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Advocacy Groups Keep Tabs on School Choice, Data Legislation

Two reports released this week sum up some of the major bills proposed, defeated, and passed in state legislatures dealing with student data collection and school choice. 

The Data Quality Campaign, which advocates for data transparency, said in a press releasethat as of last week there are more than 238 active bills across the nation dealing with how states collect, use, protect, and share education data in service of student learning. 

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At least 70 of those bills focused on safeguarding data privacy, the advocacy group said. But more bills than in prior years, they observed, deal with other aspects of data use.  

Legislators in New Jersey and Arizona, for example, proposed legislation that would dictate the sort of information the state's education department places in its annual report card on schools and school districts.

A bill in New Jersey would mandate that the state place chronic absenteeism and disciplinary data on its report card. And Arizona proposed a bill that would require the state's education department to create a dashboard that profiles schools' academic progress on a variety of factors. 

Separately, EdChoice, a group that pushes for the use of charter schools and vouchers, released last week a report detailing several proposed bills this year that deal with charter schools and vouchers. The report was a summation of of bills proposed, passed and defeated but did not include  a tally of how many active bills deal with school choice this year. 

In Colorado, a bill that would provide an income tax credit for private school tuition passed the House but, as of this week, had not yet passed through the Senate. The state's legislative session ends this week.  

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, signed a bill that added $3 million to the state's $5 million Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) voucher program.

But in Mississippi, a bill that would have expanded vouchers for all students in the state rather than just for students with special needs failed.  

As of this week, 20 states' legislatures are still in session.  

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