Social Impact Bonds

Results-based financing for preschool catching on, By Adrienne Lu, March 21, 2014, Stateline: “Six hundred 3- and 4-year-olds are attending preschool in Salt Lake County and Park City, Utah, this year thanks to an innovative financing model that is catching the attention of government officials and lawmakers across the country. Under ‘results-based financing,’ also known as ‘pay-for-success’ or ‘social impact bonds,’ private investors or philanthropists provide the initial funding for social programs that are expected to save taxpayer dollars down the road. If the policy goals are met and the savings materialize (according to third-party evaluators), the investors receive their money back with interest. However, the government doesn’t have to pay out more than it saves…”

Homeless Schoolchildren – New York

Homeless schoolchildren numbers soar as federal funds decline, By Laura Figueroa, March 16, 2014, Long Island Newsday: “The number of homeless schoolchildren has quadrupled in Nassau County and more than doubled in Suffolk since the recession first hit — even as federal funding for homeless student programs has decreased. While Long Island’s economy is recovering, the number of homeless families continues to grow, according to state and county figures. The uptick has strained resources in many districts already beset by layoffs and reduced state education aid. Social service programs for the children and their families also have experienced federal, state and county budget cuts. Apart from New York City, which has some 80,500 homeless students, Suffolk has the highest homeless enrollment in the state. The county had nearly 5,000 homeless students as of the 2012-13 school year, up from 1,956 in 2007-08…”

High School Graduation Rate – Michigan

  • Michigan’s 4-year high school graduation rate rises to nearly 77%, By Jennifer Chambers, February 27, 2014, Detroit News: “Graduation rates in Michigan are increasing, with the statewide four-year graduation rate for the high school class of 2013 reaching 76.96 percent, up 0.7 percentage points from 2012, according to the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information. At the same time, the 2013 state dropout rate is down 0.17 percentage points, to 10.54 percent…”
  • High school graduation rates up in Lansing, statewide, By Kathleen Lavey, February 27, 2014, Lansing State Journal: “While the statewide high school graduation rate was up slightly in 2013, Lansing officials were celebrating significant increases at Eastern and Everett high schools and a small uptick at Sexton…”

Minnesota High School Graduation Rate

Minnesota graduation rate rose in 2013, By Kim McGuire and Steve Brandt, February 20, 2014, Minneapolis Star Tribune: “The graduation rate for Minnesota students is the highest it’s been in a decade, even though many minority students continue to lag behind their white peers when it comes to getting a diploma on time, new state data show. About 79 percent of all students graduated in 2013, up from 72 percent in 2003. Last year, 85 percent of white students, 56 percent of black students and 58 percent of Hispanic students graduated, according to data released Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Education. State education leaders said they are encouraged by the new data, which show minority students making big gains from year to year…”

Parents as Scholars Program – Maine

First a parent, then a scholar: How this Maine woman finally completed college, By Luisa Deprez and Sandy Butler, February 21, 2014, Bangor Daily News: “One-third of American women are living at or near the brink of poverty, often working low-income jobs and raising their children, according to a recent Shriver Report. It underscores the well-established fact that higher education is essential to lifting women out of poverty. But access to education is often difficult…”

Early Childhood Education

Push for preschool becomes a bipartisan cause outside Washington, By Richard Pérez-Peña and Motoko Rich, February 3, 2014, New York Times: “Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own. With a growing body of research pointing to the importance of early child development and its effect on later academic and social progress, enrollment in state-funded preschool has more than doubled since 2002, to about 30 percent of all 4-year-olds nationwide. In just the past year, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and the city of San Antonio have enacted new or expanded programs, while in dozens of other places, mayors, governors and legislators are making a serious push for preschool…”

Unemployment, Job Training and Education

  • Big companies join Obama in initiative to help long-term unemployed, By Peter Baker, January 31, 2014, New York Times: “President Obama has persuaded some of the nation’s largest companies, including Walmart, Apple, General Motors and Ford, to revamp their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants who have been out of work for a long stretch of time. Mr. Obama hosted a group of corporate chief executives at the White House on Friday to highlight those efforts and the use of presidential persuasion to help the jobless find work. In all, White House officials said, about 300 businesses have agreed to new hiring policies, including 21 of the nation’s 50 largest companies and 47 of the top 200…”
  • Obama wants job training revamped, By Jeff Mason, January 31, 2014, Columbus Dispatch: “President Barack Obama promised to overhaul federal job-training programs yesterday on the second leg of a tour intended to highlight his proposals to improve the fortunes of low- and middle-income Americans. Obama traveled to Wisconsin to discuss the efforts to ensure that training programs match up with the demand for jobs. It was part of a trip that will include a stop in Tennessee to discuss education. The trip is a follow-up to Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, in which he called for greater economic fairness in a nation that is still recovering from the deep 2007-09 recession…”
  • Going back to college at 50, and why it’s a dream come true, By Luisa Deprez and Sandy Butler, January 24, 2014, Bangor Daily News: “When she graduated from Mount Desert Island High School in 1981, Kaloe ‘Kay’ Haslam was the first in her family to earn a high school degree. She took ‘business’ and ‘general’ classes rather than ‘college-bound’ courses. She had no aspirations to go to college, nor was she encouraged. ‘I never thought I could afford it,’ she said. ‘I was one of three in a single-parent family. It was like, ‘This isn’t anything I can afford to do.’ I basically just went to work.’ Her dream at the time was to work in an office. ‘I didn’t even care what I was doing in an office,’ she said. ‘I just wanted to work in an office.’ But living in a high-tourism area, office jobs were not widely available…”
  • Unemployment benefits dominate the agenda, By Ed O’Keefe, January 31, 2014, Washington Post: “Stephanie Ransom is 30, single and the mother of a 3-year-old girl. She has thousands of dollars in credit-card debt and suffers from a rare thoracic disorder that causes severe pain in her neck and shoulders. Last July, Ransom lost the job she’d had for nine years at a parts manufacturer in Walworth, Wis., and has not been able to find another one. That prolonged joblessness has become the defining feature of her life…”

Early Childhood Education

Lessons for de Blasio in New Jersey’s fee pre-K, By Javier C. Hernández, January 26, 2014, New York Times: “Teddy Lin’s teachers were worried. For the first few weeks of preschool, Teddy, a 3-year-old Chinese immigrant, cried nearly every day. While his classmates recited stories in English about dogs and elephants, he talked in Mandarin. Some days, he sat quietly and refused to play. His teachers responded with a radical plan. They began learning Mandarin, tutored his parents in reading, and paired Teddy with older classmates to teach him about topics like woodland animals. Within a few months, Teddy was performing on a par with his peers. Officials across the country, including Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, are looking to efforts like those in New Jersey as they seek to broaden access to free, full-day prekindergarten…”

States and All-Day Kindergarten

Pushing full-day kindergarten, By Adrienne Lu, January 13, 2014, Stateline: “In the not too distant past, kindergarten was a place where children learned to color, share and play. But a higher regard for kindergarten is emerging, including a move toward all-day sessions in some states, as a growing body of research underscores the importance of learning in the earliest years. The percentage of kindergartners attending full-day programs has grown from about 10 percent in the 1970s to about 76 percent in 2012, with a steep increase between 2002 and 2006, according to Child Trends, a nonprofit research center. While some programs took a hit during the recession, several states have taken action recently to expand access to full-day kindergarten. Part-day kindergarten typically last two or three hours, while full-day kindergarten can range from four to seven hours…”

Achievement Gaps

  • Academic achievement gap persists for Hispanic students, By Martha Mendoza, December 22, 2013, Los Angeles Daily News: “As Hispanics surpass white Californians in population next year, the state becomes a potential model for the rest of the country, which is going through a slower but similar demographic shift. But when it comes to how California is educating students of color, many say the state serves as a model of what not to do. In California, 52 percent of the state’s 6 million school children are Hispanic, just 26 percent are white…”
  • D.C. high school graduation rate ticks up, but wide achievement gaps remain, By Emma Brown, December 20, 2013, Washington Post: “The District’s high school graduation rate ticked up to 64 percent in 2013, a three-point gain over the previous year, according to data that city officials quietly released last week. But the city average — long among the lowest in the country — masks wide gaps between different groups of students and different schools, with charter schools and the school system’s selective high schools posting higher rates than traditional neighborhood schools…”

NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment

  • Big city schools making progress but still have far to go, report says, By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo and Amanda Paulson, December 18, 2013, Christian Science Monitor: “Public school students in some of America’s biggest cities have made significant long-term gains, according to the latest data released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often known as the Nation’s Report Card. Despite that progress, some subsets of students are still languishing at very low achievement levels. Wednesday’s report on the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) gives snapshots of reading and math achievement for fourth- and eighth-graders in 21 districts and comes 10 years after the first TUDA…”
  • Detroit Public Schools’ scores improve, but still at bottom on Nation’s Report Card; poverty a factor, By Chastity Pratt Dawsey, December 18, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “For the third time in a row, Detroit Public Schools scored the worst among urban school districts that participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which released fourth- and eighth-graders’ reading and math scores today from the rigorous test known as the Nation’s Report Card. DPS posted the lowest scores among the 21 cities that voluntarily took part in the TUDA. DPS has participated since 2009, allowing its scores to be publicized. Other district scores are not made public…”
  • MPS shows slight gain in reading, math scores on national exam, By Erin Richards, December 18, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee Public Schools students’ average reading and math scores on a national exam ticked up slightly in fourth and eighth grade between 2009 and 2013, according to a new report released Wednesday. But — and there always seems to be a ‘but’ — only the score change in eighth-grade math was statistically significant over those years. And compared with the performance of 20 other urban districts in 2013, MPS ranked in the bottom four for math and the bottom six for reading…”
  • Test-score gap widens between white, black students in Chicago, By Becky Schlikerman, December 18, 2013, Chicago Sun-Times: “The performance gap between Chicago’s black and white students — and between its poorest students and their wealthier classmates — continues to widen, newly released data show. Black Chicago Public Schools students fell further behind whites in three of four key measures, according to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the Nation’s Report Card…”

Funding for Low-Income Students – California

California schools fear losing millions for low-income students, By Teresa Watanabe, December 9, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “Major California school districts fear they will be shortchanged millions of dollars in funding for their low-income students under new state rules requiring them to verify family incomes every year. Officials in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno and elsewhere are scrambling to collect verification forms but said that hundreds of families have not yet turned them in — potentially jeopardizing funding that school districts are counting on this year. At stake, for instance, is $200 million in L.A. Unified and $6 million in San Diego. The districts are urging the state to guarantee them all funding due this year, based on last year’s count of low-income students, whether the new forms are turned in or not…”

Graduation Rates – Rhode Island

At R.I.’s urban schools, graduation rates are rising, By Lynn Arditi, November 26, 2013, Providence Journal: “High school graduation rates in Rhode Island’s poorest cities improved at more than twice the rate of the rest of the state during the last five years, according to a report released Monday by Rhode Island KidsCount. But among those urban students, about 34 percent — or one in three, on average — still are not graduating on time, the report said. The graduation rate in Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket increased 10 percent since 2007, to 66 percent in 2012, the KidsCount report found. In the rest of the state, the graduation rate during the same five-year period rose 4 percent, to 83 percent in 2012…”

NPR Report on Philadelphia Schools

  • Kids pay the price in fight over fixing Philadelphia schools, By Claudio Sanchez, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Sharron Snyder and Othella Stanback, both seniors at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High, will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. This, their final year, was supposed to be memorable. Instead, these teenagers say they feel cheated. ‘We’re fed up with the budget cuts and everything. Like, this year, my school is like really overcrowded. We don’t even have lockers because it’s, like, too many students,’ Sharron says. Franklin High doubled in size because it absorbed hundreds of kids from two high schools the district could not afford to keep open this fall…”
  • Unrelenting poverty leads to ‘desperation’ in Philly schools, By Eric Westervelt, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Philadelphia’s Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city’s population grew from 2006 to 2012. But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder. The overall poverty rate in the city dipped slightly in 2012 to 28 percent. But the number of Philadelphians needing food stamps rose last year, and the child poverty rate in the city still hovers near 40 percent. At Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philly, for example, almost every child lives at or below the federal poverty line…”
  • Charter schools in Philadelphia: Educating without a blueprint, By Eric Westervelt, November 22, 2013, National Public Radio: “Shayna Terrell is in a good mood: It’s report card night at the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter high school in North Philadelphia, and parents are showing up in good numbers. Terrell, Mastery’s outreach coordinator, welcomes parents. Her goal on this night is to get 40 percent of Gratz parents to come to the school, meet teachers face to face, and get their child’s report card. It’s part of the effort to make Gratz a positive hub for a community long challenged by high rates of poverty and crime…”

National Assessment of Educational Progress

  • U.S. reading and math scores show slight gains, By Motoko Rich, November 7, 2013, New York Times: “American fourth and eighth graders showed incremental gains in reading and math this year, but achievement gaps between whites and blacks, whites and Hispanics, and low-income and more affluent students stubbornly persist, data released by the Education Department on Thursday showed. The results of the tests — administered every two years as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes called the nation’s report card — continued an upward trend in both areas over the past two decades. But still, far less than half of the nation’s students are performing at a level deemed proficient in either math or reading…”
  • US ‘report card’ for 2013: Student achievement creeps upward, By Amanda Paulson, November 7, 2013, Christian Science Monitor: “America’s students continue to make incremental improvements in math in fourth and eighth grades, and in eighth-grade reading. But schools and educators have made little progress on closing gaps in student performance by race – even over a two-decade period – and the gains that have been made are small ones…”
  • U.S. students show incremental progress on national test, By Lyndsey Layton, November 7, 2013, Washington Post: “The nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders made incremental progress on math and reading tests administered earlier this year by the federal government, according to data released Thursday. The results detail performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, that U.S. students have taken every two years since the early 1990s. Also known as the Nation’s Report Card, it’s the country’s most consistent measure of K-12 progress…”

Kids Count Report on the First Eight Years

  • Strong lives begin with investment in early childhood development, report says, By Lois M. Collins, November 3, 2013, Deseret News: “The first-grader is trying to sound out tiny words like ‘in’ and ‘the,’ but it’s hard because she doesn’t know all the letters. She’s especially mixed up with capital I and T, her brow furrowed as she debates which one to guess. A volunteer tutor waits a few beats before telling her it’s a T and helping her make the sound. Few things are as important to a child’s future as ability to read, according to a KIDS COUNT policy report released Monday by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. But even getting to that point is a process that involves lots of steps. ‘The First Eight Years’ report highlights the need to invest in children from the beginning of their lives across diverse areas that include cognitive skills and social, emotional and physical development…”
  • ‘Kids Count’ report says American children falling behind by age 8, By Brian Smith, November 4, 2013, Mlive: “The latest ‘Kids Count’ report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation today says children in the United States are falling behind academically, physically and emotionally by third grade. The report, ‘The First Eight Years,’ says only 36 percent of American children are scoring at or above average in mathematics, reading and science in third grade, and only 56 percent of third-grade students are at a healthy weight and in ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ physical condition…”
  • Report: Majority of young Iowans living in poverty not enrolled in preschool, By Meryn Fluker, November 4, 2013, Cedar Rapids Gazette: “The majority of Iowa’s 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families were not enrolled in preschool in 2011, according to results from an Annie E. Casey Foundation report released today. The report defines low-income as families whose annual income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. The data estimates show that, of the 34,000 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families in Iowa in 2011, 21,000 of them (61 percent) were not enrolled in preschool…”
  • Kentucky kids tops in trauma, mired in poverty, report says, By Chris Kenning, November 4, 2013, Louisville Courier-Journal: “One in 10 Kentucky children have already had three or more traumatic experiences before they’re 9 years old — including family divorce, death, domestic violence or drug abuse — a rate tied for the highest in the country. And half of the state’s children are in low-income families. Those startling statistics, part of a report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Kentucky Youth Advocates, give clear evidence to the fact that Kentucky needs to offer expanded early childhood care that is focused not only on academic preparation, but also on safety, health and family well-being, child advocates contend…”

Foster Youth and Higher Education

Out of foster care, into college, By Michael Winerip, October 30, 2013, New York Times: “By definition, foster children have been delinquent, abandoned, neglected, physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused, and that does not take into account nonstatutory abuses like heartache. About two-thirds never go to college and very few graduate, so it’s a safe bet that those who do have an uncommon resilience. In a society where many young men and women live with their parents well into their 20s, foster children learn quickly that they are their own responsibility…”

School Performance – Wyoming

40 percent of Wyoming schools not meeting expectations, By Leah Todd, October 26, 2013, Casper Star-Tribune: “The Wyoming Department of Education released its pilot report on school performance Friday, announcing that about 54 percent of Wyoming schools were meeting or exceeding expectations in the 2012-13 school year. The report is a first for the department, which was directed by the Wyoming Legislature in 2011 to create its own system of school accountability. The new system is in trial mode this year, according to a WDE media release. The school ratings will not carry consequences for underperforming schools until the 2014-15 school year, when the system will be fully implemented…”

Early Childhood Education

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K, By Motoko Rich, October 21, 2013, New York Times: “Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents, giving them a distinct advantage in school and suggesting the need for increased investment in prekindergarten programs. Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate…”

American Youth Not Employed or in School

New report finds 6M American youth neither working nor in school, Associated Press, October 21, 2013, Newsday: “Almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to a study released Monday. That’s almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 who have neither desk nor job, according to The Opportunity Nation coalition, which wrote the report. Other studies have shown that idle young adults are missing out on a window to build skills they will need later in life or use the knowledge they acquired in college. Without those experiences, they are less likely to command higher salaries and more likely to be an economic drain on their communities…”