NEWSLETTERS
April 10, 2009 ED Review
Archived Information


 April 10, 2009
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ARRA Outreach
SFSF Metrics
State Data Systems
Title I Regulations
New Appointments
Regional Teacher Initiative
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ARRA Outreach

On April 1, at Doswell E. Brooks Elementary School in suburban Maryland, Secretary Duncan announced the availability of $44 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). "Given our economic circumstances, it's critical that money go out quickly, but it's even more important that it be spent wisely," he said. "The first step toward real and lasting reform that will ensure our students' competitiveness begins with transparency and accountability in how we invest our dollars, educate our children, evaluate our teachers, and measure our success. We must be much more open and honest about what works in the classroom and what doesn't." The initial $44 billion consists of:

  • $32.6 billion (67%) of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF). This includes $26.6 billion to save teacher jobs and improve K-12 and higher education and $6 billion to pay for public safety and other government services (which may also involve education, such as K-12 and higher education facility modernization, renovation, and repair). Funds in this first round will be released within two weeks of receipt of an approved application from the governor. A second round of funds will be released later this year.
  • $5.0 billion (50%) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I, Part A grants to school districts.
  • $5.7 billion (50%) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B grants to states.
  • $200 million (50%) of the IDEA, Part B preschool grants.
  • $250 million (50%) of the IDEA, Part C grants for infants and families.
  • $270 million (50%) of vocational rehabilitation state grants.
  • $18.2 million (100%) of independent living services state grants.
  • $34.3 million (100%) of independent living services for older individuals who are blind.

Note: For each of these programs, the Department has published both a fact sheet and guidance. These documents will be modified as needed based on feedback from the field. Also, the agency has produced tables showing state allocations of all ARRA funding, state allocations of initial ARRA funding, and district allocations of Title I, Part A.

Two days later (April 3), the Secretary hosted more than 150 representatives from education and community groups at the Department for a briefing on the ARRA. "We see an extraordinary opportunity to change students' lives," he stated. "We want to push a dramatic reform agenda. We want to use an unprecedented investment in education to change outcomes and dramatically improve achievement." An archived webcast of this briefing is available online.

Moreover, the next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (April 21, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) will continue the discussion from the previous show by highlighting the ARRA, its potential to save and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and, critically, its promise for generating urgently needed reform in schools across the country. As mentioned previously, the law reserves $5 billion of the SFSF for the Secretary, with a $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund (for states moving forward with bold programs to improve student achievement) and a $650 million "Invest in What Works and Innovation" fund (for districts and non-profit organizations with strong track records of improving student achievement). Applications for these competitive programs will be posted this spring. (You can watch archived webcasts online.)

Note: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced new ARRA funding for Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

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SFSF Metrics

In an April 1 letter to governors, Secretary Duncan outlined a set of proposed metrics that states would use to report on their progress toward the education reforms spelled out in the ARRA. (Note: These metrics focus on the SFSF. Reporting requirements for other programs are detailed in their specific program guidance.) The Department will release these metrics for public comment in the Federal Register this month and then issue a final version. Specifically, the law requires states to show progress on four reform goals: developing college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students; establishing preschool to college and career data systems that track growth and foster continuous improvement (see below); making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students; and providing intensive support and positive interventions for the lowest-performing schools. While it is the Department's expectation that states can and should make progress on each of these metrics, states are not required to demonstrate progress in order to obtain the subsequent round of SFSF funding. The agency is simply asking states to ensure they have in place systems to report on metrics, so that parents, teachers, and policymakers have clear and consistent information about where schools and students stand. Progress will be rewarded through the "Race to the Top" and "Invest in What Works and Innovation" funds.

Also: the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) just issued the second installment of government-wide guidance for carrying out programs and activities under the ARRA. This new guidance supplements, amends, and clarifies the initial guidance issued by OMB on February 18. Updates to the guidance are based on input received from the field.

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State Data Systems

Under the Department's regular appropriations, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has awarded grants to 27 states for the design and implementation of statewide longitudinal data systems. The multi-year value of individual state grants ranges from $2.5 million to $9 million for projects that will extend for three to five years; the full, multi-year value of all 27 state grants is $150 million. These systems are intended to enhance the ability of states to accurately and effectively manage, analyze, and utilize education data, including individual student records.

Also: IES has unveiled a new version of its National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Explorer. The new tool takes advantage of the latest technology to present users with a easier interface, enhanced analysis selections, and improved reporting options to aid researchers, policymakers, and the public in investigating the results from NAEP assessments. NAEP is commonly called the Nation's Report Card.

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Title I Regulations

In an April 1 letter to Chief State School Officers, Secretary Duncan proposed some changes to the Title I regulations issued by the previous administration in October 2008. "On the whole, these regulations support the educational goals for which I will advocate as Secretary—greater transparency, particularly for parents; flexibility in return for accountability; improved assessment and data systems to better track the growth of students and improve instruction; and increased focus on high school graduation," he explained. "I have decided to propose changes [either by issuing new regulations or waivers] in a few of the regulations, while leaving the majority of these regulations in effect." For example, the Secretary is proposing a change to a 2002 regulation that bars states from approving a school or district that is identified in need of improvement, corrective action, or restructuring as a provider of supplemental educational services (SES). On the other hand, he called regulations related to the high school graduation rate an "important first step."

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New Appointments

President Obama intends to nominate Martha Kanter as Under Secretary of Education and John Easton as Director of the Institute of Education Sciences. Kanter currently serves as Chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in California, one of the largest such districts in the country with 44,000 students. Previously, she served as Vice President of Instruction and Student Services at San Jose City College, where she was once a teacher and created the school's first program for students with learning disabilities. She has also served as a Director, Dean, and Vice Chancellor for Policy and Research of the California Colleges Chancellor's Office. She earned her B.A. from Brandeis University, her M.Ed. from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. from the University of San Francisco. Easton currently serves as Executive Director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago, which conducts research to inform and assess policy and practice in the Chicago Public Schools. Over the years, he has held various positions in the Chicago Public Schools. He has also served as Director of Research at the Center for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning at City Colleges of Chicago. He got his B.A. from Hobert College, his M.S. from Western Washington University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

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Regional Teacher Initiative

Four of the Department's Classroom Teaching Ambassadors (hailing from Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) have launched a new effort—the New England Regional Teacher Leadership Initiative—to help teachers have a voice in policy development. The initiative encourages teachers within the region to network and learn more about educational policymaking on the federal, state, and local levels so that they can participate in shaping policies that work. The ambassadors, with the full support of the agency's Regional Office in Boston, held a one-day conference to discuss inclusion, building community partnerships, and developing teacher leaders. They were joined by approximately 25 teachers from New England, including state Teachers of the Year and other national award-winning teachers.

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Quote to Note

"We understand that states across America face serious financial challenges, and we will work closely with you to meet them. But we also face enormous educational challenges that can only be met through our collective efforts to identify and address the educational needs of our students. We want to be as flexible as possible in our approach, while remaining united in our larger goal of producing the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. Our role is to be a partner and a resource to you as you work to balance your budget"while advancing these essential reforms in our nation's schools so that every child in America can receive a complete and competitive education—from cradle through career."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (4/1/09), in a letter to the nation's governors on the ARRA

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Upcoming Events

U.S. Airways has joined with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) for a second year to celebrate the wonder of reading through the "Fly with US. Read with Kids." campaign. The effort (spanning April 1 to June 30) features an online "Read with Kids Challenge." Last year, more than 16,000 participants logged 3.8 million minutes of reading; this year, the goal is five million minutes of reading.

National Environmental Education Week (April 12-18) promotes understanding and protection of the natural world by actively engaging K-12 students and educators of all subjects in an inspired week of learning and serving before Earth Day. This year's theme is "Be Water Wise!" Registered partners gain access to a variety of free environmental education resources, including a school water auditing tool and water quality monitoring resources.

The Department-hosted National Charter Schools Teacher Institute (June 21, immediately preceding the National Charter Schools Conference) offers teachers a free opportunity to participate in high-quality professional development designed to provide the classroom support, technical assistance, and increased collaboration needed to assure academic success for all students.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting in Washington, DC (April 22-25). If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Last Modified: 06/14/2012