Happy 2016! And just in time for the new year, we have a brand new (acting) education secretary: John King. He’s planning to focus on improving outcomes for at-risk kids, bolstering the teaching profession, and helping to boost college completion rates. And he’ll be traveling to multiple states to get input from the field.
So what are King’s predictions for the new year?
Here’s a run down:
More than 20 states will increase spending for high-quality preschool. That could be accomplished through the continuation of the preschool development grant program in the newest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. (Which, incidentally, scraps some of the quality requirements of the previous version of the program, including a requirement that preschool teachers have bachelors’ degrees, according to my colleague Christina Samuels of Early Years fame.)
Ten million more students will have high-speed Internet access. (Sounds like King has high hopes for the administration’s revamp of the e-rate program, ConnectED.)
America’s high school graduation rate will set a record—again. High school graduation rates—a lagging indicator of student achievement—have been rising steadily for years. But scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress actually fell last year, for the first time in more than two decades.
One hundred more colleges will implement innovative approaches to help students—especially those who are most vulnerable—complete their postsecondary education. That was a key goal of the administration’s “First in the World” fund, a sort of Investing in Innovation grant program for colleges that was zeroed out in this year’s budget.
One million more users will access the College Scorecard. The scorecard was something the department settled on to help students garner information about different colleges, after it abandoned a full-fledged college ratings plan opposed by many in academia.
Fun fact: King’s list is pretty similar to what Arne Duncan predicted for 2015. In fact, some items are identical. And Duncan was indeed right on some things—we did have another record high graduation rate.
Others are more of a mixed bag; while some states may have increased spending on early-childhood programs, the majority still don’t provide as much money for K-12 as they did before the recession hit in 2008, according to this recent report.
Not on King’s list? Any predictions about how implementation of the new Every Student Succeeds Act will go or (understandably) who will win the presidential election, and who they’ll put at the helm at the U.S. Department of Education.