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Afternoon Announcements–October 21, 2011

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October 21, 2011 05:55 pm

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Happy Friday! The big news today is the legislation passed last night by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Several media outlets have articles on the legislation:

Education Week writes that HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) hopes to move the bill to the floor of the Senate before Thanksgiving, and believes it’s “possible” that Congress could approve a rewritten version of the nation’s main education law before Christmas–in time to negate the need for the Obama administration’s waiver plan. The article also has a list of amendments that were passed, rejected, and withdrawn.

The Washington Post notes that the government would stop supervising the performance of 95 percent of the nation’s schools under the bill passed by the HELP Committee. It says only 5 percent of a state’s worst-performing schools would be subject to federal oversight under the measure. Indeed, that feature of the bill has drawn criticism from organizations representing low-income students, students of color, students with disabilities, among others because these students often attend schools that are not in the lowest 5 percent of performers overall and slip through the cracks. For example, Alliance President Bob Wise has noted that nearly 200,000 students of color drop out of high schools with estimated graduation rates above 60 percent. Education Week has more details on the organizations’ objections to this provision.

CQ.com writes that the bill would depart from current law by removing the much-criticized accountability system that requires all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014. Instead, it would require states to adopt “college- and career-ready” standards and develop statewide accountability systems to receive federal funding. The article also delves into the committee’s debate on options for struggling schools and highly qualified teacher language.

Now that you’ve gotten your fill of ESEA/NCLB, here are the rest of today’s top education headlines:

Education Daily reports on new federal legislation that would promote programs and interventions that integrate academics with career and technical education. Alliance President Bob Wise, who is referenced in the article, said this “Linked Learning” approach, which is based on an initiative in California by the same name, would help eliminate the gap between what students learn in the classroom and what skills are acquired on the job.

The New York Times “Economix” blog covers a new report from the Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce finding that college graduates who major in science, technology, engineering, or math are in high demand. It notes that professions that depend heavily on skills learned in these fields are the second-fastest growing occupational group in the United States, after health care.

The Wyoming Star-Tribune covers the slippery subject of college remediation and Wyoming legislators’ inability to get a firm handle on the exact percentage of students who need remedial courses in college. In May of this year, the Alliance issued a report finding that college remediation costs could be as much as $13 million annually in Wyoming and approximately $5.6 billion nationwide.

There’s more on the college remediation issue from Utah, where a state senator in the Beehive State hopes to draft legislation that would increase retention and cut back on the need for remediation of the state’s college freshmen. Utah’s Deseret News has the story.

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