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Indiana Looks to Improve College Readiness
Indiana’s House Education Committee in January passed a bill that would tie college financial aid to state exam performance, The Indianapolis Star reported. The goal of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Ed Clere, is to reduce the number of students entering college who are not prepared.
“The fundamental problem we are trying to address is a question of readiness,” said Clere. “We’re finding far too many students are arriving at college requiring remediation.”
Under the bill, students who fail state exams would no longer be entitled to receive state grants, scholarships or aid beginning in fall 2014. The bill would protect financial aid for students in special education.
The bill also would provide much needed assistance to academically struggling students. A system would be developed by the state Board of Education, Indiana’s Education Roundtable and other state agencies to pinpoint high school juniors in danger of failing the alegbra 1 and English state exams required for graduation.
Those identified as potentially failing juniors would be given a placement exam that colleges use to assess incoming freshman. Any student showing an area of concern based on the exam would be required to attend remediation classes during his or her senior year of high school. This practice is already in place in the Indianapolis Public School system, according to The Indianapolis Star.
By assessing students early and offering remediation while still in high school, the program’s goal is not only to better prepare students for higher education, but also to reduce their potential debt. Those students who are told they need college remediation often have to use student loans to pay for those non-credit bearing classes, according to Dan Clark, executive director of the Indiana Education Roundtable.
Students who fail the placement exam will have access to free adult education courses to help them reach their goal of passing the test. Once students pass the test, their access to aid will be re-established.
The North Dakota legislature is considering a bill to authorize construction of a new governor’s residence, The Bismarck Tribune reported in January. House Bill 1379 would allocate $3 million from the Capitol Building Fund to build a new governor’s residence and conference center on the capitol grounds. The bill also would allow money from other sources, including private donations, to help pay for construction. The current governor’s residence was built in 1960.
NEWBORN HEART SCREENINGS
Nebraska Sen. Jim Smith has sponsored a bill requiring newborns to undergo congenital heart screenings. Hospitals would be required to collect and report test data, the Lincoln Journal Star reported in January. The screenings would cost more than $140,000 in the state’s next two-year budget. The bill would set up a panel of experts to develop the potentially life-saving screenings as well as educational materials.
The South Dakota House and Local Government Committee in January rejected a bill that would have allowed residents to carry concealed weapons without state permits, The Associated Press reported. The bill also would have prohibited police from searching or detaining people just for having a pistol or revolver.
Both chambers of the Iowa legislature have proposed measures to issue an income tax credit to every taxpayer in the state, according to the Des Moines Register. The proposals call for dividing Iowa’s estimated $800 million budget surplus among taxpayers. According to Senate Republicans, the credit would be $375 for individuals and $750 for couples filing jointly.
Wisconsin bankruptcy filings were down for the second consecutive year in 2012, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in January. Filings decreased 7 percent in 2012 as compared to 2011.The number of filings fell to 25,012, down from 26,923 in 2011. The number of filings nationally fell by 14 percent in 2012 over 2011, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.