Advocacy Update

Inside the Beltway

The Continuing Resolution passed in September will expire on December 11, giving Congress only about two already busy months to reach an agreement on the budget. The Continuing Resolution locked in FY16 funding levels and also resulted in $141.5 million being cut from the Department of Education alone. Appropriations Committee members have said they will need at least four weeks to draft an omnibus appropriations bill once given a top line number. With the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 expiring, Congress has been writing appropriations bills using sequestration caps.

Agreement on that top line budget number has been hard to reach for House and Senate leadership with Democrats and the White House pushing to raise the caps in a two-year budget deal for both defense and non-defense discretionary funding to get Congress through the end of President Obama’s term.

Agreements on the budget and appropriations may be harder to reach with continued uncertainty about who will succeed Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker Boehner announced that he would be leaving his House seat and the Speakership at the end of October. As recently as Thursday it was expected that House Majority Leader McCarthy would run as the Republican Party favorite, but McCarthy announced that he would not be seeking the Speakership—leaving uncertainty among House Republicans.

In the Press

 The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health, National Bureau of Economic Research

Researchers in this recent study from the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis looked at data from children in the U.S. and Denmark where children usually enter kindergarten at age 5 or 6. The study found that children who delayed enrollment in school by one year had dramatically reduced inattention and hyperactivity, a measure of self-regulation with strong negative links to student achievement. This large effect was found to persist at age 11.

Opportunity Index, Opportunity Nation

Opportunity Nation has released this year’s Opportunity Index. The Opportunity Index is an annual composite measure at the state and county levels of economic, educational, and civic factors that expand opportunity. On the Opportunity Index website you can compare counties and states across the United States by their individual data points and an overall grade.

Measuring Up: Educational Improvement and Opportunity in 50 Cities, Center on Reinventing Public Education

Geared toward city leaders, this study of the state of public schools in 50 cities measures outcomes of all public schools using both test scores and non-test indicators. While there were bright spots, performance in most cities was flat. Less than one in three cities made gains in math or reading proficiency relative to their state. Double-digit achievement gaps between students eligible for free or reduced price lunch persist. In 30 out of 50 cities, less than 15 percent of high school students take the ACT/SAT.

Test Scores Under Common Core Show that “Proficient” Varies by State, New York Times

Last spring, 11 states and Washington, D.C., delivered tests to their students devised by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams based on the Common Core State Standards. Before tests were graded, educators from the participating states convened to set five performance levels, but which levels were classified as “proficient” varied from state to state. This has resulted in Ohio declaring two-thirds of their students proficient but other states such as Illinois declaring only one-third proficient.

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