In the News

  • March 1, 2018 | Education Week

    The State Testing Landscape Continues to Fragment

    After a period of convergence, the K-12 testing landscape is once again looking more and more fragmented, concludes a new report from consulting group Education First.

    The report—really more a lean set of slides—walks through the complicated last few years of shifts in the testing world. Although much of this data has been reported elsewhere, including by Education Week, it’s very handy to have it all in one place.  

    The report’s biggest takeaway is that hopes that states might move towards a shared system of gauging student expectations aren’t going to come to fruition anytime soon. Back in 2010, 46 states belonged to one or both of the federally funded consortia designing shared tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards. That’s down to just 15 or 16 now, depending on whether you count Illinois’ recent decision to replace PARCC (formally the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Another four states use items from the consortia tests but blend them into their own exams.

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  • November 30, 2017 | Education Week

    ESSA Is a Big Piece of the STEM Equity Puzzle

    By James Brown, Anand Vaishnav & Jacob Waters

    Earlier this fall, President Donald Trump called on the U.S. Department of Education to direct at least $200 million in competitive grant funding toward expanding science, technology, engineering, math, and computer science education. Though the administration hasn’t detailed exactly how they would implement the funds, the announcement builds on a growing nationwide commitment to STEM education.

    The president’s directive also parallels similar moves by dozens of states to prioritize STEM education despite flat or declining state education budgets. High-quality STEM education not only has the potential to foster curiosity and creativity in students, it is critical for U.S. economic growth. But both words and plans are insufficient without follow-through. To best promote student success in STEM, we need both adequate funding and implementation of smart and equitable policies by all states and the District of Columbia.

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  • November 20, 2017 | The 74

    Experts Predict 5 Ways America’s New Education Law Will Improve the Average School Day

    4. Rashidah Morgan, Education First: Greater transparency about school quality, which will ultimately empower parents to make more knowledgeable choices about schools

    “A parent’s understanding of two important factors — how the state will determine whether a school is good or not, and how the state would support schools that were not high-performing — also informs which schools he/she chooses for his/her child. State plans that do not include sufficient support for schools that need to improve risk negatively impacting students — like those who are of color, are English learners, or have disabilities — which would be evidenced by classroom performance as well as social and emotional health. State decisions on these issues impact the makeup of schools’ community and the children who will attend classes together.

    “Additionally, children are impacted most directly by the teacher in their classroom. If state plans don’t ensure students have equitable access to the most effective teachers, students will surely feel the impact in their classroom.”

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  • September 24, 2017 | Education Week

    Inside ESSA Plans: How Are States Looking Beyond Test Scores?

    Chronic absenteeism and college-and-career readiness, on the other hand, are a lot easier to calcuate, even though states are defining and measuring them in all sorts of different ways.

    “States are choosing measures that they have the ability to measure in the near term rather than adding things in without a clear plan to correct and report on those measures,” said Terra Wallin, who worked on ESSA as a career staffer at the U.S. Department of Education and is now a consultant with Education First.  

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  • August 3, 2017 | THE Journal

    Could ESSA Plans Invigorate State STEM Intentions?

    Could states use their ESSA plans to formulate innovative ways to advance STEM in their schools? That’s the hope of an organization that recently examined the Every Student Succeeds Act plans developed by states for submission to the U.S. Department of Education. The analysis looked at the 17 plans that have already been submitted as well as eight other draft plans. The work was undertaken by education consultancy Education First on behalf of Overdeck Family Foundation, a family non-profit that supports programs for developing children’s love of education and especially the STEM subjects.

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