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Articles: Policy & Compliance

Testing companies find themselves competing on a tougher playing field for state assessment contracts after a rocky first round of Common Core exams spurred new expectations from state and district education leaders.

In the past year, Pearson has lost testing contracts in Florida (to American Institutes for Research, or AIR), Texas (to Educational Testing Service, or ETS), Ohio (to AIR), and, most recently, New York (to Questar Assessment Inc.), according to each state’s department of education.

Students at Horizon Elementary School, part of Holt Public Schools in Michigan, attend school on a year-round calendar. The first day of school was Aug. 4.

Back-to-school has become a thing of the past in an increasing number of districts that keep class in session all year. The number of public, year-round schools—also called “balanced-calendar” schools—increased by 26 percent from 2007 to 2012 accounting for about 4 percent of all public schools.

In 2012, nearly every state was part of either PARCC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. As of this July, only 28 remained.

Public outcry over new standards-aligned tests led some states to cut funding, changing the exam landscape for 2015-16.

In 2012, nearly every state was part of either PARCC or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. As of this July, just 18 states remained in Smarter Balanced, and 10 (plus Washington, D.C.) had stuck with PARCC. Twenty-two states opted to use their own assessments.

Source:  Education Commission of the States (Click to enlarge)

The Common Core has been implemented in 43 states since 2010 (two of which are now reviewing whether to continue using it).

Many of these states have affirmed the standards but renamed them—for example, in Alabama, they are called the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards, while in Hawaii, they are the Hawaii Common Core Standards.

In the absence of federal homeschooling guidelines, states have created provisions for such students that vary widely from one place to another, according to a July report from the Education Commission of the States.

Some states, such as Alaska, Idaho and Michigan, have little or no homeschooling regulation. Others, including Washington, New York and Pennsylvania, have robust oversight policies.

At the Legacy Traditional School District in Arizona, Chief Academic Officer Bill Bressler is trying to bump up the number of computers for his students to just take the tests. Above, a teacher instructs a lesson including Common Core standards.

Given the lack of concrete data, savvy administrators are analyzing their districts’ experiences with the assessments to improve the testing process and communications next year.

John Hattie is an education researcher at the Melbourne Educational Research Institute at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

As an education researcher, I’ve spent more than 15 years conducting nearly 800 meta-analyses of 50,000 studies focused on student learning. The result, which I call Visible Learning, is about understanding the attributes of schooling that truly drive student learning and have a significant impact on achievement.

Students in Baltimore City Public Schools now receive free breakfast and lunch every day under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’s Community Eligibility Provision.

To expand food service, the district took advantage of funding through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’s Community Eligibility Provision, a federal program that launched in 2011 allowing schools with high poverty rates to replace traditional, tiered-price meal programs.

Neuroscience-based software has helped educators in Kentucky’s Boone County Schools better pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Educational neuroscience empowers teachers with new insights into how all students learn and holds promise for enhancing special ed, but myths and exaggerations sprouting up around the burgeoning field could lead to children being labeled, which could limit their abilities, experts say.

A homeschool student in Kyrene School District shows off art she created via Community Assisted Schooling Alternatives, a weekly enrichment program for K6 students.

Driven by a commitment to serve all students, or by a desire to maximize state funding, some districts are offering families that educate their children at home everything from free computers to curricular guidance.

Jeff Bryant is an associate fellow at Campaign for America's Future and the editor of the Education Opportunity Network website.

Making public education more accountable has for years been the solemn pledge of government officials, including the Obama administration and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Yet that same level of accountability and transparency doesn’t seem to apply to the fastest growing sector of K12 education—charter schools.

Students at Thurgood Marshall High School in San Francisco USD celebrate Gay-Straight Alliance Day to promote a positive climate for transgender students.

As transgender students win sturdier legal protections from state and federal laws, more district leaders have given members of this growing population rights to choose the names they’ll respond to at roll call, which bathrooms they’ll use and which athletic teams they’ll join.

R. Pepper Crutcher, Jr., is a labor and employment attorney with Balch & Bingham LLP’s Affordable Care Act Strategists Practice Group. He regularly advises businesses, schools and other entities on their obligations under the Affordable Care Act.

An enforcement agency writes a rule to solve a specific problem. Applied to other situations, the rule makes less sense.

Will the agency restrict enforcement to those situations clearly referenced in the rule or will the agency enforce the rule more broadly? Among Affordable Care Act watchers, this is a common question.

Parsing the rule

Here’s an example. Do the IRS Employer Shared Responsibility Cost final rules convert substitutes into full-time teachers for employer mandate purposes?

A curriculum framework initially developed for special education students is gaining traction in general ed classrooms nationwide during Common Core implementation.

David Browne is superintendent of the Randolph, New Jersey public schools, a suburban K12 district of 4,800 students.

Student assessment in public education has taken on an unprecedented primacy during the 2014-15 school year, as states scramble to administer one of two new national assessments.

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