Here’s an update on the action-packed day two of the National Forum on Education Policy.
- Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Education and Workforce Development at Gallup, opened up the day with an interesting thought –that we’ve over complicated education and have forgotten about the basics. Data from Gallup supported the idea of what creates well-being.
- Fredi Lajvardi, a high school teacher whose students beat MIT in a robotics competition, captivated the audience with the second Ed Talk of the day and left everyone wanting to see the major motion picture and documentary he inspired.
- Panels today covered the achievement gap and college affordability.
- Over lunch, attendees heard from U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King on the opportunities with ESSA along with two chief state school officers and a state teacher of the year.
- Sal Khan, Khan Academy, was recognized with the James Bryant Conant Award.
- Elizabeth Huntley, author of More Than A Bird, shared her moving story of her challenging childhood and why early learning policies are so important.
- Evan Marwell, EducationSuperHighway, concluded the day with his belief that all schools can be digitally connected by 2020.
- Concurrent sessions included:
- Reaching the Finish: Supporting near-completers in degree completion: With an estimated 1.2 million adults in the U.S. having 60 credits or more but no degree earned, states need to start looking at ways to help this population earn credentials. Texas discussed the successes and challenges they face in finding these students and awarding them credentials. Participants were provided with lessons learned and shared what other states are doing to reach this population.
- Education Reimagined: The future of learning is now: A key point was that we should not be innovative for the sake of innovation, rather we should create innovation for the sake of equity. Speakers suggested there is an urgent need to transform (not reform) education and that starts by allowing some districts to experiment their way to a new system. ESSA gives states great flexibility in how they approach assessment and accountability.
- Enhancing Student Success: Federalism in postsecondary education: Federal and state funding are roughly equal in magnitude, but are very different in composition. Federal is student centered, largely in the form of financial aid. A majority of state funding is support for institutions. Scott Pattison from NGA is starting to advise governors to anticipate the next recession. Knowing this, it is crucial for state governments and the federal government to work together and collaborate to be prepared and find solutions. James Applegate from the Illinois Department of Higher Education wonders if states are supposed to be the laboratories of democracy, we have to find a balance to giving states autonomy.
- Free Community College: An option to increase adult degree attainment: Jesse O’Connell framed the need for adult postsecondary education by outlining Lumina’s Goal 2025 plan, which says that by the year 2025, 60 percent of the adult population should have a postsecondary degree. In the most recent Stronger Nation report, Lumina found that only 40.4 percent have a postsecondary degree. The presenters suggested we need to focus on adults who have no college or some college and no degree. Many of the existing free community college programs actively exclude adult populations by having an upper age limit, requiring direct matriculation from high school. Alternatively, states can passively exclude adults by having a minimum required GPA or requiring the FAFSA. Andy Carlson shared the work that SHEEO is doing around adult free community college, which is funded by the Lumina Foundation. Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington are participating in the pilot program to figure out what an adult free community college would look like in their states.
- ESSA’s Impact on State Charter School Policymaking: In enacting ESSA, Congress wanted to ensure that meaningful implementation conversations would take place in states and that charter school leaders would be included in these conversations. Highlighted were five major changes related to charters in ESSA: (1) charter schools must be a part of state plans; (2) charter schools are often LEAs and states should keep this in mind when making implementation decisions; (3) accountability for charter schools can be different, but not lesser than that for traditional public schools; (4) charter leaders are a named stakeholder in ESSA provisions about stakeholder engagement; and (5) if a state has a Charter School Program Grant, additional requirements must be considered.
- STEM and the Arts: A Win-Win: The STEM vs. STEAM debate — going on for some time–is resurfacing with ESSA’s requirement for a more well-rounded education that includes the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, English and math. Virginia-based Wolf-Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts has designed classroom residencies and workshops to train teachers to utilize performing arts techniques to enhance instructional practice and achieve curriculum goals. By tapping into students’ natural need to learn in multi-sensory ways, cognitive learning in math, reading and science simply comes easier. Research shows that students in this program are demonstrating significant gains in literacy, math and basic life skills.
Make sure to follow the conversation online with #ECSNF16 and check back tomorrow for our final post on this year’s annual convening!