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March 28, 2008 ED Review
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 March 28, 2008
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NCLB Update
NAEP Expansion
Good Start, Grow Smart
Privacy Guidance
Digest of Education Statistics
ED Pubs Redesign
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

NCLB Update

On March 18, in Minnesota, Secretary Spellings announced a pilot program whereby up to 10 states may differentiate between underperforming schools in need of dramatic interventions and those that are closer to meeting the goals of No Child Left Behind. The law currently treats all schools in improvement alike. "Differentiated accountability" will allow officials to vary the intensity and type of interventions to match the academic reasons that led to a school's identification. And, in states with a large percentage of schools identified, it will allow officials to target interventions and resources to the schools most in need of reform. However, as the Secretary noted, "This is not one-sided flexibility." Indeed, to be eligible for the pilot, states must meet four eligibility criteria:

  • The state's standards and assessment system must be fully approved (as administered in the 2007-08 school year).
  • The state must have no significant monitoring findings related to provisions of No Child Left Behind. (The agency will also take into consideration major monitoring findings related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.)
  • The state must have an approved highly qualified teacher plan.
  • The state must provide timely and transparent Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) data to the public. (States that have more than one non-approved occurrence of late AYP in the past two years are ineligible.)

Also, the models proposed by states must meet 10 core principles, organized in four categories:

  • Accountability. The state must maintain its current practice for determining AYP and identifying schools as in need of improvement.
  • Differentiation. The state must clearly define its process for categorizing and differentiating among schools.
  • Interventions. The state must clearly define its system of interventions.
  • Restructuring. The state must clearly define the interventions for its lowest-performing schools.

In addition, the agency will give priority to the following:

  • states that have at least 20% of their Title I schools identified as in need of improvement in the 2007-08 school year and that demonstrate a challenge in providing intensive, meaningful reform to all sites;
  • states that propose to take comprehensive and significant interventions—such as those used in the restructuring phase—for the lowest-performing schools earlier in the improvement timeline; and
  • states that propose an innovative model of differentiation as well as system of interventions.

States that wish to apply and meet the requirements above must submit their proposals by May 2. The review process will resemble the process used for the growth model pilot program, with proposals that meet the eligibility criteria reviewed by a panel of external experts. The Secretary will approve state models prior to the start of the 2008-09 school year, so that they may be implemented based on results from assessments administered in 2007-08. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/03/03182008.html.

Winding down their national tour of states to discuss critical issues in K-12 education, the Secretary also visited Kentucky (3/19) and Virginia (3/26), and Deputy Secretary Ray Simon visited Indiana (3/25) and Maryland (3/26). Between them, they have visited 25 states.

Meanwhile, the Department awarded $11 million in grants to 39 states to enable them to pay part or all of the fees for Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests for low-income students. The program aims to encourage low-income students to take AP or IB tests and obtain college credit, reducing the time and cost required to complete a postsecondary degree. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/03/03172008a.html.

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NAEP Expansion

The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), has tentatively approved plans for 11 states to take part in a new, twelfth-grade version of NAEP in reading and math. (A separate NAEP, the long-term trend, is now given to 17-year-olds, but it only produces a nationwide snapshot of data.) The test would likely be given in 2009. NAGB also approved adding seven big city school districts to the special NAEP for urban school systems. Eleven districts took part in the most recent Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). Both of these actions became possible after an $11 million increase for NAEP and NAGB in last year's budget. For more information, please go to http://www.nagb.org/.

Note: Results from the NAEP writing assessment in eighth- and twelfth-grades will be released on April 3, at 10:00 a.m. ET. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.

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Good Start, Grow Smart

The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (April 15, 8:00-9:00 ET) will highlight how No Child Left Behind—through such targeted initiatives as Early Reading First—supports the teaching of young children. It will also showcase a number of other strategic administration initiatives—including "Good Start, Grow Smart" and Head Start—designed to improve early childhood education and ensure children feel confident and ready to learn the first day they step into a classroom. Research proves that what children learn before coming to school is vital to their long-term success; as most parents can attest, the first five years of a child's life is a time of tremendous physical, emotional, and social growth. When children are exposed to an environment rich in language and literacy interactions and full of opportunities to listen to and use language, they can begin to acquire the building blocks for learning how to read. By contrast, children who enter school without these skills run a significant risk of starting behind and staying behind. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/edtv/. (You can watch archived webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)

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Privacy Guidance

On March 24, the Department proposed new regulations to clarify when colleges and universities may release confidential student information and reassure top officials that they will not face penalties for reporting concerns about mentally ill students to appropriate authorities in an emergency. Key adjustments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) include: (1) when there is an "articulable and significant threat" to the health or safety of a student or others, private information may be shared with proper parties, such as the student's parents, and (2) if there is a "rational basis" for the school's decision to share sensitive material from a student's file, the Department will not "substitute its judgment" about the decision. In reality, FERPA has always had an exception for health and safety emergencies, but colleges and universities have been wary of invoking it. Comments on these and other proposed changes to FERPA must be received by May 8. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/
proprule/2008-1/032408a.html
.

Note: The Department is committed to assisting colleges and universities in furnishing students a safe environment in which to learn and keeping students, parents, and employees informed about security. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/campus.html.

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Digest of Education Statistics

The "Digest of Education Statistics, 2007," from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is the 43rd 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 directed by NCES. The digest contains data on the number of schools, students, and teachers, as well as statistics on educational attainment, finances, libraries, technology, and international comparisons. Details on population trends, education attitudes, labor force characteristics, and federal funding supplies background for evaluating the education data. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/.

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ED Pubs Redesign

The Department's Education Publications (ED PUBS) web site has undergone an extensive redesign, seeking to ease the search for publications and present a more visually appealing look. Among other changes, the site now spotlights particularly newsworthy items (such as information about new releases), lists "hot topic" items by current events and initiatives, and separates publications available in Spanish. For more information, please go to http://edpubs.ed.gov/.

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Quote to Note

"Thanks to No Child Left Behind, we have collected a wealth of information about where schools are falling short, where student needs are not being met, and where more rigor is needed. We've built an appetite for change, and we've done a good job of framing the problem. The next step is to use this knowledge to customize our efforts to improve.... Going forward, I will continue to partner with those who embrace accountability. And, in situations where policies favor the needs of adults over the needs of students, I will continue to side with the kids."

        Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (3/18/08),
announcing a "differentiated accountability" pilot

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Upcoming Events

The Department's Emergency Response and Crisis Management (ERCM) Technical Assistance Center is offering representatives from schools and school districts 1.5 day training sessions on emergency management. Sessions—April 10-11 in New Orleans and June 4-5 in San Francisco—will focus on the phases of crisis planning: (1) mitigation/prevention, (2) preparedness, (3) response, and (4) recovery. For more information, please go to http://rems.ed.gov/index.cfm?event=trainings.

New Faith-Based and Community Initiative conferences are scheduled for New Orleans (5/29-30), Washington, D.C. (6/26-27), Sacramento (8/5), and Dallas (8/29). The conferences are free, but pre-registration is required. For more information, please go to http://www.fbci.gov/.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the National Association of Elementary School Principals' Annual Convention in Nashville (April 4-8) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City (April 9-12). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Rogers Johnson, (202) 401-0026, Rogers.Johnson@ed.gov
Deputy Director—Keith Brancato, (202) 401-6178, Keith.Brancato@ed.gov
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
To be added or removed from distribution, or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), please contact Adam Honeysett. Or, visit http://www.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/index.html.


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Last Modified: 04/01/2008