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December 7, 2007 ED Review
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 December 7, 2007
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International Assessments
HQT Monitoring
Advanced Courses Online
NCES Reports
Grants Forecast
Head Start Reauthorization
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

International Assessments

The latest results from two international assessments in reading, math, and science show the same trend: American students are performing at the same, moderate level as they did on previous assessments, while other nations and jurisdictions are improving. Therefore, U.S. worldwide rankings continue to slide. On the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), an assessment of fourth-grade reading literacy involving 45 education systems (38 countries, five Canadian provinces, and separate English- and French-speaking systems in Belgium), U.S. fourth-graders scored higher (540) than their peers worldwide (500) on a 1,000-point scale. Furthermore, compared to the international average, a higher percentage of U.S. fourth-graders attained each achievement benchmark: 96% versus 94% reached the "low" standard, 82% versus 76% "intermediate," 47% versus 41% "high," and 12% versus 7% "advanced." Yet, there was no measurable difference in scores for U.S. students between 2001 (the first administration of PIRLS) and 2006, even as eight participants—led by Russia, which gained 37 points for a top score of 565—increased their scores over the same period. In 2001, the U.S. scored higher than 23 education systems, lower than three, and not significantly different from eight. In 2006, the U.S. was higher than 22 systems, lower than 10 (including three Canadian provinces), and not significantly different from 12. On the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an assessment of 15-year-old students in math and science literacy involving 57 education systems (30 industrial countries and 27 other systems), U.S. 15-year-olds scored slightly lower than their peers worldwide in science (489 versus 500) but far lower in math (474 versus 498) on a 1,000-point scale. Moreover, comparing the performance of high achieving students, U.S. 15-year-olds scored higher than their peers worldwide in science (628 versus 622) but lower in math (593 versus 615). Yet, there was little measurable difference for U.S. students between 2003 (the last administration of PISA) and 2006, allowing some participants to bypass the U.S. In 2006 math—paced by Finland's 548—the U.S. scored higher than 20 education systems, lower than 31, and not significantly different from five. In 2006 science—paced by Finland's 563—the U.S. was higher than 22 systems, lower than 22, and not significantly different from 12. (The U.S. was also supposed to receive reading scores, but the results were invalidated because of a printing error.) FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pirls/ and http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa/. (For Secretary Spellings' statements on the PIRLS and PISA results, see http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/11/11282007.html and http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/12/12042007.html.)

Also: Regarding high achieving students, girls swept grand prizes in the individual and team divisions of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology for the first time since the competition was begun in 1998. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.siemens-foundation.org/en/competition.htm.

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HQT Monitoring

The Department has started posting the most recent (2007-10) Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) and Improving Teacher Quality State Grants (Title II, Part A) monitoring reports online. These reports review the progress of states in meeting No Child Left Behind's HQT requirements (having 100% of students taught by a teacher who holds at least a bachelor's degree, has obtained full state certification, and has demonstrated knowledge in the core academic subject he or she teaches) and using No Child Left Behind's Title II, Part A funds to prepare, retain, and recruit quality teachers and principals so that all children will achieve to a high academic achievement standard and to their full potential. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/programs/teacherqual/hqt07/.

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Advanced Courses Online

During a live webcast on December 12 (3:00-4:00 p.m. ET), a panel of national education leaders and experts in online learning will discuss "Connecting Students to Advanced Courses Online," the latest guide in the Department's "Innovations in Education" series. The publication, to be released that day, is for school leaders who are inexperienced with online education but who might be interested in using it to expand student access to Advanced Placement (AP) and other advanced coursework. Case studies of six online providers—Colorado Online Learning, Florida Virtual School, Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy, Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, Michigan Virtual High School, and Virtual High School—provide practical and proven approaches to local online learning challenges. TO REGISTER, PLEASE GO TO http://www.visualwebcaster.com/US_Dept_Edu/42740/reg.html. (Note: Copies of the guide will be available for download in PDF format prior to the webcast and may be ordered from ED PUBS [at 1-877-4ED-PUBS or http://www.edpubs.org/, publication ID: ED003948P] following the webcast.)

Also: The Department's Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative has announced digital workshops for teachers of American Indian and Alaska Native students. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.t2tweb.us/nativeamerican/.

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NCES Reports

More insight from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):

  • "Numbers and Rates of Public High School Dropouts: School Year 2004-05" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008305). Across 49 states, approximately 540,000 students dropped out of public high schools during the 2004-05 academic year, producing an overall annual dropout rate of 3.9%. Consistent with past NCES analyses, dropout rates were higher for males (4.4%) than females (3.4%), higher for Native American students (6.7%) than other racial/ethnic groups, and highest in large cities, regardless of region.

  • "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008021). Nationwide, the victimization rate of students ages 12-18 at school declined from 144 incidents per 1,000 students to 57 per 1,000 in 2005. And, between 2003 and 2005, the percentage of students reporting theft declined slightly, from 4% to 3%. On the other hand, over the same period, there was no measurable drop in the percentage of students reporting violent crime and serious violent crime, while alcohol, drugs, and weapons still pose problems within schools.

  • "Characteristics of Minority-Serving Institutions and Minority Undergraduates Enrolled in These Institutions" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008156). The U.S.'s 1,254 minority-serving institutions (MSIs), which account for less than one-third of all degree-granting institutions, enrolled almost 60% of the nation's 4.7 million minority undergraduates in 2004. Disaggregated further, Hispanic-serving MSIs accounted for 27% of minority students enrolled, and the majority of students in Hispanic- and black-serving MSIs were enrolled in public two-year institutions.

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Grants Forecast

Be sure to review the FY 2008 Grants Forecast (as of November 30) at http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/find/edlite-forecast.html, which lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the Department has invited or expects to invite applications for awards and provides actual or estimated dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs. The lists are in the form of charts—organized by program office—and will be updated regularly through July 2008. (Note: This document is advisory only and not an official application notice of the U.S. Department of Education.)

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Head Start Reauthorization

Congress has passed, and President Bush is expected to sign, the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act (H.R. 1429). The bill, among other items, strengthens accountability requirements for grantees, encourages teachers to earn a bachelor's degree, and expands eligibility by raising household income limits. Head Start currently serves more than 900,000 American children. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://edlabor.house.gov/publications/
20071108HeadStartSummary.pdf
.

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Quote to Note

"The results of [international assessments] indicate that our strong commitment to academic excellence is more important than ever.... While we're seeing progress under No Child Left Behind, we can do better. If we want to sustain America's position as an economic power and innovative leader, our students must master [academic] fundamentals.... Clearly, as the world becomes flatter, it's becoming more competitive. We need to do better than simply keep pace."

        Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (11/28/07)

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Upcoming Events

The National Mathematics Advisory Panel's eleventh meeting is December 14 and 15 in Baltimore. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/.

Coming Up Taller Awards (http://www.cominguptaller.org/), sponsored by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, focus national attention on exemplary programs fostering the creative and intellectual development of America's youth. Fifteen awards of $10,000 are presented each year, providing recognition and contributing to continued work. Applications must be postmarked by January 31, 2008.

Next week, the Department will be exhibiting at the Association for Career and Technical Education's Annual Convention and Career Technology Expo in Las Vegas (December 13-15). If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Rogers Johnson, (202) 401-0026, Rogers.Johnson@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 12/10/2007