The Big Picture
English Language Instruction
What's In a Name?
Quote to Note
On July 3, Secretary Spellings announced the approval of two additional high-quality, growth-based accountability models. Alaska and Arizona are immediately approved to use their models for the 2006-07 school year. Such models allow states to receive credit for improving individual students' performance over time but retain the No Child Left Behind principles of annual assessment, disaggregation of data, and grade-level proficiency for all students by 2014. To date, eight states have been approved to implement their models. In May 2006, North Carolina and Tennessee received approval to use their models during the 2005-06 school year. Then, in November 2006, Arkansas, Delaware, and Florida (conditionally) obtained approval to use their models during the 2006-07 school year. Finally, in May of this year, Iowa and Ohio (conditionally) received approval to use their models during the 2006-07 school year. (Florida has since received full approval. Ohio is looking at the condition that it adopt a uniform minimum group size for all subgroups in Adequate Yearly Progress [AYP] determinations.) For this pilot program, the Department planned to approve no more than 10 growth models. Beyond Ohio, no other states will be considered under the pilot. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/growthmodel/.
Implicit in any system of growth measurement is the ability to track individual students over time. To help states in this area, the Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently awarded $62.2 million in grants to 13 state education agencies for the design and implementation of statewide longitudinal data systems. These systems are intended to enhance the ability of states to accurately and effectively manage, analyze, and use education data. Grants range from $3.2 million to $6 million and extend for three years. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/07/07022007a.html.
Regarding accountability for the performance of special education students, the National Center for Learning Disabilities has released a new report calling on Congress to maintain No Child Left Behind's current AYP requirements, which have resulted in "higher awareness of and focus on the achievement of students with disabilities." Indeed, rather than advocating for more flexibility, the group would strengthen some rules (requiring states use a minimum group size of no greater than 20 for all categories of students, requiring states use a confidence interval of 99%, etc.) that it deems lower expectations. At the same time, the group supports growth models. For more information, please go to http://www.ncld.org/images/stories/downloads/advocacy/
The Big Picture
It has been a busy week-and-a-half for Secretary Spellings. Late last week, she was in Aspen, Colorado, for the star-studded Aspen Ideas Festival (http://www.aifestival.org/). She participated in two sessions: on education and on women in politics. This week, on July 9, she kicked-off a panel on "Investing in Education" at the White House Conference on the Americas (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ConferenceAmericas/). Over the past three years, the U.S. has delivered more than $200 million in educational programming to the Western Hemisphere (including Centers of Excellence for Teacher Training [http://www.readingforallchildren.org/], which have trained 15,000 teachers serving half a million poor and disadvantaged students). Moreover, in March, President Bush announced a new, $75 million initiative to help more young people learn English and study in the U.S. Next month, the Secretary will visit Brazil and Chile with a diverse delegation of U.S. college and university presidents.
Building on a series of reports from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), "Dropout Rates in the United States: 2005" details high school completion and dropout rates. It presents estimates of rates for 2005 and provides data about trends in rates spanning the last three decades (1972-2005), with characteristics of graduates and dropouts for these years. One finding: students living in low-income families were approximately six times more likely to drop out of high school between 2004 and 2005 than peers from high-income families. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/dropout05/.
Also: With this type of data in mind, nine national civil rights groups have launched the Campaign for High School Equity. The Campaign's mission is to ensure that high schools prepare every student for graduation, college, work, and life, and an inaugural publication, "A Plan for Success: Communities of Color Define Policy Priorities for High School Reform," lays out a blueprint for meaningful reform. For more information, please go to http://www.highschoolequity.org/. (For an overview of the high school components of the Department's No Child Left Behind reauthorization proposal, see http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/nclb/
English Language Instruction
Staying within the research arena, the Department's National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEERA) has unveiled the first of many planned expert-developed practice guides. These guides are intended to bring the best available evidence and expertise to bear on the types of systemic challenges that cannot be addressed by single interventions or programs. This first guide covers literacy instruction for English learners in elementary grades. The target audience is a broad spectrum of school practitioners, such as teachers, principals, coaches, and staff specialists, but a specific objective is district-level administrators who develop policy and practice options for their schools. The guide offers five recommendations for administrators and indicates the quality of the evidence that supports these recommendations. For more information, please go to http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20074011.asp.
USA Freedom Corps' "Call to Summer Service" reminds citizens that the summer months are a great time to answer President Bush's call to give back to your community. At http://www.usafreedomcorps.gov/about_usafc/special/summer.asp, you can use the Volunteer Network to search hundreds of thousands of volunteer opportunities by location and area of interest. Also, once you have a good idea for how you want to volunteer, you can use the Corps' resources to get started and keep track of your volunteer hours to earn the President's Volunteer Service Award.
What's In a Name?
For your summer reflection: according to a new study by the Manhattan Institute, it is increasingly rare for public schools to be named after presidents and increasingly common to name them after natural features (animals, bodies of water, trees, etc.). Researchers analyzed public school names in seven states, representing 20% of all public school students. The number of schools that are named after presidents has declined to fewer than 5%, and, currently, the overwhelming majority of school districts do not have a single school named after a president. The reasons why remain unknown, but the researchers lament the broken link between public education's civic mission and school naming. For more information, please go to http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_51.htm.
Quote to Note
"I wanted to leave you with a piece of advice, and the best advice I heard came from one of the parent's here todayAmelia Seel, whose daughter Amirah is graduating. She said, 'It's important to know where you are and know where you want to be... then chart a course to get there.' No matter what you want to be when you grow up, staying in school, working hard, and getting a good education is the course that will get you there. Like I said at the beginning, I've heard great things about each of you, but that doesn't compare to the great things I expect from all of you in the years ahead. Congratulations [on graduating], and best of luck in middle school!"
|||Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon (7/11/07),
at Brighter Choice Charter Schools'
(Albany, NY) fourth-grade graduation ceremony
On August 9, the White House and several Cabinet agencies (including Education) will host a conference in Minneapolis to help faith-based and other community organizations learn more about the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative. As in the past, the conference will impart key information about the federal grant process and funding opportunities, as well as basic legal responsibilities that come with federal aid. Special emphasis will be placed on opportunities for partnership at the state and local level. The conference is free, but pre-registration is required. Please register online by August 2. For more information, please go to http://www.fbci.gov/.
Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the National School Public Relations Association's national seminar in Phoenix (July 15-18); the Association on Higher Education and Disability's annual conference in Charlotte (July 17-21); the National Council of La Raza's annual conference in Miami (July 21-24); the Alliance for Community Media's international conference in Minneapolis (July 25-28); the National Urban League's annual conference in St. Louis (July 25-28); and the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual meeting in Philadelphia (July 25-29). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.
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