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Straight As: Summarizes Final Spending Agreement, Every Student Counts Act, High School Transcripts Study, and more

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April 19, 2011 09:05 pm

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Here’s a quick summary of the articles in the April 5 issue of Straight A’s, the Alliance’s biweekly newsletter.

Click on a title below to access the complete article or download a printer-friendly version of the entire newsletter here

LAST CUT IS THE DEEPEST: Final FY 2011 Spending Agreement Cuts Spending by Nearly $40 Billion, Includes More Cuts for Education Programs: After months of negotiations, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the White House finally came to an agreement on a long-term continuing resolution (CR) that establishes final spending levels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, which officially began more than six months ago. Under the CR, named the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, which the president signed into law on April 15, federal spending was cut by nearly $40 billion, compared to FY 2010.

EVERY STUDENT COUNTS: Senator Harkin and Representative Scott Introduce Legislation to Establish Common Formula for High School Graduation Rates and Set 90 Percent Graduation Rate Goal: On April 7, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Every Student Counts Act (ESCA), which would require all states to calculate their graduation rates using the same formula and to set a graduation rate goal of 90 percent for all students and disadvantaged populations. This legislation would codify and strengthen regulations developed in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that requires states to use a single, accurate graduation rate calculation; establish graduation rate goals; and set annual growth targets.

HIGH SCHOOL TRANSCRIPT STUDY: Study of 2009 High School Graduates Reveals Importance of a Rigorous Curriculum to Future Success: Released on April 13 by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) High School Transcript Study finds that the percentage of high school graduates completing a “rigorous” curriculum, which includes higher-level math and science courses, increased from 5 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2009. At the same time, the percentage of students who took less than a “standard” curriculum of at least four credits of English and three each in social studies, mathematics, and science, declined from 60 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2009.

Alliance to Hold Webinar on the 2009 High School Transcript Study: On Wednesday, April 20, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., ET, the Alliance for Excellent Education will host a webinar to unpack the findings from the High School Transcript Study. The webinar will also focus on how the Common Core State Standards Initiative, digital learning, and other education reform initiatives can increase access to and success in rigorous courses while preparing all students for success in college and their careers.

STATE TEST SCORE TRENDS: New Report Finds Eighth-Grade Students Making Steady Progress on Math and Reading State Tests: Although student achievement in eighth grade is widely perceived as not improving, a new Center for Education Policy (CEP) study argues that eighth-grade students seem to be making progress, particularly in math. However, the report, State Test Score Trends through 2008–09, Part 3: Student Achievement at 8th Grade also finds persistent achievement gaps in the advanced level of achievement.

DOUBLE JEOPARDY: New Report Examines the Impact that Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Have on High School Graduation Rates: Students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers, according to a new report commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report, Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation, bases its findings on a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students who were born between 1979 and 1989.

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