|Arizona Considers Changes to Testing Requirements for Graduation: Education bill HB 2037 passed the Senate Education Committee with an amendment on March 22. The Arizona Republic reports that the bill would replace a graduation requirement that students take the AzMERIT test and another science-based assessment with a requirement that students take either the SAT or the ACT during school hours. A recent pilot program funded by the state budget provided SAT and ACT test waivers to students in selected districts, but the $235,000 allocated for funding ran out before all the interested districts were funded.
New Bill in Colorado to Increase Communication About Dual Enrollment Options: Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed HB 1005 on March 22, new legislation that will require schools and districts to provide notice to all students about available dual enrollment options. The notice would be required to include information about the financial, academic and career benefits of concurrent enrollment course completion. The act takes effect 90 days from adjournment, which is expected to occur on May 9.
New Guidelines on Suspensions Offered in Georgia: The Georgia Senate passed HB 740 by a vote of 47-5 on March 21, which would require schools and local education agencies to conduct certain screenings, assessments and reviews prior to expelling or assigning a K-3 student a suspension of five or more days. The legislation is pending concurrence by the House. The House and Senate versions are substantively similar.
Computer Science Bill in Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed SB 172/Public Law 132 on March 19. The bill, which takes effect July 1, establishes both the Next Level Computer Science Grant Program and the Next Level Computer Science Fund. Grants will be distributed to eligible entities to implement teacher professional development programs for training in teaching computer science. The Board of Education will be required to administer the program and fund and develop guidelines to award grants from the fund to eligible entities. Public schools and charter schools will be required to offer a computer science course as a one semester elective course beginning in 2021.
Michigan Seeks to Close the Talent Gap with $100M in Funding: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced the “Marshall Plan for Talent,” which includes $100 million in funding for public colleges and K-12 schools. The Governor’s new plan is designed to increase students’ awareness of careers in professional and vocational trades in effort to fill the projected 800,000 high-wage job openings in the state over the next few years. The funding will be used to create competency-based curricula for the Michigan public school system and will also support hiring additional career advisors and scholarships for low-income students.
Transfer and Articulation in Virginia: HB 3 was presented to Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on March 26. Northam has until April 9 to act on the bill or it becomes law. In an effort to improve transfer and articulation from community colleges to four-year institutions, the bill would require the development of a standard “Passport Program” and a Uniform Certificate of General Studies program to be offered at each community college. By default, four-year institutions would need to accept courses in the passport program for credit, unless a waiver has been granted for a particular course of study. Four-year institutions would be required to map out career education pathways to allow students to see the classes necessary to complete a four-year program.
Washington Includes Two-Year Degrees in State Scholarship Fund: Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill to extend the $200 million Washington State Opportunity Scholarship to students earning short-term certificates and degrees from technical and community colleges in the STEM and health care fields. Previously, the scholarship only provided aid to low to middle income students completing a four-year bachelor’s degree in the designated fields. The legislative change reflects growing national support for 2-year degrees, and will help the state achieve its goal of 70 percent of high school graduates earning a postsecondary degree by 2030.
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