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Students attending the charter PRIDE Prep in Spokane, Washington may need to find a new school in coming months, as the state’s Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the 2012 law allowing charter schools.

Recent surges in charter enrollment—and reported scandals—have led some states to pass new laws that seek more accountability from the schools, their administrators and their sponsors.

Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws permitting charter schools to operate. In 2013-14, 2.57 million students enrolled in charters nationwide—up from 1.29 million in 2007-08, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Mastery trumps class time in competency-based education models now catching on in more U.S. classrooms—from New England to the Midwest to Alaska.

Students must show they grasp a concept fully before they can move on to the next unit. Those who get a low grade or score can’t advance until extra instruction by a teacher reveals that students demonstrate comprehension, says Susan Patrick, president of CEO of iNACOL.

The organization promotes the new approach through its ComptencyWorks initiative and provides support to schools making the transition.

Low-income students are more likely to have uncorrected vision problems. (Click to enlarge)

Millions of youth are disproportionately affected by health problems that impair their motivation and ability to learn, according to the August Education Commission of the States report, “Heath barriers to learning and the education opportunity gap.”

Schools can play a central role in identifying unmet student health needs, and connecting students to community health services, the report states.

The accompanying graphics shows some major health barriers to learning.

Students attending an Internationals Network-supported school learn English language skills.

Despite fewer unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America, many U.S. K12 schools still struggle to adapt to the challenges of educating this diverse set of immigrant students.

During the 2014 fiscal year, the Department of Homeland Security reported that 57,496 unaccompanied minors arrived in the United States. In the first eight months of fiscal year 2015, the number dropped to fewer than 18,000.

Albemarle County Public Schools removed hundreds of high school lockers and replaced them with benches for students to charge mobile devices.

One central Virginia high school replaced hundreds of lockers with device charging stations this fall to bolster its 1-to-1 program.

Psychologists from Ardsley Union Free School District in New York use behavioral therapy for students who injure themselves.

Emergency room visits for self-inflicted injuries in adolescents have risen significantly since 2009, according to a study in July Pediatrics. Schools looking to curb this behavior have turned to new mental health programs that focus on navigating stress and emotional regulation.

Combating a $1.1 billion deficit, Chicago Public Schools’ new budget proposal phases out district pension contributions for central office, regional and non-union support staff. The district says the change will save about $11 million annually once fully implemented in 2018.

A state-mandated $676 million pension contribution accounts for a large chunk of the deficit, district officials say. Unlike most other districts in Illinois, Chicago and its local taxpayers are required to pay 7 percent of the 9 percent pension contribution for all employees.

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 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.

Cave Creek USD had three unfilled teacher positions last year. This year, administrators are offering a signing bonus to attract new teachers to the area.

Many classrooms will remain without a permanent teacher this fall, as the teacher shortage becomes more severe in some states. Major enrollment drops in teacher prep programs signal worsening conditions in the coming years.

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