American middle schoolers are performing better on a national assessment of technology and engineering, an improvement driven largely by girls. Girls’ average score in 2018 was 155 out of a possible 300, five points higher than the boys’ average score of 150. “The girls have done extremely well on this assessment,” Peggy Carr, assistant commissioner for assessment at the National Center for Education Statistics, said on a call with reporters. A change of two or three points means the difference is “not random” and statistically significant, Carr said, “so girls improving to the point that they’re now five points ahead of boys is a meaningful statement.”

Education systems can be fundamentally transformed when informed and organized parents exercise their innate power – individually and collectively – to create and sustain change. Too often, well-intentioned education efforts discount parents out of a misguided belief that if parents were part of the solution, they would have already addressed the problem. Education reform will never achieve the systems-level change we desire if these are the values by which we operate.

The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations and Related Agencies Subcommittee marked up their FY2020 spending measure on Tuesday, April 30, showing strong support for education programs including a record funding level for federal afterschool support. The FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act increases spending by 6 percent – about $11 billion – and sets funding levels for all federal education, human services, and health and labor programs. Among those programs is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which provides federal funds leveraged by local school-community partnerships to provide quality afterschool and summer learning programs to 1.7 million children.

Amid widely reported talent shortages in areas such as skilled trades, DAPCEP is adding STEM education programs that will give students a range of job and career educational program options. These could include certificates that prepare high school graduates to move right into jobs in areas including coding or drone operation, an associate degree program to prepare for careers in areas such as health care, or four-year degree tracks for engineering careers.

The goal is to give students the skills to fill those gaps as they come out of high school and either go on to college or stop there and pursue a trade, said Stephen Lewis, DAPCEP board president and retired director of global powertrain strategy with Ford Motor Co.

Did you know that over 10 million students take part in afterschool programs in the United States? The demand for high-quality afterschool programs is constantly on the rise as more and more students live in households where their parents or guardians work full-time jobs. Trying to find a way to keep students motivated without it seeming too much like “school after school” can present challenges. This month, we speak with Barb Thornton, who uses The Inventionland Institute Curriculum at the Evergreen Boys & Girls Club to help build students’ self a-STEAM.

In Philadelphia and nationwide, many public high schools are scrambling to provide students with even basic information about college after years of belt tightening have drained them of counselors. Wealthy families have increasingly turned to private college consultants to help their children line up high school classes and extracurriculars, write admissions essays, prepare for the SAT and ACT and choose colleges that provide a good fit. But for most students, support is scant: counselors are overwhelmed, college guidance often doesn’t begin until late in junior year, and financial aid advice tends to be so minimal that many students fail to fill out routine paperwork like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Without the proper guidance to help them make a good college match, only 6 out of 10 students complete college within six years of enrolling, an urgent problem exacerbated by student debt that has ballooned to $1.5 trillion in 2019.

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