Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

National School Choice Poll: 63% of Likely 2018 Voters Support School Choice
The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, and Beck Research, a respected Democratic polling firm, released their fourth annual National School Choice Poll today. The survey of 1,100 likely November 2018 voters demonstrated that despite relentless attacks throughout the past year by the teachers’ unions and education establishment, the concept of school choice is supported by 63 percent of likely voters. Innovative new proposals like a federal tax credit scholarship, school choice for military families, and education savings accounts remain very popular as the 2018 legislative sessions have kicked off around the country. (American Federation for Children)

One-third of nation’s best high school students don’t finish college
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce estimated that one-third of nation’s top-performing high school students do not obtain a college degree, though nearly all of these students attempt college. However, top-scoring students tend to graduate at a rate of more than 80% when attending a selective institution, according to the center. Top high school students were identified by the center’s researchers as those who score over 1,000 on the SAT. These college-ready students who did not complete a degree represent 15% to 17% of the high school class — 5 million students per decade, or nearly half of the estimated 11 million needed to close the workforce gaps over the next decade. These “forgotten” students were spread evenly across race and class. The current incompletion rate could have significant ramifications for the workforce. At a cost of $5,000 per student, interventions in the areas of academic and financial aid counseling, work exposure and credit transfers between schools could move a high number of these college-ready students toward college completion. (Education Dive)

Schools honored for excellence, closing achievement gaps
Schools from all three counties earned honors for their students’ academic achievements during a ceremony Tuesday, including four from the Lake Forest School District, which took home the most honors than any other public school district. The district’s Lake Forest Central Elementary School was a first-time honoree. “This is Central’s first time receiving the award,” Superintendent Dr. Brenda G. Wynder said of the newly designated “Recognition School.” “When Mrs. [Michele] Martel became the principal of Central, we discussed some strategies that would enhance what the school was already implementing. We were confident that these strategies would increase student achievement.” (Delaware State News)

DeVos approves Maryland school accountability plan
Maryland will begin grading all its public schools on a five-star rating system this year under a sweeping rewrite of how schools are held accountable. The new system is part of a plan approved Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education. Secretary Betsy DeVos’s final approval of Maryland’s plan — and those of 10 other states — came after a tug of war between the Maryland legislature on one side and Gov. Larry Hogan and the state school board on the other. Maryland’s plan was approved last fall by the state school board and hashed out over more than a year of community meetings. It will put less emphasis on test scores and more emphasis on how well schools raise student achievement over time. (The Baltimore Sun)

New Jersey
Education Progress Is One Key to Camden’s Turnaround
Gains in education have been critical to helping reduce violence in Camden, according to officials, residents and social service providers. Citing poor performance, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration took over Camden’s school district in 2013. The dropout rate has been cut in half since 2012, and graduations are up 17 percentage points, with 66% of students graduating last year compared with 49% in 2012, according to the school district. (The Wall Street Journal)

New York
Here’s who won’t be New York City’s next schools chancellor
When city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced her pending retirement late last year, it immediately sparked a flurry of speculation over who would succeed her as America’s second-most important education official. But many of the names floated as potential chancellors are non-starters for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is conducting a national search for an educator to lead the country’s largest school system, according to senior officials. (Politico)

Exclusive: How Safe Are Philadelphia’s Schools? New Interactive Map Shows Discipline Reform Has Created a School Climate Catastrophe
Several recently published studies paint a bleak picture of the effects of school discipline reform in Philadelphia. In the 2012–13 school year, the district banned suspensions for “conduct” infractions (i.e., classroom misbehavior). Studies by the University of Pennsylvania’s Matthew Steinberg and Mathematica’s Johanna Lacoe reveal that truancy skyrocketed, achievement plummeted, and, in a perverse twist, the racial suspension gap actually grew as African-American students spent more days suspended due to “serious” infractions. (The 74)

Mimi Woldeyohannes is the Executive Assistant to the CEO at 50CAN. She lives in Maryland.


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