ICW's December 2011 Newsletter


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A monthly update from ICW on education and workforce initiatives and policies.

In this issue:

Since 1994, federal law has required states to establish standards and assessments that measure student mastery of those standards, and to identify and assist Title I schools that did not make sufficient progress. In 2001, when the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed, these requirements were strengthened. And for the first time, schools and districts were held accountable for ensuring that all students reach proficiency in math and reading by the 2013–2014 school year. As this deadline approaches, so, too, has the pressure on schools and districts to meet the ever-increasing benchmarks toward 100% proficiency. However, to date, this pressure has not prompted Congress to reauthorize and update NCLB, despite recent activity in both the House and Senate.

Considerable discussion in the education press has taken place regarding waivers—and for good reason. States awarded these waivers will essentially be allowed to rewrite a major portion of NCLB—at least until Congress takes action. Because these waivers are so significant, it’s worth looking at the fundamentals.

A review of the first 11 waiver applications found that overall, while many states did a good job seeking input from many constituencies, they did a relatively poor job of showing true engagement and input from the business community. In most cases where the business community was listed as among the stakeholders asked to provide input, there were limited—if any—details of the input or any indication that such input was considered as part of the revisions to applications. To help provide some guidance to this process, here are a handful of key questions that your state or local business community may wish to consider when developing comments.

Congress has finally wrapped up the FY2012 budget bill – the House passed a $915 billion FY12 spending bill on the 16th, and the Senate followed suit the next day. The consolidated appropriations bill is the result of an agreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats and funds the government through September 30, 2012. So, what does this mean for education?

Promising Practices

 ACT Certified Work Ready Communities

ACT, one of the largest educational testing 501(c)(3) organizations in the United States, has propelled its mission to advance education and workplace success to a new level with Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC). CWRC is a community-based workforce development implementation framework and certificate program that empowers counties and states with actionable data and specific workforce goals. Participating states are leveraging the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), an industry recognized credential issued by ACT that identifies an individual’s skills in reading for information, applied math, and locating information.