News You Should Know: February Round-Up

Our monthly news roundup continues below with February’s highlights.


No silver bullet to college completion, but here are some bright spots. A Business Insider write-up from a summit on college completion shared some thoughts from Complete College America’s vice president on strategies colleges can use to increase the odds that students will persist through graduation. For example, stressing the number of credits students should enroll in per semester (15), creating schedules that place students together in cohorts, and increasing the involvement of advisors in advisee’s coursework and daily life are all low-cost strategies that, together, could create a stronger support system to ensure more students persist in college.

What do you think, Governor? The Education Commission of the States (ECS) has been tracking governors’ State of the State addresses, pulling out any information relating directly to education. While this issue brief is still a work in progress as not all governors have completed their addresses, ECS’ tracking has found some early trends at the bookends of K-16 education: early care, and college and career readiness/success, as well as creation of a strong workforce.

Common Core FAQs, please hold.” A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll found many misperceptions in the American public’s understanding of the Common Core State Standards. Overall, though, many poll respondents were in one of two camps: either they had heard “just a little” or “nothing at all” about the standards; or they believed the standards to be much more far-reaching than they actually are, believing they even cover subjects such as sex education. (For the record, they only cover math and reading.) For the full FDU press release, click here.

An opportunity to do things differently. In early February, the U.S. Department of Education released the updated School Improvement Grant (SIG) guidance, which offers a few opportunities for state education agencies (SEAs) to change the way they “do” SIG. Namely, the updated guidance introduced an early education model, expanded the grant from three to five years (including a planning year), and included of a “state-determined model” in addition to the typical four SIG implementation options – closure, restart, turnaround, and transformation.

Running off schedule. I had hoped news of ESEA reauthorization would squeeze into this February news round-up, but on Friday, U.S. House leaders put a hold on a vote for a bill that would begin the process to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The hold may have been due to strong opposition from external parties, or the need for Congress to focus on refinancing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.