NEWSLETTERS
January 16, 2009 ED Review
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 January 16, 2009
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Great Expectations
NCLB Update
Supplemental Student Aid
Early Literacy Development
Charter School Facilities
Going Forward
Quotes to Note
Upcoming Events

Great Expectations

On January 8, in his last policy speech, President Bush discussed his record on education and pressed Congress to reauthorize a robust No Child Left Behind Act at General Philip Kearny School in Philadelphia. "Seven years ago, today, I had the honor of signing a bill that forever changed America's school systems," he said. "I firmly believe that, thanks to [the No Child Left Behind Act], more students are learning and the achievement gap is closing. And, on this anniversary, I have come to talk about why we need to keep the law strong." In his remarks, the President addressed common complaints about the law, but he stressed that there was "no debate about the results." Specifically, he cited having accountability plans in place in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, disaggregated data, a clear focus on the achievement gap, highly qualified teachers, and research-proven strategies for reading instruction. As evidence of success, he also referenced the new Teacher Incentive Fund, supplemental educational services, and increased numbers of charter schools. "The most important result of No Child Left Behind is this: fewer students are falling behind, and more students are achieving high standards." Then, in closing, the President urged Congress to reauthorize the law—without undermining its core principles. "There is a growing consensus across the country that now is not the time to water down standards or roll-back accountability," he said. "And, I call upon those who can determine the fate of No Child Left Behind... to stay strong in the face of criticism, to not weaken the law—because, in so weakening the law, you weaken the chance for a child to succeed in America—but to strengthen the law for the sake of every child." For more information, please go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2009/
01/20090108-2.html
. (Note: A White House fact sheet on education is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2009/
01/20090108.html
.)

Joining President Bush in Philadelphia, Secretary Spellings released Great Expectations, a new, well-referenced document which examines the history of public education in the U.S. and how students once left behind are now making progress. "Great Expectations explores education's evolution in America from a privilege for a few to a necessity for all. It tells the story of a remarkable comeback by our nation's students, who are achieving record high test scores in reading and math and reveals the reforms that have led to these results," she stated. "Most importantly, Great Expectations reminds us that our work has just begun—we cannot turn back or slow down. In fact, we must pick up the pace to ensure a quality education for all." The publication is divided into the following eight sections: (1) History of Expectations, (2) Search for Accountability, (3) Education as Civil Right, (4) Doing What Works, (5) Recognizing and Rewarding Teachers, (6) Higher Education That Aims Higher, (7) New Choices for a New Century, and (8) What's Next? For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/importance/greatexpectations/. (Note: A Department fact sheet on Great Expectations is available at http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/importance/greatexpectations/
factsheet.html
.)

Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, the Secretary penned a letter to her successor. Her concluding advice? "Many in Washington will judge you on your popularity with adults. If some adults are made uncomfortable by your policies, so be it. The needs of children must come first." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/opeds/edit/2009/01132009.html.

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NCLB Update

Tying up some loose ends, the Department issued official letters to every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico on the status of some No Child Left Behind cornerstones, including assessments, accountability, and flexibility. In addition, states received a spreadsheet, specifying where each state stands on these issues, and an updated fact sheet on state standards and assessments. To date, 39 states have implemented high-quality standards and assessment systems that have received either "full approval" or "approval with recommendations" from the agency. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/cornerstones/.

At the same time, the Secretary announced the approval of several state proposals under the Department's growth model and differentiated accountability pilot programs. First, four additional states (Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas) are approved to implement growth-based accountability models (see http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/01/01082009a.html). Colorado and Minnesota are immediately approved to use their models this school year, while Pennsylvania and Texas are conditionally approved, assuming they satisfy requirements related to their assessment and accountability systems. Growth models allow states to receive credit for improving individual students' performance over time—but retain the No Child Left Behind core principles of annual assessment, disaggregation of data, and grade-level proficiency for all students by 2013-2014. Fifteen states have now been approved to implement growth models. Second, three additional states (Arkansas, Louisiana, and New York) may differentiate between underperforming schools in need of dramatic interventions and those that are closer to meeting the goals of No Child Left Behind (see http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/01/01082009b.html). The law currently treats all schools in improvement similarly. Differentiated accountability permits states to vary the intensity and type of interventions to match the academic reasons that led to a school's identification. Nine states have now been approved to implement differentiated accountability. For both pilots, the Department used a rigorous peer review process to ensure that the selections were fair and transparent.

Also, the Department's Policy and Program Studies Services recently published new evaluation studies on state and local implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act:

  • "Targeting and Uses of Federal Education Funds" (http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/disadv/nclb-targeting/) examines how well federal funds are targeted to schools and school districts serving economically disadvantaged students, how Title I targeting has changed over the past seven years, how districts have spent federal funds, and the base of state and local resources to which federal funds are added. Key finding? Federal funds were more strongly targeted to high-poverty districts than were state and local funds. However, the higher level of federal funding in high-poverty districts was not sufficient to close the funding gap between high- and low-poverty districts.
  • "Title I School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services" (http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/choice/nclb-choice-ses-final/) supplies updated information on the implementation and usage of choice options offered to students in Title I schools identified for improvement. Key finding? The number of students eligible for and participating in public school choice or supplemental educational services (SES) have increased substantially, although, nationwide, participation rates remained stable at 1% and 17%, respectively. (Note: The Department just released non-regulatory guidance on implementing public school choice and SES. This guidance updates and expands upon previous versions of guidance, covering issues related to the new Title I regulations and including information on other major policy guidance the agency has released during the last few years. See http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/
    01/01142009.html
    .)
  • "Implementation of the [Students with Disabilities] 1% Rule and 2% Interim Policy Options" (http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/disadv/nclb-disab/) presents findings about the implementation of regulations and guidelines issued under No Child Left Behind providing greater flexibility for the treatment of certain students with disabilities in state assessment and accountability systems. Key finding? Most states with sound data reported that less than 10% of tested students with disabilities participated in an alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards.
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Supplemental Student Aid

Participation in the Department's Academic Competitiveness (AC) and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) grant programs grew by 28% in the 2007-08 academic year, with 95,000 more students receiving grants than in 2006-07. For 2007-08, a total of 401,372 students received $297,604,911 in AC grants and 66,120 students received $195,474,710 in SMART grants. Both of these programs were created in 2006 as part of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative. They aim to increase college access and completion for low-income students by providing additional funds to students eligible for a Pell Grant. First-year students who have fulfilled a rigorous high school course of study are eligible to receive an AC grant up to $750; students who attain a 3.0 grade point average as freshman are eligible to receive up to $1,300 as a sophomore. SMART grants up to $4,000 are awarded to juniors and seniors studying math, science, technology, engineering, or a critical foreign language and sustaining a 3.0 grade point average in their major. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/smart/performance.html.

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Early Literacy Development

Last week, at the National Press Club, the National Institute for Literacy released "Developing Early Literacy." This report, developed by the nine-member National Early Literacy Panel (NELP), bridges the large gap in the early literacy research knowledge base. By synthesizing research on language, literacy, and communication, it clearly identifies which critical early skills/abilities and proven instructional practices are precursors of later literacy achievement. (According to the findings, among the best early predictors of literacy are alphabet knowledge, phonemic awareness, rapid naming skills, writing [such as writing one's own name], and short-term memory for words said aloud.) It also tenders clues and insights into emergent literacy from birth through age 5 and points the way for future literacy research and scientific inquiry. The National Institute for Literacy convened the NELP in 2002 with support from the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. For more information, please go to http://www.nifl.gov/nifl/NELP/NELP09.html.

Also: Turning the issue of literacy development on its head, the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has unveiled a new web tool with estimates of the percentage of adults—for all states and counties in the U.S.—who lack basic prose literacy skills. The web tool allows for comparisons to be made between two states, two counties, and across data years. Estimates were developed using statistical models that related estimated percentages of adults lacking basic literacy skills in counties sampled for the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy to county characteristics, such as levels of educational attainment. For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/naal/estimates/.

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Charter School Facilities

Earlier this week, the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) released the latest guide in its popular "Innovations in Education" series, "Making Charter School Facilities More Affordable: State-Driven Policy Approaches." This guide, which complements earlier charter school guides, profiles policy interventions from eight states and the District of Columbia that have been developed to help charter schools address various facilities-related challenges. While the guide does not describe every effort, it details how some jurisdictions have dedicated funding streams to support charter facilities and how others have helped charter school operators access relatively low-cost financing to buy, lease, or renovate school buildings. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/comm/choice/charterfacilities/.

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Going Forward

On January 20, our nation will observe the transition from one presidential administration to the next. Like all other recurring publications of the Department, ED Review will be on hiatus as it is evaluated by the incoming administration. We expect either ED Review or another resource will be available in the near future to provide you updates on Department activities. In the interim, we strongly encourage you to visit http://www.ed.gov/ and check the headlines. Thank you for your patience.

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Quotes to Note

"I have seen the resolve for reform and the belief in high standards in Chicago, where reading and math scores are soaring, and where every child still has time to study a foreign language and the fine arts. The school in Chicago we went to [Horace Greeley Elementary School], like other schools across the city, have benefited from the vision and leadership of a person named Arne Duncan. And, he is going to be the next Secretary of Education. We are fortunate he has agreed to take on this position. We wish him all the very best."

        President George W. Bush (1/8/09), on the seventh anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act

"You need no lessons from me on toughness and tenacity. Not only did you achieve results for Chicago's schoolchildren, but you did it in the face of steady criticism. You stuck to your guns on merit pay for teachers who showed results. You expanded charter schools when others wanted to limit them. And, you closed chronically underperforming schools so that they could be restructured. I am confident that you will bring this attitude to Washington."

        Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (1/9/09), in a letter to the Secretary of Education-Designate

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Upcoming Events

Don't forget! The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (January 20, 8:00-9:00 ET) will look back at some of the most engaging topics explored on recent shows from the "fresh" point of view of the Teaching Ambassador Fellows. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/edtv/. (You can watch archived webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)

Next month, the Department will exhibit at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education's Annual Meeting in Chicago (February 6-8); the National Association for Bilingual Education's Annual Conference in Austin (February 18-21); the American Association of School Administrators' National Conference in San Francisco (February 19-21); the National Title I Conference in San Antonio (February 19-22); and the National Association of Secondary School Principals' Annual Convention in San Diego (February 26-28). If you are attending any 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: 06/14/2012