By Sarah-Jane Lorenzo
In January and February 2017, 41 state boards of education met and made meeting materials available for State Board Insight review. Items related to finance and budgets, teacher preparation and professional practice, and academic policies guiding instruction and standards were the topics that appeared most frequently on state board agendas. Board agendas split evenly between items board members acted upon (49 percent) and items that were purely informational (51 percent), a sign that boards took time for deeper dives into select issues.
Teacher preparation and teacher professional practice topped agendas in January and February 2017, with four out of five state boards considering these issues. This focus is no surprise: Many boards have primary authority over teacher certification requirements and educator licensure programs. But boards also addressed teacher shortages, professional development, and educator mentoring programs. Colorado, Maine, and Michigan considered teacher preparation, professional development, and on-the-job evaluations in light of requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Charter schools and school choice have a perch on state board agendas as well as in national news. About 60 percent of state boards considered charter and choice issues in the first two months of 2017. Boards’ consideration, however, has been rooted in their responsibilities for charter authorization and review. No states with meeting materials available during State Board Insight’s January and February review had agenda items focused on charter schools in the context of the Trump administration’s school choice goals.
State boards also prioritized student support, with two-thirds considering items related to student wellness and school safety, including school nutrition, physical education, and mental health servicesOn other occasions, student advisers asked board members during their meetings to consider diversity and mental wellness. Boards also addressed traumatic brain injury, drug abuse, and emergency preparedness.
Sarah-Jane Lorenzo is a research associate at NASBE. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.