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October 16, 2009 ED Review
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 October 16, 2009
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ARRA Outreach
Elevating the Teaching Profession
Conversation on Values
Promoting Student Well-Being
NAEP 2009: Math Assessment
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ARRA Outreach

On October 6, Secretary Duncan announced the Department's proposed priorities for grants under the $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund. The fund—part of the historic, $5 billion investment in school reform in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)—will support efforts to start or expand research-based innovative programs that improve student achievement for high-need students. Eligible applicants include school districts and non-profit organizations in partnership with districts or schools. Applicants must address one or more of the core reforms embedded in the ARRA (absolute priority). Applicants might also address other aspects of the President's education agenda: improving early learning outcomes; supporting college access and success; and better serving the learning needs of students with disabilities, English language learners, and students in rural districts (competitive preference).

Under the proposed priorities, grants would be awarded in three categories:

  • Scale-Up Grants. This largest possible grant category (up to $50 million) is focused on programs and practices with the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of students. Applicants must have a strong base of evidence that their program has had a significant effect on improving student achievement.
  • Validation Grants. This next grant category (up to $30 million) is focused on programs that have good evidence of their impact and are ready to expand within their own and other communities.
  • Development Grants. This final grant category (up to $5 million) is designed to support new and high-potential practices whose impact should be studied further.

All grant recipients will be required to match federal funds with public or private funds and demonstrate how their programs will be sustainable after their federal grants are completed.

The Department is currently collecting public comment on the proposed priorities (through November 9). The plan is to publish a final application in late winter/early spring 2010, accepting proposals in the spring. All the funding must be obligated by September 30, 2010. (Note: Among the resources online, there is a recording of a webinar led by Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton discussing the proposed priorities.)

Also: The Department recently revised its guidance for recipients of ARRA financial assistance that clarifies and elaborates on the Office of Management and Budget's Section 1512 reporting guidance.

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Elevating the Teaching Profession

Days later (October 9), the Secretary told students from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education that they are answering a call that is as important as any career available to them now and in the future. "To make the American dream of equal educational opportunity a reality, we need to recruit, train, learn from, reward, and honor a new generation of talented teachers," he said. "This call to teaching as a great public mission of our time is very much in keeping with Thomas Jefferson's own views of education.... I believe [teachers] are absolutely the unsung heroes of our society. There is a reason why so many people remember a favorite teacher, even decades later. A great teacher can change the course of a student's life. They light a lifelong curiosity, a desire to explore, and a hunger for knowledge. It's no surprise that studies document that the single biggest influence on student achievement is the quality of the teacher standing in the front of that classroom." The Obama Administration considers elevating the teaching profession and expanding the pool of talent as critical to closing the achievement gap and promoting the nation's long-term prosperity. As such, the Secretary will speak with teachers as well as teacher candidates three times this month. Next, on October 20, he will convene a group of teachers from the Washington, D.C., metro area for a virtual town hall meeting on evaluating the teaching profession. Then, on October 22, he will deliver a speech at Columbia University's Teachers College on the needs of the country's colleges of education.

Also: This week, the Secretary delivered remarks at the Wallace Foundation's Annual Conference, saluting school principals and emphasizing the importance of quality leadership in promoting education excellence.

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Conversation on Values

In the wake of the fatal beating of a Chicago high school student, Secretary Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder met with students, parents, city officials, and community leaders and issued a call for a national conversation on values to address youth violence. "Youth violence isn't a Chicago problem, any more than it is a black problem or a white problem," the Attorney General stated. "It's something that affects communities big and small and people of all races and colors. Today is the beginning of what will be a sustained, national effort on behalf of this administration to address youth violence and to make our streets safe for everyone." The Secretary announced that the Department is working with Chicago Public Schools to award a $500,000 grant to help Fenger High School and the elementary and middle schools that feed into Fenger restore learning environments. Funds for this grant are from a program entitled Project SERV—School Emergency Response to Violence. (SERV grants have also been awarded to districts in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York this year.) However, "This is not about the money," the Secretary explained. "Money alone will never solve the problem. It's about our values. It's about who we are as a society. And it's about taking responsibility for our young people to teach them what they need to know to live side-by-side and deal with their differences—without anger and violence."

Also: Underscoring the nationwide challenge, the Department of Justice released a new survey that found more than one in 10 children 14- to 17-years-old said they had witnessed a shooting in the past year.

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Promoting Student Well-Being

  • Last week, Secretary Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Jay Butler, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) H1N1 Vaccine Task Force, joined students receiving the H1N1 vaccine at a school-based clinic in Dodge Park Elementary School (Landover, Maryland) and issued guidance on setting up a school-based clinic.

  • This week, Secretary Duncan, his wife Karen, and members of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team visited D.C. Prep Edgewood elementary and middle school campuses in northeast Washington, D.C., to commemorate National School Lunch Week. ("Fueled and Fit: Ready to Learn" is the Department-led campaign to highlight the research-based connection between proper physical fitness and nutrition and student achievement. The idea is that healthy bodies equal active and creative minds. Department officials will be visiting schools over the next six weeks to highlight the importance of wellness.)

  • To celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is highlighting projects and initiatives funded by OSERS' Office of Special Education Programs, Rehabilitation Services Administration, and National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitative Research.

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NAEP 2009: Math Assessment

The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2009 details the achievement of fourth- and eighth-grade students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), administered by the Department earlier this year. The report compares national results in 2009 with every prior assessment year back to 1990 and state results back to 1992 at grade 4 and 1990 at grade 8. For the first time since the assessment began, fourth-graders showed no overall increase at the national level, although scores were significantly higher in 2009 than 1990. Among eighth-graders, scores were higher when compared to both 1990 and 2007. These nationwide patterns held for most student subgroups, and none of the achievement gaps in either grade narrowed from 2007 to 2009. Further, compared to 2007, scores in four states and the District of Columbia increased in both grades, scores in three states increased in grade 4 only, and scores in 10 states increased in grade 8 only. Scores decreased in four states in grade 4. No states showed declines in grade 8. (The Secretary's statement on the report card is available online.)

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Odds and Ends

  • On October 5, Secretary Duncan was interviewed on the Colbert Report. Before the show, he and Stephen Colbert played a game of horse outside the studio. Highlights include bank shots off a wall, an apparent foul by the Secretary, and an long shot Colbert sank from the studio steps.

  • Earlier that day, the Senate confirmed the nominations of Alexa Posny as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and Brenda Dann-Messier as Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.

  • Yesterday (October 15), the Secretary joined President Obama and three other Cabinet officials for a discussion on rebuilding and recovery in New Orleans.

  • The Department recently announced $11.25 million in grants for 29 projects to aid working adults and displaced workers pursuing degrees and credentials in community colleges.

  • "Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in the U.S.: Fall 2008, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2007-08, and 12-Month Enrollment: 2007-08," a series of First Look reports prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), uses Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System fall 2008 data to examine institutions by a variety of characteristics. For example, during the 2008-09 academic year, in-state undergraduates at public four-year schools paid an average of $6,070 for tuition and fees, while out-of-state undergraduates paid more than twice that amount (an average of $14,378).

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Quote to Note

"Our role in Washington is to support education reform by bolstering efforts to set high standards, by encouraging bold approaches to helping struggling schools, and by reducing the dropout rate, closing achievement gaps, and boosting college access. All of this must lead to more students completing college. Exactly how we are going to accomplish all of these ambitious goals is an important federal, state, and local conversation that lies ahead.... I recognize that we have a lot of work to do at both the federal and state level. It won't be easy. We won't always agree on the path to take. But we will move forward, working together in our country's unique federalist experiment."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (10/16/09), in remarks to State Board of Education members

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Upcoming Events

Don't forget! Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Carmel Martin and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Thelma Melendez are hosting a series of events at the Department's headquarters (400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.) where stakeholders can offer input on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). For an up-to-date event schedule and registration, please go to. (Note: Stakeholders are also invited to send comments to ESEA.Comments@ed.gov.)

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest award a K-12 math or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the U.S. The President officially names up to 108 teachers annually. Awards alternate between elementary and secondary teachers—with elementary teachers eligible in 2010—and are given to teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the outlying territories, and Department of Defense schools. The deadline for 2010 award nominations is May 1, 2010.

Next week, the Department will exhibit at the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention in Indianapolis (October 21-24). If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Last Modified: 06/15/2012