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Twelve Education Issues to Watch in 2012

What policies have the biggest potential to drive changes in education in the states in 2012?

The Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan research organization, is out with its predictions. It sees state officials focusing on prekindergarten-through-3rd grade instruction, strategies to figure out ways to make the best use of limited funding, and "blended learning"—or combining online and face-to-face instruction—among other topics.

ECS' forecast, "12 for 2012," is not meant as an exhaustive list of hot topics, the organization explains. It's instead meant to "stimulate thinking around how best to craft the '2.0' of powerful policy across the states," based on the organization's read on current trends and research, the authors of the report say.

Other emerging issues to watch over the next year include:

-- Implementing the "Common Core" academic standards;
-- Improving teacher quality—such as figuring out how newly promised models for evaluating educators will actually work;
-- Promoting improved approaches to education in rural and impoverished communities;
-- Focusing on "individualized" instruction to meet the needs of diverse students. Few state models exist that show what accomplishing this is supposed to look like, ECS says; and
-- Improving the use of data, particularly to identify struggling learners early, and reducing costs.

Every year state legislators take education policy in new and unexpected directions. (See Ed Week's legislative preview from earlier this month, for our take on what's to come in statehouses in the short-term.) What emerging issues do you see rising to the surface?

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