March Madness comes early to the Hoosier State

Last week, in response to a tumultuous debate over the Common Core State Standards, the Indiana Department of Education released the first public draft of its new K–12 expectations for English language arts and math. And according to standards expect Kathleen Porter-Magee, not only are the new ELA standards less specific, less coherent, and harder to navigate than the Common Core—but they’re inferior to the state’s old standards, too!

Experimental research out of Stanford confirms that the language gap between rich and poor kids emerges early, with significant differences between high-SES and low-SES infants in both vocabulary and real-time language processing efficiency already evident age 18 months old. But they also discovered that a parent-education intervention—in which low-income, Spanish-speaking mothers were taught to speak more frequently to their children—had great preliminary results. The lesson for policymakers: targeted interventions like these might have a much bigger impact than “universal” preschool.

And now, an international perspective: one of the UK’s biggest chains of academies (analogous to charter schools) is set to have control of ten of its schools taken away by the state due to academic performance. The academy provider had faced criticism last year for its “culture of extravagant expenses.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the first time ever, has issued guidelines regulating how food is marketed in schools, with the intention of cracking down on widespread junk-food advertising and teaching kids to make healthier eating choices. In the meantime, the New York Times reported that childhood obesity has gone down 46 percent between 2003 and 2012 (though some suggest that this could be related to the recession rather than families simply making healthier choices).

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