NEWSLETTERS
May 8, 2009 ED Review
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 May 8, 2009
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Listening and Learning
H1N1 Flu Virus
ARRA Outreach
Recognition Programs
NAEP Trend Assessments
Progress Report
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Listening and Learning

On May 4, Secretary Duncan officially kicked-off his "Listening and Learning: A Conversation About Education Reform" tour with three events in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. The tour will gather input on the Obama Administration's education agenda, including early childhood learning, standards, teacher quality, higher education, and workforce development. In the morning, the Secretary met with parents and teachers at Bunker Hill Elementary School (Bunker Hill) and had lunch with students and sat down with teachers and administrators at Eagle Intermediate School (Martinsburg). In the afternoon, he held a town hall meeting at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg with students, teachers, administrators, and area employers. "We want to hear directly from people in the classroom about how the federal government can support educators, school districts, and states to drive education reform," the Secretary explained. "Before crafting any education law in Washington, we want to hear from people across America—parents, teachers, and administrators—about the everyday issues and challenges in our schools that need our national attention and full support." Other states targeted for potential events include Alaska, California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. Additional states and events may be added over the course of the tour. Many events will be taped and reports and video summaries will be published on the Department's web site.

Also: The Senate has confirmed the nominations of Russlynn Ali to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Peter Cunningham to be Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, Gabriella Gomez to be Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Carmel Martin to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, and Charles Rose to be General Counsel. Furthermore, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Tony Miller as Deputy Secretary of Education, and Secretary Duncan named Stacey Jordan as the Department's Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

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H1N1 Flu Virus

Over the past two weeks, the Department's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) has been collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the development of guidance on the H1N1 flu virus—with the goal of ensuring it is understandable and workable for the education community. The number of U.S. schools that have closed due to the flu has been relatively small: as of May 5, 726 schools were closed—in a nation of more than 100,000 schools. However, there has been a significant disruption for hundreds of thousands of students, families, teachers, and administrators at these schools. Following CDC's revised guidance, most of these schools will reopen, and most of the students will be able to return to class. (In summary, schools no longer have to close if they have a suspected or actual case of the flu, schools that closed for flu-related reasons may now reopen, and sick students and staff with flu-like symptoms should stay home for a minimum of seven days.) In the meantime, OSDFS continues to closely monitor the situation and update its list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). (Note: The CDC has also issued guidance for institutions of higher education.)

Also: OSDFS's Bill Modzeleski testified yesterday (May 7) at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on how federal agencies can help child care, schools, colleges, and workplaces better prepare for the H1N1 flu virus and future pandemics.

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ARRA Outreach

To spark ideas about how schools and school districts might use American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, particularly under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), Title I, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B, the Department has released a new resource: "Using ARRA Funds to Drive School Reform and Improvement." This document includes framing questions for decision-making and examples of potential uses of funds to improve educational outcomes from early learning through high school. While many districts may need to use a portion of their ARRA funds to save jobs, all schools and districts should be considering how to use these funds to improve student outcomes over the next two years and to advance reforms that will have a long-term impact.

To date, over $7 billion in ARRA funding under the SFSF has been approved for nine states. The latest approved states are Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin. The agency has pledged to release funding within two weeks after receiving acceptable state applications. (Note: Approved state applications are posted online.)

Department ARRA reports—weekly reports, major communications reports, and spending reports—are posted online.

Also: Yesterday (May 7), President Obama released his full Fiscal Year 2010 budget request, including $46.7 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Education. ED Review will summarize the budget request in a future issue.

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Recognition Programs

On April 28, in a Rose Garden ceremony with President Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and Secretary Duncan, high school special education teacher Anthony Mullen was named the 2009 National Teacher of the Year. Mullen, who served as a New York City police officer for 20 years, teaches at The ARCH School (an alternative education branch of Greenwich High School) in Greenwich, Connecticut. Moreover, he mentors fellow teachers, leads a program to provide academic support to students who have been expelled, and is commissioner for a youth baseball league. He is the 59th recipient of the award. The National Teacher of the Year program—a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored by the ING Foundation—designates an outstanding representative from among the 56 State Teachers of the Year (representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, a number of outlying territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity). The winner is selected by a panel of 15 leading national education organizations.

Then, on May 4, the Secretary announced the selection of 2009 Presidential Scholars. The program was established by Executive Order in 1964 to honor academic achievement by graduating high school seniors. It was expanded in 1979 to honor students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the arts. Each year, 141 students are named, including at least one young man and woman from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American families living abroad. Another 15 students are chosen at-large, and 20 students are scholars in the arts. Over 3,000 candidates qualified on the basis of significant ACT or SAT scores or nomination through the national youngARTS competition of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by the President, chooses finalists. Scholars will be recognized June 20-24 in Washington, D.C. Each scholar will invite the teacher who had the greatest impact on his or her success to participate in the activities and receive a certificate of appreciation.

Later that day, the Secretary recognized recipients of the 2009 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, rewarding middle and high school students for outstanding community service.

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NAEP Trend Assessments

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend assessments make it possible to chart educational progress of students ages 9, 13, and 17 since the early 1970s. Results in reading are available for 12 assessments dating back to the first in 1971, and results in mathematics are available for 11 assessments dating back to the first in 1973. The assessment's format, content, and procedures were revised somewhat in 2004 to update content and provide accommodations to students with disabilities and English language learners—but the knowledge and skills assessed remain essentially the same. A nationally representative sample of 26,000 public and private students was assessed in the 2007-08 school year:

  • In reading, average scores increased at all three ages since 2004. Average scores were also 12 points higher than in 1971 for 9-year-olds, and 4 points higher than in 1971 for 13-year-olds. Nevertheless, the average reading score for 17-year-olds was not significantly different from that in 1971.
  • In mathematics, average scores for 9- and 13-year-olds increased since 2004, but the average score for 17-year-olds did not move significantly. Average scores were also 24 points higher than in 1973 for 9-year-olds, and 15 points higher than in 1973 for 13-year-olds. Yet, the average math score for 17-year-olds was not significantly different from that in 1973.
  • In both subjects, racial/ethnic achievement gaps narrowed compared to the first assessments.

"We're pleased to see recent progress among all age groups in reading and among younger age groups in math," Secretary Duncan said in a statement. "We're also pleased to see achievement gaps shrinking in reading, but we still have a lot more work to do. Our focus on raising standards, increasing rigor, and improving teacher quality are all steps in the right direction."

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Progress Report

The Department and Secretary Duncan are set on a "moon-shot" goal to get America on track and return to first in the world in high school and college graduation rates, school readiness, academic achievement, college matriculation and retention, and completion rates. Both the "Obama Effect" and the ARRA are bookends for this unparalleled opportunity to get significantly better. The Department's first progress report elaborates on efforts over the past 100 days to deliver on this promise and to lay the groundwork for the next four years.

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Quote to Note

"We are rightly concerned about the potential impact of this flu. But, as Secretary of Education, I am also concerned about the impact of this flu on learning.... This school year isn't over yet. Don't fall behind your peers at other schools that are still in session. Keep working hard, and we absolutely want to finish this school year strong."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (5/1/09), at a media briefing on the H1N1 flu virus

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Upcoming Events

The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast, on restoring American leadership in higher education, is scheduled for May 19 (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET).

On Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, at 3:00 p.m. local time, Americans are asked to stop what they are doing and spend one minute in a Moment of Remembrance. The mid-afternoon time was chosen because it is when a majority of Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the holiday.

May 11-15, the Department will exhibit at the Federal Asian Pacific American Council's National Leadership Training Conference in Houston. 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—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 06/15/2012