News You Should Know: January

Our monthly news round-up below highlights the fun, the research, and the big education news stories of January 2015. While we couldn’t find a way to include the Patriots’ Super Bowl win in below, we did include a Boston story!

Boston gets a longer school day. After a 5-1 School Committee vote, Boston Public Schools will add 40 minutes to the school day for over 50 elementary and middle schools. While the impact of extended day on student achievement depends on how the time is used, as it stands now, teachers will be compensated for the additional time and will also have a voice in decision-making around how the time will be used within their schools. Proposed uses for the newfound time include common planning time for teachers, enrichment activities for students, and additional math and English instruction.

U.S. per-pupil K-12 funding continues to decline. A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics examined public school districts’ revenue and expenditures in the 2011-2012 school year. Findings indicate a 2.8 percent decline in per-pupil expenditures overall for the second year in a row, with some states, such as Florida, seeing a decline as large as 8.3 percent, and other states, such as Vermont, increasing their investments as much as 10 percent.

Closing the achievement gap – or trying to. The Education Commission of the States released a report last month on how states with overall high achievement rates but also large achievement gaps are working to improve performance for all students. The report highlights efforts in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, and Wisconsin to use state-level task forces, legislative action, and research efforts around root cause analysis and best practices to tackle persistent achievement gaps.

Just for fun: Scholastic pitted the Super Bowl contenders up against one another based on their cities’ education systems. Who’s the winner? You decide.

Feel good story: The Humans of New York blog crowdfunded over $1M for students at a high-poverty middle school to visit Harvard University.