Transforming Higher Education
Holiday Book Donation
Title I Monitoring Reports
Discretionary Grant Priorities
Quote to Note
Transforming Higher Education
On December 2, Secretary Spellings addressed the Federal Student Aid Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. "[W]ith just a few weeks left in my tenure, I would love to stand up here and tout our accomplishments," she began. "But, I can't. I have to be honest. Yes, we've done many good things together. We've made some important reforms. But, there's still a lot of work to do. Our students face a perfect storm: growing admission anxieties, rising tuition costs, and a historic credit crisis. In these rough seas, education is their lifeline to a better future. We've got to do everything we can to make sure it doesn't slip away." In the first half of her remarks, the Secretary recapped the many steps the Administration has taken to help students, from ensuring they have access to financial aid regardless of market conditions (see http://www.ed.gov/students/college/aid/ecasla-facts.html) to raising the maximum Pell Grant (from $3,700 to $4,700). Later, she turned her attention to needed reforms in the student lending process, detailing the current, lengthy steps for a fictional student, Susie Smith, to obtain financial aid. "You'd think we were trying to keep Susie out of college!" she noted. "In a good economy, this is inconvenient, at best. In a downturn, it's downright unacceptable." Yet, reform requires Congressional action. Therefore, "within the next few weeks, at Congress's request, I'll send them a report outlining my recommendations," the Secretary said, outlining five core principles: (1) the system exists for one reason: to serve students and families; (2) federal aid should always target the neediest students first; (3) eligibility should be based on income and family size, because those are reasonable, understandable variables; (4) students should get the same amount of aid, regardless of which school they enroll in; and (5) federal, state, and local policymakers should work in tandem to put the consumer first. "I am sure President-elect [Barack] Obama can empathize," she concluded. "He paid off his last student loan in January 200413 years after earning his law degree." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/12/12022008.html.
Also: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education recently released "Measuring Up 2008," its biennial national and state-by-state report card on higher education. Performance is evaluated, compared, and graded in six areas: preparation for college, participation, affordability, completion, benefits, and learning. In assessing progress in these areas, the report card also places the performance of American higher education in a global perspective by incorporating international comparisons wherever possible. For more information, please go to http://measuringup2008.highereducation.org/.
Holiday Book Donation
On December 3, at W. W. Ashurst Elementary School on Marine Corps Base Quantico (Virginia), Deputy Secretary Ray Simon joined Lt. General Pete Osman, USMC (ret.), President and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, to announce the donation of more than 12,000 free, new books as part of the Department's 2008 Holiday Book Donation. These books will be distributed to underprivileged children across the country through the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program (see http://www.toysfortots.org/). This donation is the latest in a multi-year effort by the Department, the non-profit entity First Book, and major U.S. publishing companies to promote literacy and provide new, age-appropriate books to children in need. The campaign began in 2006 with the distribution of books to schools, libraries, and communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Since June 2006, campaign partners and contributors have collaborated to distribute nearly three million children's books. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/bookcampaign/.
Also: On base, Deputy Secretary Simon and the Department of Defense's Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools Director, Elaine Beraza, discussed the unique Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed this year to strengthen partnership activities serving the needs of children of military families. The MOU defines the basis on which the agencies will work togetherwith school districtsto strengthen and expand school-based programs to ease student transitions and help students develop academic skills and coping strategies during parental deployments. Of the nation's 1.2 million school-age military students, only 8% attend Defense-run schools; the vast majority attend America's public and private schools. For more information, http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=12014.
Title I Monitoring Reports
To assist states, the Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) has issued two new reports regarding its monitoring of the Title I program for disadvantaged students. The 2003-2006 Monitoring Cycle Report offers six general observations about the outcomes of the first cycle of Title I monitoring under the No Child Left Behind Act. Monitoring during this cycle was structured around three broad areas: accountability, instructional support, and fiduciary responsibilities. Over the three years, some changes, based on experience using the monitoring protocol and in response to key developments in the policy environment and field, were made to the monitoring procedures and indicators. The 2008-2009 Monitoring Indicators Report describes the purpose, rationale, and process used for monitoring in the current school year. Because of monitoring, the agency is able to gather accurate data about state and local needs and use that data to design national leadership activities and technical assistance initiatives. Thus, monitoring serves not only as a vehicle for helping states achieve high quality implementation of educational programs, it also helps the agency be a better partner with states in that effort. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/monitoring/.
Discretionary Grant Priorities
In a November 21 Federal Register notice (http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/finrule/2008-4/112108b.html), Secretary Spellings announced the continued usein Fiscal Year 2009of priorities the Department had established for use in any discretionary grant program competition in FY 2007 and FY 2008. "We take this action," she explained, "in order to focus federal financial assistance on expanding the number of programs and projects that support activities in areas of greatest educational need. We are continuing these priorities on a Department-wide basis so that Department offices can use one or more of them in any discretionary grant competition, as appropriate." Those areas of greatest need are: (1) math; (2) science; (3) critical-need languages (Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, and those in the Indic, Iranian, and Turkic language families); (4) secondary schools; (5) professional development for secondary school teachers; (6) school districts with schools in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring; (7) student achievement data; and (8) state data systems.
Also: Be sure to review the FY 2009 Grants Forecast (as of November 26) at http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/find/edlite-forecast.html, which lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the Department has invited or expects to invite applications for awards and provides actual or estimated dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs. The lists are in the form of chartsorganized by program officeand will be updated regularly through July 2009. (Note: This document is advisory only and not an official application notice of the U.S. Department of Education.)
Check out these studies from the Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and affiliates:
"Rigor and Relevance Redux" (http://ies.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=IES20096010), the third and final Director's Biennial Report to Congress prepared by IES head Grover Whitehurst. Required under the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, the report includes a description of the activities of IES and its four national education centers and a summary of all IES grants and contracts over the period in excess of $100,000. The report also includes the director's recommendations for continued progress and effectiveness of IES. (Note: Whitehurst's last day at IES was November 21. He has been named incoming director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.)
"National Board for Education Sciences' (NBES) Five-Year Report (2003-08)" (http://ies.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=NBES20096011) is NBES's own evaluation of IES. NBES examined the ways in which and the extent to which IES has been successful in advancing the rigor and improving the relevance of education research and facilitating evidence-based decision-making. "Over the past six years, a new direction has been set for education research," NBES states. "We now need to stay on course to arrive at this destination."
"Expectations and Reports of Homework for Public School Students in the First-, Third- and Fifth-Grades" (http://ies.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2009033), from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), explores expectations for time spent on homework (as reported by teachers) and time spent doing homework (as reported by parents). In general, the amount of homework that teachers expected students to complete and parents reported their children did on a typical evening increased with the grade level. Indeed, 21% of first-graders were expected to complete at least 30 minutes of reading homework, compared to 31% of third-graders and 53% of fifth-graders. And, 38% of first-graders did homework five or more times a week, compared to 47% of third-graders and 51% of fifth-graders.
Also: According to the Data Quality Campaign's third annual report, six states have all 10 elements of a comprehensive data system that can track student progress from pre-kindergarten through college, and 48 states have at least half the elements. Moreover, 42 states (compared to 14 in 2005) have the systems necessary to calculate a longitudinal graduation rate. For more information, please go to http://www.dataqualitycampaign.org/files/news-dqc_marks_3_years-111508.pdf.
In response to the "Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy" (see http://www.hhs.gov/vtreport.html), the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services just issued "Joint Guidance on the Application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to Student Health Records." This guidance addresses the interplay between FERPA and the HIPAA Privacy Rule at elementary and secondary levels, as well as at the postsecondary level, and addresses many of the questions raised by school officials, health care professionals, and others regarding the applicability of these laws to records maintained on students. It also addresses certain disclosures that are allowed without consent or authorization under both laws, especially those related to health and safety emergency situations. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/doc/ferpa-hipaa-guidance.pdf.
Quote to Note
"Let me make one other point. It is not unreasonable to expect our K-12 education system to prepare these young students for college. There is nothing sadder than seeing students graduate from high school, sometimes with honors, only to learn that they must take remedial courses to get up to speed. Many of these students are African-American or Hispanic and attend high-poverty, inner-city public schools. What does it say when we tolerate an achievement gap between these students and their peers? What does it say when African-Americans (ages 25 to 29) are half as likely to earn a college degree and Hispanics are about three times less likely? What does it say when we are not challenging these schools to change their ways or close their doors?"
|||Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (12/2/08), speaking at the Federal Student Aid Conference|
On December 9, at 10:00 a.m. ET, NCES will release results from the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), comparing the math and science achievement of U.S. fourth- and eighth-grade students with students from other countries. TIMSS data was previously collected in 1995, 1999, and 2003. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/timss/.
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