Federal Student Aid
Math Coursetaking and Achievement
Job Shadow Day
Quote to Note
Both President Bush and Secretary Spellings have assumed aggressive travel schedules this new year, promoting key initiatives in the U.S. and abroad. Among their priorities is reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. They are seeking a bill from Congress that would "stay true to the core principles" of annual assessment, disaggregation of data, and grade-level proficiency for all students by 2014," while inserting new flexibility into the law.
As a first push, on January 7, President Bush and Secretary Spellings joined Chicago Mayor Richard Daley at a 2007 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School, Horace Greeley Elementary School. "I know No Child Left Behind has worked," the President said, "and I believe this country needs to build upon the successes." As evidence, he cited an array of student achievement data on Greeley and the nation as a whole (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080107-1.html). "So now is the time for Congress to reauthorize it," he continued. "I'm sure a lot of people look around the country and say it's impossible for Congress and the President to work together. I strongly disagree. We worked together to get the bill written in the first place, and I believe we can work together to get it reauthorized." Nevertheless, he closed with some words of caution. "If it's not reauthorized, then I've instructed our Secretary to move forward on some reforms or to analyze reforms that she can do through the administrative process. Also, if Congress passes a bill that weakens the accountability system in the No Child Left Behind Act, I will strongly oppose it and veto it, because the act will continue on... This act isn't expiring, it just needs to be reauthorized." For more information, please go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080107-2.html.
Next, on January 8 (the actual anniversary of No Child Left Behind), Secretary Spellings was in Tallahassee, Florida, to testify before a joint session of House of Representatives' education committees, meet with new Commissioner of Education Eric Smith, and visit Sabal Palm Elementary School. "In the upcoming months, I'll be visiting as many states as I can to discuss how we can continue to work together and move ahead with what is, in my opinion, our nation's most important business -- ensuring that every student receives a quality education," she noted during her testimony. "Florida is the first stop on my tour, and rightly so. States like Florida elevated this movement from an ideal into reality, pioneering the use of data, standards, and accountability systems. Not because Washington said so, but because it was the right thing for students in Florida and for the State of Florida." The Secretary touted the state's tremendous progress in several areas. She also underscored a series of state challenges. "As we discuss how to move ahead," she stated, "we must remember that education policy all comes down to one question: is it good for students?.... It's about equipping every child with a high-quality education. It's an 'American Imperative' that will determine how successfully we respond to every challenge we face in the years ahead." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/2008/01/01082008.html.
Then, on January 10, the Secretary delivered remarks on No Child Left Behind and the Administration's K-12 priorities for 2008 at the National Press Club. She reinforced the President's challenge from Chicago to reauthorize the law: "Congress has had over a year to consider these reforms, but students and teachers need help now. So, if Congress doesn't produce a strong bill quickly, I will move forward. As I've done since taking office, I will partner with states and districts to support innovation." In her speech, she also introduced a new resource, the "National Dashboard" (see below), showing how the country is doing on key indicators. "During my final year, I will do everything in my power to propel this movement forward," she summarized. "But, ultimately, it's up to all of us to make sure it lives on.... No Child Left Behind is not just a catchy phrase. It is a statement about who we are, and what kind of country we want to be." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/01/01102008.html.
This week, Secretary Spellings continued her national tour with a West Coast swing through Washington, Oregon, and California. Later, after a week in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, she will travel to Louisiana and Alabama.
Armed with more data than ever before on the academic performance of students and schools, the Secretary recently unveiled two-page "dashboards" -- one for the nation and one for each state -- with statistics on state and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test scores, graduation rates, schools making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), highly qualified teachers, parents taking advantage of choice and supplemental educational service options, state participation in flexibility options, and more. The simple format, with charts and graphs, highlights bright spots as well as concerns. "We publish data to guide and promote improvement," the Secretary explained. These reports "will help parents and policymakers understand how each state is performing." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/nclb/accountability/results/progress/.
Federal Student Aid
January marks the start of the season for new and returning college students to apply for financial aid. The Department is encouraging all students to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to qualify for a share of the more than $80 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study assistance. Most students are eligible to receive some type of financial aid, but they must take the first step and complete the FAFSA.
Over 95% of FAFSAs are submitted online, and now, with several added features, it is even easier to apply that way. Students and families can:
- Request a personal identification number (PIN) and immediately receive it to electronically sign the application.
- Submit an online application and immediately receive a confirmation with a preliminary expected family contribution.
- List up to 10 schools to receive the provided financial aid information.
- Copy parental information to another application for a second or third child.
Of course, there are other options for filing, including downloading the form or ordering a hard copy. For more information, please go to http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/.
Also: College Goal Sunday (http://www.collegegoalsundayusa.org/) brings together financial aid professionals from colleges and universities, along with other volunteers, to help college-bound students and their families fill-out the FAFSA on a Sunday afternoon. Use the online map to find dates, times, and locations by state. The program is free.
Be sure to review the FY 2008 Grants Forecast (as of January 11) 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.)
Meanwhile, applications are available for the Arts in Education-Model Development and Dissemination Grant Program (see http://www.ed.gov/programs/artsedmodel/) and the Arts in Education-Professional Development for Arts Educators Grant Program (see http://www.ed.gov/programs/artsedprofdev/).
Math Coursetaking and Achievement
A new study by the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), "Mathematics Coursetaking and Achievement at the End of High School: Evidence from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002," documents and examines the relationship between the number and types of math courses taken in the eleventh- and twelfth-grades and growth in math proficiency over the same time period. The study identifies the coursetaking sequences prevalent among today's high school students in the second half of high school, socioeconomic characteristics of the students who follow these sequences, and the association between particular courses and sequences and math proficiency gains. Because most students (94%) entered the latter grades of high school with a mastery of basic math skills -- such as simple arithmetic and operations -- most learning over this time was in intermediate math skills. For example, the percentage of students with an understanding of simple problem-solving skills grew from 53% to 65% over two years. In terms of learning in specific content areas, the largest gains in intermediate math skills were made by those who followed the geometry-algebra II sequence. The largest gains in advanced math skills -- such as derivations and making inferences from algebraic expressions -- were made by those who took precalculus paired with another course. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008319.
Job Shadow Day
On February 1, working professionals across the country will celebrate Job Shadow Day, part of a national, year-long effort to enrich the lives of students by acquainting them with the world of work through on-the-job experiences and a special school curriculum that ties academics to the workplace. Sponsored by the financial services firm ING and jointly coordinated by America's Promise, Junior Achievement, and the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, more than one million students and 100,000 businesses are expected to participate. Notable past workplace mentors include former President George H. W. Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, many governors, mayors, and other elected officials, Miss America Angela Perez Baraquio, and Today show personalities Matt Lauer, Al Roker, and Ann Curry. For more information, please go to http://www.jobshadow.org/.
Quote to Note
"Agree or disagree with this law, without No Child Left Behind, we wouldn't even be talking about how to get every student on grade level. In our two centuries as a nation, this is the first time we're able to have a discussion based on facts and, sometimes, harsh realities, instead of hopes and habits. After decades of doling out federal dollars and hoping for the best, we're now expecting and getting results."
|||Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (1/10/08), at the National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon|
The President will deliver his State of the Union address on January 28. Then, on February 4, the President will release his Fiscal Year 2009 budget request.
Later this month and early next month, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is hosting four, one-day Random Student Drug Testing Summits. These summits -- Jacksonville, FL (1/29); Oklahoma City, OK (1/31); Albuquerque, NM (2/6); and Indianapolis, IN (2/13) -- will tackle legal and program development issues and serve as an introduction for schools that would like to learn more about student drug testing. Participants will be supplied with information on the Department's new grant competition and application process. For more information, please go to http://www.randomstudentdrugtesting.org/presentations.html.
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