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December 11, 2009 ED Review
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 December 11, 2009 (Happy Holidays!)
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ARRA Outreach (School Improvement Grants)
ARRA Outreach (Reporting)
FSA Conference
NAEP 2009: Math Assessment
Open Government
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Editor's Note

This is the last issue of ED Review for 2009. Publication will resume January 8, 2010. I wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

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ARRA Outreach (School Improvement Grants)

On December 3, after a public comment period, Secretary Duncan announced the final requirements for $3.5 billion in Title I School Improvement Grants to turn-around the nation's lowest-performing schools. "As a country, we all need to get into the turn-around business," the Secretary said. "Today, we are providing $3.5 billon and four models that have proven results so that school districts, unions, charter operators, universities, and the business community can come together to turn around our nation's lowest-performing schools. Adults need the courage to make these tough decisions and do right by our children." These funds are made available to states by formula (applications are now available and due no later than February 8, 2010) and competed for by districts. As they compete for the funding, districts must identify the schools they want to transform and then determine which of the models is most appropriate.

The models include:

  • Turnaround: replace principal, rehire no more than 50% of staff, and grant principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in budgeting, staffing, and time) to implement a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
  • Restart: convert or close and reopen under a charter operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
  • Closure: close and enroll students who attended the school in other schools within the district that are higher-achieving.
  • Transformation: implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) boost learning time and create community schools; and (4) supply both operational flexibility and sustained support.

Title I School Improvement Grants are funded by $546 million in the Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations and $3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funds will be spent over the next three years. The Department is also making available the 5% in administrative funds for states, to assist with planning and program activities related to grants implementation.

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ARRA Outreach (Reporting)

Today, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is expected to release updates to its guidance on ARRA reporting requirements. The Department will post this information as soon as it becomes available. The next reporting period (covering October 1 through December 31, 2009) begins January 1, 2010.

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FSA Conference

Last week, the Secretary joined more than 6,000 officials from colleges and universities in Nashville for the Department's annual Federal Student Aid (FSA) Conference. In a morning keynote address, he outlined the Obama Administration's higher education agenda and its plans to improve college completion. Specifically, he emphasized the administration's commitment to college aid and assistance programs, calling it the "biggest investment in student aid since the GI Bill," and praised the House passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. That legislation authorizes up to $87 billion for student aid over the next decade, including $40 billion for mandatory inflation-indexed Pell Grants and $10 billion to strengthen community colleges. The Secretary also discussed the need to eliminate "prohibitive, time-consuming administrative hurdles" by streamlining the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), working with the Internal Revenue Service to electronically retrieve tax return data, and reducing the paperwork for financial aid administrators. Furthermore, the administration proposes saving Americans billions of dollars by transitioning all student loans to the Direct Loans program.

Note: The total number of postsecondary awards below a bachelor's degree (either certificates or associate's degrees) increased 28% to 1.5 million between 1997 and 2007. Indeed, in 2007, 40% of undergraduate credentials conferred by institutions participating in federal financial aid programs were below the bachelor's degree. And while community colleges still account for the largest share of these credentials (58%), the share conferred by private, for-profit institutions increased from 24% in 1997 to 29% in 2007.

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NAEP 2009: Math Assessment

The Nation's Report Card: Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) Mathematics 2009 describes results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in math for 18 urban districts from across the country. Representative samples of 1,800 to 4,300 fourth- and eighth-grade public school students from the 18 districts participated in the 2009 assessment. Eleven of the districts also participated in the 2005 and 2007 assessments, and 10 districts participated in 2003. Among the results:

  • In comparison to 2007, scores improved in 2 districts, at each grade, in 2009. Scores did not change for the remaining 9 districts that participated in 2007.
  • Five districts in both fourth- and eighth-grade had higher scores than large cities nationally in 2009.
  • When compared to 2003, the 2009 average math scores were higher in 8 out of 10 districts in fourth-grade, as well as 9 out of 10 districts in eighth-grade.
  • When compared to 2003, the 2009 average math scores were higher for Hispanic fourth-graders in 7 out of 10 districts. Over the same period, white and black fourth-graders achieved higher scores in 5 districts.

TUDA reading results, traditionally released with TUDA math results, will be released later. Revised reading frameworks for the 2009 assessment required some additional analysis. NAEP is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the TUDA math results, noting the mixed picture, is available online.)

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Open Government

Secretary Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education have embraced President Obama's vision of an open government. The Secretary has traveled the country to listen to people's ideas for education reform, and the Department is using technology to keep the public informed and engaged. For example, in 2009, the Secretary and his senior staff traveled across the country on a "Listening and Learning" Tour, asking for the public's ideas on how to improve the current Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Secretary held events in every corner of the U.S., from inner-city Detroit and a community school in Orlando to rural villages in Alaska and an Indian reservation in Montana. He also hosted a televised town hall meeting with teachers. By the end of the year, a representative of the agency will have visited every state to hold public meetings. Moreover, the Department has used its web site in innovative ways to provide information about the tour and ask for input. These efforts have included a blog, which invites comments on topics the Secretary has discussed at tour events. Some blog entries resulted in hundreds of comments. The Secretary initiated follow-up conversations with teachers and others who made comments on his blog.

Note: The Secretary latest tour stop was Luke C. Moore Academy Senior High School in Northeast Washington, D.C.

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Odds and Ends

  • Recently, Secretary Duncan spoke with journalist Gwen Ifill to kick-off the Aspen Institute's "Innovation Economy Conference," which featured forums on how American policymakers, businesses, and public citizens could drive the long-term growth of the U.S. economy.

  • A new report by the National Center on Time and Learning finds that a growing number of U.S. schools (655 schools in 36 states serving over 300,000 students) have broken from the traditional school calendar and expanded learning time to improve educational outcomes. The report is based on a database developed by the organization—the first effort to catalogue schools operating substantially longer than the standard six-hour school day and, in many cases, the standard 180-day school year. On average, the schools offer 25% more time than the national norm, which translates, over the course of a school career, to three additional years in school for all participating students.

  • According to the latest annual report released by the Data Quality Campaign, every state is on track to have a longitudinal data system that follows student progress from preschool through college by 2011. Indeed, 11 states now have all 10 essential elements of a longitudinal data system, an improvement from 6 states in 2008. However, many states still lack critical elements that could better inform policy discussions.

  • "Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2009," by NCES and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, presents the most current available data on school crime and school safety. Students ages 12-18 were victims of about 1.5 million crimes in 2007, with some 55% of these crimes reported as thefts and the rest reported as violent crimes—ranging from simple assault to serious violence. Regarding the safety of students at school: in each year during the period 1992-93 to 2006-07, there were at least 50 times as many homicides away from school than at school, and at least 150 times as many suicides away from school than at school.

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Quote to Note

"Today, I'm calling on state lawmakers to rethink and rewrite the hundreds of pages of state code that limit the ability of school districts to succeed in promoting student learning, especially in our lowest-performing schools. I urge you to do the tough work of addressing the grossly inequitable distribution of resources that now prevails in a number of states and districts. And, I urge you to build the capacity of districts to challenge the status quo and implement far-reaching reforms to dramatically improve education.... Ultimately, when it comes to...state laws, our guiding principles should be straightforward: does a law advance student learning and do what's right for kids?"

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (12/10/09), speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures' Fall Forum

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Upcoming Events

Reminder! On a "special edition" of the Department's "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (December 15, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET), Secretary Duncan will host a national town hall meeting with students to discuss what is working and what still needs improvement in the nation's schools.

American educators are encouraged to apply now for 2010 summer study opportunities in the humanities. Each summer, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports national residential seminars, institutes, and workshops located in the U.S. and abroad. Program participants receive stipends to help defray travel and living expenses. The application deadline for 2010 summer programs is March 2, 2010. Educators may apply for up to three projects in any given year but may participate in only one.

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Last Modified: 06/18/2012