School Change Awards
Quote to Note
This week, Secretary Spellings addressed several No Child Left Behind constituencies: teachers, the African-American community, and youth leaders. First, on July 23, she participated in a town hall meeting in Fairfax, Virginia, with elementary math and science teachers, assembled as the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy. Established in 2005 by golfer Phil Mickelson, his wife Amy, and officials from ExxonMobil, the National Science Teachers Association, and Math Solutions, the Teachers Academy will train 600 educators this summer during five-day sessions held in Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia. "Employers today need workers with 'pocket-protector' skills, creative problem-solvers, with strong math and science backgrounds," the Secretary emphasized. "The more students we train to be entrepreneurs and problem-solvers, the more jobs they'll create, and the greater ability they'll have to improve the quality of life for others" (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/
2007/07/07232007.html). Later that same day, she spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Education Summit. "We must expand our focus to improve our nation's high schools and combat a growing dropout crisis that keeps half of African-American and Hispanic students from graduating with their peers," she said. "As we move forward with reauthorization, we must remain vigilant against provisions that water down the ability of poor and minority students [to] ensure their progress toward grade-level success. We can't afford to back away from that goal" (http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/
2007/07/07232007a.html). Next, on July 24, the Secretary joined First Lady Laura Bush in Waterbury, Connecticut, to announce nearly $19 million in federal funding to enhance school libraries in 78 low-income school districts across the nation. Improving Literacy Through School Libraries grants may be used to increase library holdings, improve schools' technology capabilities, facilitate Internet links and other resource-sharing networks, supplement professional development opportunities, and expand access to library services (http://www.ed.gov/programs/lsl/). Finally, on July 25 and 26, respectively, the Secretary engaged top leaders at the Future Farmers of America State Presidents' Conference and the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership World Conference in Washington, D.C. At both venues, she stressed the importance of challenging coursework in high schools.
In a July 23 letter to Chief State School Officers, Secretary Spellings reported on states' progress regarding No Child Left Behind's goal of having all core academic subjects taught by highly qualified teachers (HQTs). All but one state has an approved HQT plan, and, nationwide, 92.2% of core academic classes were taught by HQTs during the 2005-06 school yeara jump from 86.5% during the 2003-04 school year. However, no state achieved the 100% goal. This fall, the Department will begin a new round of monitoring, focusing on state implementation of HQT plans. Meanwhile, the Secretary pledged to maintain a policy of not financially penalizing states solely because they have not achieved the 100% goal. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/070723.html.
In the ongoing debate over reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, a frequent call is for greater flexibility. Therefore, the Department commissioned the Urban Institute to survey school districts on three existing flexibility programs: transferability, REAP Flex, and the Local Flexibility Demonstration Program (or Local Flex). As it turns out, REAP Flexwhich allows small, rural districts to transfer up to 100% of applicable formula funds for other authorized activitiesis widely utilized by eligible districts (at 51%). Districts were less likely (at 16%) to employ transferability, which allows any district in the U.S. to transfer up to 50% of applicable formula funds for other authorized activities. And, just one district (Seattle) opted to participate in Local Flex, a competitive program which allows selected districts to consolidate certain formula allocations. Districts cited two main reasons for not utilizing these flexibility programs: a lack of information and an inability to distinguish clear benefits. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/disadv/flexibility/.
School Change Awards
On July 16, Deputy Secretary Ray Simon presented 2007 National School Change Awards to six schools, recognizing their significant progress to enact positive changes and raise student achievement through improved measurable outcomes. The efforts of these once low-performing schools to raise test scores and implement systematic reforms fall in line with the mission of the No Child Left Behind Act. The awards are administered and sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators and the Fordham University Graduate School of Education. For more information, please go to http://www.npli.org/nsca/.
State tables showing Fiscal Year 2001-08 allocations under formula-allocated and selected student aid programs have recently been updated. Although the FY 2007 column heading still reads "2007 Estimate," state allocations for the following No Child Left Behind programs are now final:
- Title I (Grants to Local Education Agencies, Reading First Grants, Even Start Grants, and Grants for Neglected and Delinquent Children)
- Improving Teacher Quality State Grants
- Math and Science Partnership Grants
- Educational Technology State Grants
- 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants
- State Grants for Innovative Programs
- State Assessment Grants
- Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Grants
- Language Acquisition State Grants
All FY 2008 state allocations are preliminary estimates based on currently available data. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/.
Even though her one-year term as chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) ended this month, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is continuing her platform issue, "Innovation America," by creating a new foundation and convening a new task force. The foundation will gear up this fall with a public outreach campaign that seeks to tout the work of American innovators and spur innovation. The task force, consisting of corporate executives, governors' staff members, Chief State School Officers, university officials, and think tank leaders, will help states begin to benchmark their education systems against international best practices. At the NGA's annual meeting, Napolitano also unveiled an interactive NGA/Scholastic web site, http://www.youinnovate21.net, with standards-based content to help students understand the relevance of math and science in their lives and teachers "augment and electrify" their curricula.
Don't miss these popular reports from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):
The "Digest of Education Statistics, 2006" is the 42nd in a series of publications initiated in 1962. Its primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education, from pre-kindergarten through graduate school, drawn from government and private sources, but especially from surveys and other activities carried out by NCES. The digest contains data on the number of schools and colleges, students, and teachers, in addition to statistics on educational attainment, finances, libraries, technology, and international comparisons. Information on population trends, education attitudes, labor force characteristics, and government funding supplies background for evaluating the education data. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007017.
The "Status of Education in Rural America" presents a variety of indicators on the state of education in rural America during the 2003-04 school year. Findings indicate that over half of all operating school districts and one-third of all public schools in the U.S. are in rural areas, but only one-fifth of all public school students are enrolled in rural areas. Also, rural public school students in fourth- and eighth-grade outperformed urban public school students on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading, math, and science assessments yet were bested by suburban public school students in reading and math. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/ruraled/.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the E-Rate program, Funds for Learning has published a white paper on the success of the E-Rate and its impact on stakeholders. Thanks in part to the $20 billion in discounts to schools and libraries offered through the program, the number of public school classrooms with Internet access jumped from 14% in 1995 to 95% in 2005. For more information, please go to http://newsletters.fundsforlearning.com/FFL%20White%20Paper%20-
Quote to Note
"[Mark] Twain once said, 'The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them....' Twain knew that reading is how we shape our beliefs and our character. He knew that by losing ourselves in a good book, we can find fundamental truths about our own lives. He understood that reading is vital to a good education. Across the U.S., students are receiving a better education because they have greater access to books..."
|||First Lady Laura Bush (7/24/07),
announcing school library grants in Waterbury (CT),
before visiting Twain's house in Hartford
Applications are now available to become a NASA Explorer School during the 2008-09 school year. Under this highly competitive program, a team of educators from each school will receive an all-expenses-paid professional development experience at a NASA field center to develop an action plan that addresses a local need in math, science, or technology. Moreover, each school may apply for technology grants of up to $17,500 over the three-year partnership. For more information, please go to http://explorerschools.nasa.gov/.
The Department will be exhibiting at the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual meeting in Boston (August 5-9). If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.
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