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

Exclusive — 39 States Can’t Say How Well High Schools Are Preparing Teens for College; New GreatSchools Report IDs Best Schools in 9 States at Getting Grads Into Higher Ed
Just two states publish full information on whether students from specific high schools go on to graduate from postsecondary institutions, and just 12 states gather and report data on how well those students do after they get to college. “A clear reason is that [states are] not federally mandated to publish this data,” said Samantha Brown Olivieri, chief strategy officer for GreatSchools, a nonprofit that uses research and data to inform parents about school quality and educational opportunity. “But more and more states are seeing their role as the data steward — not just one of compliance, but one of transparency and they’re using data to inform improvement rather than as just a form of reporting for accountability.” (The 74)

NPR/Ipsos Poll: Most Americans Support Teachers’ Right To Strike
As the wave of teacher walkouts moves to Arizona and Colorado this week, an NPR/Ipsos poll shows strong support among Americans for improving teachers’ pay and for their right to strike. Just 1 in 4 Americans believe teachers in this country are paid fairly. Nearly two-thirds approve of national teachers’ unions, and three-quarters agree teachers have the right to strike. That last figure includes two-thirds of Republicans, three-quarters of independents and nearly 9 in 10 Democrats. (NPR)

States Give Short Shrift to School Choice Option in ESSA Plans
School choice is having a big moment in K-12 policy. But you’d never know it from reading states’ plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. States around the country are increasingly adopting tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts, expanding charters, and embracing other choice programs. And the issue is getting a lot of attention, both positive and negative, thanks to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a longtime cheerleader on the topic. (Education Week)

The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy
Most American kids don’t spend large chunks of their day catching salamanders and poking sticks into piles of fox poop. In a nation moving toward greater standardization of its public-education system, programs centered around getting kids outside to explore aren’t normal. But that’s precisely what students do at the Nature Preschool at Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. There, every day, dozens of children ages 3 to 5 come to have adventures on Irvine’s more than 200 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows. These muddy explorers stand out at a moment when many American pre-K programs have become more and more similar to K–12 education: row after row of tiny kids, sitting at desks, drilling letter identification and counting. (The Atlantic)

Report: 50-State Comparison: School Leader Certification and Preparation Programs
Research shows school leadership is a pivotal factor in improving student achievement and retaining quality teachers. In fact, among school-related factors, leadership is found to have one of the greatest impacts on student learning — second only to classroom instruction. However, many districts are challenged by high rates of turnover, resulting in shortages and inexperienced principals leading high-need schools. As states look at ways to support schools and districts, many turn to policies surrounding preparation and licensure in an effort to better equip leaders entering the field to be successful. States have developed policies, grounded in school leadership standards, to strengthen and increase the number of quality school leaders through traditional and alternative routes to preparation and certification. (Education Commission of the States)

Senate Bill 172 was introduced in the State Senate this week, representing a monumental foot in the door for addressing Delaware’s arcane school funding system—should it be enacted. Delaware, as we’ve written about before, employs a 70-year-old school funding system that is complex, inequitable, and inflexible. (Rodel Foundation of Delaware)

New Jersey
Newark parents file suit to take on teacher tenure rule
A rule that means when a school district has a deficit and teachers must be laid off that the last teacher to be hired are the first to be let go is under fire from parents in Newark, who say it violates their children’s rights to a thorough and efficient education under the state constitution.​ ​A lawsuit against the rule was dismissed last year by a Superior Court Judge in Trenton after it was decided that the plaintiffs had failed to show how the rule was harming their children. However, the case was in court again on Wednesday, in Appellate Court in Essex County, as lawyers on both sides presented their cases. (FiOS 1 News)

Pennsylvania senators try to come to grips with state’s track record of excessive teacher strikes
For the Pennsylvania families who live in school districts where there have been teacher strikes in the past 50 years, it may not be surprising to hear that the state led the nation in such strikes between 1968 and 2012, according to the Commonwealth Foundation.​ ​What may be surprising, however, is that of all the strikes in the U.S. during that time frame, 90 percent of them occurred in Pennsylvania.(Pennsylvania Watchdog)

Tennessee lawmakers OK new bill to prevent TNReady fiasco from harming teachers
The Tennessee General Assembly’s traditional end-of-session jockeying over last-minute bills boiled over into dramatic brinkmanship Wednesday with a focus on the latest TNReady student testing fiasco.​ ​The House seized the state’s recently passed $37.5 billion budget as hostage, demanding senators and Gov. Bill Haslam agree to guarantee teachers’ evaluations won’t be at risk after the latest problems.​ ​The House then quickly amended and passed a bill on an 89-0 vote to hold teachers harmless and prevent the state from using scores from the latest botched rollout of student TNReady assessments from applying to educators this school year unless teachers want them used.​ (Times Free Press)​

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


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