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August 29, 2008 ED Review
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 August 29, 2008
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Free Books!
NCLB Update
Measuring Progress, Realizing Results
Higher Education Opportunity Act
SAT Scores
FERPA and PPRA
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Free Books!

Register today at http://www.firstbook.org/register/ to access free new children's books through the 2008 Back to School Book Donation. Earlier this year, the Department teamed with First Book and Random House to launch the 2008 Summer Reading Initiative (see http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/05/05062008.html). This initiative was the first stage of a national distribution of over 850,000 free new Random House children's books to schools, libraries, and literacy organizations serving low-income youth across the U.S. This summer, 550,000 books were distributed. On September 4, the Department will announce the availability and subsequent distribution of the remaining 300,000 books earmarked for this campaign. Since 2006, the Department has partnered with First Book and major U.S. book publishing companies to distribute three million children's books. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/bookcampaign/. (Note: To be eligible to register with First Book, an entity must: (1) serve children where at least 50% are from low-income households, (2) be a Title I or Title I-eligible school, or (3) be a military family support program.)

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NCLB Update

As school gets underway, Secretary Spellings continues to offer states the opportunity for greater flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act. Earlier this month, she reopened the differentiated accountability pilot program (http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/
account/differentiatedaccountability/
). More recently, with a letter to Chief State School Officers (http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/secletter/080818.html), she again invited states to submit proposals that incorporate a measure of individual student growth into their current accountability system. "I view growth models as a key component of a common-sense approach to implementing No Child Left Behind," she said. "Growth models... create a more nuanced accountability system, while still adhering to the goal of 100% proficiency by 2013-14." So far, 11 states have been approved to implement their models under the pilot program. Proposals are due by October 15. Department officials will conduct an initial review of each proposal to make sure the growth model meets seven core principles and the state is making progress in specific areas. If they have any questions regarding a state's proposal, they will contact the state by October 24 and request the state respond by November 7. Then, those proposals determined to have met requirements will be forwarded to a team of peer reviewers, who will meet by early December. The Secretary anticipates reaching a final decision later in December. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/growthmodel/.

Concerning states, a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), "Public School Graduates and Dropouts from the Common Core of Data: School Year 2005-06," presents the number of high school graduates, the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR), and dropout data for grades 9-12. Across 48 reporting states, a total of 2,649,001 public school students received a high school diploma in 2005-06, resulting in an AFGR of 73.4%. However, the AFGR ranged drastically; 14 states had rates of 80% or higher, while 10 states had rates below 70%. Similarly, the AFGR was much higher for Asian/Pacific Islander (89.6%) and white, non-Hispanic (80.6%) students than American Indian/Alaska Native (61.8%), Hispanic (61.4%), and black, non-Hispanic (59.1%) students. On the other end of the spectrum, once more across 48 reporting states, 579,000 public school students dropped out in 2005-06, resulting in an "event" dropout rate of 4%. Twelve states had dropout rates of less than 3%, while six states had rates of more than 6%. (Among those states for which comparisons could be made between 2002-03 and 2005-06, the event dropout rate increased for 27 states and decreased for 21 states.) American Indian/Alaska Native students had the highest dropout rate at 7.4%, followed by black (6.1%), Hispanic (6.0%), white (2.7%), and Asian/Pacific Islander (2.4%) students. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2008353.

Need help with dropouts? The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) will shortly unveil a practice guide on dropout prevention. Developed by a panel of nationally recognized experts, practice guides consist of actionable recommendations, strategies for overcoming roadblocks, and an indication of the strength of evidence supporting each recommendation. In the meantime, explore WWC's latest guide, "Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices," with five recommendations to improve literacy among adolescents in the upper elementary, middle, and high school grades. For more information, please go to http://whatworks.ed.gov/.

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Measuring Progress, Realizing Results

A Back to School edition of "Education News Parents Can Use" (September 16, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) will profile key strategies for improving student academic achievement and showcase schools that have proven successful in closing the achievement gap and helping all students perform at high levels. Educators know that what gets measured gets done, and information is a powerful catalyst for change. The more information one has, the better able one is to demand improvement—and get it. The No Child Left Behind Act's focus on data dissemination and informed decision-making has helped transform the roles of parents and teachers. Parents now have the necessary information to be effective education consumers and advocates for their children. And, teachers have access to the latest data and scientifically proven strategies for helping students achieve. The outcome is a new, results-based culture in American schools. The broadcast will also spotlight the Department's Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program. The fellows—classroom teachers on leave from their schools to work on policy at the U.S. Department of Education—will give their perspectives on improving learning. 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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Higher Education Opportunity Act

On August 14, President Bush signed into law the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), reauthorizing the original Higher Education Act (HEA). The legislation covers most of the programs administered by the Department's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) and Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Therefore, OPE has dedicated a new web site (http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/), with information on the Department's implementation of the HEOA. Some updates:

  • Dear Colleague Letter. The agency will be publishing a letter with a summary of each provision of the HEOA. However, affected parties are responsible for taking the steps necessary to comply by the effective dates established by the law. The provisions were effective upon enactment, unless otherwise indicated.

  • Negotiated Rulemaking. The agency will soon start the negotiated rulemaking process for parts of the HEOA. Negotiated rulemaking is required for the development of all regulations implementing statutory changes to Title IV of the HEA. Moreover, Section 201 of the HEOA added a provision to Section 207(c) of the HEA requiring negotiated rulemaking for any regulations the Secretary develops under amended Section 207(b)(2) of the HEA. This section prohibits a teacher preparation program that has had its eligibility terminated by the state from accepting or enrolling any student who receives Title IV aid.

  • Public Meetings. Starting next month, the agency will begin the negotiated rulemaking process by publishing a notice in the Federal Register announcing public meetings where parties can suggest issues related to the HEOA that should be considered for action by these rulemaking committees. (Of course, for anyone unable to attend a hearing, the Department will be accepting written comments.) Currently, the meetings will be held: 9/19 at Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX); 9/29 at the University of Rhode Island's Providence Campus; 10/2 at Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA); 10/6 at Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, NC); 10/8 at the U.S. Department of Education's K Street conference center (Washington, DC); and 10/15 at Cuyahoga Community College (Cleveland, OH). Additional information on these hearings will be posted as it becomes available.

Be sure to check back often! As the Department moves through the implementation process, OPE will be updating the web site.

Also: This year's special supplement to NCES's "Condition of Education 2008" report (see http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/) provides a rich profile of the more than 1,000 community colleges in the U.S., analyzes the characteristics of students who entered community college from high schools, and examines the rates of persistence and attainment among community college students in general. It also directly compares public, two-year institutions with public and private four-year colleges and universities. Among high school seniors who enrolled immediately in a postsecondary institution in 2004, 30% enrolled in a community college. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2008/analysis/.

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SAT Scores

Much like the ACT scores detailed last issue, despite a record number of students taking the test—including a higher percentage (36%) of first-generation students than 2007 and a substantial rate (40%) of minority participation—the 2008 SAT national average composite score was 1511 (on a scale of 600 to 2400), the same as last year's score. Average scores for all three sections of the test were also identical to 2007: 502 in reading, 515 in math, and 494 in writing. (Each section has a minimum score of 200 and a maximum score of 800.) Females have narrowed the performance gap with males in reading, closing to within four points, and females outperform males on the writing test by 13 points. However, males still outperform females by 33 points on the math test. Meanwhile, according to multiple studies, writing has proven the most predictive section of the SAT for determining first-year college performance, both for all students and across all racial/ethnic groups, demonstrating that writing is a critical skill. For more information, please go to http://www.collegeboard.com/press/releases/197846.html.

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FERPA and PPRA

This month, the Department's Family Policy Compliance Office issued its annual notification to states and school districts of their obligations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). FERPA gives parents the right to have access to their children's education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the records. (When a student turns 18 or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student.) PPRA grants parents certain rights regarding the conduct of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing, and some physical exams. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/hottopics/.

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Quote to Note

"Two centuries after Abraham Lincoln's birth, the nation is still in formation. The U.S. has grown and expanded. One cost of that growth has been a splintering of many parts of our society. Competing values, interests, and beliefs have complicated Lincoln's goal to find unity in our diversity. The bicentennial commemoration of his life and legacy—through various education programs, public forums, and arts projects—will be a bright beacon to completing our nation's 'unfinished work.'"

        Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (http://www.lincolnbicentennial.gov/)

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Upcoming Events

The next Scientific Evidence in Education (SEE) forum is scheduled for September 17 (8:30-10:45 a.m. ET) at the National Press Club, in Washington, DC. The topic? Reinventing after-school programs using evidence-based research on after-school interventions. The forums are free, but space is limited, so register in advance online. For more information, please go to http://www.seeforums.org/.

Planning is underway for the Department's ninth annual International Education Week (November 17-21, coinciding with American Education Week). The week supplies schools, colleges and universities, and communities the opportunity to promote and celebrate the benefits of international education worldwide. This year's theme is "Fostering Global Responsibility and Leadership." Individuals and institutions are encouraged to join the listserv and submit a report on planned activities. For more information, please go to http://iew.state.gov/.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at HopeFest 2008 in Chicago (August 30) and the National Council of Negro Women's Black Family Reunion Celebration on the National Mall (September 6-7). 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: 09/02/2008