Changes to Tennessee’s 4th-grade reading law pass after compromise on retention policy – By Marta Aldrich, Chalkbeat

Parents of Tennessee fourth graders would have input on whether their children get held back because of low reading test scores, under compromise legislation that’s headed to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk.

The legislation also provides additional tutoring to students who advance to the fifth grade, even if they didn’t test as proficient readers or show adequate improvement in grades three and four.

The Senate and House agreed on the provisions Thursday to address longstanding concerns about Lee’s 2021 reading and retention law, which threatens to hold back an estimated 6,000 struggling fourth-grade readers.

Under the current law, which Lee proposed, fourth graders who don’t score well enough on state tests have to repeat fourth grade, and receive no additional learning supports and resources during that year. But legislators said that wasn’t their intent when they voted to strengthen retention requirements for third- and fourth-graders during a special session to deal with disruptions to schooling from the pandemic.


COVID-19 spending extensions so far only include a small share of total funds – By Kara Arundel, K-12 Dive

Data provided to K-12 Dive by the Education Department show that only $326.2 million — or about 0.17% — in spending is being extended out of the total $189.5 billion fund under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program.

The Education Department has approved every ESSER spending extension requested to date, as well as all state Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund late liquidation requests and requests under the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools fund, according to the agency.

While the spending extensions to date represent just a tiny portion of the overall pandemic relief money to K-12 programs, it is likely extension requests and perhaps approvals will be higher for ESSER’s last and largest phase: the $121.9 billion American Rescue Plan.

There are no formal deadlines for submitting late liquidation requests, but states and districts should keep in mind when extension periods end for each funding stream, an Education Department spokesperson said. The department recommends grantees seek extensions well in advance to maximize success, the spokesperson said.


High schoolers make up growing proportion of Oregon community college enrollment – By Alex Baumhardt, Oregon Capital Chronicle

The proportion of Oregon’s community college enrollment made up of high schoolers has grown in recent years, and many aren’t taking classes on a campus.

Overall, community college enrollment has plummeted in the past decade, but in 2021-2022 enrollment rose 3% and then grew another 4% in 2022-2023. High school students enrolled in community college classes made up nearly one-third of that growth.

At five of the state’s 17 community colleges, high schoolers enrolled in college credit classes made up 20% or more of the colleges’ headcount during the 2022-23 school year, the most recent year of Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission data.

Many of the high schoolers enrolled in community college classes are taking a college-level class in their high school, taught by a high school teacher. Nevertheless, the colleges still collect tens of thousands of dollars from the state by counting these students in their enrollment. High school teachers instructing the classes often do not receive extra pay, or are paid a stipend by the school districts, according to interviews with community colleges, districts and a representative of the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Oregon Education Association.


Maryland becomes the third state to completely ban legacy preference in admissions – By Hallie Miller and Olivia Sanchez, The Hechinger Report

Jazz Lewis wound up at the University of Maryland not by luck or privilege but by the strings of a guitar.

Now a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Lewis said he paid for his college degree with a mix of scholarships and money paid from stints with his church band. As one of the first men in his family to attend college, he said higher education was by no means a given; he earned it.

That’s why, Lewis said, he co-sponsored legislation designed to eliminate the use of legacy preferences at Maryland universities.

“I’m a Terp; I would love for my son to go there,” he said of the main campus at College Park. “But I just think, as a matter of public policy, state money shouldn’t be helping fulfill these types of preferences.”