Middle East Trip
Student Loan Access
More Federal Research
U.S. History Education
Quotes to Note
Middle East Trip
On May 16, Secretary Spellings became the first U.S. Secretary of Education to visit the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). Over the course of her five-day visit, the Secretary met with leading U.A.E. officials (including Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, her counterpart, Minister of Education Hanif Hassan, and Minister of Higher Education Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan), visited three colleges (the American University in Dubai [AUD], the American University of Sharjah [AUS], and Zayed University), and, in a culminating event, signed a special, five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dr. Hassan to encourage greater educational cooperation and exchange between the two countries. "The U.S. and the U.A.E. share more than just a first name," she said at AUD's commencement ceremonies, where more than 400 students received their graduation certificates. "We are united in our strong belief in education. And, we have made parallel journeys to improve our schools at every level. In this competitive century, change happens, whether we are ready or not." The first area of focus for the MOU is math, science, and language studies. For more information, please go to http://dubai.usconsulate.gov/spelling.html.
Earlier this year, the Secretary announced a differentiated accountability pilot program that would allow states to distinguish between low-performing 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. The pilot would allow states to vary the intensity and type of interventions to match the academic reasons that led to a school's identification for improvement. And, in states with a significant percentage of schools identified, it would allow officials to target interventions and resources to schools most in need of reform. Seventeen states submitted proposals for consideration: AK, AR, FL, IN, LA, MD, NJ, NY, ND, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, and VA for implementation in the 2008-09 school year and GA and IL for implementation in the 2009-10 school year. After reviewing the proposals for four basic eligibility criteria, the Department has submitted all 17 states to a peer review panel. The panel will meet in June to evaluate the proposals using the agency's guidance (http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/daguidance.doc). After considering the peers' comments, the Secretary will approve up to 10 states to participate in the pilot. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/
Earlier this month, the Department published a statistical summary of Highly Qualified Teachers (HQTs) with three state data tables. During the 2006-07 school year, 94% of core academic classes in the nation's schools were led by HQTs. A higher percentage of classes were led by HQTs in elementary school (96%) than in secondary school (93%). Also, at both levels, classes in low-poverty schools were more likely to be led by HQTs than were classes in high-poverty schools. The percentage of classes led by HQTs has increased seven percentage points since 2003-04. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/teacherqual/resources.html.
Meanwhile, the Department has published Fiscal Year 2008 guidance for Title V, Part A of the No Child Left Behind Act (State Grants for Innovative Programs). The paper addresses the impact a lack of FY 2008 funding under Title V, Part A has on various flexibility provisions of the law and key requirements under the program. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/innovative/titlevguidance2008.pdf.
Student Loan Access
On May 21, as part of its ongoing commitment to make sure students have access to federal student loans in the coming academic year, the Administration announced a four-part plan aimed to improve the functioning of the student loan marketplace and provide liquidity and stability in the near term. This plan includes: (1) a loan purchase commitment by which the Department agrees to purchase new federal loans originated for the 2008-09 school year (with the price of the loan equal to the sum of par value, accrued interest, the 1% origination fee paid to the agency, and a fixed amount of $75 per loan) and a facility for providing short-term liquidity to lenders lacking access to affordable capital due to disruptions in markets; (2) a commitment to continue working with the lending community, to explore ways to reengage markets; (3) a strengthened "lender of last resort" program to help protect students from shifting market forces; and (4) increased Direct Loan capacity, should it be needed to act as an extra cushion for students. "We want students to be able to concentrate on their studies, rather than worry about disruptions in the market and whether they will be able to obtain federal loans to help pay for school," Secretary Spellings said in a statement. "At the same time... we can also consider this a teachable moment that speaks to broader, long-term flaws in our complex and outdated financial system." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/05/05212008.html. (Note: The Administration is continuing to refine the pricing and conditions of these options to ensure they meet the requirement that they result in no net cost to the federal government. Final terms will be published in the Federal Register.)
"The National Indian Education Study" (NIES) is a two-part study designed to describe the condition of education for American Indian/Alaska Native students in the U.S. (NIES was first conducted in 2005.) Part I, released last week, presents detailed information on the academic performance of American Indian/Alaska Native students on the 2007 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reading and math tests. In both fourth- and eighth-grade, the students had lower average scores and proficiency rates compared to all other students in the country and, aside from fourth-grade math, showed no significant change since 2005. Yet, their performance was not significantly different than the scores for all racial/ethnic groups (even exceeding the scores of African-American students on math). In both grades and subjects, American Indian/Alaska Native students also performed better if they attended schools with smaller concentrations of similar students (less than 25) and attended a public schoolversus a Bureau of Indian Education school. Part II, to be released this summer, is a survey of the educational experiences of American Indian/Alaska Native students, focused on the integration of native language and culture into school and classroom activities. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/NIES/.
More Federal Research
Check out these other federal studies:
"Implementation Study of Smaller Learning Communities: Final Report" (http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/small-communities/), from the Department's Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (OPEPD), studied the implementation of the agency's Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) discretionary grant program. On the one hand, the data suggests an upward trend in the percentage of SLC students participating in extra-curricular activities, ninth-graders being promoted to tenth-grade, and graduating students planning to attend either two- or four-year colleges, as well as a downward trend in the incidence of violence. On the other hand, there were no significant trends observed in academic achievement.
The latest results from the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnership Program (http://www.nsf.gov/news/
news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=111514) show not only improved proficiency among all elementary and middle school students but also a closing of the achievement gaps between both African-American and Hispanic students and white students in elementary school math and between African-American and white students in elementary and middle school science.
"Attrition of Public School Mathematics and Science Teachers" (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/
pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008077), from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), indicates that the percentage of public school math and science teachers who left teaching did not change measurably between 1988-89 and 2004-05, even as the percentage of other public school teachers who left teaching did. When asked to rate various reasons for leaving teaching, greater percentages of math and science teachers than other teachers rated better salary or benefits as very or extremely important.
U.S. History Education
The National History Education Clearinghouse (http://teachinghistory.org/), funded by a $7 million, five-year grant from the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), is a one-stop so for accessing high-quality resources in K-12 U.S. history education. The clearinghouse provides hyperlinks to the most informative history content on the Internet. It also provides teaching resources and tools, such as guides to working with primary sources, lesson plan reviews, and models of exemplary teaching.
Quotes to Note
"My friend Senator Ted Kennedy is a lionhearted champion for our nation's children. His decades of public service have inspired generations of Americans, including me. And his strong, outspoken leadership has helped to improve the quality of life for all of us. I join people across our country and around the world in sending my prayers to the Senator, his wife, and their entire family during this difficult time."
|||Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (5/19/08), on the Senator's diagnosis of a malignant tumor|
"Education, in my opinion, is the key to democracy. It paves the way for a better understanding of the preset of principles acquainted with the democratic procedure. This, in turn, allows people to appreciate the benefits that come with democracy for both citizens and leaders of countries anywhere around the world.... No nation should ever fear freedom or what comes of it: knowledge and civic engagement."
|||Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (5/21/08), praising the U.A.E. for making the study of democracy part of its curriculum|
On Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, at 3:00 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to stop what they are doing and spend one minute in a Moment of Remembrance. The mid-afternoon time was chosen because it is when a majority of Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the holiday. For more information, please go to http://www.remember.gov/.
On May 29, at 10:00 a.m. ET, NCES will release "The Condition of Education 2008." For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/.
The next Scientific Evidence in Education (SEE) forum is scheduled for June 5 (11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET) at the U.S. Capitol, Room HC-5, in Washington, D.C. The topic? Transforming low-performing schools into successful learning environments. The forums are free, but space is limited, so register in advance online. For more information, please go to http://www.seeforums.org/.
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