Top Stories From Around The Country

Attorney general promotes bills to reduce truancy
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — School districts and the state would be required to do a better job of tracking students who miss class under proposed legislation announced Monday that is designed to lower California’s dropout rate. The package of bills would write into law recommendations from a report released by Attorney General Kamala Harris in September. The report, entitled “In School and On Track,” says 30 percent of the state’s elementary school students miss enough school each year to harm their academic performance. The report says about one million students were considered truant in the 2012-2013 school year.

Wisconsin schools could shorten school year
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — In an effort to save money for cash-strapped Wisconsin districts, state lawmakers are considering ending a requirement that schools teach for 180 days a year or lose state funding. The bill expected to win Senate approval Tuesday would allow schools to extend school days rather than force them to stay open later in the summer to make up days lost to weather closings and parent teacher conferences. Schools that don’t meet the hourly quota would still lose state aid under the bill.

Cuomo gives pre-K vow; Assembly favors de Blasio
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fellow Democrats in control of the state Assembly were poised to grant New York City authority to raise taxes on its wealthiest residents to pay for full-day pre-kindergarten — though the funding proposal still faced major hurdles at the state Capitol.

Common Core panel says limit time teaching to test
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A panel created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to look into New York’s rollout of the Common Core curriculum recommended Monday banning standardized tests for the youngest students and capping the amount of instructional time that can be used for test prep. Cuomo created the panel last month amid widespread complaints by parents and teachers that New York rushed the rollout of the tougher standards. Teachers argue they will be unfairly punished if students do poorly under the new assessments and others question whether the standards will really elevate student achievement.

Bill sets new requirements for voucher schools
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Private schools that want to participate in Wisconsin’s voucher program would have to meet new, tougher requirements under a bill before the state Senate. Under the voucher program, students receive a taxpayer subsidy to pay for their private school tuition. The program now operates statewide, after initially being only in Milwaukee.

Testing Skeptics Aim to Build Support for Opt-Out Strategy
Karla Scoon Reid – Riding what they see as a wave of anti-testing sentiment among parents, opponents of high-stakes assessments believe a strategy known as opt-out—having parents refuse to let their children take state-mandated tests—could force policymakers to take note of their cause. Once considered a rarity, the opt-out push has prompted high-profile boycott efforts and meetings in large districts such as Chicago and led more parents nationwide to join forces with anti-testing advocates in arguing that the assessments are unnecessary, excessive, and, in some cases, even harmful to students.

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