Ducey Wants to Improve Educational Outcomes for Native American Students: Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announces several measures to improve educational outcomes for Native American students. The first measure, recently signed into law, will expand postsecondary scholarship opportunities for children living on Native American reservations. A second measure will work to establish a computer coding course and certification program for Native American students and to provide teachers with training on teaching a technology-based curriculum
Branstad Favors Workforce Development Initiative: Gov. Terry Branstad (R) launches an initiative intended to better prepare the workforce to meet the needs of current employers. As part of the initiative, the governor will host a roundtable series with students, university faculty, and employers to develop workforce strategies. The initiative is a result of a $170,000 grant from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and aims to help states connect educational attainment with workforce opportunities.
Science Teacher Training Gets Boost: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) announces an initiative to improve the training of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers working in high-needs communities. The initiative is aimed at providing STEM teachers an opportunity to obtain National Board Certification (where teachers learn research-based best practices related to teaching and learning) and a master’s degree in educational leadership by offering the certification at no cost to the teacher or school district. Beshear invested $100,000 in funding for the initial phase of the project and he is recommending $370,000 for the second phase.
Nixon Launches $1M Program for At-Risk Youth: Gov. Jay Nixon (D) starts a $1 million pilot program to connect at-risk youth with education and employment opportunities. The program involves a partnership with a nonprofit organization to deliver targeted interventions that aim to improve teacher and student safety, school performance, dropout rates, and other youth outcome measures. The Missouri Department of Public Safety will award $1 million to AMIkids, Inc. This funding will be used to connect at-risk youth with programs and services to improve academic and behavioral issues.
Governor Establishes STEM Task Force: Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) establishes a task force to help implement science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education policy recommendations. The newly reconstituted task force will help the state implement recommendations from the report released in January. Task force members will work with stakeholders from in and outside of state government to assist in implementing the report’s recommendations, which will require collaboration between local school districts. Recommendations include holding STEM-related competitions and conducting advanced study classes.
Christie Wants to Examine Later School Start Times: Gov. Chris Christie (R) signs a measure to study potential benefits of later start times for middle and high school students. The review comes in the wake of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report detailing the ill effects of sleep deprivation amount young adults, which can include health risks and poor academic performance. The new measure will require the department of education to review benefits and potential consequences of starting school at least 30 minutes later and provide recommendations in a report to the governor and legislature.
Family-Centric Effort to Improve Childhood Vaccination Rates: Gov. Susana Martinez (R) announces an initiative to help parents vaccinate their children before the start of the new school year. The initiative involves a partnership with clinics throughout the state to offer convenient hours and reduced-price vaccinations that accommodate family schedules and budgets. The program aims to boost immunization rates and to help ensure vaccination is easier and more affordable for parents.
Initiative Aims to Reduce High School Dropout Rate: Martinez announces an initiative to reduce the high school dropout rate. As part of the initiative, the state will hire 60 additional dropout prevention coaches and social workers to work in middle schools and high schools. The state department of education award the additional funding for support staff through a grant process that selects schools with the greatest need to reduce their truancy rates.
State Tackles Mental Health, Substance Abuse: Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signs an executive order to improve mental health and substance abuse services. The order establishes a mental health and substance use task force, which will look at juvenile and adult drug courts as possible mechanisms for reducing the number of people with substance abuse-related offenses. Drug courts are special courts that handle nonviolent substance abuse cases. The task force also will focus on initiatives to reduce stigma for individuals receiving substance abuse treatment and increase the availability of mental health crisis services.
Scholarships Offered for Low-Income High School Students: Gov. Kate Brown (D) signs a measure to establish a scholarship program for high school students from low-income families. The law will offer scholarships to cover the full cost of tuition for students attending in-state community colleges. Students will be required to maintain a 2.5 grade point average at minimum and enroll in at least six credit hours each semester. Between 4,000 and 6,000 students will be able to attend college for the 2016-2017 academic year as a result of the program.
Educational Cybersecurity Boot Camp for Teachers Launched: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) rolls out a cybersecurity boot camp at James Madison University to provide educators with related tools and training. The goal of the boot camp is to provide high school teachers with cybersecurity education materials such as lecture slides.
Tomblin Aims to Reduce Truancy Rates for Justice Involved-Youth: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (R) launches an initiative to reduce school truancy rates for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. The initiative will provide counties with access to early intervention services such as counseling and truancy specialists who will work with teachers and staff, parents, district personnel, and law enforcement to develop strategies to improve school attendance and increase student engagement. The initiative is a part of the governor’s plan to for comprehensive reform of juvenile justice aimed at improving outcomes of justice-involved youth.