50 States of Ed Policy: Education bills under consideration in 2020

In the past week, Congress managed to pass a federal spending bill to avert a government shutdown, provide a $1.3 billion in education spending for 2020, and pass legislation mandating $255 million in funding for historically black colleges and universities next year. But legislation directly affecting K-12 is much more slow-moving and often gets bogged down by politics. Still, a few bills impacting K-12 might finally see the spotlight in the coming year. Whether they will be passed and signed into law is a tossup, but some are more likely than others to be voted on. Here are those bills, and more, that bring educators' concerns — on everything from trauma-informed care to STEM funding and teacher pay — to Washington.

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Education Technology, Talent Development, Online Education

Bridge2Rwanda Extends Partnership with IXL to Support Students Developing English Language Skills

PR Newswire | January 30, 2024

IXL, the personalized learning platform used by 15 million students worldwide, has announced an extension of its partnership with Bridge2Rwanda (B2R), a nonprofit dedicated to creating global education opportunities for high-achieving African students. B2R educators will continue leveraging IXL's award-winning platform to deliver targeted English language arts (ELA) instruction, helping learners build and master literacy skills essential for securing university scholarships. In total, B2R has used IXL to support 500 students across eight different training programs since the partnership began. Despite encouraging improvements in literacy rates, limited access to resources and a nascent reading culture pose significant challenges to educational achievement in Rwanda. Recognizing the pivotal role education plays in enhancing socioeconomic outcomes, Bridge2Rwanda was established in 2007 to empower Rwandan high school students with high-quality reading and writing opportunities. B2R's ultimate goal is to build a thriving community of well-educated African leaders who will accelerate their nations' growth and improve the lives of others. B2R began using IXL Language Arts in 2019 to support the English language development of 30 high-achieving scholars from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Burundi. In 2020, the nonprofit relied on IXL's all-inclusive platform to ensure that its English language learners (ELLs) developed essential ELA skills during distance learning. After two years of an impactful partnership, B2R made IXL an integral component of its new intensive English training and college preparatory program, Isomo Academy. The inaugural class of 120 Isomo Academy scholars quickly embraced IXL's tailored support, built-in instructional resources, and engaging learning opportunities. During the first week of Isomo Academy's eight-week training program, educators use IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, to pinpoint each student's English proficiency level, helping them understand individual strengths and areas for improvement. Based on these insights, the diagnostic then generates personalized skill recommendations to challenge and support learners at the right level. Additionally, B2R educators use the diagnostic to track student growth each week to ensure that students are progressing and mastering essential ELA concepts. Bridge2Rwanda educators also rely on IXL's comprehensive curriculum to help students build the skills that they need to become strong communicators. Each day at Isomo Academy, students take writing and reading classes that are paired with intensive language and communication seminars. Additionally, students work on IXL skills that align with their classroom lessons. The combined approach allows educators to engage students at their individual levels, assign homework, and differentiate learning beyond the school day. "IXL bursts bottlenecks for Bridge2Rwanda scholars by eliminating language barriers," said Luke Dreiling, Lead English Teacher, Bridge2Rwanda. "This enables them to excel in their studies, advance their careers, and contribute significantly to the growth of African communities." "Bridge2Rwanda's dedication to expanding educational opportunities for young African students is commendable. We are excited to continue equipping even more bright and ambitious learners with the tools they need to confidently pursue their dreams on a global scale," said Paul Mishkin, CEO of IXL Learning. "At IXL, we are committed to leveraging education as an instrument of empowerment to break down language barriers and ensure all students have the opportunity to thrive." IXL's impact on English language learners IXL Language Arts gives teachers a systematic way to troubleshoot each student's unique reading and writing roadblocks, and put them on the path to success: Among schools with a high percentage of ELLs, research demonstrates that those using IXL outperformed non-IXL schools on Smarter Balanced Assessments in ELA by as much as seven percentile points. IXL's comprehensive curriculum provides more than 2,400 adaptive skills that span early literacy, reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and advanced concepts, such as persuasive writing. Each IXL skill is adaptive, ensuring that ELLs feel confident that they are perfectly challenged and supported at the right level when developing fluency. IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, pinpoints students' grade-level proficiency in key ELA strands, and generates targeted next steps to help students grow from where they are. As English language learners progress, these personalized recommendations stay up-to-date, ensuring that they always have a clear path toward mastering ELA concepts. As students learn and practice, IXL provides in-the-moment support and resources for self-remediation. For example, video tutorials guide learners through the building blocks of reading, writing, and grammar to provide additional support during learning and independent practice. If a student answers a problem incorrectly, IXL provides a step-by-step explanation of the right answer so that students can learn from their mistake and solidify their knowledge of that skill. Educators also rely on insights from IXL Analytics to track student progress, monitor readiness for exams, and differentiate instruction to fill knowledge gaps. Up-to-date reports help teachers uncover areas of challenge for each student and identify patterns in mistakes in order to provide targeted reteaching.

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Education Technology, Online Education, Continuing Education

2U Partners with University of Surrey to Launch 15 Online Master's Degrees

PR Newswire | February 01, 2024

2U, Inc, the company behind global online learning platform edX, today announced a new partnership with the University of Surrey to launch and support the delivery of online master's degrees and online professional certificate programs. An initial five online degree programs will welcome students in 2024, with a portfolio of at least 15 master's degrees and at least 15 professional certificate programs being delivered by 2026. This will expand access to this highly ranked UK university for students worldwide. Surrey's partnership with 2U will deliver Surrey Online Learning: an acceleration and transformation of the university's provision of online learning. 2U's expertise will help Surrey establish a scalable model and quickly expand its digital capabilities to worldwide audiences. The collaboration aligns with the university's mission to expand access to life-changing education and personal and professional success. "We're partnering with 2U and their edX platform to accelerate Surrey Online Learning provision," said Professor Tim Dunne, Provost and Senior Vice-President at the University of Surrey. "The University of Surrey has global strength in innovation and research, and is renowned for being one of the best universities in the UK for delivering excellence in teaching and employability. Through Surrey Online Learning, we will offer flexible and affordable educational pathways that are compatible with and relevant to modern careers, combining accessibility with strong student outcomes." Surrey's suite of online degrees will build on the success of its on-campus programs, with the online curriculum developed in partnership with LearningMate. The first five degrees expected to launch in 2024 will be in the areas of artificial intelligence, business, psychology, marketing, and sustainability. The professional certificate programs, which will focus on technology, healthcare, business, communications technologies, and sustainability, will provide learners with an opportunity to build and enhance critical professional skills on their way to determining if a full degree in a corresponding subject is part of their educational journey. "2U prides itself in being a digital transformation partner that can support strategic long-term thinking, accelerate innovation, and help drive positive student outcomes across new formats and modalities," said Andrew Hermalyn, President of the Degree Program Segment at 2U. "The University of Surrey has major ambitions to expand its online learning capabilities, and we are honored to be their partner to help build their online presence from the ground up." "LearningMate is honored to partner with the University of Surrey on its transformative online learning initiative in collaboration with 2U. We're excited to contribute to the development of cutting-edge online master's degrees and professional certificate programs that align with Surrey's commitment to excellence," said Prasad Mohare, Senior Vice President at LearningMate. "Our focus on innovation and accessibility will be showcased in the initial offerings. LearningMate is dedicated to supporting Surrey in expanding access to impactful, career-relevant learning opportunities in the evolving landscape of online education." Today's announcement builds on the continued demand for 2U's flexible degree partnership model, which gives universities the choice of selecting different bundles of services according to their needs.

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Online Education, Continuing Education

W. P. Carey School of Business, Televerde Foundation expand prison education program

PR Newswire | January 08, 2024

The ASU W. P. Carey School of Business and Televerde Foundation have worked alongside community partners to offer a unique PATHS program for women as they transition out of prison. PATHS, an acronym for Prepare, Achieve, and Transform for Healthy Success, teaches skills in personal wellness, workplace readiness, employment strategies, mentoring, financial literacy, and lifelong learning. The program begins while the women are still incarcerated and continues through their reentry and transition back into society. "We are thrilled to expand our partnership with the ASU W. P. Carey School of Business, further empowering women through education," said Michelle Cirocco, executive director of Televerde Foundation. "Our PATHS program goes beyond just providing skills; it's about transforming lives. This expansion marks a significant step toward reducing recidivism and opening new opportunities for women from all walks of life to rewrite their narratives. It also underscores our belief in education as a crucial driver of personal growth and societal advancement. We are committed to helping these women become positive role models in their communities and building a brighter, more secure future for themselves and their families." Julia LaRosa, clinical associate professor, and Kostas Voutsas, assistant teaching professor, from the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, are two members of the W. P. Carey community who teach in the program. They focus on workplace readiness skills through college-level business fundamentals, business communication, and professional development courses. As of fall 2023, women who complete the Career PATHS coursework earning a C or better have the opportunity to turn their completed work into college credit through ASU's Universal Learner program. The associated fees are currently covered by Televerde Foundation, with future iterations also being funded by the generosity of donors through the ASU Foundation. "Turning time in prison into a college education experience is truly inspiring," says Voutsas, who teaches the Effective Communication for Career Success class. "It is a practical course that empowers students to communicate as leaders, embrace diversity and inclusion, build positive relationships, and maximize efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. It explores both verbal and nonverbal communication, cross-cultural communication, customer service, the writing process, writing mechanics, interviewing and resume techniques, as well as delivering presentations with confidence." Since the program's inception in 2020, the results have been truly remarkable. Of the 161 students who have completed the program, the recidivism rate is zero compared with the expected 40% to 60% rate. According to the Televerde Foundation, graduates' salaries are also 61% to 75% higher than their less prepared counterparts. While the quantitative outcomes are extraordinary, the qualitative impacts are equally important. Mary Montemorra, a PATHS graduate, explains, "Televerde Foundation and PATHS have given me the ability to fit into a community that once felt so far away. Remember, being sent to prison means the society you once were part of decided to remove you from its communities physically. PATHS gave that community back to me." One benefit of the Universal Learner program is the connection it helps non-traditional students form with ASU. "At W. P. Carey, we are prioritizing access in the communities we serve," says Raghu Santanam, senior associate dean for Executive Education, Corporate Partnerships, and Lifelong Learning. "Connecting PATHS to ASU as a for-credit course legitimizes the hard work these women are undertaking and makes it easier for them to transition into college in the future." Higher education is indeed more within reach for individuals involved in the justice system. As of July 1, 2023, the FAFSA Simplification Act provisions make PELL grants available to all qualified incarcerated people to further pursue post-secondary education through approved Prison Education Programs (PEPs). "A mere vision has blossomed into a sustainable program," says LaRosa. PATHS is "dedicated to aiding incarcerated women in reshaping the course of their lives and those of their families. Witnessing the transformative impact of a college education unfolding within our community is truly remarkable and the high point of my career."

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