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June 11, 2010 ED Review
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 June 11, 2010
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Summer Initiative
ARRA Outreach
IDEA Determination Letters
Commencement Addresses
Graduation and Dropout Rates
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Summer Initiative

On June 8, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Duncan joined three other Cabinet secretaries and Patrick Covington, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), to launch "United We Serve: Let's Read. Let's Move." This new initiative—an Administration-wide effort spearheaded by CNCS—seeks to combat summer reading loss and childhood obesity by engaging youth in summer reading and physical activity, as well as by providing full access to healthy, affordable food. Specifically, the initiative aims to increase access to volunteer projects around reading, exercise, and healthy eating; provide toolkits and other key resources to help Americans develop high-impact service projects; and build new partnerships to reach youth in large cities and rural communities.

Research shows that a staggering percentage of young people suffer learning-loss and acquire unhealthy eating habits during the summer break. Indeed, young people can lose more than two months of progress in reading achievement over the summer. Also, one out of three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese, and millions of youth go without healthy, nutritious meals over the summer months.

Below are some details on the partnership with the First Lady's Office and each federal agency:

  • First Lady Michelle Obama. Nearly a year ago, the First Lady began a national conversation with America's children about proper nutrition and the role food plays in living a healthy life. That discussion grew into the Let's Move! campaign. Let's Move! is combating childhood obesity through a comprehensive approach that builds on effective strategies and mobilizes both public and private sector resources.
  • U.S. Department of Education. Reading five books over the summer prevents reading loss. The summer campaign will increase awareness about the critical importance of summer learning and encourage Americans to read to children. Also, the agency's Summer Enrichment Series will invite Cabinet secretaries, Administration officials, and other public officials to read children's books, promote healthy lifestyles, and participate in fitness activities with children in pre-kindergarten through third-grade.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hunger does not take a break in the summer. The campaign will encourage children to plant community gardens through the People's Garden Initiative. It will also use volunteers to connect children with healthy foods and meals as part of the Summer Food Service Program.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Youth need 60 minutes of active play time daily. Through the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the summer campaign will get more youth physically active. Children will take part in the President's Active Lifestyle program and log their activity online.
  • U.S. Department of Interior. One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get youth active is by playing outside. The summer campaign, in collaboration with Let's Move Outside!, supplies parents all the ideas, tools, and tips they need to get their families moving outdoors. Families are encouraged to bike through National Parks to improve balance and endurance, explore the nation by hiking a local trail, and set aside time for play to boost children's physical and mental health.
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ARRA Outreach

Last week, the Department announced that 35 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications to be considered for Phase 2 of the Race to the Top competition. Race to the Top is the agency's $4.35 billion fund to dramatically reshape America's educational system to better engage and prepare students for success in the 21st century global economy and workplace. States' Phase 2 applications were due to the Department by June 1 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

The Department will select the Phase 2 winners over the summer, using the same process as Phase 1. During the panel review stage, five expert reviewers will read and discuss each application. They will then score and comment on each application independently, and the applicant will be given a score based on the average of the five scores.

Finalists will be selected and invited to Washington, D.C., to make in-person presentations to their review panels. Each reviewer will then submit final scores, and the Secretary will select awardees. Depending on the size of the winning states, 10 to 15 states could win Race to the Top grants.

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IDEA Determination Letters

As required by law, the Department has issued determination letters regarding states' implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Each state was evaluated on key indicators under Part B (ages 3 through 21) and Part C (infants through age 2) and placed into one of four categories: meets requirements, needs assistance, needs intervention, and needs substantial intervention. Staff carefully considered states' Annual Performance Reports, information obtained through monitoring visits, and other records. Most states fell into the top two categories; 28 states met requirements for Part B, and 27 states met requirements for Part C. No states were in needs substantial intervention on either part. For states in the lower categories, the IDEA identifies technical assistance or actions which the agency must take under specific circumstances. The agency works with states that need assistance or intervention using its network of technical assistance centers. New determination letters are issued annually.

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Commencement Addresses

President Obama and Secretary Duncan recently delivered commencement addresses at high schools. On June 2, the Secretary addressed the 85 graduates of Washington, D.C.'s Benjamin Banneker High School. His address, "Finding Your Passion," challenged graduates to strive for excellence, pursue their dreams, persist and achieve college and career success, and use their great talents to make a positive contribution to their community and the nation. "Finding what you love is one of the core challenges in life," he said. "Some of you have already met that challenge. Some of you may still be looking, and that is OK. When you find what you love, it doesn't feel like work. It's a joy to get up each morning and pursue your passion." Banneker is the District of Columbia's city-wide high school. Then, on June 7, the President addressed the 290 graduates at Michigan's Kalamazoo Central High School, the winners of the President's inaugural Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. "Together, as a community, you've embraced the motto of this district—'every child, every opportunity, every time'—because you believe, like I do, that every child, regardless of what they look like, where they come from, or how much money their parents have, deserves a quality education," he said. The President also encouraged all students to take personal responsibility for their successes as well as their failures. "The truth is, no matter how hard you work, you won't necessarily ace every class or succeed in every job," he stated. "There will be times when you screw up, when you hurt the people you love, when you may stray from your most deeply held values. And when that happens, it's the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone to blame. This community could have gone down that road. You could have made excuses. You could have pointed fingers—blaming parents, blaming teachers, blaming the principal, or the superintendent, or the government. But, instead, you came together. You were honest with yourselves about where you were falling short. And, you resolved to do better." The Kalamazoo Promise provides college tuition and fees for all high school graduates in the school district. (Note: An interactive map details the schools, colleges, and universities where top Administration officials have delivered commencement addresses.)

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Graduation and Dropout Rates

A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), presents findings associated with public high school graduation and dropout rates, for the 2007-08 school year. Nationwide, 75% of public high school students who started as freshmen in the fall of 2004 graduated high school in 2008—up from 74% who graduated on time in 2007. Also, the Average Freshmen Graduation Rate (AFGR) increased by at least one percentage point in 16 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, 4% of public high school students dropped out of school during the 2007-08 school year—a decrease of at least a half a percentage point for 14 states and the District of Columbia from 2006-07. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the report is available online.)

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Odds and Ends

  • Secretary Duncan recently taped Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) video messages for school board members and school principals.

  • Applications under the $10 million Promise Neighborhoods program are due June 25, while applications under the $437 million Teacher Incentive Fund are due July 6.

  • In May, over 250 parents, grandparents, caregivers, and community members from 17 states gathered at the Department for a dialogue with Department officials.

  • Last week, the Secretary traveled to Durham, North Carolina, where he spoke at North Carolina Central University's "Setting the Agenda for Historically Black Colleges and Universities" (HBCUs) Symposium and visited Southern High School for a panel discussion on saving teacher jobs.

  • This week, he traveled to Hampton, Virginia, for Hampton University's Ministers Conference.

  • In a third blog entry, the Department's Teaching Ambassador Fellows inquire about schools that have successfully turned around low-performance. In what ways have teachers been a part of effective reform efforts at the schools? Where are the examples of teacher-led reforms that have been models of collaborative stakeholder engagement?

  • The Secretary has announced the appointment of the 15 members to serve on the Committee on Measures of Student Success. Created under the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the committee will develop recommendations for two-year institutions of higher education to comply with the law's completion and graduation rate disclosure requirements. It will also develop recommendations regarding additional measures of student success that are comparable alternatives to the completion or graduation rates, taking into account the mission and role of such institutions.

  • A new blog post provides an update on the Department's global engagement.

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Quote to Note

"The release today of the Common Core State Standards is an important step toward the improvement of quality education nationwide. States have come together to develop standards that are internationally benchmarked and include the knowledge and skills that students must learn to succeed in college and career.... As states move forward to implement the standards, they will need to translate standards into classroom teaching that will help all students master the new standards. The Department plans to support state implementation efforts by providing federal funds for high-quality assessments, professional development to help teachers enhance the knowledge and skills needed to help students master the standards, and research to support continual improvement of the standards and assessments over time."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (6/2/10), in a statement on National Governors Association's and Council of Chief State School Officers' Common Core State Standards

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Upcoming Events

On June 15, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the Department is offering a webinar, "Strategic Use of Title I and IDEA: How to Maximize ARRA, FY 2009, and FY 2010 Funds." With state and local budget concerns increasing, this presentation will focus on the strategic management of Title I and IDEA Recovery Act and regular appropriation grant funds. The primary audience is Title I and IDEA state program and budget/financial staff, although other state and local education officials are also encouraged to participate.

The 2010 Federal Student Aid (FSA) Conference in Orlando (November 30-December 3) is the premiere training and networking opportunity for financial aid professionals.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the Kiwanis Annual Convention in Las Vegas (June 24-27) and the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. (June 24-29). If you are attending either 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—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
To be added or removed from distribution, or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), please contact Adam Honeysett. Or, visit http://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/index.html.


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Last Modified: 06/13/2012