Grim California budget forecast means more cuts to schools, social services

NJ Governor Seeks Added Power on School Aid

States Make Progress on Tracking Quality Education Data, Analysts Say

Schools Fail to Make AYP

Grim California budget forecast means more cuts to schools, social services

Despite summer optimism that predicted more funds, the California budget will end up being about $3.7 billion short which will mean more cuts to schools and social services. The expected tax revenues were not generated.  California is about 4% short of the $88.5 billion that was expected and this shortage is expected to continue through 2013.
It is expected that K-12 public school districts will lose $1.1 billion in classroom funds.
Another $248 million will be subtracted from the school bus funding. Some districts still have some reserve funds left but many districts will have to furlough teachers and staff. Other districts are in conversation with their teacher unions to explore their alternatives. When the state budget was put together,  the districts had permission to cut the number of school days, but that would require laying off teachers and the unions would have to be involved in that decision.
The Democrats and the Republican legislators have different opinions about how to improve the situation.

NJ Governor Seeks Added Power on School Aid

In an effort to gain more control over low-performing schools, Governor Christie of New Jersey is seeking the power to withhold state and federal aid to low-performing schools in New Jersey. If schools that are low-performing do not attempt improvement by removing principals and teachers and increasing the hours in school than Christie wants to take funds from them.
New Jersey is in the process of filling out an application for a waiver from the requirements of No Child Left Behind. New Jersey and 10 other states are trying to apply for federal funds but also maintain some local control over their schools. Along with schools that would be punished for not making changes, the schools that are doing better would be able to obtain extra money.
The New Jersey Education Association and the Governor have not always been in agreement. They are working hard to create  agreement over  low-performing schools.  If the union and the Governor are not in some form of agreement then the state could lose in the Race to the Top funds. Compromise was on the minds of many officials.

States Make Progress on Tracking Quality Education, Analysts Say

The Data Quality Campaign released news in December of 2011 that quality education data about K-12 students is now available to parents, educators, lawmakers, and the public. The Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems consist of 10 elements and now thirty-six states have all 10. Last year there were only twenty-four  states that had that many. The elements help states maintain a unique student identifier that includes a student-level transcript data.
The ten different elements have actions with varying levels of difficulty. Action five asks states to put in systems that make it possible for educators, parents, students, and lawmakers to have information about students while at the same time protecting the student’s privacy. Sometimes the main difficulty of the different elements is the cultural shift necessary to carry them out. Action nine asks states to establish policies that help educators understand, analyze, and use the data that is being provided to them. Only three states have accomplished all seven pieces of action 9, and they are Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Teachers need to know how to use this data before they enter the classroom but so far very few teacher programs are teaching this information. The Bush Foundation is investing $40 million through partnerships with teacher preparation programs in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota to help prepare educators to use this data.


Schools Fail to Make No Child Left Behind Requirements

According to the non-profit, non-partisan Center on Education Policy, nearly half of US schools failed to make No Child Left Behind Requirements (NCLB). The deadline for all schools to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements is 2014. But the U.S. Department of Education has introduced a system that allows states to waive the requirements in exchange for making various changes in their schools such as school accountability and teacher performance based teacher evaluations.
The U.S. Department of Education has introduced these waivers because more and more schools are not able to make AYP. The current estimate that at least 48% of schools are not able to make their AYP requirements is an increase of 25% in the number of schools that are failing, and the highest number since the law was passed.
Eleven states have already applied for waivers and twenty-eight more have indicated that they will also apply for waivers. Florida has 89% of their schools failing (the highest) and followed by Missouri, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. All of these states have at least 79% of their schools failing. In Washington D.C. 87% of schools did not make AYP but that was an improvement over the previous year when 92% of the schools in D.C. did not make AYP.


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