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February 23, 2007 ED Review
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 February 23, 2007
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Spreading the Word...
High School NAEP
NCLB Commission Report
New Appointment
Science for Girls
Estuarine Education Survey
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Spreading the Word...

On February 15, Secretary Spellings visited the Big Apple to meet with business and higher education leaders on preparing students to compete in the 21st century and tour a high-performing public school (coincidentally named the 21st Century Academy). Throughout, she emphasized the administration's proposals to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act and reform America's higher education system. "At the federal level, we will continue to do our part," she told attendees at a forum sponsored by TIAA-CREF, the Business-Higher Education Forum, and the Partnership for New York City. "But the truth of the matter is that many of the Commission's [on the Future of Higher Education] recommendations require the leadership of stakeholders who don't work in Washington. My goal is for everyone present, including those of us from the U.S. Department of Education, to bring workable solutions to the table." The first part of the Commission's plan is to renew No Child Left Behind, expanding its effective principles to high schools and aligning high school standards with college expectations. The Commission's plan also addresses college affordability and accountability. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/02/02152007a.html.

On February 22, the Secretary conveyed a similar message to Tampa, Florida, business leaders and toured Dunbar Magnet School, a math, science, and technology elementary school that admits students by lottery. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/02/02222007a.html.

The Department's senior officers are also spreading the word. For example, on February 13, Chief of Staff David Dunn addressed the Association of Community College Trustees while Undersecretary of Education Sara Martinez Tucker delivered the keynote address at the American Council of Education's annual conference; on February 16, Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon gave the keynote at Texas' Statewide Education Summit; on February 18, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Troy Justesen delivered remarks at the Community Colleges for International Development Conference; on February 20, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Catherine Freeman participated in a roundtable on No Child Left Behind in Tennessee; and, on February 21, Deputy Chief of Staff Holly Kuzmich participated in a roundtable on No Child Left Behind in North Carolina.

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High School NAEP

Speaking of high schools, two new reports released yesterday (February 22) present a mixed picture of educational achievement in the U.S. On the one hand, graduates are taking more challenging courses and earning higher grades during their high school careers. Indeed, according to "The Nation's Report Card: America's High School Graduates" (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/hsts/), 68% completed at least a standard curriculum in 2005, up from 59% in 2000, and the overall grade point average was about one-third of a grade higher in 2005 than in 1990. On the other hand, senior test scores are failing to keep pace. According to "The Nation's Report Card: Twelfth-Grade Reading and Mathematics 2005" (http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_grade12_2005/), the average twelfth-grade reading score on the latest National Assessment of Education (NAEP) was the lowest it has been since 1992 (albeit not significantly different from 2002). And in math—which used a new assessment that is not comparable to previous versions—less than a quarter of twelfth-graders scored at or above proficient. Moreover, for both subjects, significant achievement gaps persist among racial and ethnic student groups. In reading, the average score for white students was 26 points higher than for black students and 21 points higher than for Hispanic students. In math, the average score for white students was 31 points higher than for black students and 24 points higher than for Hispanic students.

Note: The 2007 NAEP began January 22 and will continue until early March. The full participation of selected schools and students is crucial to the success of this evaluation. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naep2007.asp.

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NCLB Commission Report

Last week, the Aspen Institute's year-old Commission on No Child Left Behind released its final report, with 75 recommendations for strengthening the law in the areas of standards, accountability, improvement/options, and teacher quality. "The report supports many of the proposals advanced in President Bush's 'Building on Results' blueprint that was released last month," the Secretary noted in a statement. "I am encouraged the Commission addressed embedding growth models in the law to measure student achievement over time, the pressing need for highly qualified teachers in every classroom, and more significant interventions and critical resources for schools that are chronically underperforming. Co-chairs Secretary Tommy Thompson and Governor Roy Barnes have my gratitude for their dedication to reauthorizing and improving the law." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/02/02132007.html. (The Commission's report is available at http://www.nclbcommission.org/.)

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New Appointment

President Bush has nominated Williamson Evers to serve as the Department's Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. He would replace Tom Luce, who resigned last year to spend more time with his family. Evers, who received his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Stanford University, most recently served as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of the Institution's influential Koret Task Force on K-12 Education. Previously, he advised the President on his 2000 and 2004 campaigns, served on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, and served on the National Educational Research Policy and Priorities Board. From July to December 2003, he was senior adviser for education to Administrator Paul Bremer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The Department's Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development coordinates and integrates policy development across principal offices and administers the functions of the Budget Service, Office of Educational Technology, Performance and Information Management Service, and Policy and Program Studies Service. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/02/02082007.html.

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Science for Girls

A new web site sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, http://www.iwaswondering.com/, is intended to showcase the notable accomplishments of contemporary women in science and spotlight for young girls the varied and intriguing careers of some of today's most prominent scientists. The site draws from a 10-volume series of biographies entitled "Women's Adventures in Science," including Amy Vedder, a wildlife biologist who studies gorillas in Africa; Nancy Wexler, a neuropsychologist who has researched Huntington's disease; and Cynthia Breazeal, a designer of robots that can work cooperatively with people. Each of the profiled women participated directly in the creation of her book and the web site by explaining her scientific specialty in ways that will inform and engage young minds.

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Estuarine Education Survey

TERC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Estuarine Research Reserve System is developing teaching and professional development materials about estuaries, watersheds, and related concepts. Teachers and informal educators are invited to help by sharing thoughts and opinions about these topics in an online needs assessment survey. The survey is available in English and Spanish. All respondents will be entered in a raffle for memberships and educational materials donated by various professional organizations. For more information, please go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=359273229697.

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Quote to Note

"There's an income gap in America that I talked about when I went to Wall Street. And, what's clear to me is that our kids have got to have education so that, in this global economy, the jobs of the 21st century stay here at home.... Therefore, I will argue vociferously the No Child Left Behind Act needs to be reauthorized, it's working, it's an important piece of legislation, and will reach out to Democratic members, as well as Republican members, to get this bill reauthorized."

        President George W. Bush (2/14/07)

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Upcoming Events

The Department's next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast, on reforming higher education, is scheduled for March 20. Also, if you missed it, be sure to view the archived webcast of this month's show on math and science education. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv/.

On February 28, the Center for American Progress and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will jointly release an education report card on the performance of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in nine areas, including rigor of standards, academic achievement, postsecondary and workforce readiness, and return on investment. The organizations will also introduce a shared platform for educational reform. For more information, please go to http://www.americanprogress.org/events/2007/02/report_card.html.

Friday, March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), is the National Education Association's 10th annual Read Across America Day. For more information, please go to http://www.nea.org/readacross/.

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Last Modified: 05/05/2008