluded that the key to the early education equation is the quality of the program, especially for disadvantaged youth.  Despite this, another study out this month revealed major disparities in quality, enrollment, and funding of Head Start programs across the country, which provide free early childhood education and other services to low-income families.
 
The School Desegregation Movement

From NYC to Chicago and beyond there has been a nationwide movement to desegregate schools. Here are some highlights on how certain cities and school districts are approaching the effort.

 

Graduation Rates Reach Record High

In October, President Obama announced that high school graduation rates reached an all-time high of 83% in the 2014-15 school year, which marked the fifth straight record-setting year.  That said, some argue that these rates have been inflated by schools’ lowering graduation standards. Such was the case in the recent audit of the Alabama Department of Education, which admitted to inflating grad rates just this month.  And although rates have improved for the nation as a whole, wide gaps remain between states, with 30 percentage points separating the highest and lowest on-time grad rates for the class of 2014 . On a brighter note, the racial and ethnic graduation achievement gap continues to narrow, as well as those for students with disabilities and ELLs.

 

That does it for our year in review. Wishing all our readers, customers, partners and the industry at large a safe and happy holiday season. See you in the New Year!

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