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April 11, 2008 ED Review
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 April 11, 2008
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NCLB Update
Math Education
NAEP Writing
Teaching American History
Volunteerism and More
NCES at Work
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

NCLB Update

On April 1, at a press conference hosted by America's Promise Alliance, Secretary Spellings announced she will take "administrative steps" to ensure all states use the same formula to calculate how many students graduate from high school on time. Also, she said the uniform data would be made public, so that anyone can compare how students of every race/ethnicity, income level, and special need are performing. "One reason that the high school dropout crisis is known as the 'silent epidemic' is that the problem is frequently masked or minimized by inconsistent and opaque data reporting systems," she stated. "For example, in some districts, a student who leaves school is counted as a dropout only if he or she registers as one. In others, a dropout's promise to get a G.E.D. at an unspecified future date is good enough to merit graduate status. With such loose definitions... it's no wonder this epidemic has been silent!" Proposed regulations will be published shortly. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/04/04012008.html.

As evidence of the extent of the dropout crisis, the alliance released a new report, "Cities in Crisis," that documents large disparities between graduation rates in urban districts and neighboring suburban districts. Notably, in several instances, the disparity is more than 35 percentage points. In response, the alliance is sponsoring a campaign which will feature summits in all 50 states and 50 key cities over the next two years. Nationwide, about one in three high school students drops out before graduating. Nearly 1.2 million students drop out each school year—about 7,000 every school day, or one every 26 seconds. For more information, please go to http://www.americaspromise.org/APAPage.aspx?id=9172.

Meanwhile, the Department has unveiled an interim study on state and local implementation of No Child Left Behind's public school choice and supplemental educational services (SES) options during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years. Researchers found that the number of students participating in both options, especially SES, has increased substantially. However, only a small portion of eligible students took advantage of the options available to them. In the 2004-05 school year, 1% of 6.2 million eligible students participated in the choice option and 17% of 1.8 million eligible students participated in the SES option. Three issues may have contributed to reduce participation: the absence of available options (particularly choice at the middle and high school level), the timing of notification about options, and various problems communicating with parents. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/choice/nclb-choice-ses/.

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Math Education

Intimidated by the 120-page final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel? Late last month, Deputy Secretary Ray Simon and Panel Chairman Larry Faulkner led a webcast discussion of the report's principal findings and key messages—a webcast that is now archived on the panel's web site. Don't miss this important review of recommendations to advance the teaching and learning of math, with a focus on preparation for and success in algebra (grades PK-8). For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/mathpanel/.

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NAEP Writing

On April 3, the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presented results from the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam in writing. Average scores have increased significantly for both eighth- and twelfth-grade students since previous assessments in 1998 and 2002. Indeed, since 2002, the percentage of students performing at or above the Basic level of achievement has risen in both grades, increasing from 85% to 88% in eighth-grade and 74% to 82% in twelfth-grade. Moreover, most student groups have improved their scores since the last test, including African-American students in both grades and Hispanic students in eighth-grade. Yet, there has been no change in the percentage of students reaching the higher Proficient level, and whites continue to outperform African-American and Hispanics by large margins at both grade levels. For more information, please go to http://nationsreportcard.gov/writing_2007/.

In addition to the national results, the latest NAEP exam offers results for 46 states and jurisdictions and 10 large urban districts that voluntarily participated at the eighth-grade level. Of the 39 states and jurisdictions that participated in both 2002 and 2007, average scores increased for 20, while scores decreased for only one; 18 showed no significant changes. Similarly, three of the four urban districts that participated in both 2002 and 2007 increased their scores significantly, and all reduced the percentage of students performing Below Basic.

Also, two new NCES studies compare state and NAEP assessment results in reading and math, based on data from 2003 and earlier assessments. For every state, three aspects of student progress are addressed: (1) where the state standards fall on the NAEP scales for fourth- and eighth-grade; (2) how much progress the state made toward the NAEP equivalent of the state's standards, from earlier assessments to 2003; and (3) how much the racial/ethnic achievement gaps in every state have changed during this same period. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008474 and http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008475. (Note: For more research about comparing state and NAEP standards, see http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/
researchcenter/statemapping.asp
.)

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Teaching American History

Secretary Spellings recently awarded 121 grants, totaling $114.7 million, to improve the quality of American history education in districts across 40 states. "The Teaching American History grant program offers educators opportunities to work with colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, libraries, and museums to learn more about our nation's history, culture, and democratic tradition," she said. "By providing professional development for teachers, we can help them support young people in becoming active, informed citizens." These grants fund teacher projects for up to five years. Grantees must partner with institutions that have extensive knowledge of American history. History is a core academic subject under the No Child Left Behind Act. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/teachinghistory/.

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Volunteerism and More

On April 4, Secretary Spellings visited Banneker High School in Washington, D.C., to stress the importance of volunteerism with National Football League (NFL) players Chris Draft of the St. Louis Rams and Warrick Dunn of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—two of 12 NFL players being honored that evening for their off-the-field volunteer work. At the event, the Secretary also announced a new publication, "Partnerships in Character Education State Pilot Projects, 1995-2001—Lessons Learned" (http://www.ed.gov/programs/charactered/lessons.html), which describes the results from 11 years of character partnerships funded by the federal government. And, she highlighted two Department resources to help families prepare for college: FAFSA4caster (http://www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov/), an online tool which provides students with an early estimate of their eligibility for federal financial aid, and "Federal Aid First" (http://www.ed.gov/federalaidfirst/), a brochure which guides parties through the application process and urges them to take advantage of federal aid options before seeking other options. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/04/04042008.html.

Also: One of the agency's two negotiated rulemaking teams for Title IV of the Higher Education Act has concluded its work. The other is meeting again next week. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/
hearulemaking/2008/index2008.html
.

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NCES at Work

Can't get enough data? Consider these other statistical reports from NCES:

  • "Characteristics of the 100 Largest Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts in the U.S.: 2004-05" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?
    pubid=2008335
    ). The 100 largest districts, representing 0.6% of all districts in the U.S., enroll 23% of all public school students.
  • "Characteristics of Private Schools in the U.S.: 2005-06 " (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?
    pubid=2008315
    ). There are 28,966 private K-12 schools in the U.S., with 5,057,520 students and 435,485 teachers.
  • "Findings from the Pilot Teacher Compensation Survey: 2005-06" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?
    pubid=2008440
    ). This pilot test collected data from the administrative records of seven states (AZ, AR, CO, FL, IA, MO, and OK), including base salary, total salary, benefits, highest level of education, and years of experience.
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Quote to Note

"When more than one million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem. It's a catastrophe. Our economic and national security are at risk when we fail to educate the leaders and the workforce of our future. It's time for a national 'call to arms,' because we cannot afford to let nearly one-third of our kids fail."

        General Colin Powell (4/1/08), kicking-off a national
campaign to reduce high school dropout rates

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Upcoming Events

National Library Week is April 13-19. This year's theme is "Join the circle of knowledge @ your library." To prepare for the celebration, the American Library Association has a wide range of programming and publicity materials. For more information, please go to http://ala.org/ala/pio/natlibraryweek/nlw.cfm.

The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based organization that supports education entrepreneurship, is accepting applications for the second cohort of its fellowship program, which affords individuals with the opportunity to develop and launch initiatives to transform public education. Fellows receive an annual salary of $90,000 for two years, benefits, and customized training. Fellows who opt to live in Indianapolis will also receive office space. Applications, with a statement of intent, are due by September 5. Fellowships will be awarded by December 1. For more information, please go to http://www.themindtrust.org/.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the National Council on Educating Black Children's Convention in New Orleans (April 16-19) and the National Coalition of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title I Parents' Region III Conference in Philadelphia (April 17-20). 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
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Last Modified: 04/11/2008