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November 21, 2008 ED Review
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 November 21, 2008
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Student Loan Access
Using Technology
NCLB Update
Funding Opportunities
Survey Data
USA Learns
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Student Loan Access

With lenders currently committing loan volume to colleges and universities for the upcoming school year, Secretary Spellings and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson detailed their experience and success at improving the functioning of the loan marketplace and providing liquidity and stability in the near term under the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA) and outlined additional action to implement the extended ECASLA. For the current school year, the law's programs have been largely successful. Loan originations are exceeding last year's pace: in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), there have been $41.8 billion in originations through October 31, compared to $39 billion at this time last year, while in the federal Direct Loan program, there have been $17.9 billion in originations, versus $12 billion at this time last year. Also, lenders are strongly utilizing the Education Department's participation interest and loan purchase programs: 19 lenders have been approved for the Purchase of Participation Interests program, in which the agency purchases a 100% interest in pools of loans held by a custodian, providing near-term liquidity to lenders; 12 lenders have made use of this program and have, through October 31, received $8.7 billion in payments, representing 50% of current disbursements; and, under the separate loan purchase program, two lenders have sold $62 million in loans to the agency. For the upcoming school year, the Department will replicate the participation interest and loan purchase programs. Terms and conditions are anticipated to be largely consistent with the prior year's programs, although the Administration may need to refine the pricing and terms of these programs to ensure that they result in no net cost to the federal government. Also, the Administration intends to provide liquidity support to one or more conforming Asset-Backed Commercial Paper conduits. These conduits will purchase FFELP loans, supplying longer-term stability in the marketplace. The Department intends to make all fully distributed, non-consolidated FFELP loans awarded between October 1, 2003, and July 1, 2009, eligible for this program. (Update: Until these conduits are operational, or until February 28, 2009, whichever comes first, the Department will also purchase certain 2007-08 FFELP loans, to minimize disruptions in the interim period—see http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/11/11202008.html.) Meanwhile, the agency has taken the steps necessary to ensure the Lender of Last Resort program is ready, should it be needed. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/11/11082008.html.

Other student loan news:

  • Secretary Spellings and Undersecretary Sara Martinez Tucker (see below) recently presented to Congress the Department's plan for a "rational approach to federal student aid." It includes: a simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); a federal student aid target that sets the maximum amount of federal subsidized aid (grants and subsidized loans) the neediest student could receive; a federal student aid commitment that determines a specific student's eligibility; and the consolidation of programs into single grant (Pell), loan (subsidized loan, unsubsidized loan, and Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students in both the FFELP and Direct Loan programs), and work-study (Federal Work-Study) programs. For more information, please go to http://www.newamerica.net/blog/files/A%20Rational%20
    Approach%20to%20Federal%20Student%20
    Aid%20-%20Final.doc
    .
  • Undersecretary Tucker announced she was leaving her position to return home to California. The Department's General Counsel, Kent Talbert, will be delegated the responsibilities of the Undersecretary. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/
    11/11122008.html
    .
  • The latest Education News Parents Can Use broadcast (archived at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/) explored the issue of paying for college and advocated using federal aid first.
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Using Technology

The Secretary's new white paper about technology, "Harnessing Innovation to Support Student Success: Using Technology to Personalize Education," gives the "lessons learned" from three roundtable discussions (held over the past 18 months) with representatives from across the education and technology landscape, from teachers to executives, and a roundtable discussion with students. The conversations were frank and informative, with a view into the potential and the challenges of employing technology to help transform education. Participants identified five key areas where federal, state, and local governments can better collaborate: (1) online learning and virtual schools, (2) transforming data into knowledge and action, (3) broadband connectivity, (4) research efficacy and impact, and (5) school leadership and professional preparation. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/
reports/roundtable.html
.

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NCLB Update

On November 19, the Secretary announced the release of the "Reading First Impact Study: Final Report." This report, a follow-up to April's interim study, presents an additional year of data (from 2006-07) on student reading comprehension and classroom instruction in 248 schools (125 Reading First schools and 123 non-Reading First schools) and information on the impact of the program on first-grade students' decoding skills. While the report found no statistically significant difference in reading comprehension, Reading First had a significant impact on students' decoding, phonics, and fluency skills—three of the five basic components of reading. For more information, please go to http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094038.asp and http://www.ed.gov/nclb/methods/reading/readingfirst-report.html.

The Department has unveiled the full slate of 2008 American Stars of Teaching award winners—one from each state and the District of Columbia. These outstanding classroom teachers, across all disciplines and grade levels, were honored this fall with special assemblies for improving student achievement and using innovative strategies to make a difference in the lives of their students. For more information, please go to http://www.t2tweb.us/AmStar/Prior.asp.

The Achiever newsletter (http://www.ed.gov/achiever/), now available solely online, focuses on how successful schools across the U.S. are working toward the goal of the No Child Left Behind Act: to have every student reading and doing math at grade-level by 2014. The latest story spotlights a Philadelphia magnet middle school—one of 320 schools honored with a Blue Ribbon School award—where eighth-grade performance at the "advanced" level (the highest of four levels on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) has increased from 29% in 2004 to 77% in 2008 in reading and from 13% in 2004 to 67% in 2008 in math.

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Funding Opportunities

Although the Department is operating under a continuing resolution, several new grant competitions are in progress. For example, the Advanced Placement (AP) Test Fee Program awards grants to states to enable them to pay all or a portion of AP test fees on behalf of eligible low-income students who are enrolled in an AP course and intend to take an AP exam. Only states are eligible to apply. Applications are due December 15. And, the Transition to Teaching Grant Program funds the development and expansion of alternative routes to full state teacher certification and the recruitment and retention of highly qualified mid-career professionals, recent college graduates who have not majored in education, and paraprofessionals to teach in high-need schools operated by high-need school districts. States, high-need districts, and partnerships of states, districts, and for- and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply. A notice of intent to apply is due December 15. Applications are due January 21, 2009. http://www.ed.gov/GrantApps/ lists all competitions that are currently underway, with links to electronic application packages, forms, and other information.

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Survey Data

Don't miss these insightful reports, based on survey data:

  • "Community Service and Service-Learning in America's Schools 2008" (http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/role_impact/
    performance_research.asp#LSA_2008
    ), from the Corporation for National and Community Service, finds 68% of all K-12 schools offered or recognized service opportunities for their students, up from 64% in a similar study conducted in 1999. High schools are especially supportive of community service, with a whopping 86% recognizing student service, up from 83% in 1999. However, while school-based community service has remained robust, the percentage of schools with service learning has declined from 32% in 1999 to 24% in 2008.

  • "National Survey of Student Engagement: 2008 Results" (http://nsse.iub.edu/NSSE_2008_Results/), from Indiana University's Center for Postsecondary Research, summarizes the views of 380,000 first-year and senior students at 722 four-year colleges and universities on five benchmarks: (1) level of academic challenge, (2) active and collaborative learning, (3) student-faculty interaction, (4) enriching education experiences, and (5) supportive campus environment. A primary conclusion? The quality of undergraduate education varies far more within institutions than between them.

  • "Open Doors 2008" (http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/), published annually by the Institute of International Education, reports on Americans studying abroad and international students in the U.S. During the 2006-07 school year, 241,791 Americans studied abroad—an increase of 8.5% from 2005-06. The leading destinations were the United Kingdom (14.6% of total), Italy (12.5%), and Spain (10.7%). Ecuador (+29.6% change from previous year), South Africa (+28%), and Argentina (+26.2%) reported the largest percentage increases. On the other hand, during the 2007-08 school year, 623,805 international students studied in the U.S.—an increase of 7% from 2006-07. The top sending countries of origin were India (15.2% of total), China (13%), and South Korea (11.1%), while Vietnam (+45.3% change from previous year), Saudi Arabia (+25.2%), and China (+19.8%) reported the largest percentage increases.

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USA Learns

On November 7, the Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) officially launched USA Learns (http://www.usalearns.org/), a web site providing the approximately 11 million adults who have low levels of English proficiency with accessible and free English language training. The launch of the site completes one of the goals in President Bush's August 2007 announcement of 26 immigration reforms his Administration would pursue within existing law, including the assimilation of new citizens and helping immigrants learn English to expand their opportunities in America. Upon entering the site, users can choose directions in either English or Spanish and then pick which level they need: beginner or immediate. Once inside the modules, the instruction is almost exclusively in English. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/11/11072008.html.

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Quote to Note

"Today, no group is embracing new technologies more than our young people. More than eight out of 10 teenagers, including my own daughters, report having helped a struggling adult to do something online that the adult could not do for him or herself. But, many students will tell you that when it comes to technology, school is the least advanced part of their day. Our country has done a great job of wiring our classrooms, but we have yet to realize technology's potential to transform the way education is defined and delivered.... Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz note in their recent book, The Race Between Education and Technology, that 'in the first half of the century, education raced ahead of technology, but, later in the century, technology raced ahead of educational gains.' It's high time to balance the equation by using technology to amplify educational opportunity."

        Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (11/14/08), announcing a new white paper on technology on the blog Eduwonk.com

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Upcoming Events

December 5 is International Volunteer Day, an opportunity for individual volunteers and volunteer organizations to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Among those goals are combating disease, hunger, illiteracy, poverty, discrimination against women, and environmental degradation. For more information, please go to http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/.

In December, the Department will be exhibiting at the Association for Career and Technical Education's Annual Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina (December 4-6). If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Rogers Johnson, (202) 401-0026, Rogers.Johnson@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 11/25/2008